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Title: My Memoirs, Vol. V, 1831 to 1832
Author: Dumas, Alexandre
Language: English
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MY MEMOIRS

BY

ALEXANDRE DUMAS

TRANSLATED BY

E. M. WALLER

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY

ANDREW LANG

IN SIX VOLUMES

VOL. V

1831 TO 1832

WITH A FRONTISPIECE

NEW YORK

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

1908



CONTENTS


    BOOK I

    CHAPTER I

    Organisation of the Parisian Artillery--Metamorphosis of my
    uniform of a Mounted National Guardsman--Bastide--Godefroy
    Cavaignac--Guinard--Thomas--Names of the batteries and
    of their principal servants--I am summoned to seize the
    _Chamber_--How many of us came to the rendezvous

    CHAPTER II

    Odilon Barrot, Préfet of the Seine--His soirées--His
    proclamation upon the subject of riots--Dupont (de l'Eure)
    and Louis-Philippe--Resignation of the ministry of Mole and
    Guizot--The affair of the forest of Breteuil--The Laffitte
    ministry--The prudent way in which registration was carried
    out

    CHAPTER III

    Béranger as Patriot and Republican 20

    CHAPTER IV

    Béranger, as Republican 28

    CHAPTER V

    Death of Benjamin Constant--Concerning his life--Funeral
    honours that were conferred upon him--His funeral--Law
    respecting national rewards--The trial of the
    ministers--Grouvelle and his sister--M. Mérilhou
    and the neophyte--Colonel Lavocat--The Court of
    Peers--Panic--Fieschi

    CHAPTER VI

    The artillerymen at the Louvre--Bonapartist plot to take
    our cannon from us--Distribution of cartridges by Godefroy
    Cavaignac--The concourse of people outside the Luxembourg
    when the ministers were sentenced--Departure of the
    condemned for Vincennes--Defeat of the judges--La Fayette
    and the riot--Bastide and Commandant Barré on guard with
    Prosper Mérimée

    CHAPTER VII

    We are surrounded in the Louvre courtyard--Our ammunition
    taken by surprise--Proclamation of the Écoles--Letter of
    Louis-Philippe to La Fayette--The Chamber vote of thanks to
    the Colleges--Protest of the École polytechnique--Discussion
    at the Chamber upon the General Commandership of the
    National Guard--Resignation of La Fayette--The king's
    reply--I am appointed second captain

    CHAPTER VIII

    The Government member--Chodruc-Duclos--His portrait--His
    life at Bordeaux--His imprisonment at Vincennes--The
    Mayor of Orgon--Chodruc-Duclos converts himself into
    a Diogenes--M. Giraud-Savine--Why Nodier was growing
    old--Stibert--A lesson in shooting--Death of Chodruc-Duclos

    CHAPTER IX

    Alphonse Rabbe--Madame Cardinal--Rabbe and the Marseilles
    Academy--_Les Massénaires_--Rabbe in Spain--His return--The
    _Old Dagger_--The Journal _Le Phocéen_--Rabbe in prison--The
    writer of fables--_Ma pipe_

    CHAPTER X

    Rabbe's friends--_La Sœur grise_--The historical résumés--M.
    Brézé's advice--An imaginative man--Berruyer's style--Rabbe
    with his hairdresser, his concierge and confectioner--_La
    Sœur grise_ stolen--_Le Centaure_

    CHAPTER XI

    Adèle--Her devotion to Rabbe--Strong meat--_Appel à
    Dieu_--_L'âme et la comédie humaine_--_La mort_--_Ultime
    lettere_--Suicide--_À Alphonse Rabbe_, by Victor Hugo

    CHAPTER XII

    Chéron--His last compliments to Harel--Obituary of
    1830--My official visit on New Year's Day--A striking
    costume--Read the _Moniteur_--Disbanding of the Artillery
    of the National Guard--First representation of _Napoléon
    Bonaparte_--Delaistre--Frédérick-Lemaître

    BOOK II

    CHAPTER I

    The Abbé Châtel--The programme of his church--The Curé of
    Lèves and M. Clausel de Montals--The Lévois embrace the
    religion of the primate of the Gauls--Mass in French--The
    Roman curé--A dead body to inter

    CHAPTER II

    Fine example of religious toleration--The Abbé Dallier--The
    Circes of Lèves--Waterloo after Leipzig--The Abbé Dallier is
    kept as hostage--The barricades--The stones of Chartres--The
    outlook--Preparations for fighting
    CHAPTER III

    Attack of the barricade--A sequel to Malplaquet--The
    Grenadier--The Chartrian philanthropists--Sack of the
    bishop's palace--A fancy dress--How order was restored--The
    culprits both small and great--Death of the Abbé
    Ledru--Scruples of conscience of the former schismatics--The
    _Dies iræ_ of Kosciusko

    CHAPTER IV

    The Abbé de Lamennais--His prediction of the Revolution of
    1830--Enters the Church--His views on the Empire--Casimir
    Delavigne, Royalist--His early days--Two pieces of poetry
    by M. de Lamennais--His literary vocation--_Essay on
    Indifference in Religious Matters_--Reception given to
    this book by the Church--The academy of the château de la
    Chesnaie

    CHAPTER V

    The founding of l'_Avenir_--L'Abbé Lacordaire--M.
    Charles de Montalembert--His article on the sacking
    of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois--l'_Avenir_ and the new
    literature--My first interview with M. de Lamennais--Lawsuit
    against l'_Avenir_--MM. de Montalembert and Lacordaire as
    schoolmasters--Their trial in the _Cour des pairs_--The
    capture of Warsaw--Answer of four poets to a word spoken by
    a statesman

    CHAPTER VI

    Suspension of l'_Avenir_--Its three principal editors
    present themselves at Rome--The Abbé de Lamennais as
    musician--The trouble it takes to obtain an audience of the
    Pope--The convent of Santo-Andrea della Valle--Interview
    of M. de Lamennais with Gregory XVI.--The statuette of
    Moses--The doctrines of l'_Avenir_ are condemned by the
    Council of Cardinals--Ruin of M. de Lamennais--The _Paroles
    d'un Croyant_

    CHAPTER VII

    Who Gannot was--Mapah--His first miracle--The wedding
    at Cana--Gannot, phrenologist--Where his first ideas on
    phrenology came from--The unknown woman--The change wrought
    in Gannot's life--How he becomes Mapah

    CHAPTER VIII

    The god and his sanctuary--He informs the Pope of his
    overthrow--His manifestoes--His portrait---Doctrine of
    escape--Symbols of that religion--Chaudesaigues takes me to
    the Mapah--Iswara and Pracriti--Questions which are wanting
    in actuality---War between the votaries of _bidja_ and the
    followers of _sakti_--My last interview with the Mapah

    CHAPTER IX

    Apocalypse of the being who was once called Caillaux

    BOOK III

    CHAPTER I

    The scapegoat of power--Legitimist hopes--The
    expiatory mass--The Abbé Olivier--The Curé of
    Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois--Pachel--Where I begin
    to be wrong--General Jacqueminot--Pillage of
    Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois--The sham Jesuit and the Préfet of
    Police--The Abbé Paravey's room

    CHAPTER II

    The Préfet of Police at the Palais-Royal--The function
    of fire--Valérius, the truss-maker--Demolition of the
    archbishop's palace--The Chinese album--François Arago--The
    spectators of the riot--The erasure of the fleurs-de-lis--I
    give in my resignation a second time--MM. Chambolle and
    Casimir Périer

    CHAPTER III

    My dramatic faith wavers--Bocage and Dorval reconcile
    me with myself--A political trial wherein I deserved to
    figure--Downfall of the Laffitte Ministry--Austria and the
    Duc de Modena--Maréchal Maison is Ambassador at Vienna--The
    story of one of his dispatches--Casimir Périer Prime
    Minister--His reception at the Palais-Royal--They make him
    the _amende honorable_

    CHAPTER IV

    Trial of the artillerymen--Procureur-général
    Miller--Pescheux d'Herbinville--Godefroy
    Cavaignac--Acquittal of the accused--The ovation they
    received--Commissioner Gourdin--The cross of July--The red
    and black ribbon--Final rehearsals of _Antony_

    CHAPTER V

    The first representation of _Antony_--The play, the actors,
    the public--_Antony_ at the Palais-Royal--Alterations of the
    _dénoûment_

    CHAPTER VI

    The inspiration under which I composed _Antony_--The
    Preface--Wherein lies the moral of the piece--Cuckoldom,
    Adultery and the Civil Code--_Quem nuptiæ demonstrant_--Why
    the Critics exclaimed that my Drama was immoral--Account
    given by the least malevolent among them--How prejudices
    against bastardy are overcome

    CHAPTER VII

    A word on criticism--Molière estimated by Bossuet, by
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau and by Bourdaloue--An anonymous
    libel--Critics of the seventeenth and nineteenth
    centuries--M. François de Salignac de la Motte de
    Fénelon--Origin of the word _Tartuffe_--M. Taschereau and M.
    Étienne

    CHAPTER VIII

    Thermometer of Social Crises--Interview with M. Thiers--His
    intentions with regard to the Théâtre-Français--Our
    conventions--_Antony_ comes back to the rue de
    Richelieu--_The Constitutionnel_--Its leader against
    Romanticism in general, and against my drama in
    particular--Morality of the ancient theatre--Parallel
    between the Théâtre-Français and that of the
    Porte-Saint-Martin--First suspension of _Antony_

    CHAPTER IX

    My discussion with M. Thiers--Why he had been compelled
    to suspend _Antony_--Letter of Madame Dorval to the
    _Constitutionnel_--M. Jay crowned with roses--My lawsuit
    with M. Jouslin de Lasalle--There are still judges in
    Berlin!

    CHAPTER X

    Republican banquet at the _Vendanges de Bourgogne_--The
    toasts--_To Louis-Philippe!_--Gathering of those who were
    decorated in July--Formation of the board--Protests--Fifty
    yards of ribbon--A dissentient--Contradiction in the
    _Moniteur_--Trial of Évariste Gallois--His examination--His
    acquittal

    CHAPTER XI

    The incompatibility of literature with riotings--_La
    Maréchale d'Ancre_--My opinion concerning that
    piece--_Farruck le Maure_--The début of Henry Monnier at the
    Vaudeville--I leave Paris--Rouen--Havre--I meditate going
    to explore Trouville--What is Trouville?--The consumptive
    English lady--Honfleur--By land or by sea

    CHAPTER XII

    Appearance of Trouville--Mother Oseraie--How people are
    accommodated at Trouville when they are married--The
    price of painters and of the community of martyrs--Mother
    Oseraie's acquaintances--How she had saved the life of
    Huet, the landscape painter--My room and my neighbour's--A
    twenty-franc dinner for fifty sous--A walk by the
    sea-shore--Heroic resolution

    CHAPTER XIII

    A reading at Nodier's--The hearers and the
    readers--Début--_Les Marrons du feu_--La Camargo and the
    Abbé Desiderio--Genealogy of a dramatic idea--Orestes
    and Hermione--Chimène and Don Sancho--_Goetz von
    Berlichingen_--Fragments--How I render to Cæsar the things
    that are Cæsar's

    CHAPTER XIV

    Poetry is the Spirit of God--The Conservatoire and l'École
    of Rome--Letter of counsel to my Son--Employment of my
    time at Trouville--Madame de la Garenne--The Vendéan
    Bonnechose--M. Beudin--I am pursued by a fish--What came of
    it

    CHAPTER XV

    Why M. Beudin came to Trouville--How I knew him under
    another name--Prologue of a drama--What remained to
    be done--Division into three parts--I finish _Charles
    VII._--Departing from Trouville--In what manner I learn of
    the first performance of _Marion Delorme_

    CHAPTER XVI

    _Marion Delorme_

    CHAPTER XVII

    Collaboration

    BOOK IV

    CHAPTER I

    The feudal edifice and the industrial--The workmen of
    Lyons--M. Bouvier-Dumolard--General Roguet--Discussion
    and signing of the tariff regulating the price of the
    workmanship of fabrics--The makers refuse to submit to
    it--_Artificial prices_ for silk-workers--Insurrection
    of Lyons--Eighteen millions on the civil list--Timon's
    calculations--An unlucky saying of M. de Montalivet

    CHAPTER II

    Death of _Mirabeau_--The accessories of _Charles VII._--A
    shooting party--Montereau--A temptation I cannot
    resist--Critical position in which my shooting companions
    and I find ourselves--We introduce ourselves into an empty
    house by breaking into it at night--Inspection of the
    premises--Improvised supper--As one makes one's bed, so
    one lies on it--I go to see the dawn rise--Fowl and duck
    shooting--Preparations for breakfast--Mother Galop

    CHAPTER III

    Who Mother Galop was--Why M. Dupont-Delporte was absent--
    How I quarrelled with Viardot--Rabelais's quarter of an
    hour--Providence No. I--The punishment of Tantalus--A waiter
    who had not read Socrates--Providence No. 2--A breakfast for
    four--Return to Paris

    CHAPTER IV

    _Le Masque de fer_--Georges' suppers--The garden
    of the Luxembourg by moonlight--M. Scribe and
    the _Clerc de la Basoche_--M. d'Épagny and _Le
    Clerc et le Théologien_--Classical performances
    at the Théâtre-Français--_Les Guelfes_, by M.
    Arnault--Parenthesis--Dedicatory epistle to the prompter

    CHAPTER V

    M. Arnault's _Pertinax_--_Pizarre_, by M. Fulchiron--M.
    Fulchiron as a politician--M. Fulchiron as magic poet--A
    word about M. Viennet--My opposite neighbour at the
    performance of _Pertinax_--Splendid failure of the
    play--Quarrel with my _vis-à-vis_--The newspapers take it
    up--My reply in the _Journal de Paris_--Advice of M. Pillet

    CHAPTER VI

    Chateaubriand ceases to be a peer of France--He leaves
    the country--Béranger's song thereupon--Chateaubriand as
    versifier--First night of _Charles VII._--Delafosse's
    vizor--Yaqoub and Frédérick-Lemaître--_La Reine
    d'Espagne_--M. Henri de Latouche--His works, talent and
    character--Interlude of _La Reine d'Espagne_--Preface of the
    play--Reports of the pit collected by the author

    CHAPTER VII

    Victor Escousse and Auguste Lebras

    CHAPTER VIII

    First performance of _Robert le Diable_--Véron, manager
    of the Opéra--His opinion concerning Meyerbeer's
    music--My opinion concerning Véron's intellect--My
    relations with him--His articles and _Memoirs_--Rossini's
    judgment of _Robert le Diable_--Nourrit, the
    preacher--Meyerbeer--First performance of the _Fuite de
    Law_, by M. Mennechet--First performance of _Richard
    Darlington_--Frédérick--Lemaître--Delafosse--Mademoiselle
    Noblet

    CHAPTER IX Horace Vernet

    CHAPTER X

    Paul Delaroche

    CHAPTER XI

    Eugène Delacroix

    CHAPTER XII

    Three portraits in one frame

    CHAPTER XIII

    Collaboration--A whim of Bocage--Anicet
    Bourgeois--_Teresa_--Drama at the Opéra-Comique--Laferrière
    and the eruption of Vesuvius--Mélingue--Fancy-dress ball
    at the Tuileries--The place de Grève and the barrière
    Saint-Jacques--The death penalty

    CHAPTER XIV

    The peregrinations of Casimir Delavigne--_Jeanne
    Vaubernier_--Rougemont--His translation of Cambronne's
    _mot_--First representation of _Teresa_--Long and short
    pieces--Cordelier Delanoue and his _Mathieu Luc_--Closing
    of the Taitbout Hall and arrest of the leaders of the
    Saint-Simonian cult

    CHAPTER XV

    Mély-Janin's _Louis XI._

    CHAPTER XVI

    Casimir Delavigne's _Louis XI._

    NOTE (Béranger)

    NOTE (de Latouche)



THE MEMOIRS OF ALEXANDRE DUMAS



BOOK I



CHAPTER I


    Organisation of the Parisian Artillery--Metamorphosis of my
    uniform of a Mounted National Guardsman--Bastide--Godefroy
    Cavaignac--Guinard--Thomas--Names of the batteries and
    of their principal servants--I am summoned to seize the
    _Chamber_--How many of us came to the rendezvous


I am obliged to retrace my steps, as the putting out to nurse of
_Antony_ at the Porte-Sainte-Martin has carried me further than I
intended.

Bixio had given me a definite answer with regard to my joining the
artillery, and I was incorporated in the fourth battery under Captain
Olivier.

Just a word or two upon the constitution of this artillery.

The order creating the Garde Nationale provided for a legion of
artillery comprised of four batteries.

General La Fayette appointed Joubert provisional colonel of the
legion, which consisted of four batteries. It was the same Joubert at
whose house, in the Passage Dauphine, a quantity of powder had been
distributed and many bullets cast in the July Days. La Fayette had also
appointed four captains to enlist men. When the men were enlisted,
these captains were replaced by picked officers.

Arnoux was appointed head captain of the first battery. I have already
mentioned that the Duc d'Orléans was entered in this battery. Guinard
was appointed first captain, and Godefroy Cavaignac second captain, of
the second battery. Bastide was appointed senior captain, and Thomas
junior captain, of the third battery. Finally, Olivier was first
captain, and Saint-Évre second captain, of the fourth battery.

The first and second battery formed a squadron; the third and fourth a
second squadron.

The first squadron was commanded by Thierry, who has since become a
municipal councillor, and is now Medical Superintendent of Prisons, I
believe. The second squadron was commanded by a man named Barré, whom I
lost sight of after 1830, and I have forgotten what has become of him.
Finally, the whole were commanded by Comte Pernetti, whom the king had
appointed our colonel.

I had, therefore, reached the crown of my wishes: I was an artilleryman!

There only remained for me to exchange my uniform as a mounted national
guardsman for an artillery uniform, and to make myself known to my
commanding officers. My exchange of uniform was not a long job. My
jacket and trousers were of the same style and colour as those of the
artillery, so I only had to have a stripe of red cloth sewed on the
trousers instead of the silver one; then, to exchange my epaulettes
and my silver cross-belt at a military outfitter's for epaulettes and
a red woollen foraging rope. The same with regard to my schako, where
the silver braid and aigrette of cock's feathers had to be replaced by
woollen braiding and a horse-hair busby. We did not need to trouble
ourselves about carbines, for the Government lent us these; "_lent
them_" is the exact truth, for twice they took them away from us! I
lighted upon a very honest military outfitter, who gave me woollen
braid, kept all my silver trimmings, and only asked me for twenty
francs in return; though, it is true, I paid for my sword separately.
The day after I had received my complete costume, at eight o'clock in
the morning, I made my appearance at the Louvre to take my part in
the manœuvres. We had there twenty-four pieces of eight, and twenty
thousand rounds for firing.

The Governor of the Louvre was named Carrel, but he had nothing in
common with Armand Carrel, and I do not think he was any relation to
him.

The artillery was generally Republican in tone; the second and third
battery, in particular, affected these views. The first and fourth were
more reactionary; there would be quite fifty men among them who, in the
moment of danger, would unite with the others.

As my opinions coincided with those of Bastide, Guinard, Cavaignac and
Thomas, it is with them that I shall principally deal; as for Captains
Arnoux and Olivier, I knew them but little then and have never had
occasion to see them again. May I, therefore, be allowed to say a
few words of these men, whose names, since 1830, are to be found in
every conspiracy that arose? Their names have become historic; it is,
therefore, fitting that the men who bore them, or who, perhaps, bear
them still, should be made known in their true light.

Let us begin with Bastide, as he played the most considerable part,
having been Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1848. Bastide was already
at this time a man of thirty, with an expression of countenance that
was both gentle and yet firm; his face was long and pale, and his black
hair was close cut; he had a thick black moustache, and blue eyes, with
an expression of deep and habitual melancholy. He was tall and thin,
extremely deft-handed, although he looked rather awkward on account of
the unusual length of his neck; in conclusion, he was an adept in the
use of sword and pistol, especially the latter, and in what is called
in duelling terms, _la main malheureuse._[1]

So much for his physical characteristics. Morally, Bastide was a
thorough Parisian, a thorough native of the rue Montmartre, wedded to
his gutter, and, like Madame de Staël, he preferred it to the lake
of Geneva; unable to do without Paris no matter how dirty it was,
physically, morally, or politically; preferring imprisonment in Paris
to exile in the most beautiful country in the universe. He had been
exiled for several years, and spent two or three years in London. I
have heard him say since, that, rather than return there even for two
or three months, he would let himself get shot. He has a delightful
country house in the neighbourhood of Paris, to which he never goes.
Beneath an extremely unsophisticated manner, Bastide concealed real
knowledge; but you had to discover it for yourself; and, when he took
the trouble to be amusing, his conversation was full of witty sallies
but, as he always spoke very low, only his near neighbour benefited
by it. It must be admitted that this quite satisfied him, for I never
saw a less ambitious man than he in this respect. He was a bundle
of contradictions: he seemed to be nearly always idle, but was, in
reality, nearly always busy, often over trifles, as Horace in the Roman
forum, and, like Horace, he was completely absorbed in his trifling
for the time being; more often still he was occupied over difficult
and serious problems in mathematics or mechanics. He was brave without
being conscious of the fact, so simple and natural a quality did
bravery seem to his temperament and character. I shall have occasion
later to record the miraculous feats of courage he performed, and
the deliciously cool sayings he uttered while actually under fire,
between the years 1830 to 1852. During deliberations Bastide usually
kept silent; if his opinion were asked and he gave it, it was always
to advise that the question in hand be put into execution as promptly
and as openly, and even as brutally, as possible. For example, let
us refer to the interview between the Republicans and the king on 30
July 1830; Bastide was among them, awaiting the arrival of the king,
just as were the rest. This interval of waiting was put to good use
by the representatives of Republican opinion. Little accustomed to
the presence of crowned heads or of those on the eve of coronation,
they discussed among themselves as to what they ought to do when the
lieutenant-general should appear. Each person gave his opinion, and
Bastide was asked for his. "What must we do?" he said. "Why, open the
window and chuck him into the street."

If this advice had been as honestly that of the others as it was his
own, he would have put it into execution. He had a facile, and even a
graceful, pen. In the _National_ it was he who had to write impossible
articles; he succeeded, as Méry did, in the matter of bouts-rimés with
an almost miraculous cleverness. When Minister of Foreign Affairs, he
took upon himself the business of everybody else, and he a minister,
not only did his own work, but that, also, of his secretaries. We must
look to diplomatic Europe to pronounce upon the value of his work.

Godefroy Cavaignac, as he had recalled to the memory of the Duc
d'Orléans, was the son of the member of the convention, Jean Baptiste
Cavaignac; and, we will add, brother to Eugène Cavaignac, then an
officer in the Engineers at Metz, and, later, a general in Algeria,
finally dictator in France from June to December 1848; a noble and
disinterested character, who will remain in history as a glittering
contrast to those that were to succeed him. Godefroy Cavaignac was
then a man of thirty-five, with fair hair, and a long red moustache;
although his bearing was military, he stooped somewhat; smoked
unceasingly, flinging out sarcastic clever sayings between the clouds
of smoke; was very clear in discussion, always saying what he thought,
and expressing himself in the best words; he seemed to be better
educated than Bastide, although, in reality, he was less so; he took
to writing from fancy, and then wrote a species of short poems, or
novelettes, or slight dramas (I do not know what to call them) of
great originality, and very uncommon strength. I will mention two of
these _opuscules_: one that is known to everybody--_Une Guerre de
Cosaques_, and another, which everybody overlooks, which I read once,
and could never come across again: it was called _Est-ce vous!_ One of
his chansons was sung everywhere in 1832, entitled _À la chie-en-lit!_
which was the funniest thing in the world. Like Bastide he was
extremely brave, but perhaps less determined; there always seemed to
me to be great depths of indifference and of Epicurean philosophy in
his character. After being very intimate, we were ten years without
seeing one another; then, suddenly, one day, without knowing it,
we found ourselves seated side by side at the same table, and the
whole dinner-time was spent in one long happy gossip over mutual
recollections. We separated with hearty handshakes and promises not to
let it be such a long time before seeing one another again. A month
or two after, when I was talking of him, some one said, "But Godefroy
Cavaignac is dead!" I knew nothing of his illness, death or burial.

Our passage through this world is, indeed, a strange matter, if it be
not merely a preliminary to another life!

Guinard was notable for his warm-hearted, loyal characteristics; he
would weep like a child when he heard of a fine deed or great misery. A
man of marvellous despatch, you could have said of him, as Kléber did
of Scheswardin. "Go there and get killed and so save the army!" I am
not even sure he would have considered it necessary to answer: "Yes,
general"; he would have said nothing, but he would have gone and got
killed. His life, moreover, was one long sacrifice to his convictions;
he gave up to them all he held most dear--liberty, his fortune and
health.

From the single sentence we have quoted of Thomas, when he was
accosted by M. Thiers on 30 July, my readers can judge of his mind
and character. Bastide and he were in partnership, and possessed a
woodyard. He was stout-hearted and upright, and had a clever head
for business. Unaided, alone, and simply by his wonderful and honest
industry, he kept the _National_ afloat when it was on the verge of
shipwreck after the death of Carrel, from the year 1836 until 1848,
when the long struggle bore successful fruit for everybody except
himself.

But now let us pass on from the artillerymen to the composition of
their batteries.

Each battery was dubbed by a name derived from a special
characteristic.

Thus the first was called _The Aristocrat._ Its ranks contained, as
we already know, M. le Duc d'Orléans, then MM. de Tracy, Jal, Paravey
(who was afterwards a councillor of state), Étienne Arago, Schoelcher,
Loëve-Weymars, Alexandre Basset and Duvert.

The second was called _The Republican._ We are acquainted with its
two captains, Guinard and Cavaignac; the principal artillerymen
were--Guiaud, Gervais, Blaize, Darcet fils and Ferdinand Flocon.

The third was called _La Puritaine_, and it was thus named after its
captain, Bastide. Bastide, who was on the staff of the _National_, was
the champion of the religious questions, which this newspaper had a
tendency to attack after the manner of the _Constitutionnel._ Thence
originated the report of his absolute submission to the practices
of religion. The _Puritaine_ counted amongst its gunners--Carral,
Barthélemy-Saint-Hilaire, Grégoire, Séchan.

The fourth was called _La Meurtrière_, on account of the large number
of doctors it contained. We have mentioned its captains; these are the
names of the chief "murderers"--Bixio, medical student; Doctors Trélat,
Laussedat, Jules Guyot, Montègre, Jourdan, Houet and Raspail, who was
half a doctor. The others were Prosper Mérimée, Lacave-Laplagne, who
has since become Minister of Finance; Ravoisié, Baltard, the architect;
Desvaux, student, afterwards a lieutenant in the July revolution,
and, later still, one of the bravest and most brilliant officers in
the whole army; lastly, Bocage and myself. Of course, there were many
others in these batteries, for the artillery, I believe, numbered eight
hundred men, but we are here only mentioning those whose names survived.

The discipline was very strict: three times a week there was drill from
six to ten in the morning, in the quadrangle of the Louvre, and twice a
month shooting practice at Vincennes.

I had given a specimen of my strength in lifting--with either five,
three, or one other, when the other servants were supposed to be either
killed, or _hors de combat_,-—pieces of eight weighing from three to
four hundred kilogrammes, when, one day, I received an invitation to
be at the Palais-Bourbon at four o'clock in the afternoon, fully armed.
The business in hand was _the taking of the Chamber._ We had taken a
sort of oath, after the manner of Freemasons and Carbonari, by which
we had engaged to obey the commands of our chiefs without questioning.
This one appeared rather high-handed, I must admit; but my oath was
taken! So, at half-past three, I put on my artillery dress, placed six
cartridges in my pouch and one in my carbine, and made my way towards
the pont de la Concorde. I noticed with as much surprise as pride,
that I was the first arrival. I only strutted about the more proudly,
searching along the quays and bridges and streets for the arrival of my
seven hundred and ninety-nine comrades who, four o'clock having struck,
seemed to me to be late in coming, when I saw a blue and red uniform
coming towards me. It was worn by Bixio. Two of us then here alone to
capture four hundred and forty-nine deputies! It was hardly enough; but
patriotism attempts ambitious things!

Half-past four, five, half-past five and six o'clock struck.

The deputies came out and filed past us, little suspecting that these
two fierce-eyed artillerymen who watched them pass, as they leant
against the parapet of the bridge, had come to capture them. Behind the
deputies appeared Cavaignac in civilian dress. We went up to him.

"It will not take place to-day," he said to us; "it is put off until
next week."

"Good!" I replied; "next week, then!"

He shook hands and disappeared. I turned to Bixio.

"I hope this postponement till next week will not prevent us from
dining as usual?" I said.

"Quite the reverse. I am as hungry as a wolf! Nothing makes one so
empty as conspiring."

So we went off and dined with that careless appetite which is the
prerogative of conspirators of twenty-eight years of age.

I have always suspected my new chiefs of wishing to, what they call
in regimental parlance, test me; in which case Cavaignac can only have
come just to make sure of my faithfulness in answering to his summons.

Was or was not Bixio in his confidence? I never could make out.


[1] TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.--Applied to a duellist who always kills or
wounds his opponent.



CHAPTER II


    Odilon Barrot, Préfet of the Seine--His soirées--His
    proclamation upon the subject of riots--Dupont (de l'Eure)
    and Louis-Philippe--Resignation of the ministry of Molé and
    Guizot--The affair of the forest of Breteuil--The Laffitte
    ministry--The prudent way in which registration was carried
    out


Now, the session of the Chamber had been an animated one that day,
and if we had burst into the parliament hall we should have found the
deputies in heated discussion over a proclamation issued by Odilon
Barrot.

It was a singular position for a man, outwardly so upright and
unbending as was Odilon Barrot, which was created by, on the one
hand, his duties as Préfet of the Seine about the person of the king
and, on the other, the good terms of friendship existing between him
and most of us. He held soirées at his house, to which we flocked in
large numbers; at which his wife, then still quite young, who seemed
a more ardent Republican than her husband, did the honours with the
correctness of a Cornelia that was not without a charm of its own.
We of course discussed nothing but politics at these gatherings; and
especially did we urge Odilon Barrot, in his official capacity as
Préfet of the Seine, to hunt for the famous programme of the Hôtel de
Ville, which had disappeared on 2 August, and had become more invisible
even than the famous provisional government which was represented by a
round table, empty bottles and a clerk who never stopped writing except
when the pen was snatched out of his hands. That programme had never
been discovered from that day to this! Our suggestion worried him much,
for our insistence placed him in the following dilemma:--

"My dear Odilon" (we would say), "all the strength of the Government
is vested in La Fayette and Dupont (de l'Eure) and yourself; if you,
for instance, were to withdraw, we are persuaded that La Fayette and
Dupont, the two blind men whom you, good dog, lead by the string, will
also retire.... So we are going to compel you to retire."

"But how?"

"Oh, it is simple enough! We are going to raise a disturbance to carry
off the king from the Palais-Royal.... Either you fire upon us, in
which case you make yourself unpopular; or you abstain from firing on
us, in which case we carry off the king, take him to Ham and proclaim
the Republic."

Odilon was well aware that this dilemma was only a joke; but he also
knew that there was a feverish spirit in us which any unlooked for
spark might kindle into a blaze and lead to the maddest enterprises
being attempted.

One day we drove him into a corner, and he promised that, on the first
opportunity, he would make his views known both to the court and to us.
This opportunity was the procession which, as I have mentioned, marched
through Paris, and proceeded to the Palais-Royal, and to the château de
Vincennes, shouting, "Death to the ministers!" It will be recollected
that the king and Odilon Barrot had appeared upon the terrace, and that
the men who led the procession had thereupon shouted, "Vive Odilon
Barrot!" forgetting to shout "Vive le roi!" Whereat Louis-Philippe, as
we know, had replied: "These are the sons of the men whom, in 1792, I
heard shouting: 'Vive Pétion!'"

The allusion had annoyed Odilon Barrot considerably, and he decided to
issue a proclamation of his own. He promised to give us this explicit
proclamation.

It is a mania with every man who wants to be looked upon as a statesman
to produce a proclamation, in fact he does not consider himself
entitled to the name of statesman until he has. His proclamation is
issued and received by the people, who read it and see in it the
sanction of some power or other, which they either obey or disobey
according to their individual views of politics. Unfortunately, this
proclamation, upon which Odilon was counting greatly, demonstrated the
fact that the Préfet of the Seine took a middle course, which offended
at the same time both the Court party and the Republicans. We will
reproduce it here in its entirety. Be it understood that our readers
are free to read only the sentences in italics, or to pass it over
altogether unread--

    "Citizens, your magistrates are deeply distressed at the
    disorders which have recently been disturbing the public
    peace, at a time when commerce and industry, which are in
    much need of protection, are beginning to rise above a long
    crisis of depression.

    "_It is not vengeance that this people of Paris, who are
    the bravest and most generous in the world, are demanding,
    but justice!_ Justice, in fact, is a right, a necessity, to
    strong men; vengeance is but the delight of the weak and
    cowardly. _The proposition of the Chamber is an_ INOPPORTUNE
    STEP _calculated to make the people imagine that there is
    a concerted design to interfere with the ordinary course
    of justice with respect to the ex-ministers._ Delays have
    arisen, which are merely the carrying out of those forms
    which surround justice with greater solemnity of character;
    and these delays but sanction and strengthen the opinion
    _of which our ungovernable enemies, ever lying in wait to
    disunite us_, persistently take advantage. Hence has arisen
    that popular agitation, which men of rectitude and good
    citizens regard as an actual mistake. I swear to you in all
    good faith, fellow-citizens, that the course of justice
    has neither been suspended, nor interrupted, nor will it
    be. The preparation of the accusation brought against the
    ex-ministers still continues: _they have come under the law
    and the law alone shall decide their fate._

    "No good citizen could wish or demand anything else; and
    yet cries of "death" are uttered in the streets and public
    places; but what are such instigations, such placards,
    but violent measures against justice? We merely desire to
    do as we would ourselves be done by, namely, be judged
    dispassionately and impartially. Well, there are certain
    misguided or malevolent persons who threaten the judges
    before the trial has begun. People of Paris, you will
    not stand by such violent conduct; the accused should be
    sacred in your eyes; they are placed under the protection
    of the law; to insult them, to hinder their defence, to
    anticipate the decrees of justice, is to violate the laws
    of every civilised society; it is to be wanting in the
    first principles of liberty; it is worse than a crime;
    it is cowardly! There is not a single citizen among this
    great and glorious people who cannot but feel that it is
    his honoured duty to prevent an outrage that will be a blot
    upon our Revolution. Let justice be done! But violence
    is not justice. And this is the cry of all well-meaning
    people, and will be the principle guiding the conduct of our
    magistrates. Under these grave circumstances they will count
    upon the concurrence and the assistance of all true patriots
    to uphold the measures that are taken to bring about public
    order."

This proclamation is, perhaps, a little too lengthy and diffuse and
tedious; but we should remember that Odilon Barrot was a barrister
before he became Préfet of the Seine. However, in the midst of
this ocean of words, a flood of language by which the préfet had,
perhaps, hoped that the king would be mystified, His Majesty noted
this sentence--"_The proposal of the Chamber was an inopportune step
leading people to suppose it was a concerted thing...._" And the
Republicans caught hold of this one--"_Our ungovernable enemies, ever
on the watch to disunite us,_" etc.

The step that the Préfet of the Seine blamed was the king's own secret
wish, interpreted by the address of the Chamber; so that, by finding
fault with the address of the Chamber, the Préfet of the Seine allowed
himself to blame the secret wish of the king.

From that moment, the fall of the Préfet of the Seine was decided upon.
How could Louis-Philippe, with his plans for reigning and governing at
the same time, keep a man in his service who dared to find fault with
his own secret wishes? It was useless for M. Odilon Barrot to try to
deceive himself; from that hour dates the king's dislike to him: it was
that proclamation of 1830, which postponed his three hours' ministry
to 1848. Then, on the other hand, he broke with the Republican party
because he spoke of them as his _ungovernable enemies._

The same night, or the day after the appearance of this proclamation,
Godefroy Cavaignac cast Odilon Barrot's horoscope in these pregnant
words--

"My dear friend, you are played out!"

This is what really passed at the Palais-Royal. The king was furious
with the audacity of the _pettifogging little lawyer._ The _little
lawyer_, however, was to take his revenge for this epithet two years
later, by annulling the sentence on the young artist Geoffroy, who
had been illegally condemned to death by the court-martial that had
been instituted on account of the state of siege at the time. It was a
splendid and noble method of being revenged, which won back for Odilon
ten years popularity! So his fall was decided at the Palais-Royal.
But it was not a matter that was very painful to the ministry which
was in power in November 1830; this was composed only of M. Molé, a
deserter from the Napoléonic camp; of M. de Broglie, a deserter from
the Royalist camp; of M. Guizot, the man of the _Moniteur de Gand_;
M. Casimir Périer, the banker _whose bank closed at four o'clock_,
and who, up to the last, had struggled against the Revolution; M.
Sébastiani, who, on the 30th, had announced that the white flag was his
standard; and finally, General Gérard, the last minister of Charles X.,
who, to keep in power, had only had to get the Ordinance, which the
flight of the Elder Branch left blank, signed by the Younger Branch.
It will be understood that none of these men had the least personal
attachment to Odilon Barrot. So, when the king proposed the dismissal
of the Préfet of the Seine, they all unanimously exclaimed, "Just as
you wish, seigneur!" Only one voice cried, "_Veto!_" that of Dupont
(de l'Eure). Now, Dupont had this one grand fault in the eyes of
politicians (and the king was the foremost politician of his day), he
persisted in sticking both to his own opinions and to his friends.

"If Odilon Barrot goes, I also depart!" said the honest old man flatly.

This was a more serious matter, for if the withdrawal of Odilon Barrot
involved that of Dupont (de l'Eure), the withdrawal of Dupont would
also mean that of La Fayette with him. Now, La Fayette's resignation
might very well, in the end, involve that of the king himself. It
would, moreover, cause ill-feeling between the king and Laffitte, who
was another staunch friend of Odilon Barrot. True, the king was not
disinclined for a rupture with Laffitte: there are certain services
so great that they can only be repaid by ingratitude; but the king
only wished to quarrel with Laffitte in his own time and at his own
convenience, when such a course would be expedient and not prejudicial.
The grave question was referred to a consensus of opinion for solution.

M. Sébastiani won the honours of the sitting by his suggestion of
himself making a personal application to M. Odilon Barrot to obtain his
voluntary resignation. Of course, Dupont (de l'Eure) was not present at
this secret confabulation. They settled to hold another council that
night. The king was late, contrary to his custom. As he entered the
cabinet, he did not perceive Dupont (de l'Eure) talking in a corner of
the room with M. Bignon.

"Victory, messieurs!" he exclaimed, in an exulting voice; "the
resignation of the Préfet of the Seine is settled, and General La
Fayette, realising the necessity for the resignation, himself consented
to it."

"What did you say, sire?" said Dupont (de l'Eure) hastily, coming out
of the darkness into the circle of light which revealed his presence to
the king.

"Oh! you are there, are you, Monsieur Dupont," said the king, rather
embarrassed. "Well, I was saying that General La Fayette has ceased to
oppose the resignation of M. Barrot."

"Sire," replied Dupont, "the statement your Majesty has done me the
honour to make is quite impossible of belief."

"I had it from the general's own lips, monsieur," replied the king.

"Your majesty must permit me to believe he is labouring under a
mistake," insisted Dupont, with a bow; "for the general told me the
very reverse, and I cannot believe him capable of contradicting himself
in this matter."

A flash of anger crossed the king's face; yet he restrained himself.

"However," continued Dupont, "I will speak for myself alone ... If M.
Odilon Barrot retires, I renew my request to the king to be good enough
to accept my resignation."

"But, monsieur," said the king hastily, "you promised me this very
morning, that whatever happened, you would remain until after the trial
of the ministers."

"Yes, true, sire, but only on condition that M. Barrot remained too."

"Without any conditions, monsieur."

It was now Dupont's turn to flush red.

"I must this time, sire," he said, "with the strength of conviction,
positively assert that the king is in error."

"What! monsieur," exclaimed the king, "you give me the lie to my face?
Oh! this is really too much! And everybody shall hear how you have been
lacking in respect to me."

"Take care, sire," replied the chancellor coldly; "when the king says
_yes_ and Dupont (de l'Eure) says _no_, I am not sure which of the two
France will believe."

Then, bowing to the king, he proceeded to the door of exit.

But on the threshold the unbending old man met the Duc d'Orléans, who
was young and smiling and friendly; he took him by both hands and would
not let him go further.

"Father," said the duke to the king, "there has surely been some
misunderstanding ... M. Dupont is so strictly honourable that he could
not possibly take any other course."

The king was well aware of the mistake he had just made, and held out
his hand to his minister; the Duc d'Orléans pushed him into the king's
open arms, and the king and his minister embraced. Probably nothing was
forgotten on either side, but the compact was sealed.

Odilon Barrot was to remain Préfet of the Seine, and, consequently,
Dupont (de l'Eure) was to remain chancellor, and La Fayette,
consequently, would remain generalissimo of the National Guard
throughout the kingdom.

But we shall see how these three faithful friends were politely
dismissed when the king had no further need of them. It will, however,
readily be understood that all this was but a temporary patching up,
without any real stability underneath. M. Dupont (de l'Eure) consented
to remain with MM. de Broglie, Guizot, Molé and Casimir Périer, but
these gentlemen had no intention whatever of remaining in office with
him. Consequently, they sent in their resignation, which involved those
of MM. Dupin and Bignon, ministers who held no offices of state.

The king was placed in a most embarrassing quandary, and had recourse
to M. Laffitte. M. Laffitte urged the harm that it would do his banking
house, and the daily work he would be obliged to give to public
affairs, if he accepted a position in the Government, and he confided
to the king the worry which the consequences of the July Revolution
had already caused him in his business affairs. The king offered him
every kind of inducement. But, with extreme delicacy of feeling, M.
Laffitte would not hear of accepting anything from the king, unless
the latter felt inclined to buy the forest of Breteuil at a valuation.
The only condition M. Laffitte made to this sale was that it should
be by private deed and not publicly registered, as registration would
naturally reveal the fact of the sale and the seller's difficulties.
They exchanged mutual promises, and the forest of Breteuil was valued
at, and sold for, eight millions, I believe, and the private deeds of
sale and purchase were executed and signed upon this basis.

M. Laffitte's credit thus made secure, he consented to accept both
the office of Minister for Finance and the Presidency of the Cabinet
Council.

The _Moniteur_ published, on 2 November, the list of newly elected
ministers. They were--MM. Laffitte, for Finance and President of the
Council; Dupont (de l'Eure), Minister of Justice; Gérard, for War;
Sébastiani, at the Admiralty; Maison, for Foreign Affairs; Montalivet,
at the Home Office; Mérilhou, for Education.

The king, therefore, had attained his end; _the doctrinaires_ (as
they were nicknamed, probably because they had no real political
principles) had done him great service by their resignation, and given
him the opportunity of forming a ministry entirely devoted to him. In
the new coalition, Louis-Philippe ranked Laffitte as _his friend_,
Sébastiani and Montalivet, as his devoted servants; Gérard and Maison,
his subservient followers; while Mérilhou fell an easy prey to his
influence. There was only Dupont (de l'Eure) left, and he took his cue
from La Fayette.

Now, do not let us lose sight of the fact that this ministry might be
called _the Trial Ministry (ministère du procès)_, and that La Fayette,
who had been proscribed by M. de Polignac, wanted to take a noble
revenge upon him by saving his life. His speech in the Chamber did not
leave the slightest doubt of his intentions.

On 4 October, the Chamber of Peers constituted itself a Court of
Justice, ordered the removal of the ex-ministers to the prison of the
petit Luxembourg and fixed 15 December for the opening of the trial.
But between 4 October and 15 December (that is to say, between the
constitution of the Court of Peers and the opening of the trial) M.
Laffitte received the following curt note from Louis-Philippe:--

    "MY DEAR MONSIEUR LAFFITTE,--After what has been told
    me by a mutual friend, of whom I need not say anything
    further, you know quite well why I have availed myself, at
    M. Jamet's[1] urgent instigation, to whom the secret of
    the purchase was entrusted by yourself and not by me, of
    taking the opportunity of having the private deed of sale
    registered, as secretly as possible.--Yours affectionately,
                                             LOUIS-PHILIPPE."

M. Laffitte was stunned by the blow; he did not place any belief in the
secrecy of the registration; and he was right. The sale became known,
and M. Laffitte's downfall dated from that moment. But the deed of
sale bore a special date! M. Laffitte took up his pen to send in his
resignation, and this involved that of Dupont (de l'Eure), La Fayette
and Odilon Barrot. He reflected that Louis-Philippe would be disarmed
in face of a future political upheaval. But the revenge appeared too
cruel a one to the famous banker, who now acted the part of king, while
the real king played that of financier. Nevertheless, the wound rankled
none the less deeply in his heart.


[1] M. Jamet was the king's private book-keeper.



CHAPTER III


    Béranger as Patriot and Republican


When Laffitte became minister, he wanted to bear with him up to the
political heights he was himself compelled to ascend, a man who,
as we have said, had perhaps contributed more to the accession of
Louis-Philippe even than had the celebrated banker himself. That man
was Béranger. But Béranger, with his clear-sighted common sense,
realised that, for him as well as for Laffitte, apparent promotion
really meant ultimate downfall. He therefore let all his friends
venture on that bridge of Mahomet, as narrow as a thread of flax,
called power; but shook his head and took farewell of them in the
following verses:--

    "Non, mes amis, non, je ne veux rien être;
    Semez ailleurs places, titres et croix.
    Non, pour les cours Dieu ne m'a point fait naître:
    Oiseau craintif, je fuis la glu des rois!
    Que me faut-il? Maîtresse à fine taille,
    Que me faut-il? Maîtresse à fine taille,
    Petit repas et joyeux entretien!
    De mon berceau près de bénir la paille,
    En me créant, Dieu m'a dit: 'Ne sois rien!'

    Un sort brillant serait chose importune
    Pour moi rimeur, qui vis de temps perdu.
    N'est-il tombé, des miettes de fortune,
    Tout has, j'ai dit: 'Ce pain ne m'est pas dû.
    Quel artisan, pauvre, hélas! quoi qu'il fasse,
    N'a plus que moi droit à ce peu de bien?
    Sans trop rougir, fouillons dans ma besace.
    En me créant, Dieu m'a dit: 'Ne sois rien!'

    Sachez pourtant, pilotes du royaume,
    Combien j'admire un homme de vertu
    Qui, désertant son hôtel ou son chaume,
    Monte au vaisseau par tous les vents battu,
    De loin, ma vois lui crie: 'Heureux voyage!'
    Priant de cœur pour tout grand citoyen;
    Mais, au soleil, je m'endors sur la plage
    En me créant, Dieu m'a dit: 'Ne sois rien!'

    Votre tombeau sera pompeux sans doute;
    J'aurai, sous l'herbe, une fosse à l'écart.
    Un peuple en deuil vous fait cortège en route;
    Du pauvre, moi, j'attends le corbillard.
    En vain l'on court ou votre étoile tombe;
    Qu'importe alors votre gîte ou le mien?
    La différence est toujours une tombe.
    En me créant, Dieu m'a dit: 'Ne sois rien!'

    De ce palais souffrez donc que je sorte,
    À vos grandeurs je devais un salut;
    Amis, adieu! j'ai, derrière la porte,
    Laissé tantôt mes sabots et mon luth.
    Sous ces lambris, près de vous accourue,
    La Liberté s'offre à vous pour soutien ...
    Je vais chanter ses bienfaits dans la rue.
    En me créant, Dieu m'a dit: 'Ne sois rien!'"

So Béranger retired, leaving his friends more deeply entangled in the
web of power than was La Fontaine's raven in the sheep's wool. Even
when he is sentimental, Béranger finds it difficult not to insert a
touch of mischief in his poetry, and, perhaps, while he is singing in
the street the blessings of liberty, he is laughing in his sleeve;
exemplifying that disheartening maxim of La Rochefoucauld, that there
is always something even in the very misfortunes of our best friends
which gives us pleasure. Yet how many times did the philosophic singer
acclaim in his heart the Government he had founded. We say _in his
heart_, for whether distrustful of the stability of human institutions,
or whether he deemed it a good thing to set up kings, but a bad one
to sing their praises in poetry, Béranger never, thank goodness!
consecrated by a single line of praise in verse the sovereignty of
July which he had lauded in his speech.

Now let us take stock of the length of time his admiration of, and
sympathy with, the royal cause lasted. It was not for long! In six
months all was over; and the poet had taken the measure of the king:
the king was only fit to be put away with Villon's old moons. If my
reader disputes this assertion let him listen to Béranger's own words.
The man who, on 31 July, had flung _a plank across the stream_, as the
_petits Savoyards_ do, is the first to try to push it off into the
water: it is through no fault of his if it do not fall in and drag the
king with it.

    "Oui, chanson, muse, ma fille,
        J'ai déclaré net
    Qu'avec Charle et sa famille,
        On le détrônait;
    Mais chaque loi qu'on nous donne
        Te rappelle ici:
    Chanson, reprends ta couronne!
        --Messieurs, grand merci!

    Je croyais qu'on allait faire
        Du grand et du neuf,
    Même étendre un peu la sphère
        De quatre-vingt-neuf;
    Mais point: on rebadigeonne
        Un troûe noirci!
    Chanson, reprends ta couronne!
        --Messieurs, grand merci!

    Depuis les jours de décembre,[1]
        Vois, pour se grandir,
    La chambre vanter la chambre,
        La chambre applaudir!
    À se prouver qu'elle est bonne,
        Elle a réussi ...
    Chanson, reprends ta couronne!
        --Messieurs, grand merci!

    Basse-cour des ministères
        Qu'en France on honnit,
    Nos chapons héréditaires,
        Sauveront leur nid;
    Les petits que Dieu leur donne
        Y pondront aussi ...
    Chanson, reprends ta couronne!
        --Messieurs, grand merci!

    La planète doctrinaire
        Qui sur Gand brillait
    Vent servir la luminaire
        Aux gens de juillet:
    Fi d'un froid soleil d'automne
        De brume obscurci!
    Chanson, reprends ta couronne!
        --Messieurs, grand merci!

    _Nos ministres, qu'on peut mettre_
        _Tous au même point,_[2]
    Voudraient que la baromètre
        Ne variât point:
    Pour peu que là-bas il tonne,
        On se signe ici ...
    Chanson, reprends ta couronne!
        --Messieurs, grand merci!

    Pour être en état de grâce
        Que de grands peureux
    Ont soin de laisser en place
        Les hommes véreux!
    Si l'on ne touche à personne,
        C'est afin que si ...
    Chanson, reprends ta couronne!
        --Messieurs, grand merci!

    Te voilà donc restaurée,
        Chanson mes amours!
    Tricolore et sans livrée,
        Montre-toi toujours!
    Ne crains plus qu'on l'emprisonne,
        Du moins à Poissy ...
    Chanson, reprends ta couronne!
        --Messieurs, grand merci!

    Mais, pourtant, laisse en jachère
        Mon sol fatigué;
    Mes jeunes rivaux, ma chère,
        Ont un ciel si gai!
    Chez eux la rose foisonne,
        Chez moi le souci.
    Chanson, reprends ta couronne!
        --Messieurs, grand merci!"

These verses were nothing short of a declaration of war, but they
escaped unnoticed, and those poets who talked of them seemed to talk of
them as of something fallen from the moon, or some aerolite that nobody
had picked up.

A song of Béranger? What was it but a song by him? The public had not
read this particular one, though it was aware of the existence of a
poet of that name who had written _Le Dieu des bonnes gens, L'Ange
Gardien, Le Cinq mai, Les Deux Cousins, Le Ventru_, all songs that
more or less attacked Louis XVIII. and Charles X.; but they did not
recognise a poet of the name of Béranger who allowed himself to go
so far as to attack Louis-Philippe. Why this ignorance of the new
Béranger? Why this deafness as to his new song? We will explain.

There comes a reactionary period after every political change, during
which material interests prevail over national, and shameful appetites
over noble passions; during such a period,--as Louis-Philippe's reign,
for example--that government is in favour which fosters these selfish
interests and surfeits ignoble passions. The acts of such a government,
no matter how outrageously illegal and tyrannical and immoral, are
looked upon as saving graces! They praise and approve them, and make
as much noise at the footstool of power, as the priests of Cybele,
who clashed their cymbals round Jupiter's cradle. Throughout such a
period as this, the only thing the masses fear, who, living by such
a reaction, have every interest in upholding it, is, lest daylight
break on the scene of Pandemonium, and light shine into the sink where
speculators and moneymakers and coiners of crowns and paper money
jostle, and crowd and hustle one another amid that jingling of money
which denotes the work they are engaged in. Whether such a state of
things lasts long or only briefly, we repeat that, while it endures
until an honest, pure and elevated national spirit gets the upper hand,
nothing can be done or said or hoped for; everything else is cried up
and approved and extolled beforehand! It is as though that fine popular
spirit which inspires nations from time to time to attempt great deeds
has vanished, has gone up to the skies, or one knows not where. Weaker
spirits despair of ever seeing it come back, and nobler minds alone,
who share its essence, know that it ever lives, as they possess a spark
of that divine soul, believed to be extinct, and they wait with smiling
lips and calm brow. Then, gradually, they witness this political
phenomenon. Without apparent cause, or deviation from the road it
had taken, perhaps for the very reason that it is still pursuing
it, such a type of government, which cannot lose the reputation it
has never had, loses the factitious popularity it once possessed;
its very supporters, who have made their fortunes out of it, whose
co-operation it has rewarded, gradually fall away from it, and, without
disowning it altogether, already begin to question its stability. From
this very moment, such a government is condemned; and, just as they
used to approve of its evil deeds, they criticise its good actions.
Corruption is the very marrow of its bones and runs through it from
beginning to end and dries up the deadly sap which had made it spread
over a whole nation, branches like those of the upas tree, and shade
like that of the manchineel. Into this atmosphere, which, for five,
ten, fifteen, twenty years, has been full of an impure element that
has been inhaled together with other elements of the air, there comes
something antagonistic to it, something not immediately recognised.
This is the returning spirit of social probity, entering the political
conscience; it is the soul of the nation, in a word, that was thought
to have fainted, risen to the sky, gone, no one knew where, which comes
back to reanimate the vast democratic masses, which it had abandoned
to a lethargy that surrounding nations, jealous and inimical, had been
all too eager to proclaim as the sleep of death! At such a crisis the
government, by the mere returning of the masses to honesty, seems like
a ship that has lost its direction, which staggers and wavers and knows
not where it is going! It has withstood fifteen years of tempests and
storms and now it founders in a squall. It had become stronger by 5 and
6 June, on 13 and 14 April and 15 May, but falls before 24 February.

Such a government or rather governments show signs of their decline
when men of heart and understanding refuse to rally to their help, or
when those who had done so by mistake quit it from disgust. It does not
follow that these desertions bring about an immediate fall--it may not
be for years after, but it is a certain sign that they will fall some
day, alone, or by their own act, and the public conscience, at this
stage of their decline, needs but to give it a slight push to complete
the ruin!

Now Béranger, with his fine instinct of right and wrong, of good and
evil, knew all this; not in the self-saving spirit of the rat which
leaves the ship where it has fattened, when it is about to sail. As
we have seen, he would receive nothing at the hands of the Government
or from the friends who formed its crew; but, like the swift, white
sea-bird, which skims the crests of the rising waves, he warned the
sailors of coming storms. From this very moment, Béranger decides that
royalty in France is condemned, since this same royalty, which he has
kneaded with his own hands, with the democratic element of a Jacobin
prince in 1791, a commandant of the National Guard, a Republican in
1789 and a popular Government in 1830, is turning to a middle-class
aristocracy, the last of the aristocracies, because it is the most
selfish and the most narrow-minded,--and he dreams of a Republic!

But how was he to attack this popular king, this king of the bourgeois
classes and of material interests, the king who had saved society?
(Every form of government in France as it arose has made that claim!)
The king was invulnerable; the Revolution of '89, which was looked upon
as his mother, but was only his nurse, had dipped him in the furnace of
the Three Days, as Thetis dipped her son Achilles in the river Styx;
but he, too, had his weak spot like Homer's hero.

Is it the head? Is it the heel? Is it the heart? The poet, who will not
lose his time in manufacturing gunpowder, which might easily be blown
away, before it was used, will look for this weak spot, and, never
fear, he will find it.


[1] We shall talk about these directly, but, desiring to dedicate a
chapter or two now to Béranger, who, as poet and politician, took a
great part in the Revolution of July, we are obliged to take a step in
advance.

[2] What would have become of Béranger if he had followed the power of
the ministers who could be put all on the same level? For notice that
the ministers he speaks of here are his friends, who did not send in
their resignation till 13 March.



CHAPTER IV


    Béranger, as Republican


This vulnerable spot was the Republican feeling, ever alert in France,
whether it be disguised under the names of Liberalism, Progress or
Democracy. Béranger discovered it, for, just when he was going to bid
farewell to poetry, he once more took up his song; like the warrior
who, in despair, had flung down his arms, he resumed them; but he has
changed his aim and will slay with principles rather than bullets, he
will no longer try to pierce the velvet of an ancient throne, but he
will set up a new statue of marble upon a brazen altar! That statue
shall be the figure of the Republic. He who was of the advanced school
under the Elder Branch, hangs back under the Younger. But what matters
it! He will accomplish his task and, though it stand alone, it will
be none the less powerful. Listen to him: behold him at his moulding:
like Benvenuto Cellini, he flings the lead of his old cartridges into
the smelting-pot: he will throw in his bronze and even the two silver
dinner-services which he brings out of an old walnut chest on grand
occasions when he dines with Lisette, and which he has once or twice
lent to Frétillon to put in pawn. While he works, he discovers that
those whom he fought in 1830 were in the right, and that it was he
himself who was wrong; he had looked upon them as _madmen_, now he
makes his frank apologies to them in this song--

    "Vieux soldats de plomb que nous sommes,
    Au cordeau nous alignant tous,
    Si des rangs sortant quelques hommes,
    Tous, nous crions: 'À bas les fous!'

    On les persécute, on les tue,
    Sauf, après un lent examen,
    À leur dresser une statue
    Pour la gloire du genre humain!

    Combien de tempo une pensée.
    Vierge obscure, attend son époux!
    Les sots la traitent d'insensée,
    Le sage lui dit: 'Cachez-vous!'
    Mais, la rencontrant loin du monde,
    Un fou qui croit au lendemain
    L'épouse; elle devient féconde,
    Pour le bonheur du genre humain!

    J'ai vu Saint-Simon, le prophète,
    Riche d'abord, puis endetté,
    Qui, des fondements jusqu'au faite,
    Refaisait la société.
    Plein de son œuvre commencée,
    Vieux, pour elle il tendais la main,
    Sur qu'il embrassait la pensée
    Qui doit sauver le genre humain!

    Fourier nous dit: 'Sors de la fange,
    Peuple en proie aux déceptions!
    Travaille, groupé par phalange,
    Dans un cercle d'attractions.
    La terre, après tant de désastres,
    Forme avec le ciel un hymen,
    Et la loi qui régit les astres
    Donne la paix au genre humain!'

    Enfantin affranchit la femme,
    L'appelle à partager nos droits.
    'Fi! dites-vous, sous l'épigramme
    Ces fous rêveurs tombent tous trois!'
    Messieurs, lorsqu'en vain notre sphère
    Du bonheur cherche le chemin,
    Honneur au fou qui ferait faire
    Un rêve heureux au genre humain!

    Qui découvrit un nouveau monde?
    Un fou qu'on raillait en tout lieu!
    Sur la croix, que son sang inonde,
    Un fou qui meurt nous lègue un Dieu!

    Si, demain, oubliant d'élcore,
    Le jour manquait, eh bien! demain,
    Quelque fou trouverait encore
    Un flambeau pour le genre humain!"


You have read this song. What wonderful sense and rhythm of thought and
poetry these lines contain! You say you didn't know it? Really? and
yet you knew all those which, under Charles X., attacked the throne or
the altar. _Le Sacre de Charles le Simple,_ and _L'Ange Gardien._ How
is it that you never knew this one? Because Béranger, instead of being
a tin soldier drawn up to defend public order, as stock-jobbers and
the bourgeois and grocers understand things, was looked upon as one
of those fanatics who leave the ranks in pursuit of mad ideas, which
they take unto themselves in marriage and perforce therefrom bring
forth offspring! Only, Béranger was no longer in sympathy with public
thought; the people do not pick up the arrows he shoots, in order to
hurl them back at the throne; his poems, which were published in 1825,
and again in 1829, and then sold to the extent of thirty thousand
copies, are, in 1833, only sold to some fifteen hundred. But what
matters it to him, the bird of the desert, who sings for the love of
singing, because the good God, who loves to hear him, who prefers his
poetry to that of _missionaries, Jesuits and of those jet-black-dwarfs_
whom he nourishes, and who hates the smoke of their censers, has said
to him, "Sing, poor little bird, sing!" So he goes on singing at every
opportunity.

When Escousse and Lebras died, he sang a melancholy song steeped in
doubt and disillusionment; he could not see his way in the chaos of
society. He only felt that the earth was moving like an ocean; that the
outlook was stormy; that the world was in darkness, and that the vessel
called _France_ was drifting further and further towards destruction.
Listen. Was there ever a more melancholy song than this? It is like the
wild seas that break upon coasts bristling with rocks and covered with
heather, like the bays of Morlaix and the cliffs of Douarnenez.


    "Quoi! morts tous deux dans cette chambre close
    Où du charbon pèse encor la vapeur!
    Leur vie, hélas! était à peine éclose;
    Suicide affreux! triste objet de stupeur!
    Ils auront dit: 'Le monde fait naufrage;
    Voyez pâlir pilote et matelots!
    Vieux bâtiment usé par tous les flots,
    Il s'engloutit, sauvons-nous à la nage!'
    Et, vers le ciel se frayant un chemin,
    Ils sont partis en se donnant la main!
    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
    Pauvres enfants! quelle douleur amère
    N'apaisent pas de saints devoirs remplis?
    Dans la patrie on retrouve une mère,
    Et son drapeau vous couvre de ses plis!
    Ils répondaient: 'Ce drapeau, qu'on escorte,
    Au toit du chef le protège endormi;
    Mais le soldat, teint du sang ennemi,
    Veille, et de faim meurt en gardant la porte!'
    Et, vers le ciel se frayant un chemin,
    Ils sont partis en se donnant la main!
    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
    Dieu créateur, pardonne à leur démence!
    Ils s'étaient fait les échos de leurs sous,
    Ne sachant pas qu'en une chaîne immense,
    Non pour nous seuls, mais pour tous nous naissons.
    L'humanité manque de saints apôtres
    Qui leur aient dit: 'Enfants, suivez ma loi!
    Aimer, aimer, c'est être utile à soi!
    Se faire aimer, c'est être utile aux autres!'
    Et, vers le ciel se frayant un chemin,
    Ils sont partis en se donnant la main!"

At what a moment,--consider it!--did Béranger prophesy that the world
would suffer shipwreck to the terror of pilots and sailors? When, in
February 1832, the Tuileries was feasting its courtiers; when the
newspapers, which supported the Government, were glutted with praise;
when the citizen-soldiers of the rues Saint-Denis and Saint-Martin
were enthusiastic in taking their turn on guard; when officers were
clamouring for crosses for themselves and invitations to court for
their wives; when, out of the thirty-six millions of the French
people, thirty millions were bellowing at the top of their voices,
"Vive Louis-Philippe, the upholder of order and saviour of society!"
when the _Journal des Débats_ was shouting its HOSANNAHS! and the
_Constitutionnel_ its AMENS!

By the powers! One would have been out of one's mind to die at such a
time; and only a poet would talk of the world going to wrack and ruin!

But wait! When Béranger perceived that no one listened to his words,
that, like Horace, he sang to deaf ears, he still went on singing, and
now still louder than before--

    "Société, vieux et sombre édifice,
    Ta chute, hélas! Menace nos abris:
    Tu vas crouler! point de flambeau qui puisse
    Guider la foule à travers tes débris:
    Où courons-nous! Quel sage en proie au doute
    N'a sur son front vingt fois passé la main?
    C'est aux soleils d'être sûrs de leur route;
    Dieu leur a dit: 'Voilà votre chemin!'"

Then comes the moment when this chaos is unravelled, and the night is
lifted, and the dawn of a new day rises; the poet bursts into a song of
joy as he sees it! What did he see? Oh! be not afraid, he will be only
too ready to tell you--

    "Toujours prophète, en mon saint ministère,
    Sur l'avenir j'ose interroger Dieu.
    Pour châtier les princes de la terre,
    Dans l'ancien monde un déluge aura lieu.
    Déjà près d'eux, l'Océan, sur les grèves,
    Mugit, se gonfle, il vient.... 'Maîtres, voyez,
    Voyez!' leur dis-je. Ils répondent: 'Tu rêves!'
    Ces pauvres rois, ils seront tous noyés!
    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
    Que vous ont fait, mon Dieu, ces bons monarques?
    Il en est tant dont on bénit les lois!
    De jougs trop lourds si nous portons les marques,
    C'est qu'en oubli le peuple a mis ses droits.
    Pourtant, les flots précipitent leur marche
    Contre ces chefs jadis si bien choyés.
    Faute d'esprit pour se construire une arche,
    Ces pauvres rois, ils seront tous noyés!
    'Un océan! quel est-il, ô prophète?'

    _Peuples, c'est nous, affranchis de la faim_,
    _Nous, plus instruits, consommant la défaite_
    _De tant de rois, inutiles, enfin!..._
    Dieu fait passer sur ces fils indociles
    Nos flots mouvants, si longtemps fourvoyés;
    Puis le ciel brille, et les flots sont tranquilles.
    Ces pauvres rois, ils seront tous noyés!"

It will be observed that it was not as in _les Deux Cousins_, a simple
change of fortune or of dynasty, but the overturning of every dynasty
that the poet is predicting; not as in _Les Dieu des bonnes gens_, the
changing of destinies and tides, but the revolution of both towards
ultimate tranquillity. The ocean becomes a vast lake, without swell or
storms, reflecting the azure heavens and of such transparent clearness
that at the bottom can be seen the corpses of dead monarchies and the
débris of wrecked thrones.

Then, what happens on the banks of this lake, in the capital of the
civilised world, in the city _par excellence_, as the Romans called
Rome? The poet is going to tell you, and you will not have long to wait
to know if he speaks the truth: a hundred and sixty-six years, dating
from 1833, the date at which the song appeared. What is a hundred and
sixty-six years in the life of a people? For, note carefully, the
prophecy is for the year 2000, and the date may yet be disputed!

    "Nostradamus, qui vit naître Henri-Quatre,
    Grand astrologue, a prédit, dans ses vers,
    Qu_'en l'an deux mil, date qu'on peut débattre_,
    De la médaille on verrait le revers:
    Alors, dit-il, Paris, dans l'allégresse,
    Au pied du Louvre ouïra cette voix:
    'Heureux Français, soulagez ma détresse;
    Faites l'aumône au dernier de vos rois!'

    Or, cette voix sera celle d'un homme
    Pauvre, à scrofule, en haillons, sans souliers,
    Qui, _né proscrit_, vieux, arrivant de Rome,
    Fera spectacle aux petits écoliers.
    Un sénateur crira: 'L'homme à besace,
    Les mendiants sont bannis par nos lois!
    --Hélas! monsieur, je suis seul de ma race;
    Faites l'aumône au dernier de vos rois!'

    'Es-tu vraiment de la race royale?'
    --Oui, répondra cet homme, fier encor;
    J'ai vu dans Rome, alors ville papale,
    À mon aïeul couronne et sceptre d'or;
    Il les vendit pour nourrir le courage
    De faux agents, d'écrivains maladroits!
    Moi, j'ai pour sceptre un bâton de voyage....
    Faites l'aumône au dernier de vos rois!

    'Mon père, âgé, _mort en prison pour dettes_,
    D'un bon métier n'osa point me pouvoir;
    Je tends la main ... Riches, partout vous êtes
    Bien durs au pauvre, et Dieu me l'a fait voir!
    Je foule enfin cette plage féconde
    Qui repoussa mes aïeux tant de fois!
    Ah! par pitié pour les grandeurs du monde,
    Faites l'aumône au dernier de vos rois!'

    Le sénateur dira: 'Viens! je t'emmène
    Dans mon palais; vis heureux parmi nous.
    Contre les rois nous n'avons plus de haine;
    Ce qu'il en reste embrasse nos genoux!
    En attendant que le sénat décide
    À ses bienfaits si ton sort a des droits,
    Moi, qui suis né d'un vieux sang régicide,
    Je fais l'aumône au dernier de nos rois!'

    Nostradamus ajoute en son vieux style:
    'La _République_ au prince accordera
    Cent louis de rente, et, citoyen utile,
    Pour maire, un jour, Saint-Cloud le choisira.
    Sur l'an deux mil, on dira dans l'histoire,
    Qu'assise au trône et des arts et des lois,
    La France, en paix, reposant sous sa gloire,
    A fait l'aumône au dernier de ses rois!'"

It is quite clear this time, and the word _Republic_ is pronounced;
the _Republic_ in the year 2000 will give alms to the last of its
kings! There is no ambiguity in the prophecy. Now, how long will this
Republic, strong enough to give alms to the last of its kings, have
been established? It is a simple algebraic calculation which the most
insignificant mathematician can arrive at, by proceeding according to
rule, from the known to the unknown.

It is in the year 2000 that Paris will hear, at the foot of the Louvre,
the voice of a man in tatters shouting, "Give alms to the last of your
kings!"


    This voice will belong to a man _born an outlaw, old,
    arriving from Rome,_ which leads one to suppose he would
    be about sixty or seventy years of age. Let us take a mean
    course and say sixty-five                                        @ 65

    This man, a born outlaw, _saw in Rome, then a papal city,
    the crown and golden sceptre of his grandfather._ How long
    ago can that have been? Let us say fifty years                   @ 50

    For how long had this grandfather been exiled? It cannot
    have been long, because he had his sceptre and gold crown
    still, and sold them to _feed the courage of false agents
    and luckless writers._ Let us reckon it at fifteen years and
    say no more about it                                             @ 15

    Let us add to that the twenty years that have rolled by
    since 1833                                                       @ 20

    And we shall have to take away a total from 166 of                150


Now he who from 166 pays back 150 keeps 16 as remainder,--and yet,
and yet the poet said the year 2000 is _open to doubt._ Do not let us
dispute the question, but let us even allow more time.

We return thee thanks, Béranger, thou poet and prophet!

What happened upon the appearance of these prophecies which were
calculated to wound many very different interests? That the people who
knew the old poems of Béranger by heart, because their ambition, their
hopes and desires, had made weapons of them wherewith to destroy the
old throne, did not even read his new songs, whilst those who did read
them said to each other, "Have you read Béranger's new songs? No. Well,
don't read them. Poor fellow, he is going off!" So they did not read
them, or, if they had read them, the word was passed round to say,
that the song-writer was going off. No, on the contrary, the poet was
growing greater, not deteriorating! But just as from song-writer he had
become poet, so, from poet, he was becoming a prophet. I mean that, to
the masses, he was becoming more and more unintelligible. Antiquity has
preserved us the songs of Anacreon, but has forgotten the prophecies of
Cassandra.

And why? Homer tells us: the Greeks refused to put faith in the
prophetic utterances of the daughter of Priam and Hecuba.

Alas! Béranger followed her in this and held his peace; and a whole
world of masterpieces on the eve of bursting forth was arrested on his
silent lips. He smiled with that arch smile of his, and said--

"Ah! I am declining, am I? Well, then, ask for songs of those who are
rising!"

Rossini had said the same thing after _Guillaume Tell_, and what was
the result? We had no more operas by him, and no more songs from
Béranger.

Now it may be asked how it happens that Béranger, a Republican, resides
peacefully in the avenue de Chateaubriand (No. 5), at Paris, whilst
Victor Hugo is living in Marine Terrace, in the island of Jersey. It
is simply a question of age and of temperament. Hugo is a fighter, and
scarcely fifty: while Béranger, take him all in all, is an Epicurean
and, moreover, seventy years of age;[1] an age at which a man begins
to prepare his bed for his eternal sleep, and Béranger (God grant he
may live many years yet, would he but accept some years of our lives!)
wishes to die peacefully upon the bed of flowers and bay leaves that
he has made for himself. He has earned the right to do so--he has
struggled hard enough in the past, and, rest assured, his work will
continue in the future!

Let us just say, in conclusion, that those who were then spoken of as
the _young school_ (they are now men of forty to fifty) were not fair
to Béranger. After Benjamin Constant had exalted him to the rank of a
great epic poet, they tried to reduce him to the level of a writer of
doggerel verses. By this action, criticism innocently made itself the
accomplice of the ruling powers; it only intended to be severe, but
was, really, both unjust and ungrateful! It needs to be an exile and
a poet living in a strange land, far from that communion of thought
which is the food of intellectual life, to know how essentially French,
philosophical and consolatory, the muse of the poet of Passy really
was. In the case of Béranger, there was no question of exile, and each
exile can, while he sings his songs, look for the realisation of that
prophecy which Nostradamus has fixed for the year 2000.

But we are a very long way from the artillery, which we were
discussing, and we must return to it again and to the riot in which it
was called upon to play its part.

Let us, then, return to the riot and to the artillery. But, dear
Béranger, dear poet, dear father, we do not bid you _adieu_, only _au
revoir._ After the storm, the halcyon!--the halcyon, white as snow,
which has passed through all the storms, its swan-like plumage as
spotless as before.


[1] See Note A, at end of the volume.



CHAPTER V


    Death of Benjamin Constant--Concerning his life--Funeral
    honours that were conferred upon him--His funeral--Law
    respecting national rewards--The trial of the
    ministers--Grouvelle and his sister--M. Mérilhou and the
    neophyte--Colonel Lavocat--The Court of Peers--Panic--Fieschi


The month of December 1830 teemed with events. One of the gravest
was the death of Benjamin Constant. On the 10th we received orders
to be ready equipped and armed by the 12th, to attend the funeral
procession of the famous deputy. He had died at seven in the evening
of 8 December. His death created a great sensation throughout Paris.
Benjamin Constant's popularity was a strange one, and it would be hard
to say upon what it was founded. He was a Swiss Protestant, and had
been brought up in England and Germany. He could speak English, German
and French with equal ease; but he composed and wrote in French. He
was young, good-looking, strong in body, but weak in character. From
the time he set foot in France, Constant did nothing unless under the
influence of women: they were his rulers in literature and his guides
in politics. He was taken up by three of the most celebrated women of
his time; by Madame Tallien, Madame de Beauharnais and Madame de Staël,
and he was completely under their influence; the latter, especially,
had an immense influence over his life. _Adolphe_ was he himself, and
the heroine in it was Madame de Staël. Besides, the life of Benjamin
was not by any means the life of a man, but that of a woman, that is
to say, a mixture of inconsistencies and weaknesses. Raised to the
Tribunal after the overturning of the Directory, he opposed Bonaparte
when he was First Consul, not, as historians state, because he had no
belief in the durability of Napoléon's good fortune, but because Madame
de Staël, with whom he was then on most intimate terms, detested the
First Consul. He was expelled from the Tribunal in 1801, and exiled
from France in 1802, and went to live near his mistress (or rather
master) at Coppet. About the year 1806 or 1807 this life of slavery
grew insufferable to him, and, weak though he was, he broke his chains.
Read his novel _Adolphe_, and you will see how heavily the chain
galled him! He settled at Hanover, where he married a German lady of
high birth, a relative of the Prince of Hardenberg, and behold him an
aristocrat, moving in the very highest aristocratic circles in Germany,
never leaving the princes of the north, but living in the heart of the
coalition which threatened France, directing foreign proclamations,
writing his brochure, _De l'esprit de conquête et d'usurpation_, upon
the table of the Emperor Alexander; and, finally, re-entering France
with Auguste de Staël, in the carriage of King Charles-John. How can
one escape being a Royalist in such company!

He was also admitted to the _Journal des Débats_, and became one of
the most active editors of that periodical. When Bonaparte landed
at the gulf of Juan and marched on Paris, Benjamin Constant's first
impulse was to take himself off. He began by hiding himself at the
house of Mr. Crawford, ex-ambassador to the United States; then he
went to Nantes with an American who undertook to get him out of
France. But, on the journey, he learned of the insurrection in the
West and retraced his steps and returned to Paris after a week's
absence. In five more days' time, he went to the Tuileries at the
invitation of M. Perregaux, where the emperor was awaiting an audience
with him in his private room. Benjamin Constant was to be bought by
any power that took the trouble to flatter him; he was in politics,
literature and morality what we will call a courtezan, only Thomas, of
the _National_, used a less polite word for it. Two days later, the
newspaper announced the appointment of Benjamin Constant as a member
of the State Council. Here it was that he drew up the famous _Acte
additionnel_ in conjunction with M. Molé, a minister whom we had just
thrown out of Louis-Philippe's Government. At the Second Restoration,
it was expedient for Benjamin Constant to get himself exiled; and it
regained him his popularity, so great was the public hatred against
the Bourbons! He went to England and published _Adolphe._ In 1816, the
portals of France were re-opened to him and he started the _Minerve_,
and wrote in the _Courrier_ and _Constitutionnel_ and in the _Temps._
I met him at this time at the houses of Châtelain and M. de Seuven. He
was a tall, well-built man, excessively nervous, pale and with long
hair, which gave his face a strangely Puritanical expression; he was
as irritable as a woman and a gambler to the pitch of infatuation! He
had been a deputy since 1819, and each day he was one of the first
arrivals at the Chamber, punctiliously clad in uniform, with its silver
fleurs-de-lis, and always, summer and winter, carrying a cloak over
his arm; his other hand was always full of books and printer's proofs;
he limped and leant upon a sort of crutch, stumbling along frequently
till he reached his seat. When seated, he began upon his correspondence
and the correcting of his proofs, employing every usher in the place
to execute his innumerable commissions. Ambitious in all directions,
without ever succeeding in anything, nor even getting into the Academy,
where he failed in his first attempt against Cousin, and in the second
against M. Viennet! by turns irresolute and courageous, servile and
independent, he spent his ten years as deputy under every kind of
vacillation. The Monday of the Ordinances he was away in the country,
where he had been undergoing a serious operation; he received a letter
from Vatout, short and significant--

    "MY DEAR FRIEND,--A terrible game is being played here with
    heads as stakes. Be the clever gambler you always are and
    come and bring your own head to our assistance."

The summons was tempting and he went. On the Thursday, he reached
Montrouge, where the barricades compelled him to leave his carriage
and to cross Paris upon the arm of his wife, who was terrified when
she saw what men were guarding the Hôtel de Ville, and frightened her
husband as well as herself.

"Let us start for Switzerland instantly!" exclaimed Benjamin Constant;
"and find a corner of the earth where not even the cover of a newspaper
can reach us!"

He was actually on the point of doing so when he was recognised, and
some one called out "Vive Benjamin Constant!" lifted him in his arms
and carried him in triumph. His name was placed last on the list of
the protest of the deputies, and is to be found at the end of Act 30,
conferring the Lieutenant-generalship upon the Duc d'Orléans; these
two signatures, supported by his immense reputation and increasing
popularity, once more took him into the State Council. Meanwhile, he
was struggling against poverty, and Vatout induced the king to allow
him two hundred thousand francs, which Constant accepted on condition,
so he said to him who gave him this payment, that he was allowed the
right of free speech. That's exactly how I understand it, said the
king. At the end of four months, the two hundred thousand francs were
all gambled away, and Constant was poorer than ever. A fortnight before
his death, a friend went to his house, one morning at ten o'clock, and
found him eating dry bread, soaked in a glass of water. That crust of
bread was all he had had since the day before, and the glass of water
he owed to the Auvergnat who had filled his cistern that morning. His
death was announced to the Chamber of Deputies on 9 December.

"What did he die of?" several members asked.

And a melancholy accusing voice that none dared contradict replied--

"Of hunger!"

This was not quite the truth, but there was quite enough foundation for
the statement to be allowed to pass unchallenged.

Then they set to work to arrange all kinds of funeral celebrations;
they brought in a bill respecting the honours that should be bestowed
upon great citizens by a grateful country, and, as this Act could not
be passed by the following day, they bought provisionally a vault in
the Cemetery de l'Est.

Oh! what a fine thing is the gratitude of a nation! True, it does not
always secure one against death by starvation; but, at all events, it
guarantees your being buried in style when you are dead--unless you die
either in prison or in exile.

We had the privilege of contributing to the pomp of this cortège formed
of a hundred thousand men; shadowed by flags draped in crêpe; and
marching to the roll of muffled drums, and the dull twangings of the
tam-tams. At one time, the whole boulevard was flooded by a howling
sea like the rising tide, and, soon, the storm burst. As the funeral
procession came out of the church, the students tried to get possession
of the coffin, shouting, "To the Panthéon!" But Odilon Barrot came
forward; the Panthéon was not in the programme, and he opposed their
enthusiasm and, as a struggle began, he appealed to the law.

"The law must be enforced!" he cried. And he called to his aid
that strength which people in power generally apply less to the
maintenance of law than to the execution of their own desires; which,
unfortunately, is not always the same thing.

Eighteen months later, these very same words, "The law must be
enforced!" were pronounced over another coffin, but, in that instance,
the law was not enforced until after two days of frightful butchery.

At the edge of Benjamin Constant's grave, La Fayette nearly fainted
from grief and fatigue, and was obliged to be held up and pulled
backward or he would have lain beside the dead before his time.

We shall relate how the same thing nearly happened to him at the grave
of Lamarque, but, that time, he did not get up again.

Every one returned home at seven that evening, imbued with some of the
stormy electricity with which the air during the whole of that day had
been charged.

Next day, the Chamber enacted a law, which, in its turn, led to serious
disturbances. It was the law relative to national pensions.

On 7 October, M. Guizot had ascended the tribune and said--

    "GENTLEMEN,--The king was as anxious as you were to sanction
    by a legislative act the great debt of national gratitude,
    which our country owes to the victims of the Revolution.

    "I have the honour to put before you a bill to that effect.
    Our three great days cost more than _five hundred orphans_
    the loss of fathers, _five hundred widows_ their husbands,
    and over _three hundred old people_ have lost the affection
    and support of children. _Three hundred and eleven citizens_
    have been mutilated and made incapable of carrying on their
    livelihood, and _three thousand five hundred and sixty-four
    wounded people_ have had to endure temporary disablement."

A Commission had been appointed to draw up this bill and, on 13
December, the bill called the Act of National Recompense was carried.
It fixed the amounts to be granted to the widows, fathers, mothers
and sisters of the victims; and decreed that France should adopt the
orphans made during the Three Days fighting; among other dispositions
it contained the following--

    "ARTICLE 8.--Resolved that those who particularly
    distinguished themselves during the July Days shall be made
    noncommissioned officers and sub-lieutenants in the army, if
    they are thought deserving of this honour after the report
    of the Commission, provided that in each regiment the number
    of sub-lieutenants does not exceed the number of two and
    that of non-commissioned officers, four.

    "ARTICLE 10.--A special decoration shall be granted to every
    citizen who distinguished himself during the July Days; the
    list of those who are permitted to wear it shall be drawn up
    by the Commission, and _submitted to the King's approval_;
    this decoration will rank in the same degree as the Légion
    d'honneur."

This law appeared in the _Moniteur_ on the 17th.

Just as the bill had been introduced the day after M. de Tracy's
proposition with respect to the death penalty, this bill was adopted
the day before the trial of the ex-ministers. It was as good as
saying--"You dead, what more can you lay claim to? We have given your
widows, fathers, mothers and sisters pensions! You, who live, what
more can you want? We have made you non-commissioned officers and
sub-lieutenants and given you the Cross! You would not have enjoyed
such privileges if the ministers of Charles X. had not passed the
Ordinances; therefore praise them instead of vilifying them!"

But the public was in no mood to praise Polignac and his accomplices;
instead, it applauded the Belgian revolution and the Polish
insurrection. All eyes were fixed upon the Luxembourg. If the ministers
were acquitted or condemned to any other sentence than that of death,
the Revolution of July would be abjured before all Europe, and by the
king who won his crown by means of the barricades.

Mauguin, one of the examining judges, when questioned concerning
the punishment that ought to be served to the prisoners, replied
unhesitatingly--"Death!"

Such events as the violation of our territory by the Spanish army; the
death of Benjamin Constant and refusal to allow his body to be taken
to the Panthéon; the Belgian revolution and Polish insurrection; were
so many side winds to swell the storm which was gathering above the
Luxembourg.

On 15 December, two days after the vote upon the National Pensions
Bill, and two days before its promulgation in the _Moniteur_, the
prosecutions began. The trial lasted from the 15th to the 21st; for
six days we never changed our uniform. We did not know what we were
kept in waiting for; we were rallied together several times, either
at Cavaignac's or Grouvelle's, to come to some decision, but nothing
definite was proposed, beyond that our common centre should be the
Louvre, where our arms and ammunition were stored, and that we should
be guided by circumstances and act as the impulse of the moment
directed.

I have already had occasion to mention Grouvelle; but let us dwell for
a moment upon him and his sister. Both were admirable people, with
hearts as devoted to the cause of Republicanism as any Spartan or Roman
citizens. We shall meet them everywhere and in everything connected
with politics until Grouvelle disappears from the arena, at the same
time that his sister dies insane in the hospice de Montpellier. They
were the son and daughter of the Grouvelle who made the first complete
edition of the _Lettres de Madame de Sévigné_, and the same who, as
secretary of the Convention, had read to Louis XVI. the sentence of
death brought him by Garat. At the time I knew him, Grouvelle was
thirty-two or three, and his sister twenty-five, years of age. There
was nothing remarkable in his external appearance; he was very simply
dressed, with a gentle face and scanty fair hair, and upon his scalp he
wore a black band, no doubt to hide traces of trepanning. She, too, was
fair and had most lovely hair, with blue eyes below white eyelashes,
which gave an extremely sweet expression to her face, an expression,
however, which assumed much firmness if you followed the upper lines to
where they met round her mouth and chin. A charming portrait of herself
hung in her house, painted by Madame Mérimée, the wife of the artist
who painted the beautiful picture, _l'innocence et le Serpent_; the
mother of Prosper Mérimée, author of _Le Vase Étrusque, Colomba, Vénus
d'Ile_ and of a score of novels which are all of high merit. The mother
of Laure Grouvelle was a Darcet, sister, I believe, of Darcet the
chemist, who had invented the famous joke about gelatine; consequently,
she was cousin to the poor Darcet who died a horrible death, being
burnt by some new chemical that he was trying to substitute for
lamp-oil; cousin also to the beautiful Madame Pradier, who was then
simply Mademoiselle Darcet or at most called _madame._ They both had a
small fortune, sufficient for their needs, for Laure Grouvelle had none
of the usual feminine coquetry about her, but was something akin to
Charlotte Corday.

It was a noticeable fact that all the men of 1830 and the Carbonari
of 1821 and 1822 were either wealthy or of independent means, either
from private fortunes or industry or talent. Bastide and Thomas were
wealthy; Cavaignac and Guinard lived on their incomes; Arago and
Grouvelle had posts; Loëve-Weymars possessed talent and Carrel, genius.
I could name all and it would be seen that none of them acted from
selfish ends, or needed to bring about revolutions to enrich himself;
on the contrary, all lost by the revolutions they took part in, some
losing their fortunes, others their liberty, some their lives.

Mademoiselle Grouvelle had never married, but it was said that Étienne
Arago had proposed to her when she was a young girl; that was a long
while back, in 1821 or 1822. Étienne Arago was then, in 1821, a student
in chemistry at the École polytechnique, and was about twenty years of
age; he made the acquaintance of Grouvelle at Thénard's house. He was a
fiery-hearted son of the South; his friends were anxious to make him a
propagandist, and through his instrumentality principally, to introduce
the secret society of the _Charbonnerie_ into the École; Grouvelle,
Thénard, Mérilhou and Barthe being its chief supporters.

These germs of Republicanism, sown by the young chemical student, and,
even more, by the influence of Eugène Cavaignac, also a student at
the École at that time, produced in after life such men as Vanneau,
Charras, Lothon, Millotte, Caylus, Latrade, Servient and all that noble
race of young men who, from 1830 to 1848, were to be found at the head
of every political movement.

A year later, _La Charbonnerie_ was recruited by Guinard, Bastide,
Chevalon, Thomas, Gauja and many more, who were always first in the
field when fighting began.

The question of how to introduce the principles of _La Charbonnerie_
into Spain in the teeth of the _cordon sanitaire_ was being debated, in
order to establish relations between the patriots of the army and those
who were taking refuge in the peninsula. Étienne Arago was thought of,
but as he was too poor to undertake the journey, they went to Mérilhou.
Mérilhou, as I have said, was one of the ringleaders of Charbonarism.
He was then living in the rue des Moulins. Cavaignac and Grouvelle
introduced Étienne, and Mérilhou gazed at the neophyte, who did not
look more than eighteen.

"You are very young, my friend," said the cautious lawyer to him.

"That may be, monsieur," Étienne responded, "but young though I am, I
have been a Charbonist for two years."

"Do you realise to what dangers you would expose yourself if you
undertook this propagandist mission?"

"Certainly, I do; I expose myself to death on the scaffold."

Whereupon the future minister of Louis-Philippe and peer of France,
and presiding judge at the Barbés' trial, laid his hand upon Étienne's
shoulder, and said, in the theatrical manner barristers are wont to
assume--

"_Made animo, generose puer!_" And gave him the necessary money.

We shall come across M. Mérilhou again at Barbés' trial, and the _made
animo_ will not be thrown away upon us.

For the moment, however, we must go back to the trial of the ministers.

La Fayette had declared his views positively; he had offered himself
as guarantee to the High Court; he had sworn to the king to save the
heads of the ministers, if they were acquitted. Thereupon ensued a
strange revival of popularity in favour of the old general; fear made
his greatest enemies sing his praises on all sides; the king and Madame
Adélaïde showered favours upon him; he was indispensable; the monarchy
could not survive without his support.... If Atlas failed this new
Olympus, it would be overthrown!

La Fayette saw through it all and laughed to himself and shrugged
his shoulders significantly. None of these flatteries and favours
had induced him to act as he did, but simply the dictates of his own
conscience.

"General," I said to him on 15 December, "you know you are staking your
popularity to save the heads of these ministers?"

"My boy," he replied, "no one knows better than I the price to be put
upon popularity; it is the richest and most inestimable of treasure,
and the only one I have ever coveted; but, like all other treasures, in
life, when the moment comes, one must strip oneself to the uttermost
farthing in the interest of public welfare and national honour."

General La Fayette certainly acted nobly, much too nobly, indeed, for
the deserts of those for whom he made the sacrifice, for they only
attributed it to weakness instead of to devotion to duty.

The streets in the vicinity of the Luxembourg were dreadfully congested
by the crowds waiting during the trial, so that the troops of the
National Guard could scarcely circulate through them. Troops of the
line and National Guards were, at the command of La Fayette, placed
at his disposition with plenary power; he had the police of the
Palais-Royal, of the Luxembourg and of the Chamber of Peers. He had
made Colonel Lavocat second in command at the Luxembourg, with orders
to watch over the safety of the peers; those same peers who had once
condemned Lavocat to death. If he could but have evoked the shade of
Ney, he would have placed him as sentinel at the gates of the palace!

Colonel Feisthamel was first in command. Lavocat was one of the oldest
members of the Carbonari. Every kind of political party was represented
in the crowd that besieged the gates of the Luxembourg, except
Orléanist; we all rubbed against one another. Republicans, Carlists,
Napoléonists, awaiting events in the hope of being able to further each
his own interests, opinions and principles. We had tickets for reserved
seats. I was present on the last day but one, and heard the pleading of
M. de Martignac and also that of M. de Peyronnet, and I witnessed M.
Sauzet's triumph and saw M. Crémieux fall ill.

Just at that second the sound of the beating of drums penetrated right
into the Chamber of Peers. They were beating the rappel in a wild sort
of frenzy.

I rushed from the hall; the sitting was almost suspended, half on
account of the accident that had happened to M. Crémieux, half because
of the terrible noise that made the accused men shiver on their
benches and the judges in their seats. My uniform as artilleryman made
way for me through the crowds, and I gained the courtyard; it was
packed. A coach belonging to the king's printers had come into the
principal court and the multitude had angrily rushed in after it. It
was the sound of their angry growls combined with the drumming which
had reached the hall. A moment of inexpressible panic and confusion
succeeded among the peers, and it was quite useless for Colonel Lavocat
to shout from the door--

"Have no fear! I will be answerable for everything. The National Guard
is and will remain in possession of all the exits."

M. Pasquier could not hear him, and his little thin shrill voice could
be heard saying--

"Messieurs les pairs, the sitting is dissolved. M. le Commandant de
la Garde Nationale warns me that it will be unwise to hold a night
sitting."

It was exactly the opposite of what Colonel Lavocat had said, but,
as most of the peers were just as frightened as their illustrious
president, they rose and left the hall hurriedly, and the sitting was
deferred until the morrow.

As I went out I pushed against a man who seemed to be one of the most
furious of the rioters; he was shouting in a foreign accent and his
mouth was hideous and his eyes were wild.

"Death to the ministers!" he was yelling.

"Oh! by Jove!" I said to the chief editor of _The Moniteur_, a little
white-haired man called Sauvo, who, like myself, was also watching him.
"I bet twenty-five louis that that man is a spy!"

I don't know whether I was right at the time; but I do know that I
found the very same man again five years later in the dock of the Court
of Peers. He was the Corsican Fieschi.



CHAPTER VI


    The artillerymen at the Louvre--Bonapartist plot to take
    our cannon from us--Distribution of cartridges by Godefroy
    Cavaignac--The concourse of people outside the Luxembourg
    when the ministers were sentenced--Departure of the
    condemned for Vincennes--Defeat of the judges--La Fayette
    and the riot--Bastide and Commandant Barré on guard with
    Prosper Mérimée


I returned to the Louvre to learn news and to impart it. It is quite
impossible to depict the excitement which reigned in this headquarters
of the artillery. Our chief colonel, Joubert, had been taken away from
us, and, as the choice of a colonel was not in our hands, he had been
replaced by Comte Pernetti.

Comte Pernetti was devoted to the court, and the court, with just
cause, mistrusted us, and looked for a chance to disband us.

But we, on our side, every minute kept meeting men whom we had seen
upon the barricades, who stopped us to ask--

"Do you recognise us? We were there with you...."

"Yes, I recognise you. What then?"

"Well, if it came to marching against the Palais-Royal as we did
against the Tuileries, would you desert us?"

And then we clasped hands and looked at one another with excited eyes
and parted, the artillerymen exclaiming--

"The people are rising!" While the populace repeated to one another,
"The artillery is with us!"

All these rumours were floating in the air, and seemed to stop like
mists at the highest buildings.

The Palais-Royal was only a hundred and fifty yards from the Louvre,
in which were twenty-four pieces of artillery, twenty thousand rounds
of ammunition, and out of eight hundred artillerymen six hundred were
Republicans.

No scheme of conspiracy had been arranged; but it was plainly evident
that, if the people rose, the artillery would support them. M. de
Montalivet, brother of the minister, warned his brother, about one
o'clock that afternoon, that there was a plot arranged for carrying
off our guns from us. General La Fayette immediately warned Godefroy
Cavaignac of the information that had been given him.

Now, we were quite willing to go with the people to manage our own
guns, and incur the risks of a second revolution, as we had run the
risks of the first; but the guns were, in a measure, our own property,
and we felt responsible for their safe keeping, so we did not incline
to have them taken out of our hands.

This rumour of a sudden attack upon the Louvre gained the readier
credence as, for two or three days past, there had been much talk of
a Bonapartist plot; and, although we were all ready to fight for La
Fayette and the Republic, we had no intentions of risking a hair of
our heads for Napoléon II. Consequently, Godefroy Cavaignac, being
warned, had brought in a bale of two or three hundred cartridges, which
he flung on one of the card-tables in the guardroom. Every man then
proceeded to fill his pouch and pockets. When I reached the Louvre, the
division had been made, but it did not matter, as my pouch had been
full since the day I had been summoned to seize the Chamber.

As would be expected, we had no end of spies among us, and I could
mention two in particular who received the Cross of the Légion
d'honneur for having filled that honourable office in our ranks.

An hour after this distribution of cartridges they were warned at the
Palais-Royal. A quarter of an hour after they had been warned there,
I received a letter from Oudard, begging me, if I was at the Louvre,
to go instantly to his office. I showed the letter to our comrades and
asked them what I was to do.

"Go, of course," answered Cavaignac.

"But if they question me--?"

"Tell the truth. If the Bonapartists want to seize our guns we will
fire our last cartridges to defend them; but, if the people rise
against the Luxembourg, _or even against any other palace_, we will
march with them."

"That suits me down to the ground. I like plain speaking."

So I went to the Palais-Royal. The offices were crowded with people;
one could feel the excitement running through from the centre to the
outlying extremities, and, judging from the state of agitation of
the extremities, the centre must have been very much excited. Oudard
questioned me; that was the only reason why he had sent for me. I
repeated what Cavaignac had told me, word for word. As far as I can
recollect, this happened on the evening of the 20th. On the 21st I
resumed my post in the rue de Tournon. The crowd was denser than ever:
the rue de Tournon, the rues de Seine, des Fossés-Monsieur-le-Prince,
Voltaire, the places de l'Odéon, Saint-Michel and l'École-de-Médecine,
were filled to overflowing with National Guards and troops of the
line. The National Guard had been made to believe that there was a
plot for plundering the shops; that the people of the July Revolution,
when pulled up by the appointment of the Duc d'Orléans to the
Lieutenant-generalship, had vowed to be revenged; now, the bourgeois,
ever ready to believe rumours of this kind, had rushed up in masses
and uttered terrible threats against pillagers, who had never pillaged
either on the 27th, the 28th, or the 29th, but who would have pillaged
on the 30th, if the creation of the Lieutenant-generalship had not
restored order just in time.

It is but fair to mention that all those excellent fellows, who were
waiting there, with rifles at rest, would not have put themselves out
to wait unless they had really believed that the trial would end in a
sentence of capital punishment.

About two o'clock it was announced that the counsels' speeches were
finished and the debates closed, and that sentence was going to be
pronounced. There was an intense silence, as though each person was
afraid that any sound might prevent him from hearing the great voice,
that, no doubt, like that of the angel of the day of judgment, should
pronounce the supreme sentence of that High Court of Justice.

Suddenly, some men rushed out of the Luxembourg and dashed down the rue
de Tournon crying--

"To death! They are sentenced to death!"

A stupendous uproar went up in response from every ray of that vast
constellation of streets that centres in the Luxembourg.

Everybody struggled to make a way out to his own quarter and house
to be the first to carry the bitter news. But they soon stayed their
progress and the multitude seemed to be driven back again and to press
towards the Luxembourg like a stream flowing backwards. Another rumour
had got abroad; that the ministers, instead of being condemned to
death, had only been sentenced to imprisonment for life; and that the
report of the penalty of death had been purposely spread to give them a
chance to escape.

The expression of people's faces changed and menacing shouts began to
resound; the National Guards struck the pavements with the butt-end of
their rifles. They had come to defend the peers but seemed quite ready
when they heard the news of the acquittal (and any punishment short of
death was acquittal) to attack the peers.

Meanwhile, this is what was happening inside. It was known beforehand,
in the Palais-Royal, that the sentence was to be one of imprisonment
for life. M. de Montalivet, Minister of the Interior, had received
orders from the king to have the ex-ministers conducted safe and
sound to Vincennes. The firing of a cannon when they had crossed the
drawbridge of the château was to tell the king of their safety. M. de
Montalivet had chosen General Falvier and Colonel Lavocat to share this
dangerous honour with him. When he saw the four ministers appearing,
who had been removed from the hall in order that, according to custom,
sentence should be pronounced in their absence--

"Messieurs," said General Falvier to Colonel Lavocat, "take heed! we
are going to make history; let us see to it that it redounds to the
glory of France!"

A light carriage awaited the prisoners outside the wicket-gate of the
petit Luxembourg. It was at this juncture that some men, set there by
M. de Montalivet, rushed through the main gateway, shouting, as we have
mentioned--

"Death.... They are sentenced to death!"

The prisoners could hear the tremendous shout of triumph that went
up at that false report. But the carriage, surrounded by two hundred
horsemen, had already set off, and was driving towards the outlying
boulevards with the speed and noise of a hurricane.

MM. de Montalivet and Lavocat galloped at each side of the doors.

The judges assembled in the Rubens gallery to deliberate. From there,
they could see, as far as eye could reach, the bristling of cannons
and bayonets and the seething agitation of the crowds. Night was fast
approaching, but the inmates of every house had put lamps in their
windows and a bright illumination succeeded the waning daylight, adding
a still more lurid character to the scene.

Suddenly, the peers heard an uproar; they saw, one might almost say
they _felt_, the terrible agitation going on outside: each wave of
that sea, that had broken or was just ready to break, rose higher than
the last; and the tide that one thought was at the ebb, returned with
greater and more threatening force than ever, beating against the
powerfully built walls of the Médicis palace: but the judges were fully
aware that no walls or barriers or ramparts could stand against the
strength of the ocean; they each tried to find some pretext or other
for slipping away: some did not even attempt any excuse for so doing.
M. Pasquier, by comparison, was the bravest, and felt ashamed of their
retreat.

"It is unseemly!" he exclaimed; "shut the doors!"

But La Layette was informed, at the same time, that the people were
rushing upon the palace.

"Messieurs," he said, turning to the three or four persons who awaited
his commands, "will you come with me to see what is going on?"

Thus, whilst M. Pasquier was returning to the audience chamber,
which was nearly deserted, to pronounce, by the dismal light of a
half-lighted chandelier, the sentence condemning the accused to
imprisonment for life and punishing the Prince de Polignac to civil
death, the man of 1789 and of 1830 was making his appearance in the
streets, as calm on that 21 December, as he announced to the people
the quasi-absolution of the ex-ministers, as he had been forty years
before, when he announced, to the fathers of those who were listening
to him then, the flight of the king to Varennes.

For a single instant it seemed as though the noble old man had presumed
too much on the magnanimity of the crowd and on his popularity: for
the waves of that ocean which, at first, made way respectfully before
him, now gathered round him angrily. A threatening growl ran through
the multitude, which knew its power and had but to make a move to grind
everything to powder or smash everything like glass.

Cries of "Death to the ministers! Put them to death! Put them to
death!" were uttered on all sides.

La Fayette tried to speak but loud imprecations drowned his voice.

At last he succeeded in being heard, and, "Citizens, I do not recognise
among you the heroes of July!" he said to the people.

"No wonder!" replied a voice; "how could you, seeing you were not on
their side!"

It was a critical moment; there were only four or five of us
artillerymen all together. M. Sarrans, who accompanied the general,
signed to us to come up to him, and thanks to our uniform, which the
people held in respect as a sign of the opposition party, we managed to
make our way to the general, who, recognising me, took me by the arm;
other patriots joined us, and La Fayette found himself surrounded by a
party of friends, amongst whom he could breathe freely.

But, on all sides, the National Guards were furious, and were
deserting their posts, some loading their rifles, others flinging them
down and all crying out treason.

At this moment, the sound of a cannon pierced the air like the
explosion of a thunderbolt. It was M. de Montalivet's signal announcing
to the king that the ministers were in safety; but we in our ignorance,
thought it was a signal sent us by our comrades in the Louvre; we left
the general and, drawing our poinards, we rushed across the Pont Neuf,
crying: "To arms!" At our shouts and the sight of our uniform and the
naked swords, the people opened way for us at once and soon began
running in all directions, yelling: "To arms!" We reached the Louvre
just as the porters were closing the gates and, pushing back both
keepers and gates, we entered by storm. Let them shut the gates behind
us, once inside what would it matter? There were about six hundred
artillerymen inside the Louvre. I flew into the guardroom on the left
of the entrance by the gateway in the place Saint-Germain l'Auxerrois.

The news of the discharge of the ministers was already known and had
produced its effect. Every one looked as though he were walking upon a
volcano. I saw Adjutant Richy go up to Bastide and whisper something
into his ear.

"Impossible!" exclaimed Bastide.

"See for yourself, then," Richy added.

Bastide went out hurriedly and, almost immediately after, we heard him
shout: "Help, men of the Third Artillery!"

But before he had time to cross the threshold of the guardroom he had
climbed over the park chains and was making straight for a group of
men, who, in spite of the sentry's orders, had got into the enclosure
reserved for the guns.

"Out of the park!" shrieked Bastide; "out of the park instantly or I
will put my sword through the bodies of every one of you!"

"Captain Bastide," said one of the men to whom he had addressed his
threat, "I am Commandant Barré ..."

"If you are the very devil himself it makes no difference! Our orders
are that no one shall enter the park, so out you go!"

"Excuse me," said Barré, "but I should much like to know who is in
command here, you or I?"

"Whoever is the stronger commands here at present.... I do not
recognise you.... Help, artillerymen!"

Fifty of us surrounded Bastide with poinards in hand. Several had found
time to take their loaded muskets from their racks. Barré gave in to us.

"What do you want?" he asked.

"To take any gun that comes handiest and make it ready for firing!"
exclaimed Bastide.

We flung ourselves on the first that came; but, at the third revolution
of the wheels, the washer broke and the wheel came off.

"I want you to fetch me the linch-pins of the guns you have just
carried off."

"Really ..."

"Those linch-pins, or, I repeat, I will pass my sword through your
body!"

Barré emptied a sack in which some ten linch-pins had been already put.
We rushed at them and put our guns in order again.

"Good," said Bastide. "Now, out of the park!"

Every one of them went out and Barré went straight off to offer his
command to Comte Pernetti, who declined to take it.

Bastide left me to keep guard over the park with Mérimée: our orders
were to fire on anybody who came near it, and who, at our second _qui
vive_, did not come up at command.

From that hour on sentry-duty (they had reduced the length of
sentry hours to one, on account of the gravity of events) dated
my acquaintance with Mérimée; we conversed part of the time, and
strange to say, under those circumstances, of art and literature and
architecture.

Ten years later, Mérimée, who, no doubt, recollecting what he had
wished to tell me that night, namely, that I had the most dramatic
imagination he had ever come across, thought fit to suggest to M. de
Rémusat, then Minister of the Interior, that I should be asked to write
a comedy for the Théâtre-Français.

M. de Rémusat wrote to ask me for a play, enclosing an order for an
advance of five thousand francs. A month afterwards, _Un Marriage sous
Louis XV._ was composed, read and rejected by the Théâtre-Français. In
due order, I will relate the story of _Un Manage sous Louis XV._ (the
younger brother of _Antony_) at greater length; it proved as difficult
to launch as _Antony._ But, meanwhile, let us return to that night at
the Louvre.



CHAPTER VII


    We are surrounded in the Louvre courtyard--Our ammunition
    taken by surprise--Proclamation of the Écoles--Letter of
    Louis-Philippe to La Fayette--The Chamber vote of thanks to
    the Colleges--Protest of the École polytechnique--Discussion
    at the Chamber upon the General Commandership of the
    National Guard--Resignation of La Fayette--The king's
    reply--I am appointed second captain


During my hour on sentry-go, a great number of artillerymen had come
in; we were almost our full complement. Some, cloaked in mantles, had
gained entrance by the gate on the Carrousel side, although we had been
told it had been closed by order of the Governor of the Louvre. We were
afterwards assured that the Duc d'Orléans was among the number of the
cloaked artillerymen; doubtless, with his usual courage, he wanted to
judge for himself of the temper of the corps to which he was attached.
Just as I re-entered the guardroom, everything was in a frightful state
of commotion; it looked as though the battle was going to break out
in the midst of the very artillery itself, and as though the first
shots would be exchanged between brothers-in-arms. One artilleryman,
whose name I have forgotten, jumped up on a table and began to read
a proclamation that he had just drawn up: it was an appeal to arms.
Scarcely had he read a line before Grille de Beuzelin, who belonged
to the reactionary party, snatched it from his hands and tore it up.
The artilleryman drew his dagger and the affair would probably have
ended tragically, when one of our number rushed into the guardroom,
shouting--

"We are surrounded by the National Guard and troops of the line!"

There was a simultaneous cry of "To our guns!"

To make a way through the cordon that surrounded us did not disconcert
us at all, for we had more than once vied in skill and quickness
with the artillerymen of Vincennes. Moreover, at the first gunshot
in Paris, as we knew very well, the people would rally to our side.
They had come to see what terms we could offer. The artillerymen who
were not of our opinion had withdrawn to that portion of the Louvre
nearest the Tuileries: there were about a hundred and fifty of them.
Unfortunately, or, rather, fortunately, we learned all at once that
the cellars where we kept our ammunition were empty. The Governor of
the Louvre, foreseeing the events that I have just related, had had
it all taken away during the day. We had therefore no means of attack
or defence beyond our muskets and six or eight cartridges per man.
But these means of defence would seem to have been formidable enough
to make them do nothing more than surround us. We spent the night in
expectation of being attacked at any moment. Those of us who slept did
so with their muskets between their legs. The day broke and found us
still ready for action. The situation gradually turned from tragedy
to comedy: the bakers, wine-sellers and pork--butchers instantly made
their little speculation out of the position of things and assured us
we should not have to surrender from famine. We might be compared to a
menagerie of wild beasts shut up for the public safety. The resemblance
was the more striking when the people began to gaze at us through the
barred windows. Amongst those who came were friends who brought us the
latest news. Drums were beating in every quarter--though that was not
news to us, for we could hear them perfectly well for ourselves--but
the drummers _did not grow tired._

Up to noon, the situation of the king, politically, was serious; at
that hour no decision had been arrived at either for or against him.
General La Fayette had, however, published this proclamation--

    "_Order of the Day_, 21 _December_

    "The Commander-in-Chief is unable to find words to express
    the feelings of his heart in order to show to his brethren
    in arms of the National Guard and of the line his admiration
    and his gratitude for the zeal, the steadiness and the
    devotion they displayed during the painful events of
    yesterday. He was quite aware that his confidence in their
    patriotism would be justified on every occasion; but he
    regrets exceedingly the toils and discomforts to which they
    are exposed; he would gladly forestall them hut he can only
    share them. We all of us feel equally the need of protecting
    the capital against its enemies and against anarchy, of
    assuring the safety of families and property, of preventing
    our revolution from being stained by crimes and our honour
    impugned. We are all as one man jointly and severally
    answerable for the carrying out of these sacred duties;
    and, amidst the sorrow which yesterday's disorders and
    those promised for to-day cause him, the Commander-in-Chief
    finds great consolation and perfect security in the kindly
    feelings he bears towards his brave and dear comrades of
    liberty and public order.
                                                  "LA FAYETTE"

At one o'clock we learnt that students, with cards in their hats,
and students from the École in uniform were going all over the town
together with the National Guards of the 12th legion, urging all to
moderation. At the same time, placards, signed by four students (one
from each College), were stuck up on all the walls. Here is the literal
rendering of one of them--

    "Those patriots who have devoted their lives and labours
    throughout crises of all kinds to the cause of our
    independence are still in our midst standing steadfast in
    the path of liberty; they, in common with others, want large
    concessions on behalf of liberty; but it is not necessary
    to use force to obtain them. Let us do things lawfully and
    then--a more Republican basis will be sought for in all our
    institutions and we shall obtain it; we shall be all the
    more powerful if we act openly. _But if these concessions be
    not granted, then all patriots and students who side with
    democratic Principles will call upon the people to insist
    on gaining their demands._ Remember, though, that foreign
    nations look with admiration upon our Revolution because we
    have exercised generosity and moderation; let them not say
    that we are not yet fit to have liberty in our hands, and by
    no means let them profit by our domestic quarrels, of which
    they, perhaps, are the authors."

    (Then followed the four signatures.)

The parade in the streets of Paris and these placards on every wall
about the city had the effect of soothing the public mind. The absence,
too, of the artillery, the reason for which they did not know,
also contributed to re-establish tranquillity. The king received a
deputation from the Colleges with great demonstration of affection,
which sent the deputies home delighted, with full assurance that the
liberties they longed for were as good as granted. That night the
National Guard and troops of the line, who had been surrounding us,
fell into rank and took themselves off; and the gates of the Louvre
opened behind them. We left the ordinary guard by the cannon and all
dispersed to our various homes. Things were settled, at all events, for
the time being.

Next day, came an "order of the day" from La Fayette containing a
letter from the king. We will put aside the "order of the day" and
quote the letter only. We beg our readers to notice the words that are
italicised:--

                                             "TUESDAY MORNING,
                                            "22 _December_

    "It is to you I address myself, my dear general, to transmit
    to our brave and indefatigable National Guard the expression
    of my admiration for the zeal and energy with which it
    has maintained public order and prevented all trouble.
    _But it is you, especially, that I ought to thank, my dear
    general, you who have just given a fresh example of courage,
    patriotism and respect for law, in these days of trial,
    as you have done many times besides throughout your long
    and noble career._ Express in my name how much I rejoice
    at having seen the revival of that splendid institution,
    the National Guard, which had been almost entirely taken
    away from us, and which has risen up again brilliantly
    powerful and patriotic, finer and more numerous than it
    has ever been, as soon as the glorious Days of July broke
    the trammels by which its enemies flattered themselves they
    had crushed it. It is this great institution to which we
    certainly owe the triumph amongst us of the sacred cause of
    liberty, which both causes our national independence to be
    respected abroad, whilst preserving the action of laws from
    all attack at home. Do not let us forget that there is no
    liberty without law, and that there can be no laws where any
    power of whatever kind succeeds in paralysing its action and
    exalting itself beyond the reach of laws.

    "These, my dear general, are the sentiments I beg you to
    express to the National Guard on my behalf. I count on the
    continuation of its efforts AND ON YOURS, so that nothing
    may disturb that public peace which Paris and France need
    greatly, and which it is essential to preserve. Receive, at
    the same time, my dear general, the assurance of the sincere
    friendship you know I hold towards you, LOUIS-PHILIPPE"

As can be seen, on 22 December, the thermometer indicated gratitude.

On the 23rd, upon the suggestion of M. Laffitte, the Chamber of
Deputies passed a vote of thanks to the young students, couched in
these terms--

    "A vote of thanks is given to the students of the College
    for the loyalty and noble conduct shown by them the day
    before in maintaining public order and tranquillity."

Unluckily, there was a sentence in M. Laffitte's speech requesting the
Chamber to pass this vote of thanks which offended the feelings of the
École polytechnique. The phrase was still further emphasised by the
remarks he made--

"The three Colleges," the minister said, "which sent deputations to
the king displayed very noble sentiments and great courage and entire
subjection to law and order, and have given proof of their intentions
to make every effort to ensure the maintenance of order."

"On what conditions?" then inquired the deputies, who bore in mind the
sentences that we have underlined in the proclamation issued by the
Colleges.

"NONE ... NO CONDITIONS WERE MADE AT ALL," M. Laffitte replied. "_If
there were a few individuals who had proposals to make or conditions to
offer, such never came to the knowledge of the Government._"

The next day a protest, signed by eighty-nine students of the
Polytechnique, replied to the thanks of the Chamber and to M.
Laffitte's denial in the following terms:--

    "A portion of the Chamber of Deputies has condescended
    to pass a vote of thanks to the École polytechnique with
    reference to certain facts that were _very accurately_
    reported.

    "We, students of the Polytechnique, the undersigned, deny in
    part these facts and we decline to receive the thanks of the
    Chamber.

    "The students have been traduced, said the protest issued
    by the School of Law; we have been accused of wishing to
    place ourselves at the head of malcontent artizans, and of
    obtaining by brute force the consequences of principles for
    which we have sacrificed our very blood.

    "We have solemnly protested, we who paid cash for the
    liberty they are now haggling over; we preached public
    order, without which liberty is impossible; but we did
    not do so in order to procure the thanks and applause of
    the Chamber of Deputies. No, indeed! we only fulfilled
    our duty. Doubtless, we ought to be proud and elated at
    the gratitude of France, but we look in vain for France
    in the Chamber of Deputies, and we repudiate the praises
    offered us, the condition of which is the assumed disavowal
    of a proclamation, the terms and meaning whereof we
    unhesitatingly declare that we adopt in the most formal
    manner."

Of course, the Minister for War at once arrested these eighty-nine
students, but their protest had been issued, and the conditions under
which they had consented to support the Government were kept to
themselves. It will, therefore, be seen that the harmony between His
Majesty Louis-Philippe and the students of the three Colleges was not
of long duration. It was not to last much longer either between His
Majesty and poor General La Fayette, for whom he now had no further
use. He had staked his popularity during the troubles in December and
had lost. From that time, he was of no more use to the king, and what
was the good of being kind to a useless person? Two days after that on
which La Fayette received the letter from the king, thanking him for
his past services and expressing the hope for the _continuance of those
services_, the Chamber proposed this amendment to Article 64 of the law
concerning the National Guard, which the deputies had under discussion--

    "As the office of commander-general of the National Guard
    of the kingdom will cease with the circumstances that
    rendered the office necessary, that office can never be
    renewed without the passing of a fresh law, and no one shall
    be appointed to hold the position without such a special
    law."

This simply meant the deposition of General La Fayette. The blow was
the more perfidious as he was not present at the sitting. His absence
is recorded by this passage from the speech which M. Dupin made in
support of the amendment--

    "I regret that our illustrious colleague is not present
    at the sitting; he would himself have investigated this
    question; he would, I have no doubt, have declared, as he
    did at the Constituent Assembly, that the general command
    of the regiments of the National Guard throughout the
    kingdom is an impossible function which he would describe as
    dangerous."

M. Dupin forgot that the Constituent Assembly, at any rate, had had the
modesty to wait until the general sent in his resignation. Now, perhaps
it will be said that it was the Chamber which took the initiative, and
that the Government had nothing to do with this untoward blow given
on the cheek of the living programme going on at the Hôtel de Ville.
This would be a mistake. Here is an article of the bill which virtually
implied the resignation of La Fayette--

    "ARTICLE 50.--In the communes or cantons _where the
    National Guard will form several legions_, the king may
    appoint a superior commander; _but a superior commander of
    the National Guards of a whole department, or even of an
    arrondissement of a sous-préfecture, cannot be appointed._"

The next day after that scandalous debate in the Chamber, General La
Fayette wrote this letter to the king, in his own handwriting this
time, for I have seen the rough draft--

    "SIRE,--The resolution passed yesterday by the Chamber of
    Deputies _with the consent of the king's ministers_, for the
    suppression of the general commandantship of the National
    Guards at the very same moment that the law is going to
    be voted upon, expresses exactly the feeling of the two
    branches of the legislative power, _and in particular that
    of the one of which I have the honour of being a member._ I
    am of opinion that it would be disrespectful if I awaited
    any formal information before sending in my resignation of
    the prerogatives entrusted to me by royal command. Your
    Majesty is aware, and the staff correspondence bill proves
    the fact, if needful, that the exercise of the office down
    to the present time has not been such a sinecure as was
    stated in the Chamber. The king's patriotic solicitude will
    provide for it, and it will be important, for instance,
    to set at rest, by Ordinances which the law puts at the
    king's disposal, the uneasiness that the sub-dividing of
    the provincial battalions and the fear of seeing the highly
    valuable institution of the artillery throughout the kingdom
    confined to garrison or coast towns.

    "The President of the Council was so good as to offer to
    give me the honorary commandership; but he himself and
    your Majesty will judge that such nominal honours are not
    becoming to either the institutions of a free country or to
    myself.

    "In respectfully and gratefully handing back to the king the
    only mandate that gives me any authority over the National
    Guards, I have taken precautions that the service shall
    not suffer. General Dumas[1] will take his orders from the
    Minister of the Interior; General Carbonnel will control the
    service in the capital until your Majesty has been able to
    find a substitute, as he, too, wishes to resign.

    "I beg your Majesty to receive my cordial and respectful
    regards,                                          LA FAYETTE"

Louis Blanc, who is usually well informed, said of General La Fayette
that he was a gentleman even in his scorn, and took care not to let the
monarch detect in his letter his profound feelings of personal injury.

He would not have said so if he had seen the letter to which he refers,
the one, namely, that we have just laid before our readers. But Louis
Blanc may be permitted not to know the contents of this letter, which
were kept secret, and only communicated to a few of the General's
intimate friends. Louis Philippe sent this reply on the same day--

    "MY DEAR GENERAL,--I have just received _your letter. The
    decision you have taken has surprised me as much as it has
    pained me._ I HAVE NOT YET HAD TIME TO READ THE PAPERS. The
    cabinet meets at one o'clock; I shall, therefore, be free
    between four and five, and I shall hope to see you and to be
    able to induce you to withdraw your decision. Yours, my dear
    general, etc.,                               LOUIS-PHILIPPE"

We give this letter as a sequel to that of M. Laffitte, and we give
them without commentary of our own; but we cannot, however, resist the
desire to point out to our readers that King Louis-Philippe must have
read the papers in order to know what was going on in the Chamber, and
that at noon on 25 December he had not yet done so! How can anyone
think after this proof of the king's ignorance of his ministers' doings
that he was anything more than constitutional monarch, reigning but not
ruling! But let us note one fact, as M. de Talleyrand remarks on the
end of the reign of the Bourbon dynasty, that on 25 December 1830 the
political career of General La Fayette was over. Another resignation
there was at this time which made less stir, but which, as we shall see
on 1 January 1831, had somewhat odd consequences for me; it was given
in the same day as General La Fayette's and it was that of one of our
two captains of the fourth battery.

As soon as this resignation was known, the artillerymen held a special
meeting to appoint another captain and, as the majority of the votes
were in favour of me, I was elected second captain. Within twenty-four
hours my lace, epaulettes and worsted cordings were exchanged for
the same in gold. On the 27th, I took command on parade, clad in the
insignia of my new office. We shall soon see how long I was to wear
them.


[1] Mathieu Dumas.



CHAPTER VIII


    The Government member--Chodruc-Duclos--His portrait--His
    life at Bordeaux--His imprisonment at Vincennes--The
    Mayor of Orgon--Chodruc-Duclos converts himself into
    a Diogenes--M. Giraud-Savine--Why Nodier was growing
    old--Stibert--A lesson in shooting--Death of Chodruc-Duclos


Let us bid a truce to politics of which, I daresay, I am quite as tired
as is my reader. Let us put on one side those brave deputies of whom
Barthélemy makes such a delightful portrait, and return to matters more
amusing and creditable. Still, these Memoirs would fail of their end,
if, in passing through a period, they did not reveal themselves to
the public tinged with the colour of that particular period. So much
the worse when that period be dirty; the mud that I have had beneath
my feet has never bespattered either my hands or my face. One quickly
forgets, and I can hear my reader wondering what that charming portrait
is that Barthélemy drew of the deputy. Alas! it is the misfortune of
political works; they rarely survive the time of their birth; flowers
of stormy seasons, they need, in order to live, the muttering of
thunder, the lightning of tempests: they fade when calm is restored;
they die when the sun re-appears.

Ah, well! I will take from the middle of _La Némésis_ one of those
flowers which seem to be dead; and, as all poetry is immortal, I hold
that it was but sleeping and that, by breathing upon it, it will come
to life again. Therefore, I shall appeal to the poets of 1830 and 1831
more than once.

    LE DÉPUTÉ MINISTÉRIEL

    "C'était un citoyen aux manières ouvertes,
    Ayant un œil serein sous des lunettes vertes;
    Il lisait les journaux à l'heure du courrier;
    Et, tous les soirs, au cercle, en jouant cœur ou pique,
    Il suspendait le whist avec sa philippique
        Contre le système Perrier.

    Il avait de beaux plans dont il donnait copie;
    C'était, de son aveu, quelque belle utopie,
    Pièce de désespoir pour tous nos écrivains;
    Baume qui guérirait les blessures des villes,
    En nous sauvant la guerre et la liste civiles,
        Et l'impôt direct sur les vins.

    Il disait: 'En prenant mon heureux antidote,
    Notre pays sera comme une table d'hôte
    Où l'on ne verra plus, après de longs repas,
    Quand les repus du centre ont quitté leurs serviettes,
    Les affamés venir pour récolter les miettes,
        Que souvent ils ne trouvent pas!'

    Les crédules bourgeois, que ce langage tente,
    Les rentiers du jury, les hommes à patente,
    L'écoutaient en disant: 'Que ce langage est beau!
    Voilà bien les discours que prononce un digne homme!
    Si pour son député notre ville le nomme,
        Il fera pâlir Mirabeau!'

    Il fut nommé! Bientôt, de sa ville natale,
    Il ne fit qu'un seul bond jusqu'à la capitale,
    S'installant en garni dans le quartier du Bac.
    On le vit à la chambre assis au côté gauche,
    Muet ou ne parlant qu'à son mouchoir de poche,
        Constellé de grains de tabac.

    Grave comme un tribun de notre République,
    Parfois il regardait evec un œil oblique
    Ce centre où s'endormaient tant d'hommes accroupis.
    Quel déchirant tableau pour son cœur patriote!
    En longs trépignements les talons de sa botte
        Fanaient les roses du tapis.

    Lorsque Girod (de l'Ain), qui si mal les préside,
    Disait: 'Ceux qui voudront refuser le subside
    Se lèveront debout': le tribun impoli,
    Foudroyant du regard le ministre vorace,
    Bondissait tout d'un bloc sur le banc de sa place
        Comme une bombe à Tivoli.

    Quand il était assis, c'était Caton en buste;
    Le peuple s'appuyait sur ce torse robuste;
    De tous les rangs du cintre on aimait à le voir ...
    Qui donc a ramolli ce marbre de Carrare?
    Quel acide a dissous cette perle si rare
        Dans la patère du pouvoir?

    Peut-être avez-vous vu, dans le cirque hippodrome,
    Martin, l'imitateur de l'Androclès de Rome,
    Entre ses deux lions s'avancer triomphant;
    Son œil fascinateur domptait les bêtes fauves;
    Il entrait, sans pâlir, dans leurs sombres alcôves,
        Comme dans un berceau d'enfant.

    Aujourd'hui, nous avons la clef de ces mystères.
    Il se glissait, la nuit, au chevet des panthères;
    Sous le linceul du tigre il étendait la main;
    Il trompait leur instinct dans la nocturne scène,
    Et l'animal, sans force, à ce jongleur obscène
        Obéissait le lendemain!

    Voilà par quels moyens l'Onan du ministère
    Énerve de sa main l'homme le plus austère,
    Du tribun le plus chaste assouplit la vertu;
    Il vient à lui, les mains pleines de dons infâmes;
    'Que veux-tu? lui dit-il; j'ai de l'or, j'ai des femmes,
        Des croix, des honneurs! que veux-tu?'

    Eh! qui résisterait à ces dons magnifiques?
    Hélas! les députés sont des gens prolifiques;
    Ils ont des fils nombreux, tous visant aux emplois,
    Tous rêvant, jour et nuit, un avenir prospère,
    Tous, par chaque courrier, répétant: 'O mon père!
        Placez-nous en faisant des lois!'

    Et le bon père, ému par ces chaudes missives,
    Dépose sur son banc les armes offensives,
    Se rapproche du centre, et renonce au combat.
    Oh! pour faire au budget une constante guerre,
    Il faudrait n'avoir point de parents sur la terre,
        Et vivre dans le célibat!

    Ou bien, pour résister à ce coupable leurre,
    Il faut aller, le soir, où va Dupont (de l'Eure),
    Près de lui retremper sa vertu de tribun;
    Là veille encor pour nous une pure phalange,
    Cénacle politique où personne ne mange
        Au budget des deux cent vingt-un!"

This _cénacle_ referred to our evenings at La Fayette's. Since his
resignation, the general was to be found amidst his young, warm, and
true friends the Republicans, and, more than once, as said Barthélemy,
our callow wrath invigorated the patriotism of the two old men.

Another man received his dismissal at the same time as La Fayette: this
was Chodruc-Duclos, the Diogenes of the Palais-Royal, the long-bearded
man of whom we have promised to say a few words.

One morning, the frequenters of those stone galleries were amazed to
see Chodruc-Duclos go by, clad in shoes and stockings, in a coat only
a very little worn and an almost new hat! We will borrow the portrait
of Chodruc-Duclos from Barthélemy; and complete it by a few anecdotes,
gleaned from personal experience, and by others which we believe are
new. When the poet has described all those starving people who swarm
round the cellars of Véfour and of the Frères-Provençaux, he proceeds
to the king of the beggars--Chodruc-Duclos. These are Barthélemy's
lines; they depict the man with that happy touch and that faithfulness
of description which are such characteristic features of the talented
author of _La Némésis_--

    "Mais, autant qu'un ormeau s'élève sur l'arbuste,
    Autant que Cornuet domine l'homme-buste,[1]
    Sur cette obscure plèbe errante dans l'enclos,
    Autant plane et surgit l'héroïque Duclos.
    Dans cet étroit royaume où le destin les parque,
    Les terrestres damnés l'ont élu pour monarque:
    C'est l'archange déchu, le Satan bordelais,
    Le Juif-Errant chrétien, le Melmoth du palais.
    Jamais l'ermite Paul, le virginal Macaire,
    Marabout, talapoin, faquir, santon du Caire,
    Brahme, Guèbre, Parsis adorateur du feu,
    N'accomplit sur la terre un plus terrible vœu!
    Depuis sept ans entiers, de colonne en colonne,
    Comme un soleil éteint ce spectre tourbillonne;
    Depuis le dernier soir que l'acier le rasa,
    Il a vu trois Véfour et quatre Corazza;
    Sous ses orteils, chaussés d'eternelles sandales,
    Il a du long portique usé toutes les dalles;
    Être mystérieux qui, d'un coup d'œil glaçant,
    Déconcerte le rire aux lèvres du passant,
    Sur tant d'infortunés, in fortune célèbre!
    Des calculs du malheur c'est la vivante algèbre.
    De l'angle de Terris jusqu'à Berthellemot,
    Il fait tourner sans fin son énigme sans mot.
    Est-il un point d'arrêt à cette ellipse immense?
    Est-ce dédain sublime, ou sagesse, ou démence?
    Qui sait? Il vent peut-être, au bout de son chemin,
    Par un enseignement frapper le genre humain;
    Peut-être, pour fournir un dernier épisode,
    Il attend que Rothschild, son terrestre antipode,
    Un jour, dans le palais, l'aborde sans effroi,
    En lui disant: 'Je suis plus malheureux que toi!'"

We will endeavour to be the Œdipus to that Sphinx, and guess the
riddle, the mystery whereof was hidden for a long time.

Chodruc-Duclos was born at Sainte-Foy, near Bordeaux. He would be
about forty-eight when the Revolution of July took place; he was tall
and strong and splendidly built; his beard hid features that must
have been of singular beauty; but he used ostentatiously to display
his hands, which were always very clean. By right of courage, if not
of skill, he was looked upon as the principal star of that Pleiades
of duellists which flourished at Bordeaux, during the Empire, under
the title of _les Crânes_ (Skulls). They were all Royalists. MM.
Lercaro, Latapie and de Peyronnet were said to be Duclos' most
intimate friends. These men were also possessed of another notable
characteristic: they never fought amongst themselves. Duclos was
suspected of carrying on relations with Louis XVIII. in the very zenith
of the Empire, and was arrested one morning in his bed by the Chief
of the Police, Pierre-Pierre. He was taken to Vincennes, where he was
kept a prisoner until 1814. Set free by the Restoration, he entered
Bordeaux in triumph, and as, during his captivity, he had come into
a small fortune, he resumed his old habits and interlarded them with
fresh diversions. The Royalist government, which recompensed all its
devoted adherents (a virtue that was attributed to it as a crime),
would, no doubt, have been pleased to reward Duclos for his loyalty,
but it was very difficult to find a suitable way of doing so, for he
had the incurable habits of a peripatetic: he was only accustomed to a
nomadic life of fencing, political intrigue, theatre-going, women and
literature. King Louis XVIII., therefore, could not entrust him with
any other public function than that of an everlasting walker, or, as
Barthélemy dubbed it, "_Chrétien_ _errant._"

Unfortunately, money, however considerable its quantity, comes to an
end some time. When Duclos had exhausted his patrimony, he recollected
his past services for the Bourbon cause and came to Paris to remind
them. But he had remembered too late and had given the Bourbons time
to forget. The business of soliciting for favours, at all events,
exercised his locomotive faculties to the best possible advantage. So,
every morning, two melancholy looking pleaders could be seen to cross
the Pont Royal, like two shades crossing the river Styx, on their way
to beg a good place in the Elysian fields from the minister of Pluto.
One was Duclos, the other the Mayor of Orgon. What had the latter done?
He had thrown the first stone into the emperor's carriage in 1814, and
had come to Paris, stone in hand, to demand his reward. After years of
soliciting, these two faithful applicants, seeing that nothing was
to be obtained, each arrived at a different conclusion. The Mayor of
Orgon, completely ruined, tied his stone round his own neck and threw
himself into the Seine. Duclos, much more philosophically inclined,
decided upon living, and, in order to humiliate the Government to which
he had sacrificed three years of his liberty, and M. de Peyronnet,
with whom he had had many bouts by the banks of the Garonne, bought
old clothes, as he had not the patience to wait till his new ones
grew old, bashed in the top of his hat, gave up shaving himself, tied
sandals over his old shoes, and began that everlasting promenade up
and down the arcades of the Palais-Royal which exercised the wisdom
of all the Œdipuses of his time. Duclos never left the Palais-Royal
until one in the morning, when he went to the rue du Pélican, where
he lodged, to sleep, not exactly in furnished apartments, but, more
correctly speaking, in _unfurnished_ ones. In the course of his
promenading, which lasted probably a dozen years, Duclos (with only
three exceptions, which we are about to quote, one of them being made
in our own favour) never went up to anyone to speak to him, no matter
who he was. Like Socrates, he communed alone with his own familiar
spirit; no tragic hero ever attempted such a complete monologue!--One
day, however, he departed from his habits, and walked straight towards
one of his old friends, M. Giraud-Savine, a witty and learned man, as
we shall find out later, who afterwards became deputy to the Mayor of
Batignolles. M. Giraud's heart stood still with fright for an instant,
for he thought he was going to be robbed of his purse; but he was
wrong: for Duclos never borrowed anything.

"Giraud," he asked in a deep bass voice, "which is the best translation
of Tacitus?"

"There isn't one!" replied M. Giraud.

Duclos shook his treasured rags in sad dejection, then returned, like
Diogenes, to his tub. Only, his tub happened to be the Palais-Royal.

On another occasion, whilst I was chatting with Nodier, opposite the
door of the café de Foy, Duclos passed and stared attentively at
Nodier. Nodier, who knew him, thought he must want to speak to him,
and took a step towards him. But Duclos shook his head and went on his
way without saying anything. Nodier then gave me various details of
the life of this odd being; after which we separated. During our talk,
Duclos had had time to make the round of the Palais-Royal; so, going
back by the Théâtre-Français, I met him very nearly opposite the café
Corazza. He stopped right in front of me.

"Monsieur Dumas," he said to me, "Do you know Nodier?"

"Very well."

"Do you like him?"

"With all my heart I do."

"Do you not think he grows old very fast?"

"I must confess I agree with you that he does."

"Do you know why?"

"No."

"Well, I will tell you: _Because he does not take care of himself!_
Nothing ages a man more quickly than neglecting his health!"

He continued his walk and left me quite stunned; not by his
observation, sagacious as it was; but by the thought that it was
Chodruc-Duclos who had made it.

The Revolution of July 1830 had, for the moment, interrupted the
inveterate habits of two men--Stibert and Chodruc-Duclos.

Stibert was-as confirmed a gambler as Duclos was an indefatigable
walker. Frascati's, where Stibert spent his days and nights, was
closed; the Ordinances had suspended the game of _trente-et-un_, until
the monarchy of July should suppress it altogether. Stibert had not
patience to wait till the Tuileries was taken: on 28 July, at three
in the afternoon, he compelled the concierge at Frascati's to open
its doors to him and to play picquet with him. Duclos, for his part,
coming from his rooms to go to his beloved Palais-Royal, found the
Swiss defending the approaches to it. Some youths had begun a struggle
with them, and one of them, armed with a regulation rifle, was firing
on the red-coats with more courage than skill. Duclos watched him and
then, growing impatient that anyone should risk his life thus wantonly,
he said to the youth--

"Hand me your rifle. I will show you how to use it."

The young fellow lent it him and Duclos took aim.

"Look!" he said; and down dropped a Swiss.

Duclos returned the youth his rifle.

"Oh," said the latter, "upon my word! if you can use it to such good
purpose as that, stick to it!"

"Thanks!" replied Duclos, "I am not of that opinion," and, putting
the rifle into the youth's hands, he crossed right through the very
centre of the firing and re-entered the Palais-Royal, where he resumed
his accustomed walk past the bronze Apollo and marble Ulysses, the
only society he had the chance of meeting during the 27, 28 and 29
July. This was the third and last time upon which he opened his
mouth. Duclos, engrossed as he was with his everlasting walk, would,
doubtless, never have found a moment in which to die; only one morning
he forgot to wake up. The inhabitants of the Palais-Royal, astonished
at having been a whole day without meeting the man with the long
beard, learnt, on the following day, from the Cornuet papers, that
Chodruc-Duclos had fallen into the sleep that knows no waking, upon his
pallet bed in the rue du Pélican.

For three or four years, Duclos, as we have said, had clad himself
in garments more like those of ordinary people. The Revolution of
July, which exiled the Bourbons, and the trial of the ex-ministers,
which ostracised M. de Peyronnet to Ham, removed every reason for his
ragged condition, and set a limit to his revenge. In spite of, perhaps
even on account of, this change of his outward appearance, Duclos,
like Epaminondas, left nothing wherewith to pay for his funeral. The
Palais-Royal buried him by public subscription.

General La Fayette resigned his position, and Chodruc-Duclos his
revenge. A third notability resigned his life; namely, Alphonse Rabbe,
whom we have already briefly mentioned, and who deserves that we should
dedicate a special chapter to him.


[1] Cornuet occupied one of those literary pavilions which were erected
at each end of the garden of the Palais-Royal; the other was occupied
by a dwarf who was all body and seemed to crawl on almost invisible
legs.



CHAPTER IX


    Alphonse Rabbe--Madame Cardinal--Rabbe and the Marseilles
    Academy--_Les Massénaires_--Rabbe in Spain--His return--The
    _Old Dagger_--The Journal _Le Phocéen_--Rabbe in prison--The
    writer of fables--_Ma pipe_


Alphonse Rabbe was born at Riez, in the Basses-Alpes. As is the case
with all deep and tender-hearted people, he was greatly attached to
his own country; he talked of it on every opportunity, and, to believe
him, its ancient Roman remains were as remarkable as those of Arles
or Nîmes. Rabbe was one of the most extraordinary men of our time;
and, had he lived, he would, assuredly, have become one of the most
remarkable. Alas! who remembers anything about him now, except Méry,
Hugo and myself? As a matter of fact, poor Rabbe gave so many fragments
of his life to others that he had not time, during his thirty-nine
years, to write one of those books which survive their authors; he
whose words, had they been taken down in shorthand, would have made a
complete library; he who brought into the literary and political world,
Thiers, Mignet, Armaud Carrel, Méry and many others, who are unaware of
it, has disappeared from this double world, without leaving any trace
beyond two volumes of fragments, which were published by subscription
after his death, with an admirable preface in verse by Victor Hugo.
Furthermore, in order to quote some portions of these fragments that I
had heard read by poor Rabbe himself, compared with whom I was quite an
unknown boy (I had only written _Henri III._ when he died), I wanted
to procure those two volumes: I might as well have set to work to find
Solomon's ring! But I found them at last, where one finds everything,
in the rue des Cannettes, in Madame Cardinal's second-hand bookshop.
The two volumes had lain there since 1835; they were on her shelves, in
her catalogue, had been on show in the window! but they were not even
cut! and I was the first to insert an ivory paper-knife between their
virgin pages, after eighteen years waiting! Unfortunate Rabbe; this was
the last touch to your customary ill-luck! Fate seemed ever against
him; all his life long he was looking for a revolution. He would have
been as great as Catiline or Danton at such a crisis. When 1830 dawned,
he had been dead for twenty-four hours! When Rabbe was eighteen, he
competed for an academic prize. The subject was a eulogy of Puget. A
noble speech, full of new ideas, a glowing style of southern eloquence,
were quite sufficient reasons to prevent Rabbe being successful, or
from even receiving honourable mention; but, in this failure, his
friends could discern the elements of Rabbe's future brilliancy, should
Fortune's wheel turn in his favour. Alas! fortune was academic in
Rabbe's case, and Rabbe had Orestes for his patron.

Gifted with a temperament that was carried away by the passion of the
moment, Rabbe took it into his head to become the enemy of Masséna in
1815. Why? No one ever really knew, not even Rabbe! He then published
his _Massénaires_, written in a kind of prose iambics, in red-hot
zeal. This brochure set him in the ranks of the Royalist party. A
fortnight later, he became reconciled with the conqueror of Zurich, and
he set out on a mission to Spain. From thence dated all poor Rabbe's
misfortunes; it was in Spain that he was attacked by a disease which
had the sad defect of not being fatal. What was this scourge, this
plague, this contagious disease? He shall tell us in his own words; we
will not deprive him of his right to give the particulars himself--

    "Alas! O my mother, thou couldst not make me invulnerable
    when thou didst bear me, by dipping me in the icy waters of
    the Styx! Carried away by a fiery imagination and imperious
    desires, I wasted the treasures and incense of my youth upon
    the altars of criminal voluptuousness; pleasure, which
    should be the parent of and not the destroyer of human
    beings, devoured the first springs of my youth. When I look
    at myself, I shudder! Is that image really myself? What
    hand has seared my face with those hideous signs?... What
    has become of that forehead which displayed the candour of
    my once pure spirit? of those bleared eyes, which terrify,
    which once expressed the desires of a heart that was full
    of hope and without a single regret, and whose voluptuous
    yet serious thoughts were still free from shameful trammels?
    A kindly tolerant smile ever lighted them up when they
    fell on one of my fellows; but, now, my bold and sadly
    savage looks say to all: 'I have lived and suffered; I
    have known your ways and long for death!' What has become
    of those almost charming features which once graced my
    face with their harmonious lines? That expression of happy
    good nature, which once gave pleasure and won me love and
    kindly hearts, is now no longer visible! All has perished in
    degradation! God and nature are avenged! When, hereafter, I
    shall experience an affectionate impulse, the expression of
    my features will betray my soul; and when I go near beauty
    and innocence, they will fly from me! What inexpressible
    tortures! What frightful punishment! Henceforth, I must
    find all my virtues in the remorse that consumes my life; I
    must purify myself in the unquenchable fires of never-dying
    sorrow; and ascend to the dignity of my being by means of
    profound and poignant regret for having sullied my soul.
    When I shall have earned rest by my sufferings, my youth
    will have gone.... But there is another life and, when I
    cross its threshold, I shall be re-clothed in the robe of
    immortal youth!"

Take notice, reader, that, before that unfortunate journey to Spain,
Alphonse Rabbe was never spoken of otherwise than as the _Antinous of
Aix._ An incurable melancholy took possession of him from this period.

"I have outlived myself!" he said, shaking his head sadly. Only his
beautiful hair remained of his former self. Accursed be the invention
of looking-glasses! By thirty, he had already stopped short of two
attempts at suicide. But his hands were not steady enough and the
dagger missed his heart. We have all seen that dagger to which Rabbe
offered a kind of worship, as the last friend to whom he looked for
the supreme service. He has immortalised this dagger. Read this and
tell me if ever a more virile style sprung from a human pen--

    THE OLD DAGGER

    "Thou earnest out of the tomb of a warrior, whose fate is
    unknown to us; thou wast alone, and without companion of thy
    kind, hung on the walls of the wretched haunt of a dealer in
    pictures, when thy shape and appearance struck my attention.
    I felt the formidable temper of thy blade; I guessed the
    fierceness of thy point through the sheath of thick rust
    which covered thee completely. I hastened to bargain so as
    to have thee in my power; the low-born dealer, who only saw
    in thee a worthless bit of iron, will give thee up, almost
    for nothing, to my jealous eagerness. I will carry thee
    off secretly, pressed against my heart; an extraordinary
    emotion, mingled with joy, rage and confidence, shook my
    whole being. I feel the same shuddering every time I seize
    hold of thee.... Ancient dagger! We will never leave one
    another more!

    "I have rid thee of that injurious rust, which, even after
    that long interval of time, has not altered thy form.
    Here, thou art restored to the glories of the light; thou
    flashest as thou comest forth from that deep darkness. I
    did not imprudently entrust thee to a mercenary workman to
    repair the injustice of those years: I myself, for two days,
    carefully worked to repolish thee; it is I who preserved
    thee from the injurious danger of being at the first moment
    confused with worthless old iron, from the disgrace,
    perhaps, of going to an obscure forge, to be transformed
    into a nail to shoe the mule of an iniquitous Jesuit.

    "What is the reason that thy aspect quickens the flow of
    my blood, in spite of myself?... Shall I not succeed in
    understanding thy story? To what century dost thou belong?
    What is the name of the warrior whom thou followedst to his
    last resting-place? What is the terrible blow which bent
    thee slightly?...

    "I have left thee that mark of thy good services: to efface
    that imperceptible curve which made thy edge uneven, thou
    wouldst have had to be submitted to the action of fire; but
    who knows but that thou mightst have lost thy virtue? Who,
    then, would have given me back the secret of that blade,
    strong and obedient to that which the breastplate did not
    always withstand, when the blow was dealt with a valiant arm?

    "Was it in the blood of a newly killed bull that thy point
    was buried on first coming out of the fire? Was it in the
    cold air of a narrow gorge of mountains? Was it in the syrup
    prepared from certain herbs or, perhaps, in holy oil? None
    of our best craftsmen, not Bromstein himself, could tell.

    "Tell me whom thou hast comforted and whom punished? Hast
    thou avenged the outlaw for the judicial murder of his
    father? Hast thou, during the night, engraved on some
    granite columns the sentence of those who passed sentence?
    Thou canst only have obeyed powerful and just passions;
    the intrepid man who wanted to carry thee away with him to
    his last resting-place had baptized thee in the blood of a
    feudal oppressor.

    "Thou art pure steel; thy shape is bold, but without studied
    grace; thou wast not, indeed, frivolously wrought to adorn
    the girdle of a foppish carpet-knight of the court of
    Francis I., or of Charles-Quint; thou art not of sufficient
    beauty to have been thus commonplace; the filigree-work
    which ornaments thy hilt is only of red copper, that
    brilliant shade of red which colours the summit of the Mont
    de la Victoire on long May evenings.

    "What does this broad furrow mean which, a quarter of the
    length down thy blade to the hilt, is pierced with a score
    of tiny holes like so many loop-holes? Doubtless they were
    made so that the blood could drip through, which shoots and
    gushes along the blade in smoking bubbles when the blow has
    gone home. Oh! if I shed some evil blood I too should wish
    it to drain off and not to soil my hands.... If it were the
    blood of a powerful enemy to one's country, little would
    it matter if it was left all blood smeared; I should have
    settled my accounts with this wretched world beforehand,
    and then thou wouldst not fail me at need; thou wouldst do
    me the same service as thou renderest formerly to him whose
    bones the tomb received along with thee.

    "In storms of public misfortunes, or in crises of personal
    adversity, the tomb is often the only refuge for noble
    hearts; it, at any rate, is impregnable and quiet: there one
    can brave accusers and the instruments of despotism, who are
    as vile as the accusers themselves!

    "Open the gates of eternity to me, I implore thee! Since
    it needs must be, we will go together, my old dagger, thou
    and I, as with a new friend. Do not fail me when my soul
    shall ask transit of thee; afford to my hand that virile
    self-reliance which a strong man has in himself; snatch me
    from the outrages of petty persecutors and from the slow
    torture of the unknown!"

Although this dagger was treasured by the unhappy Rabbe, as we have
mentioned, it was not by its means that the _accursed one_, as he
called himself, was to put an end to his miseries. Rabbe was only
thirty and had strength enough in him yet to go on living.

So, in despair, he dragged out his posthumous existence and flung
himself into the political arena, as a gladiator takes comfort to
himself by showing himself off between two tigers.

1821 began; the death of the Duc de Berry served as an excuse for many
reactionary laws; Alphonse Rabbe now found his golden hour; he came to
Marseilles and started _Le Phocéen_, in a countryside that was a very
volcano of Royalism. Would you hear how he addresses those in power?
Then listen. Hear how he addressed men of influence--

    "Oligarchies are fighting for the rays of liberty across the
    dead body of an unfortunate prince.... O Liberty! mark with
    thy powerful inspirations those hours of the night which
    William Tell and his friends used to spend in striking blows
    to redress wrongs!..."

When liberty is invoked in such terms she rarely answers to the call.
One morning, someone knocked at Rabbe's door; he went to open it,
and two policemen stood there who asked him to accompany them to the
prison. When Rabbe was arrested, all Marseilles rose up in a violent
Royalist explosion against him. An author who had written a couple of
volumes of fables took upon himself to support the Bourbon cause in one
of the papers. Rabbe read the article and replied--

"Monsieur, in one of your apologues you compare yourself to a sheep;
well and good. Then, _monsieur le mouton_, go on, cropping your tender
grass and stop biting other things!"

The writer of fables paid a polite call upon Rabbe; they shook hands
and all was forgotten.

However, the _Phocéen_ had been suspended the very day its chief
editor was arrested. Rabbe was set free after a narrow escape of being
assassinated by those terrible Marseillais Royalists who, during the
early years of the Restoration, left behind them such wide traces
of bloodshed. He went to Paris, where his two friends, Thiers and
Mignet, had already won a high position in the hôtels of Laffite and
of Talleyrand. If Rabbe had preserved the features of Apollo and the
form of Antinous, he would have won all Parisian society by his charm
of manner and his delightful winning mental attainments; but his mirror
condemned him to seclusion more than ever. His sole, his only, friend
was his pipe; Rabbe smoked incessantly. We have read the magnificent
prose ode he addressed to his dagger; let us see how, in another style,
he spoke to his pipe, or, rather, of his pipe.

    MA PIPE

    "Young man, light my pipe; light it and give it to me, so
    that I can chase away a little of the weariness of living,
    and give myself up to forgetfulness of everything, whilst
    this imbecile people, eager after gross emotions, hastens
    its steps towards the pompous ceremony of the Sacred-Heart
    in opulent and superstitious Marseilles.

    "I myself hate the multitude and its stupid excitement; I
    hate these fairs either sacred or profane, these festivals
    with all their cheating games, at the cost of which an
    unlucky people consents readily to forget the ills which
    overwhelm it; I hate these signs of servile respect which
    the duped crowd lavishes on those who deceive and oppress
    it; I hate that worship of error which absolves crime,
    afflicts innocence and drives the fanatic to murder by its
    inhuman doctrines of exclusiveness!

    "Let us forgive the dupes! All those who go to these
    festivals are promised pleasure. Unfortunate human beings!
    We pursue this alluring phantom along all kinds of roads. To
    be elsewhere than one is, to change place and affections,
    to leave the supportable for worse, to go after novelty
    upon novelty, to obtain one more sensation, to grow old,
    burdened with unsatisfied desires, to die finally without
    having lived, such is our destiny!

    "What do I myself look for at the bottom of thy little
    bowl, O my pipe! Like an alchemist, I am searching how to
    transmute the woes of the present into fleeting delights;
    I inhale thy smoke with hurried draughts in order to carry
    happy confusion to my brain, a quick delirium, that is
    preferable to cold reflection; I seek for sweet oblivion
    from what is, for the dream of what is not, and even for
    that which cannot be.

    "Thou makest me pay dear for thy easy consolations; the
    brain is possibly consumed and weakened by the daily
    repetition of these disordered emotions. Thought becomes
    idle, and the imagination runs riot from the habit of
    depicting such wandering agreeable fictions.

    "The pipe is the touch-stone of the nerves, the true
    dynamometer of slender tissues. Young people who conceal a
    delicate and feminine organisation beneath a man's clothing
    do not smoke, for they dread cruel convulsions, and, what
    would be still more cruel, the loss of the favours of Venus.
    Smoke, on the contrary, unhappy lovers, ardent and restless
    spirits tormented with the weight of your thoughts.

    "The savants of Germany keep a pipe on their desks; it is
    through the waves of tobacco smoke that they search after
    truths of the intellectual and the spiritual order. That is
    why their works, always a little nebulous, exceed the reach
    of our French philosophers, whom fashion, and the salons,
    compel to inhale more urbane and gracious perfumes.

    "When Karl Sand, the delegate of the Muses of Erlangen, came
    to Kotzebue's house, the old man, before joining him, had
    him presented with coffee and a pipe. This token of touching
    hospitality did not in the least disarm the dauntless young
    man: a tear moistened his eyelid; but he persisted. Why? He
    sacrificed himself for liberty!

    "The unhappy man works during the day; and, at night, his
    bread earned, with arms folded, before his tumble-down
    doorway, with the smoke of his pipe he drives away the few
    remaining thoughts that the repose of his limbs may leave
    him.

    "O my pipe! what good things I owe to thee! If an
    importunate person, a foolish talker, a despicable fanatic,
    comes and addresses me, I quickly draw a cigar from my case
    and begin to smoke, and, henceforth, if I am condemned to
    the affliction of listening, I at least escape the penalty
    of replying to him. At intervals, a bitter smile compresses
    my lips, and the fool flatters himself that I approve him!
    He attributes to the effect of the rash cigar the equivocal
    heed I pay to his babble.... He redoubles his loquacity;
    but, stifled by his impertinence, I suddenly emit the clouds
    of thick smoke which I have collected in my mouth, like the
    scorn within my breast.

    "I exhale both at once, burning vapour and repressed
    indignation. Oh! how nauseating is the idiocy of others to
    him who is already out of love with, and wearied of, his
    own burdens!... I smother him with smoke! If only I could
    asphyxiate the fool with the lava from my tiny volcano!

    "But when a friend who is lovable alike in mind and heart
    comes to me, the pleasure of the pipe quickens the happiness
    of the meeting. After the first talk, which rapidly flows
    along, whilst the lighted punch scatters the spirituous
    particles which abound in the sparkling flame of the
    liqueur, the glasses clink together: Friend, from this day
    and for a year hence, let us drain the brotherly cup under
    the happiest auspices!

    "Then we light two cigars, just alike; incited by my friend
    to talk on a thousand different topics, I often let mine go
    out, and he gives me a light again from his own.... I am
    like an old husband who relights a score of times from the
    lips of a young beauty the flame of his passion, as impotent
    as many times over. O my friend! when, then, will happier
    days shine forth?

    "Tell me, my friend, in those parts from whence thou comest,
    are men filled with hope and courage? Do they keep constant
    and faithful to the worship of our great goddess, Liberty?
    ... Tell me, if thou knowest, how long we must still chafe
    at the humiliating bit which condemns us to silence?...

    "How it hinders me from flinging down my part of servitude!
    How it delays me from seeing the vain titles of tyranny,
    which oppress us, reduced to powder; from seeing the ashes
    of a dishonoured diadem scattered at the breath of patriots
    as the ashes of my pipe are scattered by mine! My soul is
    weary of waiting, friend; I warn thee, and with horror I
    meditate upon the doings of such sad waywardness. See how
    this people, roused wholly by the infamous sect of Loyola,
    rushes to fling itself before their strange processions!
    Young and old, men and women, all hasten to receive their
    hypocritical and futile benedictions! The fools! if the
    plague passed under a canopy they would run to see it pass
    by and kneel before it! Tell me, friend, is such a people
    fit for liberty? Is it not rather condemned to grow old
    and still be kept in the infantine swaddling clothes of a
    two-fold bondage?

    "Men are still but children. Nevertheless, the human race
    increases and goes on progressing continually, and meanwhile
    stretches its bonds till they break. The time draws near
    when it will no longer listen to the lame man who calls
    upon it to stop, when it will no longer ask its way of
    the blind. May the world become enlightened! God desires
    it!... And we, my friend, we will smoke whilst we watch
    for the coming dawn. Happily, friend, liberty has her
    secrets, her resources. This people, which seems to us for
    ever brutalised, is, however, educating itself and every
    day becomes more enlightened! Friend, we will forgive the
    slaves for running after distractions; we will bear with the
    immodest mother who prides herself that her daughters will
    pass for virgins when they have been blessed. We will not be
    surprised that old scoundrels hope to sweat out the seeds
    of their crimes, exhausting themselves to carry despicable
    images.

    "O my pipe! every day do I owe thee that expressive emblem
    of humility which religion only places once a year on
    the brow of the adoring Christian: Man is but dust and
    ashes.... That, in fact, is all which remains at the last
    of the tenderest or most magnanimous heart, of hearts
    over-intoxicated with joy or pride, or those consumed with
    the bitterest pains.

    "These small remnants of men, these ashes, the lightest
    zephyr scatter into the empty air.... Where, then, is the
    dust of Alexander, where the ashes of Gengis? They are
    nothing more than vain historic phantoms; those great
    subduers of nations, those terrible oppressors of men, what
    are they but fine-sounding names, objects of vain enthusiasm
    or of useless malediction!

    "I, too, shall soon perish; all that makes up my being, my
    very name, will disappear like light smoke.... In a few
    days' time, perhaps at the very spot where I now write, it
    will not even be known that I have ever existed.... Now,
    does something imperishable breathe forth and rise up on
    high from this perishable body? Does there dwell in man one
    spark worthy to light the calumet of the angels upon the
    pavements of the heavens?... O my pipe! chase away, banish
    this ambitious and baneful desire after the unknown and the
    impenetrable!"

We may be mistaken, but it seems to us that one would search in vain
for anything more melancholy in _Werther_ or more bitter in _Don Juan_,
than the pages we have just read.



CHAPTER X


    Rabbe's friends_--La Sœur grise_--The historical résumés--M.
    Brézé's advice--An imaginative man--Berruyer's style--Rabbe
    with his hairdresser, his concierge and confectioner--_La
    Sœur grise_ stolen_--Le Centaure._


Alphonse Rabbe's most assiduous disciples were Thiers and Mignet;[1]
they came to see him most days and treated him with the respect of
pupils towards their master. But Rabbe was independent to the verge
of intractability; and always ready to rear even under the hand that
caressed him. Now, Rabbe discerned that these two writers were already
on the way to become historians, had no desire to make a third in a
trio with them and resolved to be more true to life than the historians
and to write a novel. Walter Scott was then all the rage in London and
Paris.

Rabbe seized paper and pen and wrote the title of his novel on the
first leaf, _La Sœur grise._ Then he stopped, and I dare go so far even
as to say that this first page was never turned over. True, what Rabbe
did in imagination was much more real to him than what he actually did.

Félix Bodin had just begun to inaugurate the era of _Résumés
historiques_; the publishers, Lecointe and Roret, went about asking for
summaries from anyone at all approaching an author; résumés showered in
like hail; the very humblest scholar felt himself bound to send in his
résumé.

There was a regular scourge of them; even the most harmless of persons
were attacked with the disease. Rabbe eclipses all those obscure
writers at abound; he published, successively, résumés of the history
of Spain, of Portugal and of Russia; all extending to several editions.
These three volumes showed admirable talent for the writing of history,
and their only defect was the commonplace title under which they were
published.

"What are you working at?" Thiers often asked Alphonse Rabbe, as they
saw the reams of paper he was using up.

"I am at work on my _Sœur grise_," he replied.

In the summer of 1824, Mignet made a journey to Marseilles where,
before all his friends, he spread the praises of Rabbe's forthcoming
novel, _La Sœur grise_, which Mignet believed to be nearly completed.
Besides these fine books of history, Alphonse Rabbe wrote excellent
articles in the _Courrier-Français_ on the Fine Arts. On this subject,
he was not only a great master but, in addition, a great critic. He was
possibly slightly unfair to Vaudeville drama and a little severe on its
exponents; he carried this injustice almost to the point of hatred.
A droll adventure arose out of his dislike. A compatriot of Rabbe, a
Marseillais named M. Brézé (you see we sometimes put _Monsieur_) was
possessed by an ardent desire for giving Rabbe advice. (Let us here
insert, parenthetically, the observation that the Marseillais are born
advisers, specially when their advice is unsolicited.)

Well, M. Brézé had given endless advice to Rabbe while he was still at
Marseilles, advice which we can easily guess he took good care not to
follow. M. Brézé came to Paris and met Barthélemy, the poet, at the
Palais-Royal. The two compatriots entered into conversation with one
another--

"What is Rabbe doing?" asked M. Brézé.

"Résumés."

"Ah! so Rabbe is doing résumés?" repeated M. Brézé. "Hang it all!"

"Quite so."

"What are these résumés?"

"The quintessence of history compressed into small volumes instead of
being spun out into large ones."

"How many such résumés does he do in the year?"

"Perhaps one and a half or two at the most."

"And how much does a résumé bring in?"

"I believe twelve hundred francs."

"So, if Rabbe works all the year and has only done one résumé and a
half, he has earned eighteen hundred francs?"

"Eighteen hundred francs, yes! by Jove!"

"Hum!"

And M. Brézé began to reflect. Then, suddenly, he asked--"Do you think
Rabbe is as clever as M. Scribe?"

The question was so unlooked for and, above all, so inappropriate, that
Barthélemy began to laugh.

"Why, yes," he said; "only it is cleverness of a different order." "Oh!
that does not matter!"

"Why does it not matter?"

"If he has as much talent as M. Scribe it is all that is necessary."

Again he fell into reflection; then, after a pause he said to
Barthélemy--

"Is it true that M. Scribe earns a hundred thousand francs a year?"

"People say so," replied Barthélemy.

"Well, then," said M. Brézé, "in that case I must offer Rabbe some
advice."

"You?"

"Yes, I."

"You are quite capable of doing so--what will it be?"

"I must tell him to leave off writing his résumés and take to writing
vaudevilles."

The advice struck Barthélemy as a magnificent joke.

"Say that again," he said to M. Brézé.

"I must advise Rabbe to leave off writing his résumés and take to
writing vaudevilles."

"My goodness!" exclaimed Barthélemy, "do offer him that advice,
Monsieur Brézé."

"I will."

"When?"

"The first time I see him."

"You promise me you will?"

"On my word of honour."

"Whatever you do don't forget!"

"Make your mind quite easy."

Barthélemy and M. Brézé shook hands and separated. M. Brézé very much
delighted with himself for having conceived such a splendid idea;
Barthélemy with only one regret, that he could not be at hand when he
put his idea into execution.

As a matter of fact, M. Brézé met Rabbe one day, upon the Pont des
Arts. Rabbe was then deep in Russian history: he was as pre-occupied as
Tacitus.

"Oh! I am pleased to see you, my dear Rabbe!" said M. Brézé, as he came
up to him.

"And I to see you," said Rabbe.

"I have been looking for you for the past week."

"Indeed."

"Upon my word, I have!"

"What for?"

"My dear Rabbe, you know how attached I am to you?"

"Why, yes!"

"Well, then, in your own interest ... you understand? In your interest
..."

"Certainly, I understand."

"Well, I have a piece of advice to offer you."

"To offer me?"

"Yes, you."

"Give it me, then," said Rabbe, looking at Brézé over his spectacles,
as he was in the habit of doing, when he felt great surprise or people
began to bore him.

"Believe me, I speak as a friend."

"I do not doubt it; but what is the advice?"

"Rabbe, my friend, instead of making résumés, write vaudevilles!"

A deep growl sounded from the historian's breast. He seized the offerer
of advice by the arm, and in an awful voice he said to him--

"Monsieur, one of my enemies must have sent you to insult me."

"One of your enemies?"

"It was Latouche!"

"Why, no ..."

"Then it was Santo-Domingo!"

"No."

"Or Loëve-Weymars!"

"I swear to you it was none of them."

"Tell me the name of the insulting fellow."

"Rabbe! my dear Rabbe!"

"Give me his name, monsieur, or I will take you by the heels and pitch
you into the Seine, as Hercules threw Pirithous into the sea."

Then, perceiving that he had got mixed in his quotation--

"Pirithous or some other, it is all the same!"

"But I take my oath ..."

"Then it is you yourself?" exclaimed Rabbe, before Brézé had time to
finish his sentence. "Well, monsieur, you shall account to me for this
insult!"

At this proposition, Brézé gave such a jump that he tore himself from
the pincer-like grip that held him and ran to put himself under the
protection of the pensioner who took the toll at the bridge.

Rabbe took himself off after first making a gesture significant of
future vengeance. Next day he had forgotten all about it. Brézé,
however, remembered it ten years afterwards!

Two explanations must follow this anecdote which ought really to have
preceded it. From much study of the _Confessions_ of Jean-Jacques
Rousseau, Rabbe had imbibed something of the character of the
susceptible Genevese; he thought there was a general conspiracy
organised against him: that his Catiline and Manlius and Spartacus were
Latouche, Santo-Domingo and Loëve-Weymars; he even went so far as to
suspect his two Pylades, Thiers and Mignet.

"They are my d'Alembert and Diderot!" he said.

It was quite evident he believed Brézé's suggestion was the result of a
conspiracy that was just breaking out.

Rabbe's life was a species of perpetual hallucination, an existence
made up of dreams; and sleep, itself, the only reality. One day, he
button-holed Méry; his manner was gloomy, his hand on his breast
convulsively crumpled his shirt-front.

"Well," he exclaimed, shaking his head up and down, "I told you so!"

"What?"

"That he was an enemy of mine."

"Who?"

"Mignet."

"But, my dear Rabbe, he is nothing of the kind.... Mignet loves and
admires you."

"Ah! _he_ love me!"

"Yes."

"_He_ admire me!"

"No doubt of it."

"Well, do you know what the man who professes to love and admire me
said of me?"

"What did he say?"

"Why, he said that I was a man of IMAGINATION, yes, he did."

Méry assumed an air of consternation to oblige Rabbe. Rabbe, to revenge
himself for Mignet's insult, wrote in the preface of a second edition
of his résumés these crushing words--

"The pen of the historian ought not to be like a leaden pipe through
which a stream of tepid water flows on to the paper."

From this moment, his wrath against historians,--modern historians,
that is, of course: he worshipped Tacitus,--knew no bounds; and, when
there were friends present at his house and all historians were absent,
he would declaim in thunderous tones--

"Would you believe it, gentlemen, there are in France, at the present
moment and of our generation and rank, historians who take it into
their heads to copy the style of the veterans, Berruyer, Catrou and
Rouille? Yes, in each line of their modern battles they will tell
you that thirty thousand men were _cut in pieces_, or that they _bit
the dust_, or that they _were left lying strewn upon the scene._ How
behind the times these youngsters are! The other day, one of them, in
describing the battle of Austerlitz, wrote this sentence: 'Twenty-five
thousand Russians were drawn up in battle upon a vast frozen lake;
Napoléon gave orders that firing should be directed against this lake.
Bullets broke through the ice and the twenty-five thousand Russians BIT
THE DUST!'"

It is curious to note that such a sentence was actually written in
one of the résumés of that date. The second remark that we ought to
have made will explain the comparison that Rabbe had hazarded when
he spoke of himself as Hercules and of Brézé as Pirithous. He had so
effectually contracted the habit of using grand oratorical metaphor and
stilted language, that he could never descend to a more familiar style
of speech in his relations with more ordinary people. Thus, he once
addressed his hairdresser solemnly in the following terms:--

"Do not disarrange the economy of my hair too much; let the strokes of
your comb fall lightly on my head, and take care, as Boileau says, that
'L'ivoire trop hâté ne se brise en vos mains!'"

He said to his porter--

"If some friend comes and knocks at my hospitable portal, deal kindly
with him.... I shall soon return: I go to breathe the evening air upon
the Pont des Arts."

He said to his pastry-cook, Grandjean, who lived close by him in the
rue des Petits-Augustins--

"Monsieur Grandjean, the vol-au-vent that you did me the honour to send
yesterday had a crust of Roman cement, obstinate to the teeth; give a
more unctuous turn to your culinary art and people will be grateful to
you."

While all these things were happening, Rabbe fully imagined that he was
writing his novel, _La Sœur grise._

One day, Thiers came in to see him, as was his custom.

"Well, Rabbe," he said, "what are you at work upon now?"

"Parbleu!" replied Rabbe, "the same as usual, you know! My _Sœur
grise._"

"It ought to be nearly finished by now."

"It is finished."

"Oh, indeed!"

"Do you doubt me?"

"No."

"But you do doubt it?"

"Of course not."

"Stay," he said, picking up an exercise-book full of sheets of paper,
"here it is."

Thiers took it from him.

"But what is this? You have given me blank sheets of paper, my dear
fellow!"

Rabbe sprang like a tiger upon Thiers, and might, perhaps, in 1825,
have demolished the Minister of the First of March, had not Thiers
opened the book and showed him the pages as white as the dress worn by
M. Planard's shepherdess. Rabbe tore his hair with both hands.

"Do you know what has happened to me?" he shouted.

"No."

"Someone has stolen the MS. of my _Sœur grise!_"

"Oh! my God!" exclaimed Thiers, who did not want to vex him; "do you
know who is the thief?"

"No ... stay, yes, indeed, I think I do ... it is Loëve-Weymars! He
shall perish by my own hand; I will send him my two seconds!"

Loëve-Weymars was not in Paris. For upwards of a fortnight Rabbe
laboured under the delusion that he had written _La Sœur grise_ from
cover to cover, and that Loëve-Weymars was jealous of him and had
robbed him of his manuscript.

When such petulant insults fell upon friends like Loëve-Weymars,
Thiers, Mignet, Armaud Carrel and Méry, it did not matter; but, when
they were directed at strangers less acquainted with Rabbe's follies,
affairs sometimes assumed a more tragic aspect. Thus, about this
period, he had two duels; one with Alexis Dumesnil, the other with
Coste; he received a sword-cut from both of these gentlemen; but these
wounds did not cure him of his passion for quarrelling. He used to say
that, in his youth, he had been very clever at handling the javelin;
unluckily, however, his adversaries always declined that weapon,
which refusal Rabbe, with his enthusiasm for antiquity, never could
understand.

But if Rabbe admired antiquity madly, it was because he felt it
strongly; his piece, _Le Centaure_, is André Chénier in prose. Let us
give the proof of what we have been stating--


    THE CENTAUR

    "Swift as the west wind, amorous, superb, a young centaur
    comes to carry off the beauteous Cymothoë from her old
    husband. The impotent cries of the old man are heard
    afar.... Proud of his prey, impotent with desire, the
    ravisher stops beneath the deep shade of the banks of the
    river. His flanks still palpitate from the swiftness of his
    course; his breath comes hard and fast. He stops; his strong
    legs bend under him; he stretches one forth and kneels with
    agility on the other. He lovingly raises his beautiful prey
    whom he holds trembling across his powerful thighs; he
    takes her and presses her against his manly breast, sighs a
    thousand sighs and covers her tear-dewed eyelids with kisses.

    "'Fear not,' he says to her, 'O Cymothoë! Be not terrified
    of a lover who offers to thy charms the united quality of
    both man and war-horse. Believe me! my heart is worth more
    than that of a vile mortal who dwells in your towns. Tame my
    wild independence; I will bear thee to the freshest rivers,
    beneath the loveliest of shade; I will carry thee over the
    green prairies, which are bathed by the Pene or patriarchal
    Achelous. Seated on my broad back, with thy arms intertwined
    in the rings of my black hair, thou canst entrust thy charms
    to the gambols of the waves, without fear that a jealous
    god will venture to seize thee to take thee to the depths of
    his crystal grotto.... I love thee, O young Cymothoë! Drive
    away thy tears; thou canst try thy power: thou hast me in
    subjection!'

    "'Splendid monster!' replies the weeping Cymothoë, 'I am
    struck with amazement. Thy accents are full of gentleness,
    and thou speakest words of love! Why, thou talkest like
    a man! Thy fearful caresses do not slay me! Tell me why!
    But dost thou not hear the cries of Dryas, my old husband?
    Centaur, fear for thy life! His kisses are like ice, but his
    vengeance is cruel; his hounds are flying in thy tracks; his
    slaves follow them; haste thee to fly and leave me!'

    "'I leave thee!' replies the Centaur. And he stifles a
    plaintive murmur on the lips of his captive. 'I leave thee!
    Where is the Pirithous, the Alcides who dare come to dispute
    my conquest with me? Have I not my javelins? Have I not my
    heavy club? Have I not my swift speed? Has not Neptune given
    to the Centaur the impetuous strength of the storm?'

    "Then suddenly he bounded away full of courage, confidence
    and happiness. Cymothoë balanced as if she was hung in a
    moving net under these green vaults, or like as though borne
    in a chariot of clouds by Zephyrus, henceforth rids herself
    of her useless terrors and abandons herself to the raptures
    of this strange lover.

    "Again he stops and she admires the way nature has delighted
    to mate in him the lovely form of a horse with the majestic
    features of a man. Intelligent thought animates his glance,
    so proud and yet so gentle; beneath that broad breast dwells
    a heart touched by her charms.... What a splendid slave to
    Cymothoë and to love!

    "She soon stops looking; a burning blush covers her cheeks
    and her eyelids droop; then, as her lover redoubles his
    caresses, and unfastens her girdle--

    "'Stay!' she says to him, 'stay, beauteous Centaur! Dost
    thou not hear the fiery pack of hounds? Do not the arrows
    whistle in thy ears.... I do not indeed hate thee; but leave
    me! Leave me!'

    "But neither Dryas nor his hounds nor slaves come that way,
    and those were not the reason of Cymothoë's fears. He,
    smiling--

    "'Calm thy fright; come, let us cross the river, and do not
    dread the sacrifice we are about to offer to the-powerful
    Venus on the other side!... Soon, alas! the forests will
    see no more such nuptials. Our fathers have succumbed,
    betrayed by the wedding of Thetis and Peleus; we are now few
    in number, solitary, fugitive, not from man, weaker and less
    noble than we, but before Death who pursues us. The laws of
    a mysterious nature have thus decreed it; the reign of our
    race is nearly over!

    "'This globe, deprived of the love of the gods who made
    it, must grow old and the weak replace the strong; debased
    mortals will have nothing but vain memories of the early
    joys of the world. Thou art perhaps the last daughter of men
    destined to be allied with our race; but thou wilt at least
    have been the most beautiful and the happiest! Come!'

    "Thus speaks the man-horse, and replacing his delightsome
    burden on his bare back, he runs to the river and rushes
    into the midst of the waves, which sparkle round him in
    diamond sheaves burning with the setting fire of a summer
    sun. His eyes fixed on those of the beauty which intoxicates
    him, he swims across the stream and is lost to sight in the
    green depths which stretch from the other side to the foot
    of the high mountains...."

Is this not a genuine bit of antiquity without a modern touch in it,
like a bas-relief taken from the temple of Hercules at Thebes or of
Theseus at Athens?


[1] Do not let it be thought for one moment that it is in order to make
out any intimacy whatsoever with the two famous historians, whom I have
several times mentioned, that I say Thiers and Mignet; theirs are names
which have won the privilege of being presented to the public without
the banal title of _monsieur._



CHAPTER XI


    Adèle--Her devotion to Rabbe--Strong meat--_Appel à
    Dieu_--_L'âme et la comédie humaine_--_La mort_--_Ultime
    lettere_--Suicide_--À Alphonse Rabbe_, by Victor Hugo


We have been forgetful, more than forgetful, even ungrateful, in saying
that Rabbe's one and only consolation was his pipe; there was another.

A young girl, named Adèle, spent three years with him; but those three
happy years only added fresh sorrows to Rabbe, for, soon, the beautiful
fresh girl drooped like a flower at whose roots a worm is gnawing; she
bowed her head, suffered for a year, then died.

History has made much stir about certain devoted attachments; no
devotion could have been purer or more disinterested than the unnoticed
devotion of this young girl, all the more complete that she crowned it
with her death.

A subject of this nature is either stated in three brief lines of bald
fact, or is extended over a couple of volumes as a psychological study.
Poor Adèle! We have but four lines, and the memory of your devotion to
offer you! Her death drove Rabbe to despair; from that time dates the
most abandoned period of his life. Rabbe found out not only that the
seeds of destruction were in him, but that they emanated from him. His
wails of despair from that moment became bitter and frequent; and his
thoughts turned incessantly towards suicide so that they might become
accustomed to the idea. Certain memoranda hung always in his sight;
he called them his _pain des forts_; they were, indeed, the spiritual
bread he fed himself on.

We will give a few examples of his most remarkable thoughts from this
lugubrious diary:--

    "The whole life of man is but one journey towards death."

    *

    "Man, from whence comes thy pride? It was a mistake for thee
    to have been conceived; thy birth is a misfortune; thy life
    a labour; thy death inevitable."

    *

    "Thou living corpse! When wilt thou return to the dust?
    O solitude! O death! I have drunk deep of thy austere
    delights. You are my loves! the only ones that are faithful
    to me!"

    *

    "Every hour that passes by drives us towards the tomb and is
    hastened by the advance of those that precede it."

    *

    "Bitter and cruel is the absence of God's face from me. How
    much longer wilt Thou make me suffer?"

    *

    "Reflect in the morning that by night you may be no longer
    here; and at night, that by morning you may have died."

    *

    "Sometimes there is a melancholy remembrance of the glorious
    days of youth, of that happiness which never seems so great
    or so bitter as when remembered in the days of misfortune;
    at times, such collections confront the unfortunate wretch
    whose aspirations are towards death. Then, his despair turns
    to melancholy--almost even to hope."

    *

    "But these illusions of the beautiful days of youth pass and
    vanish away! Oh! what bitterness fills my soul! Inexorable
    nature, fate, destiny of providence give me back the cup
    of life and of happiness! My lips had scarcely touched it
    before you snatched it out of my trembling hands. Give me
    back the cup! Give it back! I am consumed by burning thirst;
    I have deceived myself; you have deceived me; I have never
    drunk, I have never satisfied my thirst, for the liquid
    evaporated like blue flame, which leaves behind it nothing
    but the smell of sulphur and volcanoes."

    *

    "Lightning from heaven! Why dost thou not rather strike the
    lofty tops of those oaks and fir trees whose robust old age
    has already braved a hundred winters? They, at least, have
    lived; and have satiated themselves with the sweets of the
    earth!"

    *

    "I have been struck down in my prime; for nine years I have
    been a prey, fighting against death.... Miserable wretch
    why has not the hand of God which smote me annihilated me
    altogether?"

Then, in consequence of his pains, the soul of the unhappy Rabbe rises
to the level of prayer; he, the sceptic, loses faith in unbelief and
returns to God--

    "O my God!" he exclaims in the solitudes of night, which
    carries the plaint of his groans and tears to the ears of
    his neighbours. "O my God! If Thou art just, Thou must have
    a better world in store for us! O my God! Thou who knowest
    all the thoughts that I bare here before Thee and the
    remorse to which my scalding tears give expression; O my
    God! if the groanings of an unfortunate soul are heard by
    Thee, Thou must understand, O my God! the heart that Thou
    didst give me, thou knowest the wishes it formed, and the
    insatiable desires that still possess it. Oh! if afflictions
    have broken it, if the absence of all consolation and
    tenderness, if the most horrible solitude, have withered it,
    O my God! help Thy wretched creature; give me faith in a
    better world to come! Oh! may I find beyond the grave what
    my soul, unrecognised and bewildered, has unceasingly craved
    for on this earth...."

Then God took pity on him. He did not restore his health or hope, his
youth, beauty and loves in this life; those three illusions vanished
all too soon: but God granted him the gift of tears. And he thanked
God for it. Towards the close of the year 1829, the disease made such
progress that Rabbe resolved he would not live to see the opening of
the year 1830. Thus, as he had addressed God, as he had addressed his
soul, so he now addresses death--


    DEATH

    "Thou diest! Thou hast reached the limit to which all things
    comes at last; the end of thy miseries, the beginning of
    thy happiness. Behold, death stands face to face with thee!
    Thou wilt not longer be able to wish for, nor to dread it.
    Pains and weakness of body, sad heart-searchings, piercing
    spiritual anguish, devouring griefs, all are over! Thou wilt
    never suffer them again; thou goest in peace to brave the
    insolent pride of the successful evil-doer, the despising
    of fools and the abortive pity of those who dare to style
    themselves _good._

    "The deprivation of many evils will not be an evil in
    itself; I have seen thee chafing at thy bit, shaking the
    humiliating chains of an adverse fate in despair; I have
    often heard the distressing complaints which issued from
    the depths of thy oppressed heart.... Thou art satisfied at
    last. Haste thee to empty the cup of an unfortunate life,
    and perish the vase from which thou wast compelled to drink
    such bitter draughts.

    "But thou dost stop and tremble! Thou dost curse the
    duration of thy suffering and yet dost dread and regret that
    the end has come! Thou apprisest without reason or justice,
    and dost lament equally both what things are and what they
    cease to be. Listen, and think for one moment.

    "In dying, thou dost but follow the path thy forefathers
    have trodden; thousands of generations before thee have
    fallen into the abyss into which thou hast to descend;
    many thousands will fall into it after thee. The cruel
    vicissitude of life and death cannot be altered for thee
    alone. Onward then towards thy journey's end, follow where
    others have gone, and be not afraid of straying from it
    or losing thyself when thou hast so many other travelling
    companions. Let there be no signs of weakness, no tears!
    The man who weeps over his own death is the vilest and
    most despicable of all beings. Submit unmurmuringly to the
    inevitable; thou must die, as thou hast had to live, without
    will of thy own. Give back, therefore, without anxiety, thy
    life which thou receivest unconsciously. Neither birth nor
    death are in thy power. Rather rejoice, for thou art at
    the beginning of an immortal dawn. Those who surround thy
    deathbed, all those whom thou hast ever seen, of whom thou
    hast heard speak or read, the small number of those thou
    hast known especially well, the vast multitude of those who
    have lived formerly or been born or are to be born in ages
    to come throughout the world, all these have gone or will go
    the road thou art going. Look with wise eyes upon the long
    caravan of successive generations which have crossed the
    deserts of life, fighting as they travel across the burning
    sands for one drop of the water which inflames their thirst
    more than it appeases it! Thou art swallowed up in the crowd
    directly thou fallest: but look how many others are falling
    too at the same time with thee!

    "Wouldst thou desire to live for ever? Wouldst thou only
    wish thy life to last for a thousand years? Remember the
    long hours of weariness in thy short career, thy frequent
    fainting under the burden. Thou wast aghast at the limited
    horizon of a short, uncertain and fugitive life: what
    wouldst thou have said if thou hadst seen an immeasurable,
    inevitably long future of weariness and sorrow stretch
    before thy eyes!

    "O mortals! you weep over death, as though life were
    something great and precious! And yet the vilest insects
    that crawl share this rare treasure of life with you! All
    march towards death because all yearn towards rest and
    perfect peace.

    "Behold! the approach of the day that thou fain wouldst
    have tried to bring nearer by thy prayers, if a jealous
    fate had not deferred it; for which thou didst often sigh;
    behold the moment which is to remove the capricious yoke
    of fortune from the trammels of human society, from the
    venomous attacks of thy fellow-creatures. Thou thinkest thou
    wilt cease to exist and that thought torments thee.... Well,
    but what proves to thee that thou wilt be annihilated? All
    the ages have retained a hope in immortality. The belief in
    a spiritual life was not merely a dogma of a few religious
    creeds; it was the need and the cry of all nations that have
    covered the face of the earth. The European, in the luxuries
    of his capital towns, the aboriginal American-Indian under
    his rude huts, both equally dream of an immortal state; all
    cry to the tribunal of nature against the incompleteness of
    this life.

    "If thou sufferest, it is well to die; if thou art happy
    or thinkest thou art so, thou wilt gain by death since thy
    illusion would not have lasted long. Thou passest from a
    terrestrial habitation to a pure and celestial one. Why look
    back when thy foot is upon the threshold of its portals? The
    eternal distributor of good and evil, our Sovereign Master,
    calls thee to Himself; it is by His desire thy prison flies
    open; thy heavy chains are broken and thy exile is ended;
    therefore rejoice! Thou wilt soar to the throne of thy King
    and Saviour!

    "Ah! if thou art not shackled with the weight of some
    unexpiated crime, thou wilt sing as thou diest; and, like
    the Roman emperor, thou wilt rise up in thy agony at the
    very thought, and thou wouldst die standing with eyes turned
    towards the promised land!

    "O Saint Preux and Werther! O Jacob Ortis! how far were you
    from reaching such heights as that! Orators even to the
    death agony, your brains alone it is which lament; man in
    his death throes, this actually dying creature, it is his
    heart that groans, his flesh that cries out, his spirit
    which doubts. Oh! how well one feels that all that hollow
    philosophising does not reassure him as to the pain of
    the supreme moment, and especially against that terror of
    annihilation, which brought drops of sweat to the brow of
    Hamlet!

    "One more cry--the last, then silence shall fall on him who
    suffered much."

Moreover, Alphonse Rabbe wished there to be no doubt of how he died;
hear this, his will, which he signed; there was to his mind no
dishonour in digging himself a grave with his own hands between those
of Cato of Utica and of Brutus--


    "31 _December_ 1829

    "Like Ugo Foscolo, I must write my _ultime lettere._ If
    every man who had thought and felt deeply could die before
    the decline of his faculties from age, and leave behind him
    his _philosophical testament_, that is to say, a profession
    of faith bold and sincere, written upon the planks of his
    coffin, there would be more truths recognised and saved from
    the regions of foolishness and the contemptible opinion of
    the vulgar.

    "I have other motives for executing this project. There
    are in the world various interesting men who have been my
    friends; I wish them to know how I ended my life. I desire
    that even the indifferent, namely, the bulk of the general
    public (to whom I shall be a subject of conversation for
    about ten minutes--perhaps even that is an exaggerated
    supposition), should know, however poor an opinion I have of
    the majority of people, that I did not yield to cowardice,
    but that the cup of my weariness was already filled, when
    fresh wrongs came and overthrew it. I wish, in conclusion,
    that my friends, those indifferent to me, and even my
    enemies, should know that I have but exercised quietly and
    with dignity the privilege that every man acquires from
    nature--the right to dispose of himself as he likes. This is
    the last thing that has interest for me this side the grave.
    All my hopes lie beyond it ...if perchance there be anything
    beyond."

Thus, poor Rabbe, after all thy philosophy, sifted as fine as ripe
grain; after all thy philosophising; after many prayers to God and
dialogues with thy soul, and many conversations with death, these
supreme interlocutors have taught thee nothing and thy last thought is
a doubt!

Rabbe had said he would not see the year 1830: and he died during the
night of the 31 December 1829.

Now, how did he die? That gloomy mystery was kept locked in the hearts
of the last friends who were present with him. But one of his friends
told me that, the evening before his death, his sufferings were so
unendurable, that the doctor ordered an opium plaster to be put on the
sick man's chest. Next day, they hunted in vain for the opium plaster
but could not find it....

On 17 September 1835, Victor Hugo addresses these lines to him


    À ALPHONSE RABBE

    _Mort le_ 31 _décembre_ 1829

    "Hélas! que fais tu donc, ô Rabbe, ô mon ami,
    Sévère historien dans la tombe endormi?

    Je l'ai pensé souvent dans les heures funèbres,
    Seul, près de mon flambeau qui rayait les ténèbres,
    O noble ami! pareil aux hommes d'autrefois,
    Il manque parmi nous ta voix; ta forte voix,
    Pleine de l'équité qui gonflait ta poitrine.

    Il nous manque ta main, qui grave et qui burine,
    Dans ce siècle où par l'or les sages sont distraits,
    Où l'idée est servante auprès des intérêts;
    Temps de fruits avortés et de tiges rompues,
    D'instincts dénaturés, de raisons corrompues,
    Où, dans l'esprit humain tout étant dispersé,
    Le présent au hasard flotte sur le passé!

    Si, parmi nous, ta tête était debout encore,
    Cette cime où vibrait l'éloquence sonore,
    Au milieu de nos flots tu serais calme et grand;
    Tu serais comme un pont posé sur le courant.
    Tu serais pour chacun la boix haute et sensée
    Qui fait que, brouillard s'en va de la pensée,
    Et que la vérité, qu'en vain nous repoussions,
    Sort de l'amas confus des sombres visions!

    Tu dirais aux partis qu'ils font trop be poussière
    Autour de la raison pour qu'on la voie entière;
    Au peuple, que la loi du travail est sur tous,
    Et qu'il est assez fort pour n'être pas jaloux;
    Au pouvoir, que jamais le pouvoir ne se venge,
    Et que, pour le penseur, c'est un spectacle étrange.
    Et triste, quand la loi, figure au bras d'airain,
    Déesse qui ne doit avoir qu'un front serein,
    Sort, à de certains jours, de l'urne consulaire,
    L'œil hagard, écumante et folle de colère!

    Et ces jeunes esprits, à qui tu souriais,
    Et que leur âge livre aux rêves inquiets,
    Tu leur dirais: Amis nés pour des temps prospères,
    Oh! n'allez pas errer comme ont erré vos pères!
    Laissez murir vos fronts! gardez-vous, jeunes gens,
    Des systèmes dorés aux plumages changeants,
    Qui, dans les carrefours, s'en vont faire la roue!
    Et de ce qu'en vos cœurs l'Amérique secoue,
    Peuple à peine essayé, nation de hasard,
    Sans tige, sans passé, sans histoire et sans art!
    Et de cette sagesse impie, envenimée,
    Du cerveau de Voltaire éclose tout armée,
    Fille de l'ignorance et de l'orgueil, posant
    Les lois des anciens jours sur les mœurs d'à présent;
    Qui refait un chaos partout où fut un monde;
    Qui rudement enfoncé,--ô démence profonde!
    Le casque étroit de Sparte au front du vieux Paris;
    Qui, dans les temps passés, mal lus et mal compris,
    Viole effrontément tout sage, pour lui faire
    Un monstre qui serait la terreur de son père!
    Si bien que les héros antiques tout tremblants
    S'en sont voilé la face, et qu'après deux mille ans,
    Par ses embrassements réveillé sous la pierre,
    Lycurgue, qu'elle épouse, enfante Robespierre!"

    Tu nous dirais à tous: 'Ne vous endormez pas!
    Veillez et soyez prêts! Car déjà, pas à pas,
    La main de l'oiseleur dans l'ombre s'est glissée
    Partout où chante un nid couvé par la pensée!
    Car les plus nobles fronts sont vaincus ou sont las!
    Car la Pologne, aux fers, ne peut plus même, hêlas!
    Mordre le pied tartare appuyé sur sa gorge!
    Car on voit, chaque jour, s'allonger dans la forge
    La chaîne que les rois, craignant la liberté,
    Font pour cette géante, endormie à côté!
    Ne vous endormez pas! travaillez sans relâche!
    Car les grands ont leur œuvre et les petits leur tâche;
    Chacun a son ouvrage à faire, chacun met
    Sa pierre à l'édifice encor loin du sommet--
    Qui croit avoir fini, pour un roi qu'on dépose,
    Se trompe: un roi qui tombe est toujours peu de chose;
    Il est plus difficile et c'est un plus grand poids
    De relever les mœurs que d'abattre les rois.
    Rien chez vous n'est complet: la ruine ou l'ébauche!
    L'épi n'est pas formé que votre main le fauche!
    Vous êtes encombrés de plans toujours rêvés
    Et jamais accomplis ... Hommes, vous ne savez,
    Tant vous connaissez peu ce qui convient aux âmes,
    Que faire des enfants, ni que faire des femmes!
    Où donc en êtes-vous? Vous vous applaudissez
    Pour quelques blocs de lois au hasard entassés!
    Ah! l'heure du repos pour aucun n'est venue;
    Travaillez! vous cherchez une chose inconnue;
    Vous n'avez pas de foi, vous n'avez pas d'amour;
    Rien chez vous n'est encore éclairé du vrai jour!
    Crépuscule et brouillards que vos plus clairs systèmes
    Dans vos lois, dans vos mœurs et dans vos esprits
      mêmes,
    Partout l'aube blanchâtre ou le couchant vermeil!
    Nulle part le midi! nulle part le soleil!'

    Tu parlerais ainsi dans des livres austères,
    Comme parlaient jadis les anciens solitaires,
    Comme parlent tous ceux devant qui l'on se tait,
    Et l'on t'écouterait comme on les écoutait;
    Et l'on viendrait vers toi, dans ce siècle plein d'ombre,
    Où, chacun se heurtant aux obstacles sans nombre
    Que, faute de lumière, on tâte avec la main,
    Le conseil manque à l'âme, et le guide au chemin!

    Hélas! à chaque instant, des souffles de tempêtes
    Amassent plus de brume et d'ombre sur nos têtes;
    De moment en moment l'avenir s'assombrit.
    Dans le calme du cœur, dans la paix de l'esprit,
    Je l'adressais ces vers, où mon âme sereine
    N'a laissé sur ta pierre écumer nulle haine,
    À toi qui dors couché dans le tombeau profond,
    À toi qui ne sais plus ce que les hommes font!
    Je l'adressais ces vers, pleins de tristes présages;
    Car c'est bien follement que nous nous croyons sages.
    Le combat furieux recommence à gronder
    Entre le droit de croître et le droit d'émonder;
    La bataille où les lois attaquent les idées
    Se mêle de nouveau sur des mers mal sondées;
    Chacun se sent troublé comme l'eau sous le vent ...
    Et moi-même, à cette heure, à mon foyer rêvant,
    Voilà, depuis cinq ans qu'on oubliait Procuste,
    Que j'entends aboyer, au seuil du drame auguste,
    La censure à l'haleine immonde, aux ongles noirs,
    Cette chienne au front has qui suit tous les pouvoirs,
    Vile et mâchant toujours dans sa gueule souillée,
    O muse! quelque pan de ta robe étoilée!
    Hélas! que fais-tu donc, ô Rabbe, ô mon ami!
    Sévère historien dans la tombe endormi?"

If anything of poor Rabbe still survives, he will surely tremble with
joy in his tomb at this tribute. Indeed, few kings have had such an
epitaph!



CHAPTER XII


    Chéron--His last compliments to Harel--Obituary of
    1830--My official visit on New Year's Day--A striking
    costume--Read the _Moniteur_--Disbanding of the Artillery
    of the National Guard--First representation of _Napoléon
    Bonaparte_--Delaistre--Frédérick Lemaître


Meantime, throughout the course of that glorious year of 1830, death
had been gathering in a harvest of celebrated men.

It had begun with Chéron, the author of _Tartufe de Mœurs._ We learnt
his death in a singular fashion. Harel thought of taking up the only
comedy that the good fellow had written, and had begun its rehearsals
the same time as _Christine._ They rehearsed Chéron's comedy at ten
in the morning and _Christine_ at noon. One morning, Chéron, who was
punctuality itself, was late. Harel had waited a little while, then
given orders to prepare the stage for _Christine._ Steinberg had not
got further than his tenth line, when a little fellow of twelve years
came from behind one of the wings and asked for M. Harel.

"Here I am," said Harel, "what is it?"

"M. Chéron presents his compliments to you," said the little man, "and
sends word that he cannot come to his rehearsal this morning."

"Why not, my boy?" asked Harel.

"Because he died last night," replied the little fellow.

"Ah! diable!" exclaimed Harel; "in that case you must take back my best
compliments and tell him that I will attend his funeral to-morrow."

That was the funeral oration the ex-government inspector to the
Théâtre-Français pronounced over him.

I believe I have mentioned somewhere that Taylor succeeded Chéron.

At the beginning of the year, on 15 February, Comte Marie de Chamans
de Lavalette had also died; he it was who, in 1815, was saved by the
devotion of his wife and of two Englishmen; one of whom, Sir Robert
Wilson, I met in 1846 when he was Governor of Gibraltar. Comte de
Lavalette lived fifteen years after his condemnation to death; caring
for his wife, in his turn, for she had gone insane from the terrible
anxiety she suffered in helping her husband to escape.

On 11 March the obituary list was marked by the death of the
Marquis de Lally-Tollendal, whom I knew well: he was the son of the
Lally-Tollendal who was executed in the place de Grève as guilty of
peculation, upon whom it will be recollected Gilbert wrote lines that
were certainly some of his best. The poor Marquis de Lally-Tollendal
was always in trouble, but this did not prevent him from becoming
enormously stout. He weighed nearly three hundred pounds; Madame de
Staël called him "the fattest of sentient beings."

Perhaps I have already said this somewhere. If so, I ask pardon for
repeating it.

The same month Radet died, the doyen of vaudevillists. During the
latter years of his life he was afflicted with kleptomania, but his
friends never minded; if, after his departure they missed anything they
knew where to go and look for the missing article.

Then, on 15 April, Hippolyte Bendo died. He was behindhand, for death,
who was out of breath with running after him, caught him up at the age
of one hundred and twenty-two. He had married again at one hundred and
one!

Then, on 23 April, died the Chevalier Sue, father of Eugène Sue; he had
been honorary physician in chief to the household of King Charles X.
He was a man of great originality of mind and, at times, of singular
artlessness of expression; those who heard him give his course of
lectures on conchology will bear me out in this I am very sure.

On 29 May that excellent man Jérôme Gohier passed away, of whom I
have spoken as an old friend of mine; and who could not forgive
Bonaparte for causing the events of 18 Brumaire, whilst he, Gohier, was
breakfasting with Josephine.

On 29 June died good old M. Pieyre, former tutor and secretary to the
duc d'Orléans; author of _l'École des pères_; and the same who, with
old Bichet and M. de Parseval de Grandmaison, had shown such great
friendship to me and supported me to the utmost at the beginning of my
dramatic career.

Then, on 29 July, a lady named Rosaria Pangallo died; she was born on 3
August 1698, only four years after Voltaire, whom we thought belonged
to a past age, as he had died in 1778! The good lady was 132, ten years
older than her compatriot Hippolyte Bendo, of whom we spoke just now.

On 28 August Martainville died, hero of the Pont du Pecq, whom we saw
fighting with M. Arnault over _Germanicus._

On 18 October Adam Weishaupt died, that famous leader of the Illuminati
whose ashes I was to revive eighteen years later in my romance _Joseph
Balsamo._

Then, on 30 November, Pius VIII. passed to his account; he was
succeeded by Gregory XVI., of whom I shall have much to say.

On 17 December Marmontel's son died in New York, America, in hospital,
just as a real poet might have done.

Then, on the 31st of the same month, the Comtesse de Genlis died,
that bogie of my childhood, whose appearances at the Château de
Villers-Hellon I related earlier in these Memoirs, and who, before
she died, had the sorrow of seeing the accession to the throne of her
pupil, badly treated by her, as a politician, in a letter which we
printed in our _Histoire de Louis-Philippe._

Finally, on the last night of the old year, the artillery came to
its end, killed by royal decree; and, as I had not heard of this
decree soon enough, it led me to make the absurd blunder I am about
to describe, which was probably among all the grievances King
Louis-Philippe believed he had against me the one that made him
cherish the bitterest rancour towards me. The reader will recollect the
resignation of one of our captains and my election to the rank thus
left vacant; he will further remember that, owing to the enthusiasm
which fired me at that period, I undertook the command of a manœuvre
the day but one after my appointment. This made the third change I
had had to make in my uniform in five months: first, mounted National
Guard; then, from that, to a gunner in the artillery; then, from a
private to a captain in the same arm of the service. In due course New
Year's day was approaching, and there had been a meeting to decide
whether we should pay a visit of etiquette to the king or not. In
order to avoid being placed upon the index for no good reason, it
was decided to go. Consequently, a rendezvous was made for the next
day, 1 January 1831, at nine in the morning, in the courtyard of the
Palais-Royal. Whereupon we separated. I do not remember what caused
me to lie in bed longer than usual that New Year's morning 1831; but,
to cut a long story short, when I looked at my watch, I saw that I
had only just time, if that, to dress and reach the Palais-Royal. I
summoned Joseph and, with his help, as nine o'clock was striking, I
flew down stairs four steps at a time from my third storey. I need
hardly say that, being in such a tremendous hurry, of course there was
no cab or carriage of any description to be had. Thus, I reached the
courtyard of the Palais-Royal by a quarter past nine. It was crowded
with officers waiting their turn to present their collective New Year's
congratulations to the King of the French; but, in the midst of all the
various uniforms, that of the artillery was conspicuous by its absence.
I glanced at the clock, and seeing that I was a quarter of an hour
late, I thought the artillery had already taken up its position and
that I should be able to join it either on the staircases or in one of
the apartments. I rushed quickly up the State stairway and reached the
great audience chamber. Not a sign of any artillerymen! I thought that,
like Victor Hugo's kettle-drummers, the artillerymen must have passed
and I decided to go in alone.

Had I not been so preoccupied with my unpunctuality, I should have
remarked the strange looks people cast at me all round; but I saw
nothing, thanks to my absent-mindedness, except that the group of
officers, with whom I intermingled to enter the king's chamber, made
a movement from centre to circumference, which left me as completely
isolated as though I was suspected of bringing infection of cholera,
which was beginning to be talked about in Paris. I attributed this act
of repulsion to the part the artillery had played during the recent
disturbances, and as I, for my part, was quite ready to answer for
the responsibility of my own actions, I went in with my head held
high. I should say, that out of the score of officers who formed
the group I had honoured with my presence, I seemed to be the only
one who attracted the attention of the king; he even gazed at me
with such surprise that I looked around to find the cause of this
incomprehensible stare. Among those present some put on a scornful
smile, others seemed alarmed; and the expression of others, again,
seemed to say: "Seigneur; pardon us for having come in with that man!"
The whole thing was inexplicable to me. I went up to the king, who was
so good as to speak to me.

"Ah! good day, Dumas!" he said to me; "that's just like you! I
recognise you well enough! It is just like you to come!"

I looked at the king and, for the life of me, I could not tell what he
was alluding to. Then, as he began laughing, and all the good courtiers
round imitated his example, I smiled in company with everybody else,
and went on my way. In the next room where my steps led me I found
Vatout, Oudard, Appert, Tallencourt, Casimir Delavigne and a host of
my old comrades. They had seen me through the half-open door and they,
too, were all laughing. This universal hilarity began to confuse me.

"Ah!" said Vatout. "Well, you have a nerve, my friend!"

"What do you mean?"

"Why, you have just paid the king a New Year's visit in a dress of
_dissous_."

By _dissous_ understand _dix sous_ (ten sous).

Vatout was an inveterate punster.

"I do not understand you," I said, very seriously.

"Come now," he said. "You aren't surely going to try to make us believe
that you did not know the king's order!"

"What order?"

"The disbandment of the artillery, of course!"

"What! the artillery is disbanded?"

"Why, it is in black and white in the _Moniteur!_"

"You are joking. Do I ever read the _Moniteur?_"

"You are right to say that."

"But, by Jove! I say it because it is true!"

They all began laughing again.

I will acknowledge that, by this time, I was dreadfully angry; I had
done a thing that, if considered in the light of an act of bravado,
might indeed be regarded as a very grave impertinence, and one in which
I, least of any person, had no right to indulge towards the king. I
went down the staircase as quickly as I had gone up it, ran to the café
_du Roi,_ and asked for the _Moniteur_ with a ferocity that astonished
the frequenters of the café. They had to send out and borrow one from
the café _Minerve._ The order was in a prominent position; it was
short, but explicit, and in these simple words--

    "LOUIS-PHILIPPE, KING OF THE FRENCH,--To all, now and
    hereafter, Greeting. Upon the report of our Minister, the
    Secretary of State for Home Affairs, we have ordained and do
    ordain as follows:--

    "ARTICLE I.--The corps of artillery of the National Guard of
    Paris is disbanded.

    "ARTICLE 2.--Proceedings for the reorganisation of that
    corps shall begin immediately.

    "ARTICLE 3.--A commission shall be appointed to proceed with
    that reorganisation."

After seeing this official document I could have no further doubts upon
the subject. I went home, stripped myself of my seditious clothing,
put on the dress of ordinary folk, and went off to the Odéon for my
rehearsal of _Napoléon Bonaparte_, which was announced for its first
production the next day. As I came away after the rehearsal, I met
three or four of my artillery comrades, who congratulated me warmly.
My adventure had already spread all over Paris; some-thought it a joke
in the worst possible taste, others thought my action heroic. But none
of them would believe the truth that it was done through ignorance.
To this act of mine I owed being made later a member of the committee
to consider the national pensions lists, of the Polish committee and
of that for deciding the distribution of honours to those who took
conspicuous part in the July Revolution, and of being re-elected as
lieutenant in the new artillery,--honours which naturally led to my
taking part in the actions of 5 June 1832, and being obliged to spend
three months' absence in Switzerland and two in Italy.

But, in the meantime, as I have said, _Napoléon_ was to be acted on
the following day, a literary event that was little calculated to
restore me to the king's political good books. This time, the poor
duc d'Orléans did _not_ come and ask me to intercede with his father
to be allowed to go to the Odéon. _Napoléon_ was a success, but only
from pure chance: its literary value was pretty nearly nil. The rôle
of the spy was the only real original creation; all the rest was done
with paste and scissors. There was some hissing amongst the applause,
and (a rare thing with an author) I was almost of the opinion of those
who hissed. But the expenses, with Frédérick playing the principal
part, and Lockroy and Stockleit the secondary ones; with costumes
and decorations and the burning of the Kremlin, and the retreat of
Bérésina, and especially the passion of five years at Saint Helena,
amounting to a hundred thousand francs; how could it, with all this,
have been anything but a success? Delaistre acted the part of Hudson
Lowe. I remember they were obliged to send the theatre attendants
back with him each night to keep him from being stoned on his way
home. The honours of the first night belonged by right to Frédérick
far more than to me. Frédérick had just begun to make his fine and
great reputation, a reputation conscientiously earned and well
deserved. He had made his first appearances at the Cirque; then, as
we have stated, he came to act at the Odéon, in the part of one of
the brothers in _Les Macchabées_, by M. Guiraud; he next returned to
the Ambigu, where he created the parts of Cartouche and of Cardillac,
and, subsequently, he went to the Porte-Saint-Martin, where his name
had become famous by his Méphistophélès, Marat and Le Joueur. He was
a privileged actor, after the style of Kean, full of defects, but as
full, also, of fine qualities; he was a genius in parts requiring
violence, strength, anger, sarcasm, caprice or buffoonery. At the same
time, in summing up the gifts of this eminent actor, it is useless
to expect of him attributes that Bocage possessed in such characters
as the man _Antony_, and in _La Tour de Nesle._ Bocage and Frédérick
combined gave us the qualities that Talma, in his prime, gave us by
himself. Frédérick finally returned to the Odéon, where he played
le Duresnel in _La Mère et la Fille_ most wonderfully; and where he
next played _Napoléon._ But Frédérick's great dramatic talents do not
stand out most conspicuously in the part of _Napoléon._ To speak of
him adequately, we must dwell upon his _Richard Darlington_, _Lucrèce
Borgia, Kean_ and _Buy Bias._

In this manner did I stride across the invisible abyss that divided one
year from another, and passed from the year 1830 to that of 1831, which
brought me insensibly to my twenty-ninth year.



BOOK II



CHAPTER I


    The Abbé Châtel--The programme of his church--The Curé of
    Lèves and M. Clausel de Montais--The Lévois embrace the
    religion of the primate of the Gauls--Mass in French--The
    Roman curé--A dead body to inter


A triple movement of a very remarkable character arose at this
time: political, literary and social. It seemed as though after the
Revolution of 1793, which had shaken, overturned and destroyed things
generally, society grew frightened and exerted all its strength upon a
general reorganisation. This reconstruction, it is true, was more like
that of the Tower of Babel than of Solomon's Temple. We have spoken
about the literary builders and of the political too; now let us say
something about the social and religious reconstructors.

The first to show signs of existence was the Abbé Châtel.

On 20 February 1831, the French Catholic Church, situated in the
Boulevard Saint-Denis opened with this programme--

    "The ecclesiastic authorities who constitute the French
    Catholic Church propose, among other reforms, to celebrate
    all its religious ceremonies, as soon as circumstances
    will allow, in the popular tongue. The ministers of this
    new church exercise the offices of their ministry without
    imposing any remuneration. The offertory is entirely
    voluntary; people need not even feel obliged to pay for
    their seats. No collection of any kind will disturb the
    meditation of the faithful during the holy offices.

    "We do not recognise any other impediments to marriage than
    those which are set forth by the civil law. Consequently,
    we will bestow the nuptial benediction on all those who
    shall present themselves to us provided with a certificate,
    proving the marriage to have taken place at the _mairie_,
    even in the case of one of the contracting parties being of
    the reformed or other religious sect."

I need hardly say that the Abbé Châtel was excommunicated, put on the
index and pronounced a heretic. But he continued saying mass in French
all the same, and marrying after the civil code and not after the
canons of the Church, and not charging anything for his seats. In spite
of the advantages the new order of religious procedure offered, I do
not know that it made great progress in Paris. As for its growth in the
provinces, I presume it was restricted, or partially so, to one case
that I witnessed towards the beginning of 1833.

I was at Levéville, staying at the château of my dear and excellent
friend, Auguste Barthélemy, one of those inheritors of an income of
thirty thousand francs, who would have created a revolution in society
in 1852, if society had not in 1851 been miraculously saved by the
_coup d'état_ of 2 December 1851, when news was brought to us that the
village of Lèves was in a state of open revolution. This village stands
like an outpost on the road from Chartres to Paris and to Dreux; so
much for its topography. Now, it had the reputation of being one of the
most peaceful villages in the whole of the Chartrian countryside, so
much for its morality. What unforeseen event could therefore have upset
the village of Lèves? This was what had happened--

Lèves possessed that rare article, a curé it adored! He was a fine and
estimable priest of about forty years of age, a _bon vivant_, giving
men handshakes that made them yell with pain; chucking maidens under
their chins till they blushed again; on Sundays being present at the
dances with his cassock tucked up into his girdle; which permitted of
the display, like Mademoiselle Duchesnois in Alzire, of a well-turned
sturdy leg; urging his parishioners to shake off the cares of the week,
to the sound of the violin and clarionet; pledging a health with the
deepest of the drinkers, and playing piquet with great proficiency.
He was called Abbé Ledru, a fine name which, like those of the first
kings of France, seemed to be derived both from his physical and mental
qualities. All these qualities (to which should be added the absence of
the orthodox niece) were extremely congenial to the natives of Lèves,
but were not so fortunate as to be properly appreciated by the Bishop
of Chartres, M. Clausel de Montais. True, the absence of a niece,
which the Abbé Ledru viewed in the light of an advantage, could prove
absolutely nothing, or, rather, it proved this--that the Abbé Ledru had
never regarded the tithes as seriously abolished, and, consequently,
exacted toll with all the goodwill in the world from his parishioners,
or, to speak more accurately, from his female parishioners. M. Clausel
de Montais was then, as he is still, one of the strictest prelates
among the French clergy; only, now he is twenty years older than he
was then, which fact has not tended to soften his rigidness. When
Monseigneur de Montais heard rumours, whether true or false, he
immediately recalled the Abbé Ledru without asking the opinion of the
inhabitants of Lèves, or warning a soul. If a thunderbolt had fallen
upon the village of Lèves out of a cloudless sky it could not have
produced a more unlooked-for sensation. The husbands cried at the top
of their voices that they would keep their curé, the wives cried out
even louder than their husbands and the daughters exclaimed loudest of
all. The inhabitants of Lèves rose up together and gathered in front
of their bereft church; they counted up their numbers, men, women and
children; altogether there were between eleven and twelve hundred
souls. They dispatched a deputation of four hundred to M. Clausel de
Montais. It comprised all the men of between twenty and sixty in the
village. The deputation set out; it looked like a small army, except
that it was without drums or swords or rifles. Those who had sticks
laid them against the town doors lest the sight of them should frighten
Monseigneur, the bishop. The deputies presented themselves at the
bishop's palace and were shown in. They laid the object of their visit
before the prelate and insistently demanded the reinstatement of the
Curé Ledru. M. Clausel de Montais replied after the fashion of Sylla--

"I can at times alter my plans--but my decrees are like those of fate,
unalterable!"

They entreated and implored--it was useless!

What was the origin of M. de Montal's hatred towards the poor Abbé
Ledru? We will explain it, since these Memoirs were written with the
intention of searching to the bottom of things and of laying bare the
trifling causes that bring about great results. The Abbé Ledru had
subscribed towards those who were wounded during July; he had made a
collection in favour of the Poles; he had dressed the drummer of the
National Guards of his commune out of his own pocket; in brief, the
Abbé Ledru was a patriot; whilst M. de Montals, on the contrary, was
not merely an ardent partisan, but also a great friend, of Charles X.,
and, according to report, one of the instigators of the Ordinances of
July. It will be imagined that, after this, the diocese was not large
enough to hold both the bishop and the curé within its boundaries. The
lesser one had to give in. M. de Montals planted his episcopal sandal
upon the Abbé Ledru and crushed him mercilessly!

The deputies returned to those who had sent them. As the Curé Ledru
was enjoined to leave the presbytery immediately, a rich farmer in the
district offered him a lodging and the church was closed. But, although
the church was shut up, the need was still felt for some sort of
religion. Now, as the peasantry of Lèves were not very particular as to
the sort of religion they had, provided they had something, they made
inquiries of the Abbé Ledru if there existed among the many religions
of the various peoples of the earth one which would allow them to
dispense with M. Clausel de Montals. The Abbé Ledru replied that there
was that form of religion practised by the Abbé Châtel, and asked his
parishioners if that would suit them. They found it possessed one
great advantage in that they could follow the liturgy, which hitherto
they had never done, as it was said, in French instead of Latin. The
inhabitants of Lèves pronounced with one common voice, that it was not
so much the religion they clung to, as the priest, and that they would
be delighted to understand what had hitherto been incomprehensible
to them. The Abbé Ledru went to Paris to take a few lessons of the
leader of the French church, and, when sufficiently initiated into the
new form of religion, he returned to Lèves. His return was made the
occasion of a triumphant fête! A splendid barn just opposite their
old Roman church, which had been closed more out of the scorn of the
Lévois than because of the bishop's anger, was placed at his service
and transformed into a place of worship. Everyone, as for the temporary
altars at the fête of Corpus Christi, brought his share of adornment;
some the covering for the Holy Table, some altar candles, some the
crucifix or the ciborium; the carpenter put up the benches; the glazier
put glass into the windows; the river supplied the lustral water and
all was ready by the following Sunday.

I have already mentioned that we were staying at the Château de
Levéville. I did not know the Abbé Châtel and was ignorant of his
religious theories; so I thought it a good opportunity for initiating
myself into the doctrine of the primate of the Gauls. I therefore
suggested to Barthélemy that we should go and hear the Châtellaisian
mass; he agreed and we set off. It was somewhat more tedious than in
Latin, as one was almost obliged to listen. But that was the only
difference we could discover between the two forms. Of course we were
not the only persons in the neighbourhood of Chartres who had been
informed of the schism that had broken out between the Church of
Lèves and the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church; M. de Montals
was perfectly acquainted with what was going on, and had hoped there
would be some scandal during the mass for him to carp at: but the mass
was celebrated without scandal, and the village of Lèves, which had
listened to the whole of the divine office, left the barn quite as much
edified as though leaving a proper church.

But the result was fatal; the example might become infectious--people
were strongly inclined towards Voltairism in 1830. The bishop was
seized with great anger and, still more, with holy terror. What would
happen if all the flock followed the footsteps of the erring sheep?
The bishop would be left by himself alone, and his episcopal crook
would become useless. A _Roman_ priest must at once be supplied to the
parish of Lèves, who could combat the _French_ curé with whom it had
provided itself. The news of this decision reached the Lévois, who
again assembled together and vowed to hang the priest, no matter who he
was, who should come forward to enter upon the reversion of the office
of the Abbé Ledru. An event soon happened which afforded the bishop tip
opportunity of putting his plan into execution, and for the Lievois to
keep their vow. A Lèves peasant died. This peasant, in spite-of M. de
Montal's declaration, had, before he died, asked for the presence of
a Catholic priest, which consolation had been refused him; but, as he
was not yet buried, the bishop decided that, as compensation, he should
be interred with the full rites of the Latin Church. This happened
on Monday, 13 March 1833. On the 14th, Monseigneur, the Bishop of
Chartres, despatched to Lèves a curate of his cathedral named the Abbé
Duval. The choice was a good one and suitable under the circumstances.
The Abbé Duval was by no means one of that timid class of men who are
soon made anxious and frightened by the least thing; he was, on the
contrary, a man of energetic character with a fine carriage, whose tall
figure was quite as well adapted to the wearing of the cuirass of a
carabinier as of a priest's cassock. So the Abbé Duval started on his
journey. He was not in entire ignorance of the dangers he was about to
incur; but he was unconscious of the fact that no missionary entering
any Chinese or Thibetan town had ever been so near to martyrdom. The
report of the Roman priest's arrival soon spread through the village of
Lèves. Everybody at once retired into his house and shut his doors and
windows. The poor abbé might at first have imagined that he had been
given the cure of a city of the dead like Herculaneum or Pompeii. But,
when he reached the centre of the village, he saw that all the doors
opened surreptitiously and the windows were slily raised a little; and
in a minute he and the mayor, who accompanied him, were surrounded by
about thirty peasants who called upon him to go back. We must do the
mayor and abbé the justice to say that they tried to offer resistance;
but, at the end of a quarter of an hour, the cries became so furious
and the threats so terrible, that the mayor took the advantage of being
within reach of his house to slink away and shut the door behind him,
abandoning the Abbé Duval to his unhappy fate. It was extremely mean on
the part of the mayor, but what can one expect! Every magistrate is not
a Bailly, just as every president is not a Boissy-d'Anglais--consult,
rather, M. Sauzet, M. Buchez and M. Dupin! Luckily for the poor abbé,
at this critical moment a member of the council of the préfecture who
was well known and much respected by the inhabitants of Lèves passed by
in his carriage, inquired the cause of the uproar, pronounced in favour
of the abbé, took possession of him and drove him back to Chartres.

Meanwhile the dead man waited on!



CHAPTER II


    Fine example of religious toleration--The Abbé Dallier--The
    Circes of Lèves--Waterloo after Leipzig--The Abbé Dallier is
    kept as hostage--The barricades--The stones of Chartres--The
    outlook--Preparations for fighting


Although the Lévois had liberated their prisoner, they realised, none
the less, that war was declared; threats and coarse words had been
hurled at the bishop's head, but they knew his grace's character too
well to expect that he would consider himself defeated. That did not
matter, though! They had made up their minds to push their faith in
the new religion to the extreme test of martyrdom, if need be! In the
meantime, as there was nothing better to do, they proposed to get rid
of the dead man, the innocent cause of all this rumpus. He had, it
was said, abjured the Abbé Ledru with his last breath; but it was not
an assured fact and the report might even have been set about by the
bishop! moreover, new forms of religion are tolerant: the Abbé Ledru
knew that he must lay the foundations of his on the side of leniency;
he forgave the dead man his momentary defection, supposing he had one,
said a French mass for him and buried him according to the rites of
the Abbé Châtel! Alas! the poor dead man seemed quite indifferent to
the tongue in which they intoned mass over him and the manner in which
they buried him! They waited from 24 March until 29 April--nearly six
weeks--before receiving any fresh attack from high quarters, and before
the bishop showed any signs of his existence. The Abbé Ledru continued
to say mass, and the Lévois thought they were fully authorised to
follow the rite that suited them best for the good of their souls.

But Sunday, 29 April, came at last, the date which the bishop and
préfet had fixed for the re-opening of the Roman Church and the
installation of a new priest. In the morning, a squadron of the 4th
regiment of rifles and a half section of the gendarmerie came and
took up their position in front of the church. An hour later than the
soldiers, the Préfet of Rigny arrived, also the commander-general of
the department and the chief of the gendarmerie. They brought with them
a new abbé, Abbé Dallier. This priest came supported by a respectable
body of armed force to reinstate the true God in the church. Things
began to wear the look of a parody from the _Lutrin._ Notwithstanding
all this, the whole of the population of Lèves had gradually collected
in the street that we will call La rue des Grands-Prés, although
I am very much afraid that we are really its spouses. To prevent
the re-opening of the Latin Church, the women, who were even more
bitter than the men against the re-opening, had crowded themselves
together under the porch. The préfet tried to break through their
ranks, followed by a locksmith; for the Lévois threw the keys of the
church into the river when the Abbé Duval arrived. As the locksmith
possessed no claims of an administrative nature, it was to him they
addressed their outcries and threats. These rose to such a swelling
diapason that the poor devil took fright and fled. It will be seen
that the protection of the préfet only half assured him. The example
proved contagious: for, whether the préfet in his turn gave way to
fright at these cries, whether, without the locksmith, any attempts
to open the church doors were useless, he too beat a retreat. It is
true, however, that they had just told him that the riflemen--seduced
by the blandishments of the women of Lèves, as the King of Ithaca's
companions were by the witchcraft of Circe--had forgotten themselves
so far before the arrival of the authorities above mentioned, as to
shout: "Vive l'Abbé Ledru!" "Vive l'Église française!" It was rather a
seditious cry, at a period when the army neither voted nor deliberated!
Whatever the cause, the préfet, as we have said, beat a retreat. Just
at this moment the Abbé Ledru appeared at the door of his barn. Four
women at once constituted themselves as alms-collectors, using their
outstretched aprons as alms-boxes. The total of the four collections
was employed in the purchase of eau-de-vie for the soldiers. Was it
the Abbé Ledru who gave such corrupt advice? or was it, indeed, the
alms-collectors' own idea? Woman is ever deceitful and the devil sly!
The soldiers, after shouting "Vive l'Abbé Ledru!" drank to that abbé's
health and to the supremacy of the French Church--this was, indeed,
a serious thing! If he had known how to take advantage of the frame
of mind the soldiers were in, the Abbé Ledru would have been equal
to laying siege to Rome, as did the Constable of Bourbon. But his
ambition, probably, fell short of this and he did not even make the
suggestion.

Meanwhile, the préfet, the general-commander of the department and
the chief of the gendarmerie were debating at the mairie as to the
action they should take. The officers of the riflemen felt that their
men were almost escaping from their control: the squadron threatened
to appoint the primate of the Gauls as its chaplain, and to proclaim
that, if the Roman Catholic religion was the ritual of the State the
French form should be that of the Army. It was decided to send for the
king's attorney, who was supposed to have a shrewd head. He arrived
an hour later with two deputies and a judge. The squadron of riflemen
continued drinking the health of the Abbé Ledru and to the supremacy
of the French Church. Reinforced by four magistrates, the préfet,
commander-general of the department and chief of the gendarmerie took
their way to the rue des Grands-Prés. The street was now literally
packed. They meant to make a second attempt upon the church. They had
reckoned that this body of military dignitaries, civil and magisterial,
would have an awe-inspiring effect on the crowd. Bah! the people only
began shouting at the top of their voices--

"Down with the Carlists!" "Down with the Jesuits!"

"Down with the bishop!" ... "Long live the King and the French Church!"

The préfet tried to speak, the king's attorney tried to demand, the
deputies tried threats, the judge to open the code, the general
tried to draw his sword, the chief of the gendarmerie attempted to
flourish his sabre; but every one of their efforts were frustrated and
drowned in the singing of _La Parisienne_ and _La Marseillaise._ These
gentlemen had a good mind to make the call to arms, but the attitude
of the troop was too doubtful for them to risk the chance. The préfet
withdrew a second time, followed by the general, chief of gendarmerie,
king's attorney, deputies and the judge. It was a case of Waterloo
after Leipzig! A minute later, the troop received orders to quit the
rue des Grands-Prés; and, as there was nothing hostile against the
population in such an order, the troop obeyed. Soldiers and inhabitants
embraced and fraternised and drank together for the third time,
then separated. The Lévois believed that the préfet had definitely
renounced the idea of opening the church; but their delusion was not
of long duration. News came to them that an orderly had been sent off
to Chartres, charged with the commission of bringing back another
squadron of rifles and all the reinforcements they could possibly
muster. Whereupon the cry of "To arms!" was set up. At this war cry,
a man in a cassock attempted to fly--it was the Abbé Dallier, who had
been completely forgotten by the préfet, general, chief of gendarmerie,
king's attorney, the two deputies and the judge, in their precipitation
to beat a retreat! The poor abbé was caught by his cassock and made
prisoner and shut up in a cellar, while they announced to him, through
the grating, that he was to be kept as hostage and that if the
slightest injury happened to any inhabitant of the village commune, the
penalty of retaliation would be applied to him in full force. They next
began to construct barricades at each end of the rue des Grands-Prés,
where stood, as we know, both the Latin and French churches. For the
material wherewith to build these barricades, which rose up as quick
as thought, a wooden shoemaker gave three or four beams, a carter
brought two or three waggons, the schoolmaster took his desks and
the inhabitants made an offering of their shutters. The street lads
collected heaps of stones.

I do not know whether my readers are acquainted with the Chartres
stones; they are pretty ones that vary from the size of a pigeon's egg
to that of an ostrich, and when broken, either by art or nature, they
show an edge as sharp as that of a razor. Chartres is partly paved with
these stones, and the paviors are usually careful to place the sharp
edges upwards so that the pedestrian's boots may come in contact with
them; which makes one think with some justification that the worthy
guild of shoemakers must give the paviors a consideration. One of
my friends, Noël Parfait, a true Chartrian, and jealous, as are all
true-hearted patriots, of the honour of his country, maintains that
Chartres was once a seaport, and that these stones are clearly the
shingle that the ocean swell threw up on the beach in former times. In
an hour's time, there was enough ammunition behind each barricade to
hold a siege for eight days. Projectiles, also, grew under the hands,
or rather, the feet, of the providers. One individual climbed the
church tower, to watch the Chartres road in order to sound the alarm
as soon as the troop appeared in sight. The Abbé Ledru blessed the
fighters, and invoked the God of armies in French; then they waited,
ready for anything that might happen. All these preparations had been
made in sight of the riflemen and gendarmes who, withdrawn to the
Grand-Rue, looked on at all these preparations for fighting without
protest. Truly, the wretched fellows were won over to heresy.

Ten minutes after the finishing of the barricades, the alarm bell
sounded. It signified that troops had left Chartres. These troops
were preceded by a locksmith, who was brought under the escort of two
gendarmes; but the man was so railed at by the Abbé Ledru's fierce
sectaries, as soon as the first houses in Lèves were reached, that
he took advantage of a momentary hesitation on the part of the two
gendarmes to slip between the legs of the one on his right, reach a
garden and disappear into the fields! This was the second locksmith
that melted away out of the clutch of authority. It reminds one of
those rearguards of the army of Russia which slipped through Ney's
hands! The new troops came on the scene full of alacrity. Care was
taken that they did not come into contact with the disaffected
squadron, and they decided to take the barricades by main force. But,
at the same time, about thirty Chartrain patriots hurried up to the
assistance of the insurgents--amateurs, desirous of taking their part
in the dangers of their brothers of Lèves. They were greeted with
shouts of joy; _La Parisienne_ and _La Marseillaise_ were thundered
forth more loudly, and the tocsin rang more wildly than ever! The
préfet and the general headed the riflemen, and the force marched up to
the barricade.



CHAPTER III


    Attack of the barricade--A sequel to Malplaquet--The
    Grenadier--The Chartrian philanthropists--Sack of the
    bishop's palace--A fancy dress--How order was restored--The
    culprits both small and great--Death of the Abbé
    Ledru--Scruples of conscience of the former schismatics--The
    _Dies iræ_ of Kosciusko


At this period it was still usual to summon the insurgents to withdraw,
and this the préfet did. They responded by a hailstorm of stones,
one of them hitting the general. This time, he lost all patience and
shouted--

"Forward!" and the men charged the barricade sword in hand. The Lévois
made a splendid resistance, but a dozen or more riflemen managed to
clear the obstacle; however, when they reached the other side of the
barricade, they were overwhelmed with stones, thrown down and disarmed.
Blood had flowed on both sides; and temper was roused to boiling point;
it would have gone badly with the dozen prisoners if some men, who were
either less heated or more prudent than the rest, had not carried them
off and thus saved their lives. Let us confess, with no desire whatever
of casting a slur on the army, which we would uphold at all times, and,
nowadays, more than ever, that, from that moment, every attempt of the
riflemen to take the barricade failed! But what else can be said? It
is a matter of history; as are Poitiers, Agincourt and Malplaquet! A
shower of stones fell, compared with which the one that annihilated the
Amalekites was but an April shower.

The préfet and the general finally decided to give up the enterprise;
they sounded the retreat and took their road back to Chartres. As the
insurgents did not know what to do with their prisoners, and being
afraid of a siege, and not having any desire to burden themselves with
useless mouths, the riflemen were released on parole. They could not
believe in the retreat of the troops; it was in vain the watchmen in
the tower shouted, "Victory!" The conviction did not really take hold
of the minds of the Lévois until their look-out declared that the
last soldier had entered Chartres. Such being the case, it was but
one step to turn from doubt to boldness: they began by giving aid to
the wounded; then, as no signs of any uniforms reappeared upon the
high road, by degrees they grew bolder, until they arrived at such a
pitch of enthusiasm that one of the insurgents, having ventured the
suggestion that they should march the Abbé Dallier round the walls
of Chartres, as Achilles had led Hector round the walls of Pergamus,
the proposition was received with acclamation. But, as the vanquished
man was alive and not dead, they put a rope round his neck instead of
round his ankles and the other end was placed in the hands of one of
the Abbé Ledru's most excited penitents, who went by the name of the
_Grenadier._ I need hardly add that the penitent's name was, like that
of the Abbé Ledru, conspicuous for the physical and moral qualities of
a virago. Every man filled his pockets with stones in readiness for
attack or defence, and the folk set out for Chartres, escorting the
condemned man, who marched towards martyrdom with visible distaste.
It is half a league between Lèves and Chartres; and that half league
was a real Via Dolorosa to the poor priest. The Lévois had calculated
to perfection what they were doing when they gave the rope's end to
the care of the Grenadier. When the savages of Florida wish to inflict
extreme punishment on any of their prisoners they hand the criminals
over to the women and children. When the victors reached Chartres,
they did not find the opposition they had looked for; but they found
something else equally unexpected: they saw neither préfet, nor
general, nor chief of the gendarmerie, nor king's attorney, neither
deputies nor judges; but several philanthropists approached them and
made them listen to what was styled, at the end of last century, the
language of reason--

It was not the poor priest's fault that he had been selected by the
bishop to replace the Abbé Ledru; he did not know in what esteem his
parishioners held him, he was neither more nor less blameworthy than
his predecessor, the Abbé Duval; and when the one had come to a flock
of sheep, why should another priest fall among a band of tigers? It was
the fault of the bishop, who had instantly and brutally deposed the
Abbé Ledru, and then had the audacity to appoint first one and then
another successor!

Upon this very reasonable discourse, the scales fell from the eyes of
the inhabitants of Lèves, as from Saint Paul's, and they began to see
things in their true light. The effect of their enlightenment was to
make them untie the rope and to let the Abbé Dallier go free with many
apologies. But, at the same time, it was unanimously agreed that, since
there was a rope all ready, the bishop should be hanged with it.

When people conceive such brilliant ideas, they lose no time in
putting them into execution. So they directed their steps rapidly in
the direction of M. Clausel de Montal's sumptuous dwelling-place. But
although these avenging spirits had made all diligence, M. Clausel
de Montais had made still greater; to such an extent that, when the
hangmen arrived at the bishop's palace, they could nowhere find him
whom they had come to hang: Monseigneur the bishop had departed,
and with very good reason too! We know what happens under such
circumstances; things pay for men, and the bishop's palace had to pay
instead of the bishop. This was the era of sacrilege; the sacking
of the palace of the Archbishop of Paris had set the fashion of the
destruction of religious houses. They broke the window panes and
the mirrors over the mantelpieces, they tore down the curtains, and
transformed them into banners. Finally, they reached the billiard room,
where they fenced with the cues, and threw the balls at each other's
heads, whilst a sailor neatly cut off the cloth from the billiard
table, which he rolled into a ball and tucked under his arm. Three
or four days later, he had made a coat, waistcoat and trousers out
of it, and promenaded the streets of Lèves, amidst the enthusiastic
applause of his fellow-citizens, clad entirely in green cloth, like
one of the Earl of Lincoln's archers! But the life the Lévois led in
the palace was too delightful to last for long; authority bestirred
itself; they brought the riflemen out of their barracks once more, and
beat the rappel, and, a certain number of the National Guard having
taken up arms, they directed their combined forces upon the palace.
The attack was too completely unexpected for the spoilers to dream of
offering resistance. They went further than that, and, instead of the
wise retreat one would have expected from men who had vanquished the
troops which one is accustomed to call the best in the world, they took
to flight as rapidly as possible: leaping out of the windows into the
garden and scaling the walls, they ran across the fields and regained
Lèves in complete disorder. That same night every trace of barricading
disappeared. Next day, each inhabitant of Lèves attended to his work or
play or business. They were thinking nothing about the recent events,
when, suddenly, they saw quite an army arriving at Chartres from
Paris, Versailles and Orléans. This army was carrying twenty pieces
of artillery with it. It was commanded by General Schramm, and was
coming to restore order. Order had been re-established for the last
fortnight, unassisted! That did not matter, however; seeing there had
been disorder, they were marching on Lèves to carry out a razzia.

The threatened village quietly watched this left-handed justice
approach: its eleven to twelve hundred inhabitants modestly stood at
their doors and windows. Peace and innocence reigned throughout from
east to west, from north to south; anyone entering might have thought
it the valley of Tempe, when Apollo tended the flocks of King Admetus.
The inhabitants of Lèves looked as though they were the actors in
that play (I cannot recall which it is), where Odry had sent for the
commissary at the wrong moment and, when the commissary arrived,
everybody was in unity again; so that everybody asked in profound
surprise--

"Who sent for a commissary? Did you? or you? or you?"

"No.... I asked for a commissionaire," replied Odry; "just an ordinary
messenger, that is all!" and the agent took himself off abashed and
with empty hands.

That happened in the piece, but not exactly in the same way at Lèves.
A score of persons were arrested, and these were divided into two
categories: the least guilty and the most guilty. The least guilty were
handed over to the jurisdiction of the police; the guiltiest were sent
before the Court of Assizes. A very curious thing resulted from this
separation. At that time, the _police correctionelle_ always sentenced,
whilst the jury acquitted only too eagerly. The least guilty men who
appeared before the _police correctionnelle_ were found guilty, while
the most culpable, who were tried before a jury, were acquitted. The
sailor in the green cloth was one of the most guilty, and was produced
before the jury as an indisputable piece of evidence. The jury declared
that billiard tables had not a monopoly for clothing in green; that
if a citizen liked to dress like a billiard table, why! political
opinions were free, so a man surely might indulge his individual fancy
in his style of dress. The religious question was decided in favour of
the French Church, and this decision lasted as long as the Abbé Ledru
himself, namely, four or five years; during which period of time the
parish of Lèves was separated from the general religion of the kingdom,
in France, without producing any great sensation. At the end of that
time, the Abbé Ledru committed the stupidity of dying. I am unaware
in what tongue and rites he was interred; but I do know that, the day
after his death, the Lévois asked the bishop for another priest, and
this bishop proved a kind father to his prodigal children and sent them
one.

The third was received with as many honours as the two previously
appointed had been received with insults on their arrival. The French
Church was closed, the Roman Catholic religion re-established, and the
new priest returned to the old presbytery; the Grenadier became the
most fervent and humble of his penitents, and the tongue of Cicero and
Tacitus again became the dominical one of the Lévois, returned to the
bosom of Holy Church.

But Barthélemy wrote to me, a little time ago, that there were serious
scruples in some weak minds. Were the infants baptised, the adults
married, and the old people buried by the Abbé Ledru during his schism
with Gregory XVI., really properly baptised and married and buried? It
did not matter to the baptised souls, who could return and be baptised
by an orthodox hand; nor again to the married ones, who had but to have
a second mass said over them and to pass under the canopy once more,
but it mattered terribly to the dead; for they could neither be sought
for nor recognised one from another. Happily God will recognise those
whom the blindness of human eyes prevents from seeing, and I am sure
that He will forgive the Lévois their temporary heresy for the sake of
their good intention.

This event, and the conversion of Casimir Delavigne to the observances
of the French religion, were the culminating points in the fortunes of
the Abbé Châtel, primate of the Gauls. Casimir Delavigne, who gave his
sanction to all new phases of power; who sanctioned the authority of
Louis XVIII. in his play entitled, _Du besoin de s'unir après le depart
des étrangers_; who sanctioned the prerogative of Louis-Philippe in his
immortal, or say rather everlasting, _Parisienne_; Casimir Delavigne
sanctioned the authority of the primate of the Gauls by his translation
of the _Dies irœ, dies ilia_, which was chanted by Abbé Châtel's
choristers at the mass which the latter said in French at the funeral
service of Kosciusko. The Abbé Châtel possessed this good quality, that
he openly declared for the people as against kings.

Here is the poem; it is little known and deserves to be better known
than it is. It is, therefore, in the hope of increasing its reputation
that we bring it to the notice of our readers. It was sung at the
French Church on 23 February 1831:--


    "Jour de colère, jour de larmes,
    Où le sort, qui trahit nos armes,
    Arrêta son vol glorieux!

    À tes côtés, ombre chérie,
    Elle tomba, notre patrie,
    Et ta main lui ferma les yeux!

    Tu vis, de ses membres livides,
    Les rois, comme des loups avides,
    S'arracher les lambeaux épars:

    Le fer, dégouttant de carnage,
    Pour en grossir leur héritage,
    De son cadavre fit trois parts.

    La Pologne ainsi partagée,
    Quel bras humain l'aurait vengée?
    Dieu seul pouvait la secourir!

    Toi-même tu la crus sans vie;
    Mais, son cœur, c'était Varsovie;
    Le feu sacré n'y put mourir!

    Que ta grande ombre se relève;
    Secoue, en reprenant ton glaive,
    Le sommeil de l'éternité!

    J'entends le signal des batailles,
    Et le chant de tes funérailles
    Est un hymne de liberté!

    Tombez, tombez, boiles funèbres!
    La Pologne sort des ténèbres,
    Féconde en nouveaux défenseurs!

    Par la liberté ranimée,
    De sa chaîne elle s'est armée
    Pour en frapper ses oppresseurs.

    Cette main qu'elle te présente
    Sera bientôt libre et sanglante;
    Tends-lui la main du haut des deux.

    Descends pour venger ses injures,
    Ou pour entourer ses blessures
    De ton linceul victorieux.

    Si cette France qu'elle appelle,
    Trop loin--ne pent vaincre avec elle,
    Que Dieu, du moins, soit son appui.

    Trop haut, si Dieu ne peut l'entendre,
    Eh bien! mourons pour la défendre,
    Et nous irons nous plaindre à lui!"

We do not believe to-day that the Abbé Châtel is dead; but, if we judge
of his health by the cobwebs which adorn the hinges and bolts of the
French Church, we shall not be afraid to assert that he is very ill
indeed.



CHAPTER IV


    The Abbé de Lamennais--His prediction of the Revolution of
    1830--Enters the Church--His views on the Empire--Casimir
    Delavigne, Royalist--His early days--Two pieces of poetry
    by M. de Lamennais--His literary vocation--_Essay on
    Indifference in Religious Matters_--Reception given to this
    book by the Church--The academy of the château de la Chesnaie


We now ask permission to approach a more serious subject, and to
dedicate this chapter (were it only for the purpose of forming a
contrast with the preceding chapters) to one of the finest and greatest
of modern geniuses, to the Abbé de Lamennais. We speak of a period two
months after the Revolution of 1830.

Out of the wilds of Brittany, that is, from the château de la Chesnaie,
there appeared a priest of forty, small of stature, nervous and pale,
with stubbly hair, and high forehead, the head compressed at the
sides as though it were enclosed by walls of bone; a sign, according
to Gall, indicative of the absence in man of cupidity, cunning and
acquisitiveness; the nose long, with dilated nostrils, denoting high
intelligence, according to Lavater; and, last, a piercing glance
and a determined chin. Everything connected with the man's external
appearance revealed his Celtic origin. Such was the Abbé DE LA MENNAIS,
whose name was written in three different ways, like that of M. DE
LA MARTINE, each different way in which he wrote it indicating the
different phases of the development of his mind and the progress of
his opinion. We say of his opinion and not opinions, for these three
phases, as in Raphael's three styles, mean, not a change of style, but
a perfecting of style.

Into the thick of the agitation going on in silent thought or open
speech, the austere Breton came to teach the world a word they had
not expected; in fact at that time M. de la Mennais was looked upon
as a supporter of both _Throne_ and _Church._ The throne had just
fallen, and the Church was shaking violently from the changes which
the events of 1830 had wrought in social institutions. But the world
was mistaken with regard to the views of the great writer, because it
only saw in him the author of _L'Essai sur l'indifférence en matière
de religion_, a strange book, in which that virile imagination strove
against his century, struggling with the spirit of the times, as Jacob
strove with the angel. People forgot that in 1828, during the Martignac
Ministry, the same de Lamennais had hurled a book into the controversy
which had predicted a certain degree of intellectual revival: I refer
to _Du progrès de la Revolution et de la guerre contre l'Église._ In
this book, the Revolution of 1830 was foretold as an inevitable event.
Listen carefully to his words--

    "And even to-day when there no longer really exists any
    government, since it has become the tool and the plaything
    of the boldest or of the most powerful; to-day, when
    democracy triumphs openly, is there any more calm in its
    own breast? Could one find, moreover, no matter what the
    nature of his opinions may be, one man, one single man, who
    desires what is, and who _desires only that and nothing
    more?_ Never, on the other hand, has he more eagerly longed
    for a new order of things; _everybody cries out for, the
    whole world is calling for, a revolution, whether they admit
    it or are conscious of it themselves._ Yes, it will come,
    because it is imperative that nations shall be unitedly
    educated and chastised; _because, according to the common
    laws of Providence, a revolution is indispensable for the
    preparation of a true social regeneration. France will not
    be the only scene of action: it will extend everywhere where
    Liberalism rules either in doctrine or in sentiment; and
    under this latter form it is universal._"

In the preface to the same book, M. de Lamennais had already said--

    "That France and Europe are marching towards fresh
    revolutions is now apparent to everybody. The most
    undaunted hopes which have fed themselves for long on
    interest or stupidity give way before the evidence of facts,
    in the face of which it is no longer possible for anyone to
    delude himself. Nothing can remain as it is, everything is
    unsettled, totters towards a change. _Conturbatœ sunt gentes
    et inclinata sunt regna._"

We underline nothing in this second paragraph because we should have to
underline the whole. Let us pass on to the last words of the book--

    "The time is coming when it will be said _to those who are
    in darkness_: 'Behold the light!' And they will arise,
    and, with gaze fixed on that divine radiance will, with
    repentance and surprise, yet filled with joy, worship that
    spirit which restores all disorder, reveals all truth,
    enlightens every intelligence: _oriens ex alto._"

The above expressions are those of a prophet as well as of a poet; they
reveal what neither the Guizots, the Molés, the Broglies, nor even the
Casimir Périers saw, nor, indeed, any of those we are accustomed to
style _statesmen_ foresaw.

In this work M. de Lamennais appealed solemnly "for the alliance of
Catholics with all sincere Liberal spirits." This book is really in
some measure the hinge on which turned the gate through which M. de
Lamennais passed from his first political phase to the second.

M. de Lamennais was born at St. Malo, in the house next to that in
which Chateaubriand was born, and a few yards only from that in which
Broussais came into the world. So that the old peaceful town gave us,
in less than fifteen years, Chateaubriand, Broussais and Lamennais,
names representative of the better part of the poetry, science and
philosophy of the first half of the nineteenth century. M. de Lamennais
had, like Chateaubriand, passed his childhood by the sea, had listened
to the roar of the ocean, watching the waves which are lost to sight on
infinite horizons, eternally returning to break against the cliffs, as
the human wave returns to break itself against invincible necessity. He
preserved, I recollect (for one feature in my existence coincided with
that of the author of _Paroles d'un Croyant_), he preserved, I repeat,
from his earliest childhood, the vivid and clear recollections which he
connected with the grand and rugged scenery of his beloved Brittany.

"I can still hear," he said to us, at a dinner where the principal
guests were himself, the Abbé Lacordaire, M. de Montalembert, Listz
and myself--"the cry of certain sea-birds which passed _barking_ over
my head. Some of those rocks, which have looked down pityingly for
numberless centuries upon the angry impotent waves which perish at
their feet, are stocked with ancient legends."

M. de Lamennais related one of these in his _une Voix de prison._ It is
that of a maiden who, overtaken by the tide, on a reef of rocks, tied
her hair to the stems of sea-weeds to keep herself from being washed
off by the motion of the waves, far away from her native land.

M. de Lamennais's youth was stormy and undisciplined. He loved physical
exercises, hunting, fencing, racing and riding; strange tastes
these, as preparation for an ecclesiastical career! But it was not
from personal inclination or of his own impulse that he entered the
priesthood, but by compulsion from the noble families in the district.
On his part, the bishop of the diocese discerned in the young man a
superior intellect, a lofty character, a tendency towards meditation
and thoughtfulness, and drew him to himself by all kinds of seductions.
They spared him the trials of an ecclesiastical seminary, at which his
intractable disposition might have rebelled; but, priest though he was,
M. de Lamennais did not discontinue to ride the most fiery horses of
the town, or to practise shooting. It was the Empire, that régime of
glory and of despotism, which wounded the sensitive nerves of the young
priest of stern spirit and Royalist sympathies. Brittany remembered her
exiled princes, and the family of M. de Lamennais was among those which
faithfully preserved the worship of the past; not that their family
was of ancient nobility: the head of the house was a shipowner who had
made his wealth by distant voyages, and who was ennobled at the close
of the last century for services rendered to the town of St. Malo. The
Empire fell, and M. de Lamennais, casting a bird's-eye view over that
stupendous ruin, wrote in 1815--

    "Wars of extermination sprang up again; despotism counted
    her expenditure in men, as people reckon the revenue of an
    estate; generations were mowed down like grass; and men
    daily sold, bought, exchanged and given away like flocks of
    little value, often not even knowing whose property they
    were, to such an extent did a monstrous policy multiply
    these infamous transactions! Whole nations were put in
    circulation like pieces of money!"

To profess such principles was, of course, equivalent to looking
towards the Restoration, that dawn without a sun. Moreover, it should
not be forgotten that, in those days, all young men of letters were
carried away with the same intoxication for monarchical memories.
Poets are like women--I do not at all know who said that poets were
women--they make much of a favourable misfortune. This enthusiasm for
_the person of the king_ was shared, in different degrees, even by
men whose names, later, were connected with Liberalism. Heaven alone
knows whether any king was ever less fitted than Louis XVIII. for
calling forth tenderness and idolatry! But that did not hinder Casimir
Delavigne from exclaiming--

    "Henri, divin Henri, toi que fus grand et bon,
    Qui chassas l'Espagnol, et finis nos misères,
    Les partis sont d'accord en prononçant ton nom;
    Henri, de les enfants fais un peuple de frères!
    Ton image déjà semble nous protéger:
    Tu renais! avec toi renaît l'indépendance!
    Ô roi le plus Français dont s'honore la France,
    Il est dans ton destin de voir fuir l'étranger!
    Et toi, son digne fils, après vingt ans d'orage,
    Règne sur des sujets par toi-même ennoblis;
    Leurs droits sont consacrés dans ton plus bel ouvrage.
    Oui, ce grand monument, affermi d'âge en âge,
    Doit couvrir de son ombre et le peuple et les lys
    Il est des opprimés l'asile impérissable,
    La terreur du tyran, du ministre coupable,
        Le temple de nos libertés!
    Que la France prospère en tes mains magnanimes;
    Que tes jours soient sereins, tes décrets respectés,
        Toi qui proclames ces maximes:
    'Ô rois, pour commander, obéissez aux lois!
    Peuple, en obéissant, sois libre sous tes rois!'"

True, fifteen years later, the author of _La Semaine de Paris_ sang,
almost in the same lines of the accession to the throne of King
Louis-Philippe. Rather read for yourself--

    "Ô toi, roi citoyen, qu'il presse dans ses bras, Aux cris
    d'un peuple entier dont les transports sont justes. Tu fus
    mon bienfaiteur ... Je ne te loûrai pas: Les poètes des
    rois sont leurs actes augustes. Que ton règne te chante, et
    qu'on dise après nous: 'Monarque, il fut sacré par la raison
    publique; Sa force fut la loi; l'honneur, sa politique; Son
    droit divin, l'amour de tous!'"

Let us read again the lines we have just quoted--those which were
addressed to Louis XVIII. we mean--and we shall see that Victor Hugo,
Lamartine and Lamennais never expressed their delight at the return of
the Bourbons in more endearing terms than did Casimir Delavigne. What,
then, was the reason why the Liberals of that day and the Conservatives
of to-day bitterly reproached the first three of the above-mentioned
authors for these pledges of affection for the Elder Branch, whilst
they always ignored or pretended to ignore the covert royalism of the
author of _Messéniennes_? Ah! Heavens! It is because the former were
sincere in their blind, young enthusiasm, whilst the latter--let us be
allowed to say it--was not. The world forgives a political untruth, but
it does not forgive a conscientious recantation of the foolish mistakes
of a generously sympathetic heart. In the generous pity of these three
authors for the Bourbon family there was room for the shedding of a
tear for Marie-Antoinette and for Louis XVII.

M. de Lamennais hesitated, for a while, over his literary vocation,
or at least, over the direction it should take. The solitude in which
he had lived, by the sea, had filled his soul with floating dreams,
like those beauteous clouds he had often watched with his outward
eyes in the depths of the heavens. He was within an ace of writing
novels and works of fiction; he did even get so far as to write some
poetry, which, of course, he never published. Here are two lines, which
entered, as far as I can remember, into a description of scholastic
theology--

"Elle avait deux grands yeux stupidement ouverts,
Dont l'un ne voyait pas ou voyait de travers!"

M. de Lamennais then became a religious writer and a philosopher
more from force of circumstances than from inclination. His taste,
he assured us in his moments of expansion, upon which we look back
with respect and pride, would have led him by preference towards that
style of poetical prose-writing which Bernardin de Saint-Pierre had
made fashionable in _Paul et Virginie_, and Chateaubriand in _René._
So he communed with himself and, with the unerring finger of the
implacable genius of the born observer, he touched upon the wound of
his century--indifference to religious matters. Surely the cry uttered
by that gloomy storm-bird, "the gods are departing!" had good reason
for startling the pious folk and statesmen of that period! Were not
the churches filled with missions and the high roads crowded with
missionaries? Was there not the cross of Migné, the miracles of the
Prince of Hohenlohe, the apparitions and trances of Martin de Gallardon
and others? What, then, could this man mean? M. de Lamennais took, as
the motto for his book, these words from the Bible--

    "_Impius, cum in profundum venerit contemnit._"

In his opinion, contempt was the sign by which he recognised the
decline of religious feeling. The seventeenth century believed, the
eighteenth denied, the nineteenth doubted.

The success of the book was immense. France, agitated by vast and
conflicting problems, a Babel wherein many voices were speaking
simultaneously, in every kind of tongue, the France of the Empire, of
the Restoration, of Carbonarism, of Liberalism and of Republicanism,
held its peace to listen to the weighty and inspired utterance of this
unknown writer: "_et siluit terra in conspectu ejus!_" The voice came
from the desert. Who had seen, who knew this man? He had dropped from
the region where eagles dwell; his name was mentioned by all lips, in
the same breath with that of Bossuet. _L'Essai sur l'indifférence_
was little read but much admired; the poets--they are the only people
who read--recognised in it a powerful imagination, at times almost an
affrighted imagination, which, both by its excesses and its terrors,
hugged, as it were, the dead body of religious belief, and shook it
roughly, hoping against hope, to bring it back to life again. Of all
prose-writers, Tacitus was the one whom the Abbé de Lamennais admired
the most; of all poets, Dante was the one he read over and over again
the most frequently; of all books, the one he knew by heart was the
Bible.

Now, it might assuredly have been believed that this citadel, intended
to protect the weak walls of Catholicism, _L'Essai sur l'indifférence
en matière de religion_, was viewed with favourable eyes by the French
clergy; no such thing! Quite the contrary; a cry went up from the
heart of the Church, not of joy or admiration, but of terror. They
were scared by the genius of the man; religion was no longer in the
habit of having an Origen, a Tertullian, or a Bossuet to defend it;
it was afraid of being supported by such a defender and, little by
little, the shudder of fear reached even as far as Rome; and the book
was very nearly placed on the _Index._ These suspicions were aroused
by the nature of the arguments of which the author made use to repel
the attacks of philosophers. The Abbé de Lamennais foresaw, through the
gloom, the causes at work undermining the old edifice of orthodoxy,
and tried to put it on a wider basis of toleration and to prop it up,
as he himself expressed it, by the exercise of common sense. To this
end he made incredible flights into metaphysical realms, to prove that
Catholicism was, and always had been, the religion of Humanity.

The Abbé de Lamennais taught in the seminaries, but his teaching was
looked upon with suspicion; and young people were forbidden the reading
of a work, which the outside world regarded as that of a misguided god
who wanted to deny man the right of freedom of thought. No suicide
was ever more heroic, never did intellect bring so much courage and
logic to the task of self-destruction. But, in reality, and from his
point of view, the Abbé de Lamennais was right: if you believe in an
infallible Church you must bravely destroy the eyes of your intellect
and extinguish the light of your soul, and, having voluntarily made
yourself blind, let yourself be led by the hand. But, however high a
solitary intellect may be placed, it is very quickly reached by the
influence of the times in which it lives.

Two or three years ago, an aeronautic friend of mine, Petin, seriously
propounded to me _viva voce_, and to the world through the medium of
the daily papers, that he had just solved the great problem of serial
navigation. He reasoned thus--

"The earth turns_--E pur si muove!_--and in the motion of rotation on
its own axis, it successively presents every part of its surface, both
inhabited and uninhabited. Now, any person, who could raise himself
up into the extreme strata of ambient air, and could find a means to
keep himself there, would be able to descend in a balloon and alight
upon whatever town on the globe he liked; he would only have to wait
until that town passed beneath his feet; in that way he could go to the
Antipodes in a dozen hours, and without any fatigue whatsoever, since
he would not stir from his position, as it would be the earth which
would move for him."

This calculation had but one flaw: it was false. The earth, in its
vast motion, carries with it every atom of the molecules of its
seething atmosphere. It is the same with great spirits which aim at
stability; without perceiving that, at the very moment when they think
they have cast anchor in the Infinite, they wake up to find they are
being carried away in spite of themselves by the irresistible movement
of their age. The spirit of Liberalism, with which the atmosphere
of the time was charged, carried away the splendid, obstinate and
lonely reason of the Abbé de Lamennais. It was about the year 1828.
Whilst fighting against the Doctrinaire School, for which he showed a
scarcely veiled contempt, M. de Lamennais sought to combine the needs
of faith with the necessities of progress; with this end in view he
had installed at his château at La Chesnaie a school of young people
whom he inculcated with his religious ideas. La Chesnaie was an ancient
château of Brittany, shaded by sturdy, centenarian oaks--those natural
philosophers, which ponder while their leaves rustle in the breeze on
the vicissitudes of man, of which changes they are impassive witnesses.
There, this priest, who was already troubled by the new spirit abroad,
educated and communed with disciples who held on from far or near to
the Church; amongst them were the Abbé Gerbert, Cyprien Robert, now
professor of Slavonic literature in the College of France, and a few
others. Work--methodical and persevering--was carried on within those
old walls, which the sea winds rocked and lashed against. This new
academy of Pythagoras studied the science of the century in order to
combat it; but, at each fresh ray of light, it recoiled enlightened,
and its recoil put weapons to be used against itself into the hands of
the enemy. That enemy was Human Thought.



CHAPTER V


    The founding of _l'Avenir_--L'Abbé Lacordaire--M.
    Charles de Montalembert--His article on the sacking
    of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois--_l'Avenir_ and the new
    literature--My first interview with M. de Lamennais--Lawsuit
    against _l'Avenir_--MM. de Montalembert and Lacordaire as
    schoolmasters--Their trial in the _Cour des pairs_--The
    capture of Warsaw--Answer of four poets to a word spoken by
    a statesman


The Revolution of 1830 came as a surprise to M. de Lamennais and his
school in the midst of these vague and restless designs. His heart,
ready to sympathise with everything that was great and generous,
had already been alienated from Royalism; already the man, poet and
philosopher, was kicking beneath the priestly robe. The century which
had just venerated and extolled his genius, reproached him under its
breath for resisting the way of progress. Intractable and headstrong by
nature, with a rugged and reclusive intellect, the Abbé de Lamennais
was by temperament a free lance. Then 1830 sounded. Sitting upon the
ruins of that upheaval, which had just swallowed up one dynasty, and
shaken the Church with the same storm and shipwreck in which that
dynasty had foundered, the philosophers of La Chesnaie took counsel
together; they said among themselves that the opposition against the
clergy, with which Liberalism had been animated since 1815, was the
result of the prominent protection which had been spread over the
Catholic priests, in face of the instability of the Powers, in face of
the roaring waves of the Revolution; and they began to question whether
it would not be advantageous to the immutable Church to separate
herself from all the tottering States. Stated thus, the question was
quickly decided. The Abbé de Lamennais thought the time had come for
him to throw himself directly and personally into the struggle. The
principles of a journal were settled, and he went. Two men entered that
career of publicity with him: the Abbé Lacordaire and Comte Charles de
Montalembert.

The Abbé Lacordaire was, at the period when I had the honour of finding
myself in communication with him on religious and political principles,
a young priest who had passed from the Bar at Paris to the Seminary
of Saint-Sulpice. After his term of probation, he had spent three
harassing years in the study of theology; he left the seminary full of
hazy ideas and turbulent instincts. His temper of mind was acrimonious,
keen and subtle; he had dark fiery eyes, delicate and mobile features,
he was pale with the pallor of the Cenobite and of a sickly complexion,
with hard, gaunt, strongly marked outlines,--so much for his face.
Attracted by the brilliancy of the Abbé de Lamennais, he fell in with
all his political views; he, too, longed for the liberty of the spirit
after due control of the flesh; the protection of the State, because of
his priesthood, was burdensome to him. He put his hand in his master's
and the covenant was sealed.

The Comte de Montalembert, on his side, was, at that time, quite a
young man, fair, with a face like a girl's, and pink cheeks, shy and
blushing; as he was short-sighted, he looked close at people through
his eye-glasses. He appealed strongly to the Abbé de Lamennais, who
felt drawn to him with a sort of paternal sympathy. Finally, Comte
Charles de Montalembert belonged to a family whose devotion to the
cause of the Elder Branch of the Bourbons was well known; but he openly
declared that he placed France in his affections before a dynasty, and
liberty before a crown.

Round these three men, one already famous and the others still
unknown, rallied the ecclesiastics and young people of talent, who,
in all simple faith, were desirous of combining the majesty of
religious traditions with the nobility of revolutionary ideas. That
such an alliance was impossible Time--that great tester of things and
men--would prove; but the attempt was none the less noble for all
that; it ministered, moreover, to a want which was then permeating the
new generations. Already Camille Desmoulins, one of those poets who
are specially inspired, had exclaimed to the Revolutionary Tribunal
with somewhat penetrative melancholy: "I am the same age, thirty-three
years, as the _Sans-culotte_ Jesus!"

The title of the new journal was _l'Avenir._ The programme of its
principles was drawn up equally by them all, and it called upon
the government of July for absolute liberty for all creeds and all
religious communities, for liberty of the press, liberty in education,
the radical separation of the Church from the State and, finally,
for the abolition of the ecclesiastical budget. It was 16 October
1830, and the moment was a favourable one. Belgium was about to start
her revolution, and, in that revolution, the hand of the clergy was
visible; Catholic Poland was sending up under the savage treatment of
the Czar one long cry of distress and yet of hope; Ireland, by the
voice of O'Connell, was moving all nationalities to whom religion was
the motive power and a flag of independence; Ireland shook the air with
the words CHRIST and LIBERTY! _L'Avenir_ made itself the monitor of the
religious movement, combined with the political movement, as may be
judged by these few lines which proceeded from the association, and are
taken from its first number--

    "We have no hidden design whatsoever, we never had; we mean
    exactly what we say. Hoping, therefore, to be believed
    in all good faith, we say to those whose ideas differ
    upon several points of our creed: 'Do you sincerely want
    religious liberty, liberty in educational matters, in civil
    and political affairs and liberty of the press, which,
    do not let us forget, is the guarantee for all types of
    liberty? You belong to us as we belong to you. Every kind
    of liberty that the people in the gradual development of
    their life can uphold is their due, and their progress in
    civilisation is to be measured by the actual and not the
    fictitious, progress they make in liberty!'"

It was at this juncture that the transformation tool place of the Abbé
DE LA MENNAIS to the Abbé de LAMENNAIS. His opinions and his talents
and his name entered upon a new era; he was no more the stern and
gloomy priest pronouncing deadly sentence on the human intellect over
the tomb of Faith; but a prophet shaking the shrouds of dying nations
in the name of liberty, and crying aloud to the dry bones to "Arise!"

Now, among the young editors of _l'Avenir_ it is worth noticing that
the most distinguished of them for talent and for the loftiness of his
democratic views, was Comte Charles de Montalembert, whose imprudent
impetuosity the stern old man was obliged, more than once, to check.
Presently, we shall have to relate the story of the sacking of the
church of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois and the profanation of the sacred
contents. The situation was an embarrassing one for _l'Avenir_: that
journal had advised the young clergy to put faith in the Revolution,
and here was that self-same Revolution, breaking loose in a moment of
anger, throwing mud at the Catholic temples and uprooting the insignia
of religion. It was Comte Charles de Montalembert who undertook to be
the leader of the morrow. Instead of inveighing against the vandals,
he inveighed against the clergy and priests, whose blind and dangerous
devotion to the overturned throne had drawn down the anger of the
people upon the Christian creed. He had no anathemas strong enough
to hurl at "those incorrigible defenders of the ancient régime, and
that bastard Catholicism which gave birth to the religion of kings!"
The crosses that had been knocked down were those branded with the
fleurs-de-lis; he took the opportunity to urge the separation of the
Church from the civil authority. Without the fleurs-de-lis, no one--the
Comte Charles de Montalembert insisted emphatically--had any quarrel
with the Cross.

The objective of _l'Avenir_, then, was both political and literary;
it was in sympathy with modern literature, and, in the person of the
Abbé de Lamennais, it possessed, besides, one of the leading writers of
the day; it was one of those rare papers (_rari nantes_) in which one
could follow the human mind under its two aspects. _Liber_, in Latin,
may be allowed to mean also _libre_ (free) and _livre_ (book). I have
already told how we literary men of the new school had made implacable
enemies of all the papers on the side of the political movement. It was
all the more strange that the literary revolution had preceded, helped,
prepared the way for and heralded the political revolution which was
past, and the social revolution which was taking place. For example,
we recollect an article upon _Notre Dame de Paris_, wherein, whilst
regretting that the author was not more deeply Catholic, Comte Charles
de Montalembert praised the style and poetry of Victor Hugo with the
enthusiasm of an adept. It was about this time, and several days, I
believe, after the representation of _Antony_, that M. de Lamennais
expressed the desire that I should be introduced to him. This wish was
a great honour for me, and I gratefully acquiesced. A mutual friend
took me to the house of the famous founder of _l'Avenir_, who was then
living in the rue Jacob--I remember the name of the street, but have
forgotten the number of the house. Before that day, I had already
joyfully acknowledged an admiration for him which sprang up in my heart
and soul fresh, and strong, and unalloyed.

Meanwhile, _l'Avenir_ was successful; this was soon apparent from the
anger and hatred launched against its doctrines. Amongst the various
advices it gave to the clergy, that of renouncing the emoluments
administered by the State, and of simply following Christ in poverty,
was not at all relished; and people grew indignant. It was in vain for
the solemn voice of the Abbé de Lamennais to exclaim--

"Break these degrading chains! Put away these rags!"

The clergy replied under their breath: "Call them rags if you wish, but
they are rags dear to our hearts."

Do my readers desire to know to what degree the journal _l'Avenir_ had
its roots buried in what is aristocratically styled Society? Then let
us quote the first lines dedicated to the trial of _l'Avenir_ in the
_l'Annuaire_ of Lesur--

    "Never were the approaches to the Court of Assizes more
    largely filled with so affluent and influential a crowd,
    and never certainly were so large a number of _ladies_
    attracted to a political trial as in the case of this.
    Immediately the court opened proceedings, the jurymen,
    defendants, barristers and the magistrate himself were
    overwhelmed by a multitude of persons who could not manage
    to find seats. M. l'Abbé de Lamennais, M. Lacordaire, the
    editors of _l'Avenir,_ and M. Waille, the responsible
    manager of the paper, were placed on chairs in the centre of
    the bar; the two first were clad in frockcoats over their
    cassocks; M. Waille wore the uniform of the National Guard."

It was one of the first press trials since July. The public
prosecutor's speech was very timid, and he apologised for coming,
after a revolution carried out in favour of the press, to demand legal
penalties against this very press. But _l'Avenir_ had exceeded all
limits of propriety. We will quote the incriminating phrase--

    "Let us prove that we are Frenchmen by faithfully defending
    that which no one can snatch from us without violating the
    law of the land. Let us say to our sovereigns: 'We will obey
    you in so far as you yourselves obey that law which has made
    you what you are, without which you are nothing! '"

That was written by M. de Lamennais. We forget the actual phrase,
although not the cause, which brought the Abbé Lacordaire to the
defendants' bench. M. de Lamennais was defended by Janvier, who has
since played a part in politics. Lacordaire defended himself. His
speech made a great sensation, and revealed the qualities both of a
lawyer and of a preacher. The jury acquitted them.

Some time later, _l'Avenir_ had to submit to the ordeal of another
trial in a greater arena and under circumstances which we ought to
recall.

MM. de Montalembert and Lacordaire had constituted themselves the
champions of liberty in educational matters, as well as of all other
liberties, both religious and civil. From words they passed to deeds;
and they opened, conjointly, an elementary school which a few poor
children attended. The police intervened. Ordered to withdraw, the
professors offered resistance, so they were obliged to arrest the
"substance of the offence"--namely, the street arabs who filled the
school-room. There was hardly sufficient ground for a trial before the
_tribunal correctionnel_; but, in the meantime, a few days before the
promulgation of the law which suppressed the hereditary rights to the
peerage, M. Charles de Montalembert's most excellent father died. The
matter then assumed unexpected proportions: Charles de Montalembert,
a peer of France by the grace of non-retroactivity, was not amenable
to ordinary courts of justice, so the trial was carried before the
Court of Peers, where it took the dimensions of a political debate
upon the freedom of education. Lacordaire, whose cause could not be
disconnected from that of his accomplice, was also transferred to the
Supreme Court, and he delivered extempore his own counsel's speech. M.
de Montalembert, on the contrary, read a speech in which he attacked
the university and M. de Broglie in particular.

"At this point," says the _Moniteur_, in its report of the trial, "the
honourable peer of France put up his eye-glass and looked critically at
the young orator."

Less fortunate before the Court of Peers than before the jury, which
would certainly have acquitted them, the two editors of _l'Avenir_
lost their case; but they won it in the opinion of the country. The
Comte de Montalembert owed it to this circumstance, that he sided
with M. de Lamennais, whose Liberal doctrines he shared and professed
at that time; he was also equally bound by the unexpected death
of his father to find a career ready opened for him in the Upper
Chamber. But when questioned by the Chamber as to his profession, he
replied--"Schoolmaster."

All these trials seemed but to give a handle to M. de Lamennais's
religious enemies. Rumours began from below. From the lower clergy, who
condemned them, M. de Lamennais and the other editors of _l'Avenir_
appealed to the bishops, who in their turn also condemned them. Then,
driven back from one entrenchment after another, like the defenders
of a town, who, having vainly defended their advanced positions, and
their first and second _enceintes_, are forced to take refuge within
the citadel itself, the accused men were obliged to look towards
the Vatican, and to put their trust in Rome. The mainmast of this
storm-beaten vessel, M. de Lamennais, was the first to be struck by the
thunders of denunciation.

On 8 September 1831, a voice rang through the world similar to that of
the angel in the Apocalypse, announcing the fall of towns and empires;
that voice, as incoherent as a death-rattle or last expiring sigh,
formulated itself in these terrible words on 16 September: "Poland has
just fallen! Warsaw is taken!" We know how this news was announced to
the Chamber of Deputies by General Sébastiani. "Letters I have received
from Poland," he said, in the session of 16 September, "inform me
that PEACE _reigns in Warsaw."_ There was a slight variation given in
the _Moniteur_, which spoke of ORDER, instead of _peace_, reigning in
Warsaw. Under the circumstances neither word was better than the other:
both were infamous! It is curious to come across again to-day the echo
which that great downfall awakened in the soul of poets and believers,
those living lyres which great national misfortunes cause to vibrate,
and from whom the passing breeze of calamity draws exquisite sounds.
Here we have four replies to the optimistic phraseology of the Minister
for Foreign Affairs--

    BARTHÉLEMY

    "_Destinée à périr!_ ... L'oracle avait raison!
    Faut-il accuser Dieu, le sort, la trahison?
    Non, tout était prévu, l'oracle était lucide!...
    Qu'il tombe sur nos fronts, le sceau du fratricide!
    Noble sœur! Varsovie! elle est morte pour nous;
    Morte un fusil en main, sans fléchir les genoux;
    Morte en nous maudissant à son heure dernière;
    Morte en baignant de pleurs l'aigle de sa bannière,
    Sans avoir entendu notre cri de pitié,
    Sans un mot de la France, un adieu d'amitié!
    Tout ce que l'univers, la planète des crimes,
    Possédait de grandeur et de vertus sublimes;
    Tout ce qui fut géant dans notre siècle étroit
    A disparu! Tout dort dans le sépulcre froid!...
    Cachons-nous! cachons-nous! nous sommes des infâmes!
    Rasons nos poils, prenons la quenouille des femmes;
    Jetons has nos fusils, nos guerriers oripeaux,
    Nos plumets citadins, nos ceintures de peaux;
    Le courage à nos cœurs ne vient que par saccades ...
    Ne parlons plus de gloire et de nos barricades!
    Que le teint de la honte embrase notre front!
    Vous voulez voir venir les Russes: ils viendront!..."


    BARBIER

    "_La Guerre_

    "Mère! il était une ville fameuse;
    Avec le Hun j'ai franchi ses détours;
    J'ai démoli son enceinte fumeuse;
    Sous le boulet j'ai fait crouler ses tours!
    J'ai promené mes chevaux par les rues,
    Et, sous le fer de leurs rudes sabots,
    J'ai labouré le corps des femmes nues,
    Et des enfants couchés dans les ruisseaux!...
    Hourra! hourra! j'ai courbé la rebelle!
    J'ai largement lavé mon vieil affront:
    J'ai vu des morts à hauteur de ma selle!
    Hourra! j'ai mis les deux pieds sur son front!...
    Tout est fini, maintenant, et ma lame
    Pend inutile à côté de mon flanc.
    Tout a passé par le fer et la flamme;
    Toute muraille a sa tache de sang!
    Les maigres chiens aux saillantes échines
    Dans les ruisseaux n'ont plus rien à lécher;
    Tout est désert; l'herbe pousse aux ruines....
    Ô mort! ô mort! je n'ai rien à faucher!"


    "_Le Choléra-Morbus_

    "Mère! il était un peuple plein de vie,
    Un peuple ardent et fou de liberté;
    Eh bien, soudain, des champs de Moscovie,
    Je l'ai frappé de mon souffle empesté!
    Mieux que la balle et les larges mitrailles,
    Mieux que la flamme et l'implacable faim,
    J'ai déchiré les mortelles entrailles,
    J'ai souillé l'air et corrompu le pain!...
    J'ai tout noirci de mon haleine errante;
    De mon contact j'ai tout empoisonné;
    Sur le teton de sa mère expirante,
    Tout endormi, j'ai pris le nouveau-né!
    J'ai dévoré, même au sein de la guerre,
    Des camps entiers de carnage filmants;
    J'ai frappé l'homme au bruit de son tonnerre;
    J'ai fait combattre entre eux des ossements!...
    Partout, partout le noir corbeau becquète;
    Partout les vers ont des corps à manger;
    Pas un vivant, et partout un squelette ...
    Ô mort! ô mort! je n'ai rien à ronger!"


    "_La Mort_

    "Le sang toujours ne peut rougir la terre;
    Les chiens toujours ne peuvent pas lécher;
    Il est un temps où la Peste et la Guerre
    Ne trouvent plus de vivants à faucher!...
    Enfants hideux! couchez-vous dans mon ombre,
    Et sur la pierre étendez vos genoux;
    Dormez! dormez! sur notre globe sombre,
    Tristes fléaux! je veillerai pour vous.
    Dormez! dormez! je prêterai l'oreille
    Au moindre bruit par le vent apporté;
    Et, quand, de loin, comme un vol de corneille,
    S'élèveront des cris de liberté;
    Quand j'entendrai de pâles multitudes,
    Des peuples nus, des milliers de proscrits,
    Jeter à has leurs vieilles servitudes
    En maudissant leurs tyrans abrutis;
    Enfants hideux! pour finir votre somme,
    Comptez sur moi, car j'ai l'œil creux ... Jamais
    Je ne m'endors, et ma bouche aime l'homme
    Comme le czar aime les Polonais!"


    VICTOR HUGO

    "Je hais l'oppression d'une haine profonde;
    Aussi, lorsque j'entends, dans quelque coin du monde,
    Sous un ciel inclément, sous un roi meurtrier,
    Un peuple qu'on égorge appeler et crier;
    Quand, par les rois chrétiens aux bourreaux turcs livrée,
    La Grèce, notre mère, agonise éventrée;
    Quand l'Irlande saignante expire sur sa croix;
    Quand l'Allemagne aux fers se débat sous dix rois;
    Quand Lisbonne, jadis belle et toujours en fête,
    Pend au gibet, les pieds de Miguel sur sa tête;
    Quand Albani gouverne au pays de Caton;
    Quand Naples mange et dort; quand, avec son bâton,
    Sceptre honteux et lourd que la peur divinise,
    L'Autriche casse l'aile au lion de Venise;
    Quand Modène étranglé râle sous l'archiduc:
    Quand Dresde lutte et pleure au lit d'un roi caduc;
    Quand Madrid sa rendort d'un sommeil léthargique;
    Quand Vienne tient Milan; quand le lion belgique,
    Courbé comme le bœuf qui creuse un vil sillon,
    N'a plus même de dents pour mordre son bâillon;
    Quand un Cosaque affreux, que la rage transporte,
    Viole Varsovie échevelée et morte,
    Et, souillant son linceul, chaste et sacré lambeau
    Se vautre sur la vierge étendue au tombeau;
    Alors, oh! je maudis, dans leur cour, dans leur antre,
    Ces rois dont les chevaux ont du sang jusqu'au ventre.
    Je sens que le poète est leur juge; je sens
    Que la muse indignée, avec ses poings puissants,
    Peut, comme au pilori, les lier sur leur trône,
    Et leur faire un carcan de leur lâche couronne,
    Et renvoyer ces rois, qu'on aurait pu bénir,
    Marqués au front d'un vers que lira l'avenir!
    Oh! la muse se doit aux peuples sans défense!
    J'oublie, alors, l'armour, la famille, l'enfance.
    Et les molles chansons, et le loisir serein,
    Et j'ajoute à ma lyre une corde d'airain!"


    LAMENNAIS

    "_The Taking of Warsaw_

    "Warsaw has capitulated! The heroic nation of Poland,
    forsaken by France and repulsed by England, has fallen in the
    struggle she has gloriously maintained for eight months against
    the Tartar hordes allied with Prussia. The Muscovite yoke is
    again about to oppress the people of Jagellon and of Sobieski,
    and, to aggravate her misfortune, the furious rage of various
    monsters will, perhaps, detract from the horror which the crime
    of this fresh onslaught ought to inspire. Let every man protect
    his own property; leave to the cut-throat, murder and
    treachery! Let the true sons of Poland protect their glory
    untarnished, immortal! Leave to the Czar and his allies the
    curses of everyone who has a human heart, of every man who
    realises what constitutes a country. To our Ministers their
    names! There is nothing lower than this. Therefore, generous
    people, our brothers in faith, and at arms, whilst you were
    fighting for your lives, we could only aid you with our
    prayers; and now, when you are lying on the field of battle,
    all that we can give you is our tears! May they in some
    degree, at least, comfort you in your great sufferings!
    Liberty has passed over you like a fleeting shadow, a shadow
    that has terrified your ancient oppressors: to them it appears
    as a symbol of justice! After the dark days had passed, you
    looked heavenwards, and thought you saw more kindly signs
    there; you said to yourself: 'The time of deliverance
    approaches; this earth which covers the bones of our ancestors
    shall yet be our own; we will no longer heed the voice of the
    stranger dictating his insolent commands to us.... Our altars
    shall be as free as our fire-sides.' But you have been self-deceived;
    the time to live has not yet come; it was the time
    to die for all that was sweet and sacred to men's hearts....
    Nation of heroes, people of our affection! rest in peace in the
    tombs that the crimes and cowardice of others have dug for
    you; but never forget that hope springs from those tombs; and
    a cross above them prophesies, 'Thou shalt rise again!'"

Let us admit that a nation is fortunate if it possesses poets; for were
there only politicians, posterity would gather very odd notions about
it.

In conclusion, the downfall of Poland included with it that of
_l'Avenir._ We will explain how this was brought about in the next
chapter.



CHAPTER VI


    Suspension of _l'Avenir_--Its three principal editors
    present themselves at Rome--The Abbé de Lamennais as
    musician--The trouble it takes to obtain an audience of the
    Pope--The convent of Santo-Andrea della Valle--Interview
    of M. de Lamennais with Gregory XVI.--The statuette of
    Moses--The doctrines of _l'Avenir_ are condemned by the
    Council of Cardinals--Ruin of M. de Lamennais--The _Paroles
    d'un Croyant_


The position of affairs was no longer tenable for the editors of
_l'Avenir._ If, on the one hand, the religious democracy, overwhelmed
with sadness and bitterness, listened with affection to the words of
the messengers; on the other hand, the opposition of the heads of the
Catholic Church became formidable, and the accusation of heresy ran
from lip to lip. The Abbé de Lamennais looked about him and, like the
prophet Isaiah, could see nothing but desolation all around. Poland,
wounded in her side, her hand out of her winding sheet, slept in the
ever deceived expectation of help from the hand of France; and yet she
had fallen full of despair and doubt, crying, "God is too high, and
France too far off!" Ireland, sunk in misery and dying from starvation,
ground down under the heel of England, in vain prostrated herself
before its wooden crosses to implore succour from Heaven: none came to
her! Liberty seemed to have turned away her face from a world utterly
unworthy of her. Poland and Ireland, those two natural allies in all
religious democracy, disappeared from the political scenes, dragging
down with them in their fall the existence of _l'Avenir._ The wave
of opposition, like an unebbing tide, still rose and ever rose. Some
detested M. de Lamennais's opinions; others, his talent; the latter
were as much incensed against him as any. He was obliged to yield. Like
every paper which disappears into space, _l'Avenir_ had to announce
_suspension_ of publication; this was his farewell from Fontainebleau--

    "If we withdraw for a while," wrote M. de Lamennais, "it is
    not on account of weariness, still less from discouragement;
    it is to go, as the soldiers of Israel of old, _to consult
    the Lord in Shiloh._ They have put our faith and our very
    intentions to the doubt; for what is there that people do
    not attack in these days? We leave the field of battle
    for a short time to fulfil another duty equally pressing.
    Traveller's stick in hand, we pursue our way to the eternal
    throne to prostrate ourselves at the feet of the pontiff
    whom Jesus Christ has established as the guide and teacher
    to His disciples, and we will say to him, 'O Father!
    condescend to look down upon these, the latest of thy
    children to be accused of being in rebellion against thy
    infallibility and gracious authority! O Father! pronounce
    over us the words which will give life and light, and extend
    thy hand over us in blessing and in acknowledgment of our
    obedience and love.'"

It would be puerile to question the sincerity of the author of those
lines at this point. For, like Luther, who also promised his submission
to Rome, the Abbé de Lamennais meant to persevere in the Catholic
faith. If, later, his orthodoxy wavered; if, upon closer view of Rome
and her cardinals, his faith in the Vicar of Christ and the visible
representation of the Church gave way, we should rather accuse the
pagan form under which the religion of Christ was presented to him, as
in the case of the monk of Eisleben, when he visited the Eternal City.
When I reach that period in my life, I will relate my own feelings, and
will give my long conversations on the subject with Pope Gregory XVI.

The three pilgrims of _l'Avenir,_ the Abbé de Lamennais, the Abbé
Lacordaire and the Comte Charles de Montalembert, started, then, for
Italy, not quite, as one of their number expressed it, with travellers'
staffs in their hands, but animated with sincere faith and with
sorrow in their hearts. They did not leave behind them the dream of
eleven months without feeling deep regret; _l'Avenir_ had, in fact,
lasted from 16 October 1830 to 17 September 1831. We will not relate
the travelling impressions of the Abbé de Lamennais, for the author
of the _Essai sur l'indifférence_ was not at all the man to notice
external impressions. He passed through Italy with unseeing eyes; all
through that land of wonders he saw nothing beyond his own thoughts
and the object of his journey. Ten years later, when prisoner at
Sainte-Pélagie, and already grown quite old, Lamennais discovered a
corner in his memory still warm with the Italian sunshine; by a process
of photography, which explains the character of the man we are dealing
with, the monuments of art and the country itself were transferred to
a plate in his brain! It needed meditation, solitude and captivity,
just as the silvered plate needs iodine, to bring out of his memory
the image of the beautiful things he had forgotton to admire ten years
previously. On this account, he writes to us in 1841, under the low
ceiling of his cell--

"I begin to see Italy.... It is a wondrous country!"

A curious psychological study might be made of the Abbé de Lamennais,
especially by comparing him with other poets of his day. The author of
the _Essai sur l'indifférence_ saw little and saw that but imperfectly;
there was a cloud over his eyes and on his brain; the sole perception,
the only sense he had of the outside world, which seemed to be always
alert and awake, was that of hearing, a sense equivalent to the
musical faculty: he played the piano and especially delighted in the
compositions of Liszt. Hence arose, probably, his profound affection
for that great artist. As regards all other outward senses of the
objective world, his perceptions seem to have been within him, and
when he wishes to see, it is in his own soul that he looks. To this
peculiarity is owing the nature of his style, which is psychological in
treatment. If he describes scenery, as in his _Paroles d'un Croyant_,
or in the descriptions sent from his prison, it is always the outlines
of the infinite that is drawn by his pen in vague horizons; with him it
is his thoughts which visualise, not his eyes. M. de Lamennais belongs
to the race of morbid thinkers, of whom Blaise Pascal is a sample. Let
not the medical faculty even attempt to cure these sensitive natures:
it will be but to deprive them of their genius.

The journey, with its enforced waits for relays of horses, often
afforded the Abbé de Lamennais leisure for the study of our modern
school of literature, with which he was but little acquainted. In an
Italian monastery, where the pilgrims received hospitality, MM. de
Lamennais and Lacordaire read _Notre-Dame de Paris_ and _Henri III._
for the first time. When they reached Rome, the Abbé de Lamennais
put up at the same hotel and suite of rooms that had been occupied a
few months previously by the Comtesse Guiccioli. His one fixed idea
was to see the Pope and to settle his affairs, those of religious
democracy, with him direct. After long delays and a number of fruitless
applications, after seven or eight requests for an audience still
without result, the Abbé de Lamennais complained; then a Romish
ecclesiastic, to whom he poured out his grievances, naively suggested
that he had perhaps omitted to deposit the sum of ... in the hands of
Cardinal.... The Abbé de Lamennais confessed that he would have been
afraid of offending His Eminence by treating him like the doorkeeper of
a common courtesan.

"You need no longer be surprised at not having been received by His
Holiness," was the Italian abbé's reply.

The ignorant traveller had forgotten the essential formality. But,
although instructed, he still persisted in trying to obtain an audience
of the Pope gratis; by paying, he felt he should be truckling with
simony. The editors of _l'Avenir_ had remained for three months
unrecognised in the Holy City, waiting until the Pope should condescend
to consider a question which was keeping half Catholic Europe in
suspense. The Abbé Lacordaire had decided to return to France; the
Comte de Montalembert made preparations for setting out for Naples; M.
de Lamennais alone remained knocking at the gates of the Vatican, which
were more inexorably closed than those of Lydia in her bad days. Father
Ventura, then general of the Theatine, received the illustrious French
traveller at Santo-Andrea della Valle.

"I shall never forget," says M. de Lamennais in his _Affaires de Rome_,
"those peaceful days I spent in that pious household, surrounded
by the most exquisite care, amongst those instructively good and
religious people devoted to their duty and aloof from all intrigue.
The life of the cloister-regular, calm and, as it were, set apart and
self-contained-holds a kind of _via media_ between the purely worldly
life and that of the future, which faith reveals to us in but shadowy
outlines, and of which every human being possesses within himself a
positive assurance."

Finally, after many solicitations, the Abbé de Lamennais was received
in private audience by Gregory XVI. He went to the Vatican, climbed the
huge staircase often ascended and descended by Raphael and by Michael
Angelo, by Leo X. and Julian II.; he crossed the high and silent
chambers with their double rows of superposed windows; at the end of
that long, splendid and desolate palace he reached, under the escort
of an usher, an ante-chamber, where two cardinals, as motionless as
statues, sat upon wooden seats, solemnly reading their breviary. At
the appointed moment the Abbé de Lamennais was introduced. In a small
room, bare, upholstered in scarlet, where a single armchair denoted
that only one man had the right to sit there, a tall old man stood
upright, calm and smiling in his white garments. He received M. de
Lamennais standing, a great honour! The greatest honour which that
divine man could pay to another man without violating etiquette. Then
the Pope conversed with the French traveller about the lovely sunshine
and the beauties of nature in Italy, of the Roman monuments, the arts
and ancient history; but of the object of his journey and his own
special business in coming there, not a a single word. The Pope had no
commission at all for that: the question was being considered somewhere
in the dark by the cardinals appointed to inquire into it, whose names
were not divulged. A petition had been addressed to the Court of Rome
by the editors of _l'Avenir_; and this petition must necessarily lead
to some decision, but all this was shrouded in the most impenetrable
mystery. The Pope himself, however, showed affability to the French
priest, whose genius was an honour to the Catholic Church.

"What work of art," he asked M. de Lamennais, "has impressed you most?"

"The _Moses_ of Michael Angelo," replied the priest.

"Very well," replied Gregory XVI.; "then I will show you something
which no one sees or which very few indeed, even of the specially
favoured, see at Rome." Whilst saying this, the great white-haired
old man entered a sort of recess enclosed by curtains, and returned
holding in his arms a miniature replica in silver of the _Moses_ done
by Michael Angelo himself.

The Abbé de Lamennais admired it, bowed and withdrew, accompanied by
the two cardinals who guarded the entrance to that chamber. He was
compelled to acknowledge the gracious reception he had been accorded by
the Holy Father; but, in all conscience, he had not come all the way
from Paris to Rome just to see the statuette of Moses! It was a most
complete disillusionment. He shook the dust of Rome off his feet, the
dust of graves, and returned to Paris. After a long silence, when the
affair of _l'Avenir_ seemed buried in the excavations of the Holy See,
Rome spoke: she condemned the doctrines of the men who had tried to
reunite Christianity to Liberty.

The distress of the Abbé de Lamennais was profound. The shepherd
being smitten, the sheep scattered, the news of censure had scarcely
had time to reach La Chesnaie before the disciples were seized with
terror and took to flight. M. de Lamennais remained alone in the old
deserted château, in melancholy silence, broken only by the murmur of
the great oak trees and the plaintive song of birds. Soon, even this
retreat was taken from him, and he woke one day to find himself ruined
by the failure of a bookseller to whom he had given his note of hand.
Then the late editor of _l'Avenir_ began his voyage through bitter
waters; anguish of soul prevented his feeling his poverty, which was
extreme; his furniture, books, all were sold. Twice he bowed his head
submissively under the hand of the Head of the Church, and twice he
raised it, each time sadder than before, each time more indomitable,
more convinced that the human mind, progress, reason, the conscience
could not be wrong. It was not without profound heart-rendings that
he separated himself from the articles of belief of his youth, from
his career of priesthood and of tranquil obedience and from great
and powerful harmony; in a word, from everything that he had upheld
previously; but the new spirit had, in Biblical language, gripped him
by the hair commanding him to "go forward!" It was then, in silence,
in the midst of persecutions which even his gentleness was unable to
disarm, in a small room in Paris, furnished with only a folding-bed,
a table and two chairs, that the Abbé de Lamennais wrote his _Paroles
d'un Croyant._ The manuscript lay for a year in the author's portfolio;
placed several times in the hands of the editor Renduel, withdrawn,
then given back to him to be again withdrawn, this fine book was
subjected to all sorts of vicissitudes before its publication and met
with all sorts of obstructions; the chief difficulties came from the
abbé's own family, especially from a brother, who viewed with terror
the launching forth upon the sea of democracy tossed by the storms
of 1833. At last, after many delays and grievous hesitations, the
author's strength of will carried the day against the entreaties of
friendship; and the book appeared. It marked the third transformation
of its writer: the ABBÉ DE LA MENNAIS and M. de LAMENNAIS gave place to
CITIZEN LAMENNAIS. We shall come across him again on the benches of the
Constituent Assembly of 1848. In common with all men of great genius,
who have had to pilot their own original course through the religious
and political storms that raged for thirty years, M. de Lamennais has
been the subject of the most opposite criticisms. We do not undertake
here to be either his apologist or denouncer; simply to endeavour to
render him that justice which every true-hearted man owes to any man
whom he admires: we have tried to show him to others as he appeared to
our own eyes.



CHAPTER VII


    Who Gannot was--Mapah--His first miracle--The wedding
    at Cana--Gannot, phrenologist--Where his first ideas on
    phrenology came from--The unknown woman--The change wrought
    in Gannot's life--How he becomes Mapah


Let us frame M. de Lamennais, the great philosopher, poet and
humanitarian, between a false priest and a false god. Christ was
crucified after His bloody passion between two thieves. We are now
going to relate the adventures and expose the doctrines of _Mapah_ or
of the _being who was Gannot._ He was one of the most eccentric of
the gods produced during the years 1831 to 1845. The ancients divided
their gods into _dii majores_ and _dii minores_; Mapah was a _minor_
god. He was not any the less entertaining on that account. The name of
_Mapah_ was the favourite title of the god, and the one under which
he wished to be worshipped; but, not forgetting that he had been a
man before he became a god, he humbly and modestly permitted himself
to be called, and at times even called himself, by his own personal
name as, _he who was Gannot._ He had indeed, or rather he had had, two
very distinct existences; that of a man and that of a god. The man
was born about 1800, or, at all events, he would seem to have been
nearly my own age when I knew him. He gave his age out to be then as
between twenty-eight and thirty. I was told that, when he became a
god, he maintained he had been contemporaneous with all the ages and
even to have preexisted, under a double symbolic form, Adam and Eve,
in whom he became incarnate when the father and mother of the human
race were yet one and the self-same flesh! The man had been an elegant
dandy, a fop and frequenter of the boulevard de Gand, loving horses
and adoring women, and an inveterate gambler; he was an adept at every
kind of play, specially at billiards. He was as good a billiard player
as was Pope Gregory XVI., and supposing the latter had staked his
papacy on his skilful play against Gannot, I would assuredly have bet
on Gannot. To say that Gannot played billiards better than other games
does not mean that he preferred games of skill to those of chance; not
at all: he had a passion for roulette, for la rouge et la blanche, for
trente-et-un, for le biribi, and, in fact, for all kinds of games of
chance. He was also possessed of all the happy superstitious optimism
of the gambler: none knew better than he how to puff at a cigar and to
creak about in varnished boots upon the asphalted pavements whilst he
dreamt of marvellous fortunes, of coaches, tilburys, tandems harnessed
to horses shod in silver; of mansions, hotels, palaces, with soft thick
carpets like the grass in a meadow; of curtains, of imitation brocades,
tapestries, figured silk, crystal lustres and Boule furniture.
Unluckily, the gold he won flowed through his extravagant fingers like
water. Unceasingly bandied about from misery to abundance, he passed
from the goddess of hunger to that of satiety with regal airs that were
a delight to witness. Debauchery was none the less pleasing to him,
but it had to be debauchery on a huge scale: the feast of Trimalco or
the nuptials of Gamacho. But, in other ways, he was a good friend,
ever ready to lend a helping hand--throwing his money broadcast, and
his heart among the women, giving his life to everybody not suspecting
his future divinity, but already performing all kinds of miracles.
Such was Gannot, the future Mapah, when I had the honour of making his
acquaintance, about 1830 or 1831, at the _café de Paris._ Still less
than he himself could I foretell his future divinity, and, if anybody
had told me that, when I left him at two o'clock in the morning to
return to my third storey in the rue de l'Université, I had just shaken
the hand of a god, I should certainly have been very much surprised
indeed.

I have said that even before he became a god, Gannot worked miracles;
I will recount one which I almost saw him do. It was somewhere about
1831--to give the precise date of the year is impossible--and a friend
of Gannot, an innocent debtor who was as yet only negotiating his first
bill of exchange, went to find Gannot to lay before him his distress
in harrowing terms. Gannot was the type of man people always consulted
in difficult crises,--his mind was quick in suggestions; he was
clear-sighted and steady of hand. Unluckily, Gannot was going through
one of his periods of poverty, days when he could have given points
even to Job. He began, therefore, by confessing his personal inability
to help, and when his friend despaired--

"Bah!" he said, "we have seen plenty of other people in as bad a
plight!"

This was a favourite expression with Gannot, who had, indeed, seen all
shades of life.

"All very well," said his friend; "but meantime, how am I to get out of
this fix?"

"Have you anything of value you could raise money on, if it were but
twenty, ten, or even five francs?"

"Alas!" said the young fellow, "there is only my watch ..."

"Silver or gold?"

"Gold."

"Gold! What did it cost?"

"Two hundred francs; but I shall hardly get sixty for it, and the bill
of exchange is for five hundred francs."

"Go and take your watch to the Mont-de-Piété."

"And then?"

"Bring back the money they give you for it here."

"Well?"

"You must give me half of it."

"After that?"

"Then I will tell you what you must do.... Go, and be sure you do not
divert a single son of the amount!"

"The deuce! I shall not think of doing that," said the friend. And off
he ran and returned presently with seventy francs. This was a good
beginning. Gannot took it and put it with a grand flourish into his
pocket.

"What are you doing?" asked his friend.

"You will soon see."

"I thought you said we were to halve it ..."

"Later ... meanwhile it is six o'clock; let us go and have dinner."

"How are we to dine?"

"My dear fellow, decent folk must have their dinner and dine well in
order to give themselves fresh ideas."

And Gannot took his way towards the Palais-Royal, accompanied by the
young man. When there, he entered the Frères-Provençaux. The youth
tried faintly to drag Gannot away by the arm, but the latter pinched
his hand tight as in a vice and the young man was obliged to follow.
Gannot chose the menu and dined valiantly, to the great uneasiness of
his friend; the more dainty the dishes the more he left on his plate
untasted. The future Mapah ate enough for both. The Rabelaisian quarter
of an hour arrived, and the bill came to thirty-five francs. Gannot
flung a couple of louis on the table. They were going to give him the
change.

"Keep it--the five francs are for the waiter," he said.

The young man shook his head sadly.

"That is not the way," he muttered below his breath, "to pay my bill of
exchange."

Gannot did not appear to notice either his murmurs or his headshakings.
They went out, Gannot walking in front, with a toothpick in his mouth;
the friend followed silently and gloomily, like some resigned victim.
When they reached _la Rolonde_, Gannot sat down, drew a chair within
his friend's reach, struck the marble table with the wood of the
framework that held the daily paper, ordered two cups of coffee, an
inn-full of assorted liqueurs and the best cigars they possessed. The
total amounted to five francs. There were then but twenty-five francs
left over from the seventy. Gannot put ten in his friend's hand and
restored the remaining fifteen to his pocket.

"What now?" asked his friend.

"Take the ten francs," replied Gannot; "go upstairs to that house you
see opposite, No. 113; be careful not to mistake the storey, whatever
you do!"

"What is the house?"

"It is a gambling-house."

"I shall have to play, then?"

"Of course you must! And at midnight, whatever your gains or losses,
bring them here. I shall be there."

The young man had by this time reached such a pitch of utter exhaustion
that, if Gannot had told him to go and fling himself into the river, he
would have gone. He carried out Gannot's instructions to the letter.
He had never put foot in a gaming-house before; fortune, it is said,
favours the innocent beginner: he played and won. At a quarter to
twelve--for he had not forgotten the injunctions of the master for
whom he began to feel a sort of superstitious reverence--he went away
with his pockets full of gold and his heart bursting with joy. Gannot
was walking up and down the passage which led to the Perron, quietly
smoking his cigar. From the farthest distance when he first caught
sight of him, the youth shouted--

"Oh! my friend, such good luck! I have won fifteen hundred francs; when
my bill of exchange is paid I shall still have a thousand francs!...
Let me embrace you; I owe you my very life."

Gannot gently checked him with his hand, and told him to moderate his
transports of gratitude.

"Ah! now," he said, "we can indeed go and have a glass of punch, can we
not?"

"A glass of punch? A bowl, my friend, two bowls! As much as ever you
like, and havanas _ad libitum!_ I am rich; when my bill of exchange is
paid, my watch redeemed, I shall still have ..."

"You have told me all that before."

"Upon my word, I am so pleased I cannot repeat it often enough, dear
friend!" And the young man gave himself up to shouts of immoderate joy,
whilst Gannot regally climbed the stairs which led to the Hollandais,
the only one left open after midnight. It was full. Gannot called for
the _waiters._ One waiter appeared. "I asked for _the waiters_," said
Gannot. He fetched three who were in the ice-house and they roused up
two who had already gone to bed--fifteen came in all. Gannot counted
them.

"Good!" he said. "Now, waiters, go from table to table and ask the
gentlemen and ladies at them what they would like to take."

"Then, monsieur ..."

"I will pay for it!" Gannot replied, in lordly tones.

The joke was acceded to and was, indeed, thought to be in very good
taste; only the friend laughed at the wrong side of his mouth as he
watched the consumption of liqueurs, coffee and glorias. Every table
was like a liquid volcano, with lava of punch flowing out of the middle
of its flames. The tables filled up again and the new arrivals were
invited by the amphitryon to choose whatever they liked from the carte;
ices, liqueurs, syphons of lemonade, everything, even to soda-water.
Finally, at three o'clock, when there was not a single glass of brandy
left in the establishment, Gannot called for the bill. It came to
eighteen hundred francs. What about the bill of exchange now?... The
young man, feeling more dead than alive, mechanically put his hand into
his pocket, although he knew very well that it did not contain more
than fifteen hundred francs; but Gannot opened his pocket-book and
pulled out two notes of a thousand francs, and blowing them apart--

"Here, waiters," he said, "the change is for your attendance."

And, turning to his pupil, who was quite faint by this time, and who
had been nudging his arm the whole night or treading on his toes--

"Young man," he said to him, "I wanted to give you a little lesson....
To teach you that a true gambler ought not to be astonished at his
winnings, and, above all, he should make bold use of them." With the
fifteen francs he had kept of his friend's money, he, too, had played,
and had won two thousand francs. We have seen how they were spent. This
was his miracle of the marriage of Cana.

But, as may well be understood, this hazardous fortune-making had its
cruel reverses; Gannot's life was full of crises; he always lived at
extremes of excitement. More than once during this stormy existence
the darkest thoughts crossed his mind. To become another Karl Moor
or Jean Sbogar or Jaromir, he formed all kinds of dreadful plans. To
attack travellers by the highway and to fling on to the green baize
tables gold pieces stained with blood, was, during more than one fit
of despair, the dream of feverish nights and the terrible hope of his
morrows!

"I went stumbling," he said, after his divinity had freed him from all
such gloomy human chimeras, "along the road of crime, knocking my head
here and there against the guillotine's edge; I had to go through all
these experiences; for from the lowest blackguard was to emerge the
first of reformers!"

To the career of gambling he added another, less risky. Upon the
boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle, where he then lived, the passers-by might
observe a head as signpost. Upon its bald head some artist had painted
in blue and red the cerebral topography of the _talents, feelings_
and _instincts_; this cabalistic head indicated that consultations
on phrenology were given within. Now, it is worth while to tell how
Gannot attained the zenith of the science of Gall and of Spurzheim.
He was the son of a hatter, and, when a child, had noticed in his
father's shop the many different shapes of the hands corresponding
to the diverse shapes of people's heads. He had thereupon originated
a system of phrenology of his own, which, later, he developed by a
superficial study of anatomy. Gannot was a doctor, or, more correctly
speaking, a sanitary inspector; what he had learnt occupied little room
in his memory, but, gifted as he was with fine and discerning tact, he
analysed, by means of a species of _clairvoyance_, the characters and
heads with which he had to deal. One day, when overwhelmed by a loss
of money at the gaming-table and seeing only destitution and despair
ahead of him, he had given way to dark resolutions, a fashionable and
beautiful young woman of wealth got down from her carriage, ascended
his stairs and knocked at his door. She came to ask the soothsayer to
tell her fortune by her head. Though a splendid creature, Gannot saw
neither her, nor her beauty, nor her troubles and wavering blushes;
she sat down, took off her hat, uncovered her lovely golden hair, and
let her head be examined by the phrenologist. The mysterious doctor
passed his hands carelessly through the golden waves. His mind was
elsewhere. There was nothing, however, more promising than the surfaces
and contours which his skilful hand discovered as he touched them. But,
when he came to the spot at the base of the skull which is commonly
called the nape, which savants call the organ of _amativity_, whether
she had seen Gannot previously or whether from instantaneous and
magnetic sympathy, the lady burst into tears and flung her arms round
the future Mapah's neck, exclaiming--

"Oh! I love you!"

This was quite a new light in the life of this man. Until that time
Gannot had known women; he had not known woman. His life of mad
debauchery, of gambling, violent emotions, spent on the pavements
of the boulevards, and in the bars of houses of ill-fame, and among
the walks of the _bois_, was followed by one of retirement and love;
for he loved this beautiful unknown woman to distraction and almost
to madness. She was married. Often, after their hours of delirious
ecstacy, when the moment of parting had to come, when tears filled
their eyes and sobs their breasts, they plotted together the death of
the man who was the obstacle to their intoxicating passion; but they
got no further to the completion of crime than thinking of it. She
wished at least to fly with him; but, on the very day they had arranged
to take flight, she arrived at Gannot's house with a pocket-book full
of bank notes stolen from her husband. Gannot was horrified with the
theft and declined the money. Next day she returned with no other
fortune than the clothes she wore, not even a chain of gold round her
neck or a ring on her finger. And then he took her away. Complicated by
this fresh element in his life, he took his flight into more impossible
regions than ever before; his was the type of nature which is carried
away by all kinds of impulses. If the principle M. Guizot lays down
be true: "Bodies always fall on the side towards which they incline,"
the Mapah was bound to fall some day or other, for he inclined to
many sides! Gambling and love admirably suited the instincts of that
eccentric life; but gambling--houses were closed! And the woman he
loved died! Then was it that the god was born in him from inconsolable
love and the suppressed passion for play. He was seized by illness,
during which the spirit of this dead woman visited him every night,
and revealed to him the doctrines of his new religion. Haunted by the
hallucinations of love and fever, Gannot listened to himself in the
voice which spoke within him. But he was no longer Gannot, he was
transfigured.



CHAPTER VIII


    The god and his sanctuary--He informs the Pope of his
    overthrow--His manifestoes--His portrait--Doctrine of
    escape--Symbols of that religion--Chaudesaigues takes me to
    the Mapah--Iswara and Pracriti--Questions which are wanting
    in actuality--War between the votaries of _bidja_ and the
    followers of _sakti_--My last interview with the Mapah


In 1840, in the old Ile Saint Louis which is lashed by bitter and angry
winds from the north and west, upon the coldest quay of that frigid
Thule--_terrarum ultima Thule_--on a dark and dingy ground-floor, in
a bare room, a man was moulding and casting in plaster. That man was
the one-time Gannot. The room served both as studio and school; pupils
came and took lessons in modelling there and to consult the _Mapah._
This was the name, as we have already said, under which Gannot went in
his new existence. From this room was sent the first manifesto in which
_he who had been Gannot_ proclaimed his mission to the world. Who was
surprised by it? Pope Gregory XVI. certainly was, when he received, on
his sovereign throne, a letter dated _from our apostolic pallet-bed_,
which announced that his time was over; that, from henceforth, he was
to look upon himself as dethroned, and, in fact, that he was superseded
by another. This polite duty fulfilled with regard to his predecessor,
Gannot, in all simplicity, announced to his friends that they must
look upon him as the god of the future. Gannot had been the leader of
a certain school of thought for two or three years past; amongst his
followers were Felix Pyat, Thoré, Chaudesaigues, etc. etc. His sudden
transformation from Gannot to Mapah, his declaration to the Pope,
and his presumption in posing as a revealer, alienated his former
disciples; it was the _durus his sermo._ Nevertheless, he maintained
unshaken belief in himself and continued his sermons; but as these oral
sermons were insufficient and he thought it necessary to add to them a
printed profession of faith, one day he sold his wearing apparel and
converted the price of it into manifestoes of war against the religion
of Christ, which he distributed among his new disciples.

After the sale of his wardrobe, the habits of the ci-devant lion
entirely disappeared, as his garments had done. In his transition from
Gannot to Mapah, everything that constituted the former man vanished: a
blouse replaced, for both summer and winter, the elegant clothes which
the past gambler used to wear; a grey felt hat covered his high and
finely-shaped forehead. But, seen thus, he was really beautiful: his
blue-grey eyes sparkled with mystic fire; his finely chiselled nose,
with its delicately defined outlines, was straight and pure in form;
his long flowing beard, bright gold coloured, fell to his chest; all
his features, as is usual with thinkers and visionaries, were drawn up
towards the top of his head by a sort of nervous tension; his hands
were white and fine and distinguished-looking, and, with a remnant
of his past vanity as a man of the world, he took particular care of
them; his gestures were not by any means without commanding power;
his language was eloquent, impassioned, picturesque and original.
The prophet of poverty, he had adopted its symbols; he became a
proletarian in order to reach the hearts of the lower classes; he
donned the working-man's blouse to convert the wearers of blouses.
The Mapah was not a simple god--he was a composite one; he was made
up of Saint Simon, of Fourier and of Owen. His chief dogma was the
extremely ancient one of Androgynism, _i.e._ the unity of the male and
female principle throughout all nature, and the unity of the man and
the woman in society. He called his religion EVADISME, _i.e._ (Eve and
Adam); himself he called MAPAH, from _mater_ and _pater_; and herein
he excelled the Pope, who had never even in the palmiest days of the
papacy, not even under Gregory VII., been anything more than the father
of Christians, whilst he was both father and mother of humanity. In his
system people had not to take simply the name of their father, but the
first syllable of their mother's name combined with the first syllable
of that of their father. Once the Mapah addressed himself thus to his
friend Chaudesaigues--

"What is your name?"

"Chaudesaigues."

"What does that come from?"

"It is my father's name."

"Have you then killed your mother, wretched man?"

Chaudesaigues lowered his head: he had no answer to give to that.

In Socialism Mapah's doctrine was that of dissent. According to him
assassins, thieves and smugglers were the living condemnation of the
moral order against which they were rebelling. Schiller's _Brigands_ he
looked upon as the most complete development of his theory to be found
in the world. Once he went to a home for lost women and collected them
together, as he had once collected the waiters of the Hollandais in the
days of his worldly folly; then, addressing the poor creatures who were
waiting with curiosity, wondering who this sultan could be who wanted a
dozen or more wives at a time--

"Mesdemoiselles," he said, "do you know what you are?"

"Why, we are prostitutes," the girls all replied together.

"You are wrong," said the Mapah; "you are Protestants." And in words
which were not without elevation and vividness, he expounded to them
the manner in which they, poor girls, protested against the privileges
of respectable women. It need hardly be said that, as this doctrine
spread, it led to some disquietude in the minds of magistrates, who had
not attained the heights of the new religion, but were still plunged in
the darkness of Christianity. Two or three times they brought the Mapah
before the examining magistrates and threatened him with a trial; but
the Mapah merely shook his blouse with his fine nervous hand, as the
Roman ambassador used to shake his toga.

"Imprison me, try me, condemn me," he said; "I shall not appeal from
the lower to a higher tribunal; I shall appeal from Pilate to the
People!"

And, in fact, whether they stood in awe of his beard, his blouse or his
speech, which was certainly captivating; whether they were unable to
arrive at a decision as to what court the new religion should be judged
at--police court or Court of Assizes--they left the Mapah in peace.

The most enthusiastic of the Evadian apostles was _he who was once
Caillaux,_ who published the _Arche de la nouvelle alliance._ He was
the Mapah's Saint John; the _Arche de la nouvelle alliance_ was the
gospel which told the passion of Humanity to whose rescue the Christ of
the Ile Saint Louis was come. We will devote a chapter to that gospel.
The Mapah himself wrote nothing, except two or three manifestoes issued
from his _apostolic pallet_, in which he announced his apostolate
to the modern world; he did nothing but pictures and plaster-casts
that looked like originals dug out of a temple of Isis. Taking his
_religion_ back to its source, he showed by his _twofold symbolism_,
how it had developed from age to age, fertilising the whole of nature,
till, finally, it culminated in himself. The whole of the history was
written in hieroglyphic signs, had the advantage of being able to be
read and expounded by everybody and treated of Buddhism, Paganism and
Christianity before leading up to Evadism. In the latter years of the
reign of Louis-Philippe, the Mapah sent his allegorical pictures and
symbols in plaster to the members of the Chamber of Deputies and to
the Royal Family; it will be readily believed that the members of the
Chamber and royal personages left these lithographs and symbols in the
hands of their ushers and lackeys, with which to decorate their own
attics. The Mapah trembled for their fate.

"They scoff," he said in prophecy: "MANÉ, THÉCEL, PHARÈS; evil fortune
will befall them!"

What did happen to them we know.

One day Chaudesaigues--poor honest fellow, who died long before his
time, which I shall speak of in its place--proposed to take me to the
Mapah, and I accepted. He recognised me, as he had once dined or taken
supper with me in the days when he was Gannot; and he had preserved
a very clear memory of that meeting; he was very anxious at once to
acquaint me with his symbolic figures, and to initiate me, like the
Egyptian proselytes, into his most secret mysteries. Now, I had, by
chance, just been studying in earnest the subjects of the early ages
of the world and its great wars, which apparently devastated those
primitive times without seeming reason; I was, therefore, in a measure,
perfectly able not only to understand the most obscure traditions of
the religion of the Mapah, but also to explain them to others, which I
will now endeavour to do here.

At the period when the Celts had conquered India, that ancestor of
Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilisations, they found a complete system
of physical and metaphysical sciences already established; Atlantic
cosmogony related to absolute unity, and, according to it, everything
emanated from one single principle, called _Iswara_, which was purely
spiritual. But soon the Indian savants perceived with fear, that
this world, which they had looked upon for long as the product of
absolute _unity_, was incontestably that of a combined _duality._
They might have looked upon these two principles, as did the first
Zoroaster a long time after them, as _principiés_--_i.e._ as the
son and daughter of Iswara, thus leaving the ancient Iswara his old
position, by supporting him on a double column of creating beings,
as we see a Roman general being carried raised up on two shields by
his soldiers; but they wished to divide these two principles into
_principiant_ principles; they therefore satisfied themselves by
joining a fresh principle to that of Iswara, by mating Iswara with
_Pracriti_, or nature. This explained everything. Pracriti possessed
the _sakti_--_i.e._ the conceptive power, and the old Iswara was the
_bidja_ or generative power.

I think, up to now, I have been as clear as possible, and I mean to try
to continue my explanations with equal lucidity; which will not be an
easy matter seeing that (and I am happy to give my reader due warning
of it) we are dealing only with pure science, of which fact he might
not be aware.

This early discovery of the Indian savants, which resulted in the
marriage of Iswara with Pracriti, led to the consideration of the
universe as the product of two principles, each possessing its own
peculiar function of the male and female qualities. Iswara and Pracriti
stood for Adam and Eve to the whole of the universe, not simply for
humanity. This system, remarkable by its very simplicity, which
attracted men by giving to all that surrounded him an origin similar
to his own, is to be found amongst most races, which received it from
the Hindus. Sanchoniathon calls his male principle _Hypsistos_, the
Most High, and his female principle _Berouth_, nature; the Greeks call
this male principle _Saturn_, and their female principle _Rhea_; both
one and the other correspond to Iswara and Pracriti. All went well for
several centuries; but the mania for controversy is innate in man, and
it led to the following questions, which the Hindu savants propounded,
and which provoked the struggle of half the human race against the
other.

"Since," say the controversials, "the universe is the result of two
_principiant_ powers, one acting with male, the other with female
qualities, must we then consider the relations that they bear to one
another? Are they independent one of the other? are they pre-existent
to matter and contemporaneous with eternity? Or ought we rather to look
upon one of them as the procreative cause of its companion? If they
are independent, how came they to be reunited? Was it by some coercive
force? If so, what divinity of greater power than themselves exercised
that pressure upon them? Was it by sympathy? Why, then, did it not act
either earlier or later? If they are not independent of one another,
which of the two is to be under subjection to the other? Which is
first in order of antiquity or of power? Did Iswara produce Pracriti
or Pracriti Iswara? Which of them acts with the greatest energy and is
the most necessary to the procreation of inanimate things and animate
beings? Which should be called first in the sacrifices made to them or
in the hymns addressed to them? Ought the worship offered them to be
combined or separated? Ought men and women to raise separate altars to
them or one for both together?"[1]

These questions, which have divided the minds of millions of men,
which have caused rivers of blood to flow, nowadays sound idle and
even absurd to our readers, who hear Hindu religion spoken of as mere
mythology, and India as some far-off planet; but, at the time of
which we are now speaking, the Indian Empire was the centre of the
civilised world and master of the known world. These questions, then,
were of the highest importance. They circulated quietly in the empire
at first, but soon each one collected quite a large enough number
of partisans for the religious question to appear under a political
aspect. The supreme priesthood, which at first had begun by holding
itself aloof from all controversy, sacrificed equally to Iswara
and to Pracriti--to the _generative_ power and to the _conceptive
power_: sacerdotalism, which had long remained neutral between the
_bidja_ and the _sakti_ principles, was compelled to decide, and as
it was composed of men--that is to say of the _generative power_, it
decided in favour of _males_, and proclaimed the dominance of the
masculine sex over the feminine. This decision was, of course, looked
upon as tyrannical by the Pracritists, that is, the followers of the
_conceptive power_ theory; they revolted. Government rose to suppress
the revolution and, hence, the declaration of civil war. Figure to
yourselves upon an immense scale, in an empire of several hundreds of
millions of men, a war similar to that of the Albigenses, the Vaudois
or the Protestants. Meantime two princes of the reigning dynasty,[2]
both sons of King Ongra, the oldest called Tarak'hya, the youngest
Irshou, divided the Indian Empire between them, less from personal
conviction than to make proselytes. One took _bija_ for his standard,
the other took _sakti._ The followers of each of these two symbols
rallied at the same time under their leaders, and India had a political
and civil and religious war; Irshou, the younger of the two brothers,
having positively declared that he had broken with sacerdotalism and
intended to worship the feminine or conceptive faculty, as the first
cause in the universe, according priority to it and pre-eminence over
the generative or masculine faculty. A political war can be ended
by a division of territory; a religious war is never-ending. Sects
exterminate one another and yet are not convinced. A deadly, bitter,
relentless war, then, ravaged the empire. As Irshou represented popular
opinion and the Socialism of the time, and his army was largely
composed of herdsmen, they called his followers the _pallis_, that is
to say, shepherds, from the Celtic word _pal_, which means shepherd's
crook. Irshou was defeated by Tarak'hya, and driven back as far as
Egypt. The Pallis there became the stock from which those primitive
dynasties sprang which lasted for two hundred and sixty-one years,
and are known as the dynasties of Shepherd Kings. The etymology this
time is palpably evident; therefore, let us hope we shall not meet
with any contradiction on this head. Now, we have stated that Irshou
took as his standard the symbol which represented the divinity he had
worshipped; that sign, in Sanscrit, was called _yoni_, from whence is
derived _yoneh_--which means a dove--this explains, we may point out
in passing, why the dove became the bird of Venus. The men who wore
the badge of the yoni were called Yoniens, and, as they always wore it
symbolically depicted on a red flag, red or purple became, at Tyre and
Sidon and in Greece, the royal colour, and was adopted by the consuls
and emperors and popes of Rome and, finally, by all reigning princes,
no matter what race they were descended from or what religion they
professed. My readers may assume that I am rather pleased to be able to
teach kings the derivation of their purple robes.

Well, then, it was on account of his studying these great questions of
dispute, which had lasted more than two thousand years and had cost a
million of men's lives; it was from fear lest they should be revived in
our days that the philanthropic Gannot endeavoured to found a religion,
under the title of Evadism which was to reunite these two creeds into
a single one. To that end were his strange figures moulded in plaster
and the eccentric lithographs that he designed and executed upon
coloured paper, with the earnestness of a Brahmin disciple of _bidja_
or an Egyptian adherent of _sakti._[3]

The joy of the Mapah can be imagined when he found I was acquainted
with the primitive dogmas of his religion and with the disasters which
the discussion of those doctrines had brought with them. He offered me
the position of his chief disciple, on the spot, in place of _him who
had once been Caillaux_; but I have ever been averse to usurpation,
and had no intention of devoting myself to a principle, by my example,
which, some day or other, I should be called upon to oppose. The Mapah
next offered to abdicate in my favour and himself be my head disciple.
The position did not seem to me sufficiently clearly defined, in the
face of both spiritual and temporal powers, to accept that offer,
fascinating though it was. I therefore contented myself with carrying
away from the Mapah's studio one of the most beautiful specimens of the
_bidja_ and _sakti_, promising to exhibit them in the most conspicuous
place in my sitting-room, which I took good care not to do, and then I
departed. I did not see the Mapah again until after the Revolution of
24 February, when, by chance, I met him in the offices of the _Commune
de Paris_, where I went to ask for the insertion of an article on
exiles in general, and those of the family of Orléans in particular.
The article had been declined by the chief editor of the _Liberté_, M.
Lepoitevin-Saint-Alme. The revolution predicted by Gannot had come. I
expected, therefore, to find him overwhelmed with delight; and, as a
matter of fact, he did praise the three days of February, but with a
faint voice and dulled feelings; he seemed to be singularly enfeebled
by that strange and sensual mysticism, which presented every event to
his mind in dogmatic form. The lines of the upper part of his face were
more deeply drawn towards his prominent forehead, and his whole person
bespoke the visionary in whom the hallucination of being a god had
degenerated into a disease.

He defined the terror of the middle classes at the events of 24
February and Socialistic doctrines as, "the frantic terror of the pig
which feels the cold edge of the knife at its throat." His latter
years were sad and gloomy; he ended by doubting himself. _Eli, Eli,
lama sabachthani!_ rang in his aching and disillusioned heart like a
death-knell. During the last year of his life his only pupil was an
Auvergnat, a seller of chestnuts in a passage-way.... And to him the
dying god bequeathed the charge of spreading his doctrines. This event
took place towards the beginning of the year 1851.


[1] The Abbé d'Olivet, _État social de l'homme._

[2] See the _Scanda-Pousana_ and the _Brahmanda_ for the details of
this war.

[3] In Sanscrit _linga_ and _yoni_; in Greek _ϕαλλος_ and _χοίρος._



CHAPTER IX


    Apocalypse of the being who was once called Caillaux


We said a few words of the apostle of Mapah and promised to follow him
to his isle of Patmos and to give some idea of his apocalypse. We will
keep our word. It was no easy matter to find this apocalypse, my reader
may judge; it had been published at the trouble and expense of Hetzel,
under the title of _Arche de la nouvelle Alliance._ Not that Hetzel was
in the very least a follower of the Evadian religion--he was simply
the compatriot and friend of _him who was Caillaux_, to which twofold
advantages he owed the honour of dining several times with the god
Mapah and his disciple. It is more than likely that Hetzel paid for the
dinners himself.

    ARCHE DE LA NOUVELLE ALLIANCE

    "I have not come to say to the people, 'Render to Cæsar
    the things that are Cæsar's and to God the things that are
    God's,' but I have come to tell Cæsar to render to God
    the things that belong to God! 'What is God?--God, is the
    People!--The _Mapah._' At the hour when shadows deepen I saw
    the vision of the last apostle of a decaying religion and I
    exclaimed--

    I

    "'Why dost thou grieve, O king! and why dost thou moan over
    thy ruined crown? Why rise up against those who dethroned
    thee? If thou fallest to-day, it is because thy hour has
    come: to attempt to prolong it for a day, is but to offer
    insult to the Majesty in the heavens.

    II

    "'Everything that exists here below has it not its phases of
    life and of death? Does the vegetation of the valleys always
    flourish? After the season of fine days does it not come to
    pass that some morning the autumn wind scatters the leaves
    of the beeches?

    III

    "'Cease, then, O King! thy lamentation and do not be
    perturbed in thy loneliness! Be not surprised if thy road is
    deserted and if the nations keep silence during thy passing
    as at the passing of a funeral cortège: thou hast not failed
    in thy mission; simply, thy mission is done. It is destiny!

    IV

    "'Dost thou not know that humanity only lives in the future?
    What does the present care about the oriflamme of Bouvines?
    Let us bury it with thy ancestors lying motionless beneath
    their monuments; another banner is needed for the men of
    to-day.

    V

    "'And when we have sealed with a triple seal the stone
    which covers up past majesty, let us do obeisance as did
    the people of Memphis before the silence of their pyramids,
    those mute giants of the desert; but like them do not let us
    remain with our foreheads in the dust, but from the ruins of
    ancient creeds let us spring upwards towards the Infinite!
    Thus did I sing during the dawn of my life. A poet, I have
    ever pitied noble misfortune; as son of the people, I have
    never abjured renown. At that time this world appeared to
    me to be free and powerful under heaven, and I believed
    that the last salute of the universe to the phantom of
    ancient days would be its first aspiration towards future
    splendours. But it was nothing of the kind. The past, whilst
    burying itself under the earth, had not drawn all its
    procession of dark shades with it. Now I went to those bare
    strands which the ocean bleaches with its foam. The seagulls
    hailed the rocks of the coast with their harsh cries, and
    the mighty voice of the sea sounded more sweetly to my ear
    than the language of men ...'"

Then follows the apostle's feelings under the influence of the great
aspects of Nature; he stays a year far from Paris; then at last his
vocation recalls him among men.

    "Now, the very night of my return from my wanderings, I
    walked a dreamer in the midst of the roar of that great
    western city, my soul more than ever crushed beneath
    the weight of its ruin. I beheld myself as during my
    happiest years when I was full of confidence in God and
    the future; and then I turned my glance upon myself, the
    man of the present moment, for ever tossed between hope
    and fear, between desire and remorse, between calm and
    discouragement. When I had well contemplated myself thus,
    and had by thought stirred up the mud of the past and had
    considered the good and evil that had emanated from me, I
    raised in inexpressible anger my fist towards heaven, and
    I said to God: 'To whom, then, does this earth belong?' At
    the same moment, I felt myself hustled violently, and by
    an irresistible movement I lowered my arm to strike--in
    striking the cheek of him who was jostling me, I felt I was
    smiting the world. Oh! what a surprise! my hand, instead of
    beating his face, encountered his hand; a loving pressure
    drew us together, and in grave and solemn tones he said:
    'The water, the air, the earth and fire belong to none--they
    are God's!' Then, uncovering the folds of the garment
    which covered my breast, he put a finger on my heart and a
    brilliant flame leapt out and I felt relief. Overcome with
    amazement, I exclaimed--

    "'Who art thou, whose word strengthens and whose touch
    regenerates?'

    'Thou shalt know, this very night!' he replied, and went on
    his way.

    "I followed and examined him at leisure: he was a man of the
    people, with a crooked back and powerful limbs; an untrimmed
    beard fell over his breast, and his bare and nearly bald
    head bore witness to hard work and rude passions. He carried
    a sack of plaster on his back which bowed him down beneath
    its weight. Thus bent he passed through the crowd...."

The disciple then followed the god; for this man who had comforted him
was the Mapah; he followed him to the threshold of his studio, into
which he disappeared. It was the same studio to which Chaudesaigues had
taken me, on the quai Bourbon, in the Ile Saint Louis. The door of the
studio soon reopened and the apostle entered and was present at the
revelation, which the Mapah had promised him. But, first of all, there
was the discovery of the Mapah himself.

    "Meanwhile, the owner of this dwelling had none of the
    bearing of a common working-man. He was, indeed, the man of
    the sack of plaster, and the uncut beard, and torn blouse,
    who had accosted me in such an unexpected fashion; he had
    exactly the same powerful glance, the same breadth of
    shoulders, the same vigorous loins, but on that furrowed
    brow, and in those granite features and that indescribable
    personality of the man there hovered a rude dignity before
    which I bowed my head.

    "I advanced towards my host, who was laid on a half-broken
    bed, lighted up by a night lamp in a pot of earth. I said--

    "'Master, you whose touch heals and whose words restore, who
    are you?'

    "Lifting his eyes to me, he replied simply, 'There is no
    master now; we are all children of God: call me brother.'

    "'Then,' I replied, 'Brother, who then are you?'

    "'I am _he who is._ Like the shepherd on the tops of the
    cliffs I have heard the cry of the multitude; it is like
    the moan of the waves at the winter equinox; that cry has
    pierced my heart and I have come.'

    "Motioning me to come nearer, he went on--

    "'Son of doubt, who art sowing sorrow and reaping anguish,
    what seekest thou? The sun or darkness? Death or life? Hope
    or the grave?'

    "'Brother, I seek after truth,' I replied. 'I have hailed
    the past, I have questioned its abysmal depths whence came
    the rumours that had reached me: the past was deaf to my
    cries.'

    "'The past was not to hear you. Every age has had its own
    prophets, and each country its monuments; but prophets
    and monuments have vanished like shadows: what was life
    yesterday is to-day but death. Do not then evoke the past,
    let it fall asleep in the darkness of its tombs in the dust
    of its solitary places.'

    "I went on--'I questioned the present amidst the flashes and
    deceptions of this century, but it did not hear me either.'

    "'The present was not to hear you; its flashes do but
    precede the storm, and its law is not the law of the future.'

    "'Brother, what then is this law? What are the showers that
    make it blossom, and what sun sheds light upon it?'

    "'God will teach thee.'

    "Pointing to me to be seated near to him, he added:

    'Sit down and listen attentively, for I will declare the
    truth unto you. I am he who crieth to the people, "Watch at
    the threshold of your dwelling and sleep not: the hour of
    revelation is at hand ..."'

    "At that moment the earth trembled, a hurricane beat against
    the window panes, belfries rang of themselves; the disciple
    would fain flee, but fear riveted him to the master's side.
    He continued--

    "I foreboded that something strange would take place before
    me, and indeed as the knell of the belfry rang out on the
    empty air, a song which had no echo in mortal tongue,
    abrupt, quick and laden with indefinable mockery, answered
    him from under the earth, and rising from note to note,
    from the deepest to the shrillest tones, it resounded and
    rebounded like some wounded snake, and grated like a saw
    being sharpened; finally, ever decreasing, ever-growing
    feebler, until it was lost at last in space. And this is the
    burden of the song--

    "'Behold the year '40, the famous year '40 has come! Ah!
    ah! ah! What will it bring forth? What will it produce? An
    ox or an egg? Perhaps one, perhaps the other! ah! ah! ah!
    Peasants turn up your sleeves! And you wealthy, sweep your
    hearthstones. Make way, make way for the year '40! The year
    '40 is cold and hungry and in need of food; and no wonder!
    Its teeth chatter, its limbs shiver, its children have
    no shoes, and its daughters possess not even a ribbon to
    adorn their locks on Sunday; they have not even a beggarly
    dime lying idle in their poverty-stricken pockets to buy
    drink wherewith to refresh themselves and their lovers! Ah!
    ah! what wretchedness! Were it not too dreadful it would
    seem ludicrous. Did you come here, gossip, to see this
    topsy-turvy world? Come quickly, there is room for all....
    Stay, you raven looking in at the window, and that vulture
    beating its wings. Ah! ah! ah! The year '40 is cold, is an
    hungered, in need of food! What will it bring forth ...?'

    "And the song died away in the distance, and mingled with
    the murmur of the wind which was wailing without....

    "Then began the apparitions. There were twelve of them, all
    livid and weighted with chains and bleeding, each holding
    its dissevered head in its hand, each wrapped in a shroud,
    green with the moss of its sepulchre, each carrying in front
    of it the mark of the twelve great passions, the mystic
    link which unites man to the Creator. They advanced as some
    dark shadow of night falls upon the mountains. It was one
    of those terrifying groups, which one sees in the days of
    torment, in the midst of the cross-roads of the seething
    city; the citizens question one another by signs, and ask
    each other--

    "'Do you see those awful faces down there? Who on earth are
    those men, and how come they to wander spectre-like among
    the excited crowd?'

    "And on the head of the one who walked first, like that of
    an over-thrown king, so splendid was its pallor and its
    regal lips scornful, a crown of fire was burning with this
    word written in letters of blood, '_Lacenairisme!_' Dumb
    and led by the figure who seemed to be their king, the
    phantoms grouped themselves in a semi-circle at the foot of
    the dilapidated bed, as though at the foot of some seat of
    justice; and _he who is_, after fixing his earnest glance
    upon them for some moments questioned them in the following
    terms--

    "'Who are you?'

    "'Sorrow's elect, apostles of hunger.'

    "'Your names?'

    "'A mysterious letter.'

    "'Whence come you?'

    "'From the shades.'

    "'What do you demand?'

    "'Justice.'

    "The echoes repeated, 'Justice!'

    "And at a signal from their king, the phantoms intoned a
    ringing hymn in chorus ..."

    It had a kind of awful majesty in it, a sort of grand
    terror, but we will reserve our space for other quotations
    which we prefer to that. The apostle resumed--

    "The pale phantoms ceased, their lips became motionless and
    frozen, and round the accursed brows of these lost children
    of the grave, there seemed to hover indistinctly the bloody
    shadow of the past. Suddenly from the base to the top of
    this mysterious ladder issued a loud sound, and fresh faces
    appeared on the threshold.... A red shirt, a coarse woollen
    cap, a poor pair of linen trousers soiled with sweat and
    powder; at the feet was a brass cannon-ball, in its hands
    were clanking chains; these accoutrements stood for the
    symbols of all kinds of human misfortunes. As if they had
    been called up by their predecessors, they entered and bowed
    amicably to them. I noticed that each face bore a look
    of unconcern and of defiance, each carefully hid a rusty
    dagger beneath its vestments, and on their shoulders they
    bore triumphantly a large chopping-block still dyed with
    dark stains of blood. And on this block leant a man with
    a drunken face and tottering legs, grotesquely supporting
    himself on the worn-out handle of an axe. And this man,
    gambolling and gesticulating, mumbled in a nasal tone, a
    kind of lament with this refrain--

    "'Voici l'autel et le bedeau!
    À sa barbe faisons l'orgie;
    Jusqu'à ce que sur notre vie,
    Le diable tire le rideau,
    Foin de l'autel et du bedeau!'

    "And his companions took up the refrain in chorus to the
    noise of their clashing chains. Which perceiving _he who is_
    spread his hands over the dreadful pageant. There took place
    a profound silence; then he said--

    "'My heart, ocean of life, of grief and of love, is the
    great receptacle of the new alliance into which fall its
    tears and sweat and blood; and by the tears which have
    watered, by the sweat which has dropped, by the blood which
    has become fertile, be blessed, my brothers, executed
    persons, convicts and sufferers, and hope--the hour of
    revelation is at hand!'

    'What!' I exclaimed in horror; 'hast thou come to preach the
    sword?'

    'I do not come to preach it but to give the word for it.'

    "And _he who is_ replied--

    "'Passions are like the twelve great tables of the law of
    laws, LOVE. They are when in unison the source of all good
    things; when subverted they are the source of all evils.'

    "Silence again arose, and he added--

    "'Each head that falls is one letter of a verb whose
    meaning is not yet understood, but whose first word stands
    for protestation; the last, signifies integral passional
    expansion. The axe is a steel; the head of the executed,
    a flint; the blood which spurts from it, the spark; and
    society a powder-horn!'

    "Silence was renewed, and he went on a third time--

    "'The prison is to modern society what the circus was to
    ancient Rome: the slave died for individual liberty; in our
    day, the convict dies for passional integral liberty.'

    "And again silence reigned, but after a while a mild
    Voice from on high said to the sorry cortège which stood
    motionless at one corner of the pallet-bed---

    "'Have hope, ye poor martyrs! Hope! for the hour
    approaches!'"

    "Then three noble figures came forward--those of the
    mechanic, the labourer and the soldier. The first was
    hungry: they fought with him for the bread he had earned.
    The second was both hungry and cold; they haggled for the
    corn he had sown and the wood he had cut down. The third
    had experienced every kind of human suffering; furthermore,
    he had hoped and his hope had withered away, and he was
    reproached for the blood that had been shed. All three
    bore the history of their lives on their countenances; all
    felt ill at ease in the present and were ready to question
    God concerning His doings; but as the hour approached and
    their cry was about to rise to the Eternal, a spectre rose
    up from the limbs of the past: his name was _Duty._ Before
    him they recoiled affrighted. A priest went before them,
    his form wrapped in burial clothes; he advanced slowly with
    lowered eyes. Strange contrast! He dreamed of the heavens
    and yet bent low towards the earth! On his breast was the
    inscription: _Christianity!_ Beneath: _Resignation._

    "'Here they come! Behold them!' cried the apostle; they are
    advancing to _him who is._ What will be the nature of their
    speech and how will they express themselves in his presence?
    Will their complaint be as great as their sadness? Not so,
    their uncertainty is too great for them to dare to formulate
    their thoughts: besides, doubt is their real feeling.
    Perhaps, some day, they may speak out more freely. Let us
    listen respectfully to the hymn that falls from their lips;
    it is solemnly majestic, but less musical than the breeze
    and less infinite than the Ocean. Hear it--

    HYMNE

    "Du haut de l'horizon, du milieu des nuages
    Où l'astre voyageur apparut aux trois rois,
    Des profondeurs du temple où veillent tes images,
        O Christ! entends-tu notre voix?
        Si tu contemples la misère
    De la foule muette au pied de tes autels,
    Une larme de sang doit mouiller ta paupière.
    Tu dois te demander, dans ta douleur austère,
        S'il est des dogmes éternels!"


    LE PRÊTRE

    "O Christ! j'ai pris longtemps pour un port salutaire
    Ta maison, dont le toit domine les hauts lieux;
    Et j'ai voulu cacher au fond du sanctuaire,
    Comme sous un bandeau, mon front tumultueux."


    LE SOLDAT

    "O Christ! j'ai pris longtemps pour une noble chaîne
    L'abrutissant lien que je traîne aujourd'hui;
    Et j'ai donné mon sang à la cause incertaine
    De cette égalité dont l'aurore avait lui."


    LE LABOUREUR

    "O Christ! j'ai pris longtemps pour une tâche sainte
    La rude mission confiée à mes bras,
    Et j'ai, pendant vingt ans, sans repos et sans plainte,
    Laissé sur les sillons la trace de mes pas."


    L'OUVRIER

    "O Christ! j'ai pris longtemps pour œuvre méritoire
    Mes longs jours consumés dans un labeur sans fin;
    Et, maintes fois, de peur d'outrager ta mémoire,
    J'ai plié ma nature aux douleurs de la faim."


    LE PRÊTRE

    "La foi n'a pas rempli mon âme inassouvie!"


    LE SOLDAT

    "L'orage a balayé tout le sang répandu!"


    LE LABOUREUR

    "Où je semais le grain, j'ai récolté l'ortie!"


    L'OUVRIER

    "Hier, J'avais un lit mon maître l'a vendu!"

    "Silence! Has the night wind borne away their prayer on its
    wings? or have their voices ceased to question the heavens?
    Are they perchance comforted? Who can tell? God keeps the
    enigma in His own mighty hands, the terrible enigma held
    aloft over the borders of two worlds--the present and the
    future. But they will not be forsaken on their way where
    doubt assails them, where resignation fells them. Children
    of God, they shall have their share of life and of sunshine.
    God loves those who seek after Him.... Then the priest and
    soldier and artizan and labourer gave place to others, and
    the apostle went on--

    "And after two women, one of whom was dazzlingly and boldly
    adorned, and the other mute and veiled, there followed a
    procession in which the grotesque was mingled with the
    terrible, the fantastic with the real; all moved about the
    room together, which seemed suddenly to grow larger to make
    space for this multitude, whilst the retiring spectres,
    giving place to the newcomers, grouped themselves silently
    at a little distance from their formidable predecessors.
    And _he who is_, preparing to address a speech to the fresh
    arrivals, one of their number, whom I had not at first
    noticed, came forward to answer in the name of his acolytes.
    Upon the brow of this interpreter, square built, with
    shining and greedy lips and on his glistening hungry lips, I
    read in letters of gold the word _Macairisme!_

    "And _he who is_ said--

    "'Who are you?'

    "'The favourites of luxury, the apostles of joy.'

    "'Whence come you?'

    "'From wealth.'

    "'Where do you go?'

    "'To pleasure.'

    "'What has made you so well favoured?'

    "'Infamy.'

    "'What makes you so happy?'

    "'Impunity.'"

The strange procession which then unfolded itself before the apostle's
eyes can be imagined: first the dazzling woman in the bold attire,
the prostitute; the mute, veiled woman was the adulteress; then came
stock-jobbers, sharpers, business men, bankers, usurers,--all that
class of worms, reptiles and serpents which are spawned in the filth of
society.

    "One twirled a great gold snuff-box between his fingers,
    upon the lid of which were engraved these words: _Powdered
    plebeian patience_; and he rammed it into his nostrils with
    avidity. Another was wrapped in the folds of a great cloak
    which bore this inscription: _Cloth cut from the backs
    of fools._ A third, with a narrow forehead, yellow skin
    and hollow cheeks, was leaning lovingly upon his abdomen,
    which was nothing less than an iron safe, his two hands,
    the fingers of which were so many great leeches, twisting
    and opening their gaping tentacles, as though begging for
    food. Several of the figures had noses like the beaks of
    vultures, between their round and wild eyes: noses which
    cut up with disgusting voracity a quarter of carrion held
    at arm's length by a chain of massive gold, resembling
    those which shine on the breasts of the grand dignitaries
    of various orders of chivalry. In the middle of all was one
    who shone forth in brilliant pontifical robes, with a mitre
    on his head shaped like a globe, sparkling with emeralds
    and rubies. He held a crozier in one hand upon which he
    leant, and a sword in the other, which seemed at a distance
    to throw out flames; but on nearer approach the creaking of
    bones was heard beneath the vestments, and the figure turned
    out to be only a skeleton painted, and the sword and the
    crozier were but of fragile glass and rotten wood. Finally,
    above this seething, deformed indescribable assembly, there
    floated a sombre banner, a gigantic oriflamme, a fantastic
    labarum, the immense folds of which were being raised by
    a pestilential whistling wind; and on this banner, which
    slowly and silently unfurled like the wings of a vulture,
    could be read, _Providential Pillories._ And the whole
    company talked and sang, laughed and wept, gesticulated
    and danced and performed innumerable artifices. It was
    bewildering! It was fearful!"

Here followed the description of a kind of revel beside which _Faust's_
was altogether lacking in imagination. But, when he thought they had
all talked, sung, laughed, wept, gesticulated and danced long enough,
_he who is_ made a sign and all those voices melted into but two
voices, and all the figures into but two, and all the heads into but
two. And two human forms appeared side by side, looking down at their
feet, which were of clay. Then, suddenly, out of the clay came forth
a seven-headed hydra and each of its heads bore a name. The first was
called Pride; the second, Avarice; the third, Luxury; the fourth,
Envy; the fifth, Gluttony; the sixth, Anger; the seventh, Idleness.
And, standing up to its full height, this frightful hydra, with its
thousand folds, strangled the writhing limbs of the colossus, which
struggled and howled and uttered curses and lamentations towards the
heavens: each of the seven jaws of the monster impressed horrible bites
in his flesh, one in his forehead, another in his heart, another in his
belly, another in his mouth, another in his flanks and another in his
arms.

    "'Behold the past!' said _he who is._

    "'Brother,' I cried, 'and what shall then the future be
    like?'

    "'Look,' he said. The hydra had disappeared and the two
    human forms were defined again, intertwined, full of
    strength and majesty and love against the light background
    of the hovel, and the feet of the colossus were changed
    into marble of the most dazzling whiteness. When I had
    well contemplated this celestial form, _he who is_ again
    held out his hands and it vanished, and the studio became
    as it was a few moments previously. The three great orders
    of our visitors were still there, but calm now and in holy
    contemplation. Then _he who is_ said--

    "'Whoever you may be, from whatever region you come, from
    sadness or pleasure, from a splendid east or the dull west,
    you are welcome brothers, and to all I wish good days, good
    years! To the murdered and convicts, brothers! innocent
    protestors, gladiators of the circus, living thermometers
    of the falsity of social institutions, Hope! the hour of
    your restoration is at hand!... And you poor prostitutes,
    my sisters! beautiful diamonds, bespattered with mud and
    opprobrium, Hope! the hour of your transformation is
    approaching!... To you, adulteresses, my sisters, who weep
    and lament in your domestic prison, fair Christs of love
    with tarnished brows, Hope! the hour of liberty is near!...
    To you, poor artisans, my brothers, who sweat for the master
    who devours you, who eat the scraps of bread he allows
    you, when he does leave you any, in agony and torments for
    the morrow! What ought you to become? Everything! What are
    you now? Nothing! Hope and listen: Oppression is impious;
    resignation is blasphemy!... To you, poor labouring men and
    farmers, brothers, who toil for the landlord, sow and reap
    the corn for the landlord of which he leaves you only the
    bran, Hope! the time for bread whiter than snow is coming!
    ... To you, poor soldiers, my brothers, who fertilise the
    great furrow of humanity with your blood, Hope! the hour
    for eternal peace is at hand!... And you, poor priests, my
    brothers, who lament beneath your frieze robes and heat your
    foreheads at the sides of your altars! Hope! the hour of
    toleration is at hand!'

    "After a moment's silence, _he who is_ went on--

    "'I not forget you, either, you the happy ones of the
    century, those elected for joy. You, too, have your mission
    to fulfil; it is a holy one, for from the glutted body of
    the old world will issue the transformed universe of the
    future.... Be welcome, then, brothers; good wishes to you
    all!'

    "Then all those who were present, who had listened to him,
    departed from the garret in silence, filled with hope; and
    their footsteps echoed on the steps of the interminably long
    staircase. And the same cry which had already rung in my
    ears resounded a second time--'The year '40 is cold, it is
    hungry! The year '40 needs food! What will it bring forth?
    What will it produce? Ah! ah! ah!'

    "I turned to _him who is._ The night had not run a third of
    its course, and the flame of the lamp still burnt in its
    yellow fount, and I exclaimed--

    "'Brother! in whose name wilt thou relieve all these
    miseries?'

    "'In the name of my mother, the great mother who was
    crucified!' replied _he who is._

    "He continued: 'At the beginning all was well and all women
    were like the one single woman, _Eve_, and all men like one
    single man, _Adam_, and the reign of _Eve and Adam_, or of
    primitive unity, flourished in Eden, and harmony and love
    were the sole laws of this world.'

    "He went on: 'Fifty years ago appeared a woman who was more
    beautiful than all others--her name was _Liberty_, and she
    took flesh in a people--that people called itself _France._
    On her brow, as in ancient Eden, spread a tree with green
    boughs which was called the _tree of liberty._ Henceforward
    France and Liberty stand for the same thing, one single
    identical idea!' And, giving me a harp which hung above
    his bed, he added. 'Sing, prophet!' and the Spirit of God
    inspired me with these words--

    I

    "Why dost thou rise with the Sun, O France! O Liberty! And
    why are thy vestments scented with incense? Why dost thou
    ascend the mountains in early morn?

    II

    "Is it to see reapers in the ripened cornfields, or the
    gleaner bending over the furrows like a shrub bowed down by
    the winds?

    III

    "Or is it to listen to the song of the lark or the murmur of
    the river, or to gaze at the dawn which is as beautiful as a
    blue-eyed maiden?

    IV

    "If you rise with the sun, O France! O Liberty! it is not to
    watch the reapers in the cornfields or the bowed gleaners
    among the furrows.

    V

    "Nor to listen to the song of the lark or murmur of the
    river, nor yet to gaze at the dawn, beauteous as a blue-eyed
    maiden.

    VI

    "Thou awaitest thy bridegroom to be: thy bridegroom of the
    strong hands, with lips more roseate than corals from the
    Spanish seas, and forehead more polished than Pharo's marble.

    VII

    "Come down from thy mountains, O France! O Liberty! Thou
    wilt not find thy bridegroom there. Thou wilt meet him in
    the holy city, in the midst of the multitude.

    VIII

    "Behold him as he comes to thee, with proud steps, his
    breast covered with a breastplate of brass; thou shalt slip
    the nuptial ring on his finger; at thy feet is a crown that
    has fallen in the mud; thou shalt place it on his brow and
    proclaim him emperor. Thus adorned thou shalt gaze on him
    proudly and address him thus--

    IX

    'My bridegroom thou art as beauteous as the first of men.
    Take off the Phrygian cap from my brow, and replace it by
    a helmet with waving plumes; gird my loins with a flaming
    sword and send me out among the nations until I shall have
    accomplished in sorrow the mystery of love, according as it
    has been written, that I am to crush the serpent's head!'

    X

    "And when thy bridegroom has listened to thee, he will
    reply: 'Thy will be done, O France! O Liberty!' And he will
    urge thee forth, well armed, among the nations, that God's
    word may be accomplished.

    XI

    "Why is thy brow so pale, O France! O Liberty! And why is
    thy white tunic soiled with sweat and blood? Why walkest
    thou painfully like a woman in travail?

    XII

    "Because thy bridegroom gives thee no relaxation from thy
    task, and thy travail is at hand.

    XIII

    "Dost thou hear the wind roaring in the distance, and the
    mighty voice of the flood as it groans in its granite
    prison? Dost thou hear the moaning of the waves and the cry
    of the night-birds? All announce that deliverance is at hand.

    XIV

    "As in the days of thy departure, O France, O Liberty!
    put on thy glorious raiment; sprinkle on thy locks the
    purest perfumes of Araby; empty with thy disciples the
    farewell goblet, and take thy way to thy Calvary, where the
    deliverance of the world must be sealed.

    XV

    "'What is the name of that hill thou climbest amidst the
    lightning flashes?'

    "'The hill is Waterloo.'

    "'What is that plain called all red with thy blood?'

    "'It is the plain of the Belle-Alliance!'

    "'Be thou for ever blessed among women, among all the
    nations, O France! O Liberty!'

    "And when _he who is_ had listened to these things, he
    replied--

    "'Oh, my mother, thou who told me "Death was not the tomb;
    but the cradle of an ampler life, of more infinite Love!"
    thy cry has reached me. O mother! by the anguish of thy
    painful travail, by the sufferings of thy martyrdom in
    crushing the serpent's head and saving Humanity!'

    "Then turning to me he added: 'Child of God, what art thou
    looking for? Light or darkness? Death or life? Hope or
    despair?'

    "'Brother,' I replied, 'I am looking for Truth!'

    "And he replied, 'In the name of primeval unity,
    reconstructed by the grand blood of France, I hail thee
    apostle of _Eve-Adam!_'

    "And _he who is_ called forth to the abyss which opened out
    at his voice--

    "'Child of God,' he said, 'listen attentively, and look!'

    "And I looked and saw a great vessel, with a huge mast
    which terminated in a mere hull, and one of the sides of
    the vessel looked west and the other east. And on the
    west it rested upon the cloudy tops of three mountains
    whose bases were plunged in a raging sea. Each of these
    mountains bore its name on its blood-red flank: the first
    was called Golgotha; the second, Mont-Saint-Jean; the
    third, Saint-Helena. In the middle of the great mast,
    on the western side, a five-armed cross was fixed, upon
    which a woman was stretched, dying. Over her head was this
    inscription--

                                "FRANCE
                          18 _June_ 1815
                              Good Friday

    "Each of the five arms of the cross on which she was
    stretched represented one of the five parts of the world;
    her head rested over Europe and a cloud surrounded her. But
    on the side of the vessel which looked towards the east
    there were no shadows; and the keel stayed at the threshold
    of the city of God, on the summit of a triumphal arch which
    the sun lit up with its rays. And the same woman reappeared,
    but she was transfigured and radiant; she lifted up the
    stone of a grave on which was written--

                    "RESTORATION, DAYS OF THE TOMB
                          29 _July_ 1830
                                Easter

    "And her bridegroom held out his arms, smiling, and together
    they sprang upwards to the skies. Then, from the depths of
    the arched heavens, a mighty voice spake--

    "'The mystery of love is accomplished--all are called! all
    are chosen! all are re-instated!' Behold this is what I saw
    in the holy heavens and soon after the abyss was veiled, and
    _he who is_ laid his hands upon me and said--

    "'Go, my brother, take off thy festal garments and don the
    tunic of a working-man; hang the hammer of a worker at thy
    waist, for he who does not go with the people does not side
    with me, and he who does not take his share of labour is the
    enemy of God. Go, and be a faithful disciple of unity!'

    "And I replied: 'It is the faith in which I desire to live,
    which I am ready to seal with my blood? When I was ready to
    set forth, the sun began to climb above the horizon.

                                     "_He who was_ CAILLAUX
                                         _"July_ 1840"

Such was the apocalypse of the chief, and we might almost say, the
only apostle of the Mapah. I began with the intention of cutting out
three-quarters of it, and I have given nearly the whole. I began, my
pen inclined to scoff, but my courage has failed me; for there is
beneath it all a true devotion and poetry and nobility of thought. What
became of the man who wrote these lines? I do not know in the least;
but I have no doubt he did not desert _the faith in which he desired
to live, and that he remained ready to seal it with his blood._ ...
Society must be in a bad state and sadly out of joint and disorganised
for men of such intelligence to find no other method of employment than
to become self-constituted gods--or apostles!



BOOK III



CHAPTER I


    The scapegoat of power--Legitimist hopes--The
    expiatory mass--The Abbé Olivier--The Curé of
    Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois--Pachel--Where I begin
    to be wrong--General Jacqueminot--Pillage of
    Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois--The sham Jesuit and the Préfet of
    Police--The Abbé Paravey's room


Whilst we were upon the subject of great priests, of apostles and gods,
of the Abbé Châtel, and of _him who was Caillaux_ and the Mapah, we
meant to approach cursorily the history of Saint-Simon and of his two
disciples Enfantin and Bayard; but we begin to fear that our readers
have had enough of this modern Olympus; we therefore hasten to return
to politics, which were going from bad to worse, and to literature,
which was growing better and better. Let us, however, assure our
readers they have lost nothing by the delay: a little further on they
will meet with the god again at his office of the Mont-de-Piété, and
the apostles in their retreat of Mérilmontant.

But first let us return to our artillerymen; then, by way of
Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois and the archbishop's palace, we will reach
_Antony._ As will be realised, our misdeeds of the months of November
and December had roused the attention of those in authority; warrants
had been issued, and nineteen citizens, mostly belonging to the
artillery, had been arrested. These were Trélat, Godefroy Cavaignac,
Guinard, Sambuc, Francfort, Audry, Penard, Rouhier, Chaparre, Guilley,
Chauvin, Peschieux d'Herbinville, Lebastard, Alexandre Garnier,
Charles Garnier, Danton, Lenoble, Pointis and Gourdin. They had been
in all the riots of the reign of Louis-Philippe, as also in those of
the end of the Consulate and the beginning of the Empire: no matter
what party had stirred up the rising, it was always the Republicans
who were dropped upon. And this because every reactionary government,
in succession for the past seventy years, thoroughly understood that
Republicans were its only serious, actual and unceasing enemies. The
preference King Louis-Philippe showed us, at the risk of being accused
of partiality, strongly encouraged the other parties and, notably,
the Carlist party. Royalists from within and Royalist from without
seemed to send one another this famous programme of 1792: "_Make a
stir and we will come in! Come in, and we will make a stir!_" It was
the Royalists inside who were the first to make a stir and upon the
following occasion: The idea had stayed in the minds of various persons
that King Louis-Philippe had only accepted his power to give it at
some time to Henri V. Now, that which, in particular, lent colour to
the idea that Louis-Philippe was inclined to play the part of monk,
was the report that the only ambassador the Emperor Nicholas would
accept was this very M. de Mortemart, to whom the Duc d'Orléans had
handed, on 31 July, this famous letter of which I have given a copy;
and, as M. de Mortemart had just started for St. Petersburg with the
rank of ambassador, there was no further doubt, at least, in the eyes
of the Royalists that the king of the barricades was ready to hand
over the crown to Henri V. This rumour was less absurd, it must be
granted, than that which was spread abroad from 1799 to 1803, namely,
that Bonaparte had caused 18 Brumaire for the benefit of Louis XVIII.
Each of the two sovereigns replied with arguments characteristic of
themselves. Bonaparte had the Duc d'Enghien arrested, tried and shot.
Louis-Philippe allowed the pillage of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois and
of the archbishop's palace. An opportunity was to be given to the
Carlists and priests, their natural allies, to test the situation
which eight months of Philippist reign and three of Republican
prosecutions had wrought among them. They were nearing 14 February,
the anniversary of the assassination of the Duc de Berry. Already in
the provinces there had been small Legitimist attempts. At Rodez,
the tree of liberty was torn down during the night; at Collioure,
they had hoisted the white flag; at Nîmes, les Verdets seemed to
have come to life again, and, like the phantoms that return from the
other world to smite their enemies, they had, it was reported, beaten
the National Guard, who had been discovered, almost overwhelmed and
unable to give any but a very vague description of their destroyers.
That was the situation on 12 February. The triple emanation of the
Republican, Carlist and Napoléonic phases went through the atmosphere
like a sudden gust of storm, bearing on its wings the harsh cries of
some unbridled, frenzied carnival, when, all at once, people learnt
that, in a couple of days' time, an anniversary service was to be
celebrated at Saint-Roch, in expiation of the assassination at the
Place Louvois. A political assassination is such a detestable thing
in the opinion of all factions, that it ought always to be allowable
to offer expiatory masses for the assassinated; but there are times
of feverish excitement when the most simple actions assume the huge
proportions of a threat or contempt, and this particular mass, on
account of the peculiar circumstances at the time, was both a threat
and an act of defiance. But they were deceived as to the place where
it was to be held. Saint-Roch, as far as I can recollect, was, at that
period, served by the Abbé Olivier, a fine, spiritual-minded priest,
adored by his flock, who are scarcely consoled at the present day by
seeing him made Bishop of Évreux. I knew the Abbé Olivier; he was fond
of me and I hope he still likes me; I reverenced him and shall always
reverence him. I mention this, in passing, to give him news of one of
his penitents, in the extremely improbable case of these Memoirs ever
falling into his hands. Moreover, I shall have to refer to him later,
more than once. He was deeply devoted to the queen; more than anyone
else he could appreciate the benevolence, piety and even humility of
that worthy princess: for he was her confessor. I do not know whether
it was on account of the royal intimacy with which the Abbé Olivier
was honoured, or because he understood the significance of the act
that was expected of him, that the Church of Saint-Roch declined the
honour. It was different with the curé of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois.
He accepted. This appealed to him as a twofold duty: the curé of
Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois was nearly eighty years of age, and he was
the priest who had accompanied Marie-Antoinette to the scaffold. His
curate, M. Paravey, by a strange coincidence, was the priest who had
blessed the tombs of the Louvre.

In consequence of the change which had been made in the programme,
men, placed on the steps of the Church of Saint-Roch, distributed,
on the morning of the 14th, notices announcing that the funeral
ceremony had been arranged to take place at Saint-Roch and not at
Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois.

I was at the Vaudeville, where I believe we were rehearsing _La Famille
improvisée_ by Henry Monnier--I have already spoken of, and shall often
again refer to, this old friend of mine, an eminent artiste, witty
comrade and _good fellow_! as the English say--when Pachel the head
hired-applauder ran in terrified, crying out that emblazoned equipages
were forming in line at Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois; and people were
saying in the crowd that the personages who were getting out from them
had come to be present at a requiem service for the repose of the soul
of the Duc de Berry. This news produced an absolutely contrary effect
upon Arago and myself: it exasperated Arago, but put me very much at
ease.

I have related how I was educated by a priest, and by an excellent
one too; now that early education, the influence of those juvenile
memories, gave--I will not say to all my actions--God forbid I should
represent myself to my readers as a habitually religious-minded
man!--but to all my beliefs and opinions--such a deep religious tinge
that I cannot even now enter a church without taking holy water, or
pass in front of a crucifix without making the sign of the cross.
Therefore, in spite of the violence of my political opinions at that
time, I thought that the poor assassinated Duc de Berry had a right to
a requiem mass, that the Royalists had a right to be present at it and
the curé the right to celebrate it. But this was not Étienne's way of
looking at it. Perhaps he was right. Consequently, he wrote a few lines
to the _National_ and to the _Temps_ and ran to the spot. I followed
him in a much more tranquil manner. I could see that something serious
would come of it; that the Royalist journals would exclaim against
the sacrilege, and that the accusation would fall upon the Republican
party. Arago, with his convinced opinions, his southern fieriness
of temperament, entered the church just as a young man was hanging
a portrait of the Duc de Bordeaux on the catafalque. Here was where
Arago began to be in the right and I to be in the wrong. Behind the
young man there came a lady, who placed a crown of immortelles upon it;
behind the woman came soldiers, who hung their crosses to the effigy
of Henri VI. by the aid of pins. Now, Arago was wholly in the right
and I totally wrong. For the ceremony here ceased to be a religious
demonstration and became a political act of provocation. The people and
citizens rushed into the church. The citizens became incensed, and the
people grumbled. But let us keep exactly to the events which followed.
The riot at the archbishop's palace was middle class, not lower class.
The men who raised it were the same as those who had caused the
Raucourt and Philippe riots under the Restoration; the subscriptors
of Voltaire-Touquet, the buyers of snuff-boxes à la Charte. Arago
perceived the moment was the right one and that the irritation and
grumbling could be turned to account. There was no organisation in the
nature of conspiracy at that time; but the Republican party was on the
watch and ready to turn any contingencies to account. We shall see the
truth of this illustrated in connection with the burial of Lamarque.
Arago sprang out of the church, climbed up on a horizontal bar of the
railings and, stretching out his hands in the direction of the graves
of July, which lay in front of the portal of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois,
shouted--"Citizens! They dare to celebrate a requiem service in honour
of one of the members of the family whom we have just driven from
power, only fifty yards from the victims of July! Shall we allow them
to finish the service?"

Maddened cries went up. "No! no! no!" from every voice; and they rushed
into the church. The assailants encountered General Jacqueminot in
the doorway, who was then chief of the staff or second in command of
the National Guard (I do not know further particulars, and the matter
is not important enough for me to inquire into). He tried to stem the
torrent, but it was too strong to be stopped by a single man. The
general realised this, and tried to stay it by a word. Now, a word, if
it is the right one, and courageous or sympathetic, is the safest wall
that can be put across the path of that fifth element which we call
"The People."

"My friends," cried the general, "listen to me and take in who I am--I
was at Rambouillet: therefore, I belong to your party."

"You were at Rambouillet?" a voice questioned.

"Yes."

"Well, you would have done better to stay in Paris, and to leave the
combatants of July where they were: their absence would not then have
been taken advantage of to set up a king!"

The riposte was a deadly one, and General Jacqueminot looked upon
himself as a dead man and made no further signs of life. The invasion
of the church was rapid, irresistible and terrible; in a few minutes
the catafalque was destroyed, the pall was torn to shreds and the altar
knocked down; the golden-flowered hanging, sacred pictures, sacerdotal
vestments were all trampled under foot! Scepticism revenged itself by
impiety, sacrilege and blasphemy, for the fifteen years during which it
had been made to hide its mocking face behind the mask of hypocrisy.
They laughed, they howled, they danced round all the sacred things
they had heaped up, overturned and torn in pieces. One of the rioters
came out of the sacristy in the complete dress of a priest: he mounted
on the top of a heap of débris and beat time to the infernal din. It
looked like a figure of Satan, dressed up ironically in priestly robes,
presiding over a revel.

I witnessed the whole scene from the entrance and went away, with
bent head and a heavy heart and unquiet mind, sorry I had seen it. I
could not hide from myself that the people had been incited to do what
they had done. I was too much of a philosopher to expect the people
to discriminate between the Church and the priesthood--religion from
its ministers; but I was too religious at heart to stay there, and
I attempted to get away from the place. I say _I attempted_, for it
was no easy thing to get out: the square of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois
was crowded; and the crowd, forced back into the narrow rue de
Prêtres, overflowed on to the quays. At one spot this crowd was
excited and turbulent; and a struggle was going on from whence issued
cries. A tall, pale young man, with long black hair and good-looking
countenance, was standing on a post, watching the tumult with some
expression of scorn. One of the bystanders, who was probably irritated
by this disdain, began to shout: "A Jesuit!" Such a cry at such a time
was like putting a match to a bundle of tow. The crowd rushed for the
poor fellow, crying--

"Throw the Jesuits into the Seine! Drown him! Give the Jesuits to the
nets of Saint-Cloud!"

Baude was the Préfet of Police. I can see him now with his fine locks
flying in the wind, his dark eyes darting out lightning flashes, and
his herculean strength. It was the second time I had seen him thus. He
had just arrived with the Municipal Guard, which he had drawn up before
the church door; the men were trying to shut the gates. He flew to the
rescue of the unlucky doomed man, who was being passed from hand to
hand, and was in his aërial flight approaching the river with fearful
rapidity. The desire to hinder a murder redoubled Baude's strength.
He reached the edge of the river at the same time as the victim who
was threatened with being flung over the parapet. He clutched hold
of him and drew him back. I saw no more: for I was being suffocated
against the boards which, at that time, enclosed the _jardin de
l'Infante_ and, dilapidated though they were, they offered a great
deal more resistance than I liked, The necessity for labouring for
my personal preservation compelled me to turn my eyes away from the
direction of the quay and to struggle on my own account. My stalwart
build and the combined efforts of many who recognised me enabled me to
reach the quay and, from thence, the _pont des Arts._ They were still
fighting by the parapet. Later, I learnt that Baude had succeeded
in saving the poor devil at the expense of a good number of bruises
and his coat torn to ribbons. But, whilst the Préfet of Police was
playing the part of philanthropist, he was not fulfilling his duties
as préfet, and the rioters profited by this lapse in his municipal
functions. The people continued pillaging the church and the presbytery
of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois, and by the time that Baude had done his
good action it was all over. Only the room of the Abbé Paravey, who
had blessed the tombs of the July martyrs, had been respected. The mob
always recognises, even in its moments of greatest anger and its worst
sacrilege, the something that is greater than its wrath, before which
it stops and bends the knee. On 24 February 1848 the mob served the
Tuileries as they had served the Church of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois on
14 February 1831, but it stopped short at the apartment of the Duchesse
d'Orléans, as it had done before the Abbé Paravey's room.



CHAPTER II


    The Préfet of Police at the Palais-Royal--The function
    of fire--Valérius, the truss-maker--Demolition of the
    archbishop's palace--The Chinese album--François Arago--The
    spectators of the riot--The erasure of the fleurs-de-lis--I
    give in my resignation a second time--MM. Chambolle and
    Casimir Périer


The supposed Jesuit saved, the Church of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois
sacked, the room of the Abbé Paravey respected, the crowd passed away,
Baude thought the anger of the lion was appeased and presented himself
at the Palais-Royal without taking time to change his clothes. Just as
these bore material traces of the struggle he had gone through, so his
face kept the impression of the emotions he had experienced. To put
it in common parlance--as the least academic of men sometimes allows
himself to be captivated by the fascination of phrase-making--the
préfet's clothes were torn and his face was very pale. But the king, on
the other hand, was quite calm.

More fully informed, this time, of the events going on in the street,
than he had been about those of the Chamber when they discharged La
Fayette, he knew everything that had just happened. He saw, too, that
it tended to his own advantage. The Carlists had lifted up their
heads and, without the slightest interference on his part, they had
been punished! There had been a riot, but it had not threatened the
Palais-Royal, and by a little exercise of skill it could be made to
do credit to the Republican party. What a chance! and just at the
time when the leaders of that same party were in prison for another
disturbance.

But the king clearly suspected that matters would not stop here;
so, with his usual astuteness, and seeming courtesy, he kept Baude
to dinner. Baude saw nothing in this invitation beyond an act of
politeness, and a kind of reward for the dangers he had incurred. But
there was more in it than that. The Préfet of Police being at the
Palais-Royal meant that all the police reports would be sent there;
now, Baude could not do otherwise than to communicate them to his
illustrious host. So, in this way, without any trouble to himself,
the king would become acquainted with everything, both what Baude's
police knew and what his own police also knew. King Louis-Philippe was
a subtle man, but his very cleverness detracted from his strength. We
do not think it is possible to be both fox and lion at the same time.
The reports were disquieting: one of them announced the pillage of the
archbishop's palace for the morrow; another, an attempted attack upon
the Palais-Royal.

"Sire," asked the Préfet of the Police, "what must we do?"

"Powder and shot," replied the king.

Baude understood. By three o'clock in the morning all the troops of the
garrison were disposed round the Palais-Royal, but the avenues to the
archbishop's palace were left perfectly free. This is what happened
while the Préfet of Police was dining with His Majesty. General
Jacqueminot had summoned the National Guard and, instead of dispersing
the rioters, they clapped their hands at the riot. Cadet-Gassicourt,
who was mayor of the fourth arrondissement, arrived next. Some people
pointed out to him the three fleurs-de-lis which adorned the highest
points of the cross that surmounted the church. A man out of the
crowd heard the remark, and quickly the cry went up of "Down with the
fleurs-de-lis; down with the cross!" They attached themselves to the
cross with the fleurs-de-lis of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois, just as
seventeen years previously they had attached themselves to the statue
of Napoléon on the Place Vendôme. The cross fell at the third pull.
There was not much else left to do after that, either inside the church
or on the top of it, and, unless they pulled it down altogether, it was
only wasting time to stop there. At that instant a rumour circulated,
either rightly or falsely, that a surgical instrument maker in the
rue de Coq, named Valérius, had been one of the arrangers of the
fête. They rushed to his shop, scattered his bandages and broke his
shop-front. The National Guard came, and can you guess what it did?
It made a guard-house of the wrecked shop. This affair of the cross
and the fleurs-de-lis gave a political character to the riot, and had
suggested, or was about to suggest, on the following day, a party of
the popular insurgents towards the Palais-Royal. As a matter of fact,
the fleurs-de-lis had remained upon the arms of the king up to this
time. Soon after the election of 9 August, Casimir Périer had advised
him to abandon them; but the king remembered that, on the male side,
he was the grandson of Henry IV., and of Louis XIV. on the female
line, and he had obstinately refused. Under the pretext, therefore,
of demanding the abolition of the fleurs-de-lis, a gathering of
Republicans was to march next day upon the Palais-Royal. When there, if
they found themselves strong enough, they would, at the same stroke,
demand the abolition of royalty. I knew nothing about this plot, and,
if I had, I should have kept clear of everything that meant a direct
attack against King Louis-Philippe. I had work to do the next day and
kept my door fast shut against everybody, my own servant included,
but the latter violated his orders and entered. It was evident that
something extraordinary had happened for Joseph to take such a liberty
with me. They had been firing off rifles half the night, they had
disarmed two or three posts, they had sacked the archbishop's palace.
The proposition of marching on the palace of M. de Quélen was received
with enthusiasm. He was one of those worldly prelates who pass for
being rather shepherds, than pastors. It was affirmed that on 28 July
1830 a woman's cap had been found at his house and they wanted to
know if, by chance, there might not be a pair. The devil tempted me:
I dressed hastily and I ran in the direction of the city. The bridges
were crowded to breaking point, and there was a row of curious gazers
on the parapets two deep. Only on the Pont Neuf could I manage to see
daylight between two spectators. The river drifted with furniture,
books, chasubles, cassocks and priests' robes. The latter objects
were horrible as they looked like drowning people. All these things
came from the archbishop's palace. When the crowd reached the palace,
the door seemed too narrow, relatively speaking, for the number and
impetuosity of the visitors: the crowd, therefore, seized hold of the
iron grill, shook it and tore it down; then they spread over all the
rooms and threw the furniture out of the windows. Several book-lovers
who tried to save rare books and precious editions were nearly thrown
into the Seine. One single album alone escaped the general destruction.
The man who laid hands on it chanced to open it: it was a Chinese album
painted on leaves of rice. The Chinese are very fanciful in their
compositions, and this particular one so far transcended the limits
of French fancy, that the crowd had not the courage to insist on the
precious album being thrown into the water. I have never seen anything
approaching this album except in the private museum at Naples; I ought,
also, to say that the album of the Archbishop of Paris far excelled
that of His Majesty the King of the Two Sicilies. The most indulgent
people thought that this curious document had been given to the
archbishop by some repentant Magdalene, in expiation of the sins she
had committed, and to whom the merciful prelate had given absolution.
It goes without saying that I was among the tolerant, and that, then as
now, I did my utmost to get this view accepted.

Meantime, after seizing the furniture, library hangings, carpets,
mirrors, missals, chasubles and cassocks, the crowd, not satisfied,
seized upon the building itself. In an instant a hundred men were
scattered over the roofs and had begun to tear off the tiles and slates
of the archiépiscopal palace. It might have been supposed the rioters
were all slaters. Has my reader happened, at any time, to shut up a
mouse or rat or bird in a box pierced with holes, put it in the midst
of an anthill and waited, given patience, for two or three hours? At
the end of that time the ants have finished their work, and he can
extract a beautiful skeleton from which all the flesh has completely
disappeared. Thus, and in the same manner, under the work of the human
ant-heap, at the end of an hour the coverings of the archbishop's
palace had as completely disappeared. Next, it was the turn for the
bones to go--where the ants stop discouraged, man destroys; by two
o'clock in the afternoon the bones had disappeared like the flesh. Of
the archbishop's palace not one stone remained on another! By good
fortune the archbishop was at his country-house at Conflans; if not he
would probably have been destroyed with his town-house.

All this time the drums had called the rappel, but not with that
ferocious plying of drumsticks of which they gave us a sample in the
month of December, as though to say, "Run, everyone, the town is on
fire!" but with feebleness of execution as much as to say, "If you have
nothing better to say, come, and you will not have a warm welcome!"
So, as the National Guard began to understand the language of the
drums, it did not put itself about much. However, a detachment of the
12th Legion, in command of François Arago,--the famous savant, the
noble patriot who is now dying, and whom the Academy will probably not
dare to praise, except as a savant,--came from the Panthéon towards
the city. As ill-luck would have it, his adjutant, who marched on the
flank, sabre in hand, gesticulating with it in a manner justified
by the circumstances, stuck it into a poor fellow, who was merely
peacefully standing watching them go by. The poor devil fell, wounded,
and was picked up nearly dead. We know how such a thing as that
operates: the dead or wounded is no longer his own private property;
he belongs to the crowd, which makes a standard of him, as it were.
The crowd took possession of the man, bleeding as he was, and began to
shout, "To arms! Vengeance on the assassin! Vengeance!" The assassin,
or, rather, the unintentional murderer, had disappeared. They carried
the victim into the enclosure outside Notre-Dame, where everybody
discussed loudly how to take revenge for him, and pitied him, but
none thought of getting him help. It was François Arago, who made an
appeal to humanity out of the midst of the threatening cries, and
pointed to the Hôtel-Dieu, open to receive him, and, if possible, to
cure the dying man. They placed him on a stretcher, and François Arago
accompanied the unfortunate man to the bedside, where they had scarcely
laid him before he died.

The report of that death spread with the fearful rapidity with which
bad news always travels. When Arago re-appeared the crowd turned
in earnest to wrath; it was in one of those moods when it sharpens
its teeth and nails, and aches to tear to pieces and to devour....
What? In such a crisis it matters but little what, so long as it can
tear and devour someone or something! It was frenzied to the extent
of hurling itself upon Arago himself, mistaking the saviour for
the murderer. In the twinkling of an eye our great astronomer was
dragged towards the Seine, where he was going to be flung with the
furniture, books and archiépiscopal vestments; when, happily, some
of the spectators recognised him, called out his name, setting forth
his reputation and his popularity in order to save him from death.
When recognised, he was safe; but, robbed of a man, the excited crowd
had to have something else, and, not being able to drown Arago, they
demolished the archbishop's palace. With what rapidity they destroyed
that building we have already spoken. And the remarkable thing was
that many honourable witnesses watched the proceedings. M. Thiers was
present, making his first practical study of the downfall of palaces
and of monarchies. M. de Schonen was there, in colonel's uniform,
but reduced to powerlessness because he had but few men at command.
M. Talabot was there with his battalion; but he averred to M. Arago,
who urged him to act, that he had been ordered to _appear and then to
return._ The passive presence of all these notable persons at the riot
of the archbishop's palace put a seal of sanction upon the proceedings,
which I had never seen before, or have ever again seen at any other
riot. This was no riot of the people, filled with enthusiasm, risking
their lives in the midst of flashings of musketry fire and thunder of
artillery; it was a riot in yellow kid-gloves, and overcoats and coats,
it was a scoffing and impious, destructive and insolent crowd, without
the excuse of previous insult or destruction offered it; in fact, it
was a bourgeois riot, that most pitiless and contemptible of all riots.

I returned home heart-broken: I am wrong, I mean upset. I learnt
that night that they had wished to demolish Notre-Dame, and only a
very little more and the chef-d'oœuvre of four centuries, begun by
Charlemagne and finished by Philippe-Auguste, would have disappeared
in a few hours as the archbishop's palace had done. As I returned
home, I had passed by the Palais-Royal. The king who had refused to
make to Casimir Périer the sacrifice of the fleurs-de-lis, made that
sacrifice to the rioters: they scratched it off the coats-of-arms on
his carriages and mutilated the iron balconies of his palace.

The next day a decree appeared in the _Moniteur_, altering the three
fleurs-de-lis of Charles V. this time to two tables of the law. If
genealogy be established by coats-of-arms we should have to believe
that the King of France was descended from Moses rather than from St.
Louis! Only, these new tables of the law, the counterfeit of those of
Sinai, had not even the excuse of being accepted out of the midst of
thunders and lightnings.

It was upon this particular day, on Lamy's desk, who was Madame
Adélaide's secretary, when I saw the grooms engaged in erasing the
fleurs-de-lis from the king's carriages, thinking that it was not in
this fashion that they should have been taken away from the arms of the
house of France, that I sent in my resignation a second time, the only
one which reached the king and which was accepted. It was couched in
the following terms:--

    "15 _February_ 1831

    "SIRE,--Three weeks ago I had the honour to ask for an
    audience of your Majesty; my object was to offer my
    resignation to your Majesty by word of mouth; for I wished
    to explain, personally, that I was neither ungrateful, nor
    capricious. Sire, a long time ago I wrote and made public
    my opinion that, in my case, the man of letters was but the
    prelude to the politician. I have arrived at the age when
    I can take a part in a reformed Chamber. I am pretty sure
    of being nominated a député when I am thirty years of age,
    and I am now twenty-eight, Sire. Unhappily, the People, who
    look at things from a mean and distant point of view, do not
    distinguish between the intentions of the king, and the acts
    of the ministers. Now the acts of the ministers are both
    arbitrary and destructive of liberty. Amongst the persons
    who live upon your Majesty, and tell him constantly that
    they admire and love him, there is not one probably, who
    loves your Majesty more than I do; only they talk about it
    and do not think it, and I do not talk about it but think it.

    "But, Sire, devotion to principles comes before devotion
    to men. Devotion to principles makes men like La Fayette;
    devotion to men, like Rovigo.[1] I therefore pray your
    Majesty to accept my resignation.

    "I have the honour to remain your Majesty's respectful
    servant,                                    ALEX. DUMAS"

It was an odd thing! In the eyes of the Republican party, to which I
belonged, I was regarded as a thorough Republican, because I took my
share in all the risings, and wanted to see the flag of '92 float at
the head of our armies; but, at the same time, I could not understand
how, when they had taken a Bourbon as their king, whether he was of the
Elder or Younger branch of the house, he could be at the same time a
Valois, as they had tried to make the good people of Paris believe,--I
could not, I say, understand, how the fleurs-de-lis could cease to be
his coat-of-arms.

It was because I was both a poet and a Republican, and already
comprehended and maintained, contrary to certain narrow-minded people
of our party, that France, even though democratic, did not date
from '89 only; that we nineteenth century men had received a vast
inheritance of glory and must preserve it; that the fleurs-de-lis
meant the lance heads of Clovis, and the javelins of Charlemagne; that
they had floated successively at Tolbiac, at Tours, at Bouvines, at
Taillebourg, at Rosbecque, at Patay, at Fornovo, Ravenna, Marignan,
Renty, Arques, Rocroy, Steinkerque, Almanza, Fontenoy, upon the seas
of India and the lakes of America; that, after the success of fifty
victories, we suffered the glory of a score of defeats which would
have been enough to annihilate another nation; that the Romans invaded
us, and we drove them out, the Franks too, who were also expelled; the
English invaded us, and we drove them out.

The opinion I am now putting forth with respect to the erasing of the
fleurs-de-lis, which I upheld very conspicuously at that time by my
resignation, was also the opinion of Casimir Périer. The next day after
the fleurs-de-lis had disappeared from the king's carriages, from the
balconies of the Palais-Royal and even from Bayard's shield, whilst
the effigy of Henry IV. was preserved on the Cross of the Legion of
Honours; M. Chambolle, who has since started the Orleanist paper,
_l'Ordre_, called at M. Casimir Périer's house.

"Why," the latter asked him, "in the name of goodness, does the king
give up his armorial bearings? Ah! He would not do it after the
Revolution, when I advised him to sacrifice them; no, he would not hear
of their being effaced then, and stuck to them more tenaciously than
did his elders. Now, the riot has but to pass under his windows and
behold his escutcheon lies in the gutter!"

Those who knew what an irascible character Casimir Périer was, will
not be surprised at the flowers of rhetoric with which those words are
adorned.

But now that there is no longer an archbishop's palace, nor any
fleurs-de-lis, and the statue of the Duc de Berry about to be knocked
down at Lille, the seminary of Perpignan pillaged and the busts of
Louis XVIII. and of Charles X. of Nîmes destroyed, let us return to
_Antony_, which was to cause a great disturbance in literature, besides
which the riots we have just been discussing were but as the holiday
games of school children.


[1] We are compelled to admit that, in our opinion, the parallel
between La Fayette and the Duc de Rovigo is to the disadvantage of the
latter; but how far he is above them in comparing him with other men of
the empire! La Fayette's love for liberty is sublime; the devotion of
the Duc de Rovigo for Napoléon is worthy of respect, for all devotion
is a fine and rare thing, as times go.



CHAPTER III


    My dramatic faith wavers--Bocage and Dorval reconcile
    me with myself--A political trial wherein I deserved to
    figure--Downfall of the Laffitte Ministry--Austria and the
    Duc de Modena--Maréchal Maison is Ambassador at Vienna--The
    story of one of his dispatches--Casimir Périer Prime
    Minister--His reception at the Palais-Royal--They make him
    the _amende honorable_


We saw what small success _Antony_ obtained at the reading before M.
Crosnier. The consequence was that just as they had not scrupled to
pass my play over for the drama of _Don Carlos ou l'Inquisition_, at
the Théâtre-Français, they did not scruple, at the Porte-Saint-Martin,
to put on all or any sort of piece that came to their hands before
they looked at mine. Poor _Antony!_ It had already been in existence
for close upon two years; but this delay, it must be admitted, instead
of injuring it in any way, was, on the contrary, to turn to very
profitable account. During those two years, events had progressed and
had brought about in France one of those feverish situations wherein
the explosions of eccentric individuals cause immense noise. There
was something sickly and degenerate in the times, which answered to
the monomania of my hero. Meanwhile, as I have said, I had no settled
opinion about my drama; my youthful faith in myself had only held out
for _Henri III._ and _Christine_; but the horrible concert of hootings
which had deafened me at the representation of the latter piece had
shattered that faith to its very foundations. Then the Revolution had
come, which had thrown me into quite another order of ideas, and had
made me believe I was destined to become what in politics is called a
man of action, a belief which had succumbed yet more rapidly than my
literary belief.

Next had taken place the representation of my _Napoléon Bonaparte_,
a work whose worthlessness I recognised with dread in spite of the
fanatical enthusiasm it had excited at its reading. Then came _Antony_,
which inspired no fanaticism nor enthusiasm, neither at its reading
nor at its rehearsal; which, in my inmost conscience, I believed was
destined to close my short series of successes with failure. Were,
perchance, M. Fossier, M. Oudard, M. Picard and M. Deviolaine right?
Would it have been better for me _to go to my office_, as the author
of _la Petite Ville_ and _Deux Philibert_ had advised? It was rather
late in the day to make such reflections as these, just after I had
sent in my resignation definitely. I did not make them any the less for
that, nor did they cheer me any the more on that account. My comfort
was that Crosnier did not seem to set any higher value upon _Marion
Delorme_ than upon _Antony_, and I was a great admirer of _Marion
Delorme._ I might be deceived in my own piece, but assuredly I was not
mistaken about that of Hugo; while, on the other hand, Crosnier might
be wrong about Hugo's piece, and therefore equally mistaken about mine.
Meanwhile, the rehearsals continued their course.

That which I had foreseen happened: in proportion as the rehearsals
advanced, the two principal parts taken by Madame Dorval and by Bocage
assumed entirely different aspects than they did when represented by
Mademoiselle Mars and Firmin. The absence of scholastic traditions, the
manner of acting drama, a certain sympathy of the actors with their
parts, a sympathy which did not exist at the Théâtre Français, all by
degrees helped to reinstate poor _Antony_ in my own opinion. It is but
fair to say that, when the two great artistes, upon whom the success of
the play depended, felt the day of representation drawing nearer, they
developed, as if in emulation with one another, qualities they were
themselves unconscious they possessed. Dorval brought out a dignity
of feeling in the expression of the emotions, of which I should have
thought her quite incapable; and Bocage, on whom I had only looked
at first as capable of a kind of misanthropic barbarity, had moments
of poetic sadness and of dreamy melancholy that I had only seen in
Talma in his rôles of the English rendering of Hamlet, and in Soumet's
Orestes. The representation was fixed for the first fortnight in April;
but, at the same time, a drama was being played at the _Palais de
justice_, which, even to my eyes, was far more interesting than my own.

My friends Guinard, Cavaignac and Trélat, with sixteen other
fellow-prisoners, were brought up before the Court of Assizes. It will
be recollected that it was on account of the Artillery conspiracy,
wherein I had taken an active part; therefore, one thing alone
surprised me, why they should be in prison and I free; why they should
have to submit to the cross-questionings of the law court whilst I
was rehearsing a piece at the Porte-Saint-Martin. Between the 6th and
the 11th of April the audiences had been devoted to the interrogation
of the prisoners and to the hearing of witnesses. On the 12th, the
Solicitor-General took up the case. I need hardly say that from the
12th to the 15th, the day when sentence was passed, I never left the
sittings. It was a difficult task for the Solicitor-General to accuse
men like those seated on the prisoners' bench, who were the chief
combatants of July, and pronounced the "heroes of the Three Days,"
those whom the Lieutenant-General had received, flattered and pampered
ten months back; the men whom Dupont (de l'Eure) referred to as his
friends, whom La Fayette had called his children and whom, when he was
no longer in the Ministry, Laffitte had called his accomplices. As a
matter of fact, the Laffitte Ministry had fallen on 9 March. The cause
of that fall could not have been more creditable to the former friend
of King Louis-Philippe; he had found that five months of political
friction with the new monarch had been enough to turn him into one of
his most irreconcilable enemies. It was the time when three nations
rose up and demanded their independent national rights: Belgium, Poland
and Italy. People's minds were nearly settled about Belgium's fate;
but not so with regard to Poland and Italy; and all generous hearts
felt sympathy with those two Sisters in Liberty who were groaning, the
one beneath the sword blade of the Czar, the other under Austria's
chastisement. Attention was riveted in particular upon Modena. The
Duke of Modena had fled from his duchy when he heard the news of the
insurrection of Bologna, on the night of 4 February. The Cabinet at the
Palais-Royal received a communication upon the subject from the Cabinet
of Vienna, informing it that the Austrian government was preparing
to intervene to replace Francis IV. upon his ducal throne. It was
curious news and an exorbitant claim to make. The French Government had
proclaimed the principle of non-intervention; now, upon what grounds
could Austria interfere in the Duchy of Modena? Austria had, indeed,
a right of reversion over that duchy; but the right was entirely
conditional, and, until the day when all the male heirs of the reigning
house should be extinct, Modena could be a perfectly independent duchy.
Such demands were bound to revolt so upright and fair a mind as M.
Laffitte's, and he vowed in full council that, if Austria persisted in
that insolent claim, France would go to war with her.

M. Sébastiani, Minister for Foreign Affairs, was asked by the President
of the Council to reply to this effect, which he engaged to do.
Maréchal Maison was then at the embassy of Vienna. He was one of those
stiff and starched diplomatists who preserve the habit, from their
military career, of addressing kings and emperors with their hand upon
their sword hilts. I knew him very well, and in spite of our difference
of age, with some degree of intimacy; a charming woman with a pacific
name who was a mere friend to me, but who was a good deal more than
a friend to him, served as the bond between the young poet and the
old soldier. The Marshal was commissioned to present M. Laffitte's
_Ultimatum_ to Austria. It was succinct: "Non-intervention or War!"
The system of peace at any price adopted by Louis-Philippe was not yet
known at that period. Austria replied as though she knew the secret
thoughts of the King of France. Her reply was both determined and
insolent. This is it--

    "Until now, Austria has allowed France to advance the
    principle of non-intervention; but it is time France knew
    that we do not intend to recognise it where Italy is
    concerned. We shall carry our arms wherever insurrection
    spreads. If that intervention leads to war--then war there
    must be! We prefer to incur the chances of war than to be
    exposed to perish in the midst of outbreaks of rebellion."

With the instruction the Marshal received, the note above quoted did
not permit of any agreement being reached; consequently, at the same
time that he sent M. de Metternich's reply to King Louis-Philippe, he
wrote to General Guilleminot, our ambassador at Constantinople, that
France was forced into war and that he must make an appeal to the
ancient alliance between Turkey and France. Marshal Maison added in a
postscript to M. de Metternich's note--

    "Not a moment must be lost in which to avert the danger with
    which France is threatened; we must, consequently, take the
    initiative and pour a hundred thousand men into Piedmont."

This dispatch was addressed to M. Sébastiani, Minister for Foreign
Affairs, with whom, in his capacity as ambassador, Marshal Maison
corresponded direct; it reached the Hôtel des Capucines on 4 March. M.
Sébastiani, a king's man, communicated it to the king, but, important
though it was, never said one word about it to M. Laffitte. That
is the fashion in which the king, following the first principle of
constitutional government, reigned, but did not rule. How did the
_National_ obtain that dispatch? We should be very puzzled to say; but,
on the 8th, it was reproduced word for word in the second column of
that journal. M. Laffitte read it by chance, as La Fayette had read his
dismissal from the commandantship of the National Guard by accident. M.
Laffitte got into a carriage, paper in hand and drove to M. Sébastiani.
He could not deny it: the Marshal alleged such poor reasons, that
M. Laffitte saw he had been completely tricked. He went on to the
Palais-Royal, where he hoped to gain explanations which the Minister
for Foreign Affairs refused to give him; but the king knew nothing at
all; the king was busy looking after the building at Neuilly and did
not trouble his head about affairs of State, he took no initiative and
approved of his ministry. M. Laffitte must settle the matter with his
colleagues. There was so much apparent sincerity and naïve simplicity
in the tone, attitude and appearance of the king that Laffitte thought
he could not be an accomplice in the plot. Next day, therefore, he
took the king's advice and had an explanation with his colleagues.
That explanation led, there and then, to the resignation of the leader
of the Cabinet, who returned to his home with his spirit less broken,
perhaps, by the prospect of his ruined house and lost popularity than
by his betrayed friendship. M. Laffitte was a noble-hearted man who had
given himself wholly to the king, and behold, in the very face of the
insult that had been put upon France, the king, in his new attitude
of preserver of peace, threw him over just as he had thrown over La
Fayette and Dupont (de l'Eure). Laffitte was flung remorselessly and
without pity into the gulf wherein Louis-Philippe flung his popular
favourites when he had done with them. The new ministry was made up
all ready, in advance; the majority of its members were taken from
the old one. The only new ministers were Casimir Périer, Baron Louis
and M. de Rigny. The various offices of the members were as follows:
Casimir Périer, Prime Minister; Sébastiani, Minister for Foreign
Affairs; Baron Louis, Minister of Finance; Barthe, Minister of Justice;
Montalivet, Minister of Education and Religious Instruction; Comte
d'Argout, Minister of Commerce and Public Works; de Rigny, Minister
for the Admiralty. The new ministry nearly lost its prime minister the
very next day after he had been appointed, viz., on 13 March 1831. It
was only with regret that Madame Adélaïde and the Duc d'Orléans saw
Casimir Périer come into power. Was it from regret at the ingratitude
shown to M. Laffitte? or was it fear on account of M. Casimir Périer's
well-known character? Whatever may have been the case, on 14 March,
when the new president of the Council appeared at the Palais-Royal to
pay his respects at court that night, he found a singular expression
upon all faces: the courtiers laughed, the aides-decamp whispered
together, the servants asked whom they must announce. M. le duc
d'Orléans turned his back upon him, Madame Adélaïde was as cold as ice,
the queen was grave. The king alone waited for him, smiling, at the
bottom of the salon. The minister had to pass through a double hedge of
people who wished to repel him, malevolent to him, in order to reach
the king. The rival and successor to Laffitte was angry, proud and
impatient; he resolved to take his revenge at once. He knew the man who
was indispensable to the situation; Thiers was not yet sufficiently
popular, M. Guizot was already too little so. Casimir Périer went
straight to the king..

"Sire," he said to him, "I have the honour to ask you for a private
interview."

The king, amazed, walked before him and led him into his cabinet. The
door was scarcely closed when, without circumlocution or ambiguity, the
new prime minister burst out with--

"Sire, I have the honour to offer my resignation to Your Majesty."

"Eh! good Lord, Monsieur Périer," exclaimed the king, "and on what
grounds?"

"Sire," replied the exasperated minister, "that I have enemies at the
clubs, in the streets, in the Chamber matters nothing; but enemies at
the very court to which I am bold enough unreservedly to offer my whole
fortune is too much to endure! and I do not feel equal, I confess to
Your Majesty, to face these many forms of hatred."

The king felt the thrust, and realised that it must be warded off,
under the circumstances, for it might be fatal to himself. Then, in
his most flattering tones and with that seductive charm of manner in
which he excelled, the king set himself to smooth down this minister's
wounded pride. But with the inflexible haughtiness of his character,
Casimir Périer persisted.

"Sire," he said, "I have the honour to offer my resignation to Your
Majesty."

The king saw he must make adequate amends.

"Wait ten minutes here, my dear Monsieur Périer," he said; "and in ten
minutes you shall be free."

The minister bowed in silence, and let the king leave him.

In that ten minutes the king explained to the queen, to his sister and
his son, the urgent necessity there was for him to keep M. Casimir
Périer, and told them the resolution the latter had just taken to hand
in his resignation. This was a fresh order altogether, and in a few
seconds it was made known to all whom it concerned. The king opened the
door of his cabinet, where the minister was still biting his nails and
stamping his feet.

"Come!" he said.

Casimir Périer bowed lightly and followed the king. But thanks to the
new command, everything was changed. The queen was gracious; Madame
Adélaïde was affable; M. le duc d'Orléans had turned round, the
aides-de-camp stood in a group ready to obey at the least sign from the
king, and also from the minister; the courtiers smiled obsequiously.
Finally, the lackeys, when M. Périer reached the door, flew into the
ante-chambers and rushed down the stairs crying, "M. le president du
Conseil's carriage!" A more rapid and startling reparation could not
possibly have been obtained. Thus Casimir Périer remained a minister,
and the new president of the council then started that arduous career
which was to end in the grave in a year's time; he died only a few
weeks before his antagonist Lamarque.

This was how matters stood when we took a fresh course, in the full
tide of the trial of the artillery, to speak of M. Laffitte.

But, once for all, we are not writing history, only jotting down our
recollections, and often we find that at the very moment when we have
galloped off to follow up some byway of our memory we have left behind
us events of the first importance. We are then obliged to retrace our
steps, to make our apologies to those events, as the king had to do to
M. Casimir Périer; to take them, as it were, by the hand, and to lead
them back to our readers, who perhaps do not always accord them quite
such a gracious reception as that which the Court of the Palais-Royal
gave to the President of the Council on the evening of 14 March 1831.



CHAPTER IV


    Trial of the artillerymen--Procureur-général
    Miller--Pescheux d'Herbinville--Godefroy
    Cavaignac--Acquittal of the accused--The ovation they
    received--Commissioner Gourdin--The cross of July--The red
    and black ribbon--Final rehearsals of _Antony_


We have mentioned what a difficult matter it was for a
solicitor-general to prosecute the men who were still black from the
powder of July, such men as Trélat, Cavaignac, Guinard, Sambuc, Danton,
Chaparre and their fellow-prisoners. All these men, moreover (except
Commissioner Gourdin, against whose morality, by the way, there was
absolutely nothing to be said), lived by their private fortune or
their own talents, and were, for the most part, more of them well to
do than poorly off. They could therefore only be proceeded against on
account of an opinion regarded as dangerous from the point of view of
the Government, though they were undoubtedly disinterested. Miller,
the solicitor-general, had the wit to grasp the situation, and at the
outset of his charge against the prisoners he turned to the accused and
said--

"We lament as much as any other person to see these honoured citizens
at the bar, whose private life seems to command much esteem; young
men, rich in noble thoughts and generous inspirations. It is not for
us, gentlemen, to seek to call in question their title to public
consideration, or to the good-will of their fellow-citizens, and to a
recognition of the services they have rendered their country."

The audience, visibly won over by this preamble, made a murmur of
approbation which it would certainly have repressed if it had had
patience to wait the sequel. The attorney-general went on--

"But do the services that they have been able to render the State
give them the right to shake it to its very foundations, if it is not
administered according to doctrines which suited imaginations that, as
likely, as not, are ill-regulated? Is the impetuous ardour of youth
enough excuse for legalising actions which alarm all good citizens,
and harm all interests? Must peaceable men become the victims of the
culpable machinations of those who talk about liberty, and yet attack
the liberty of others, and boast that they are working for the good of
France while they violently break all social bonds?"

Judge in what a contemptuous attitude the prisoners received these
tedious and banal observations. Far from dreaming of defending
themselves, they felt that as soon as the moment should come for
charging it would be they who should take the offensive. Pescheux
d'Herbinville, the leader, burst forth in fury and crushed both judges
and attorney-general.

"Monsieur Pescheux d'Herbinville," President Hardouin said to him, "you
are accused of having had arms in your possession, and of distributing
them. Do you admit the fact?"

Pescheux d'Herbinville rose. He was a fine-looking young man of
twenty-two or three, fair, carefully dressed, and of refined manners;
the cartridges that had been seized at his house were wrapped in
silk-paper, and ornamented with rose-coloured favours.

"I not only," he said, "admit the fact, monsieur le président, but I am
proud of it.... Yes, I had arms, and plenty of them too! And I am going
to tell you how I got them. In July I took three posts in succession at
the head of a handful of men in the midst of the firing; the arms that
I had were those of the soldiers I had disarmed. Now, I fought for the
people, and these soldiers were firing on the people. Am I guilty for
taking away the arms which in the hands in which they were found were
dealing death to citizens?"

A round of applause greeted these words.

"As to distributing them," continued the prisoner, "it is quite true
I did it; and not only did I distribute them, but believing that, in
our unsettled times, it was as well to acquaint the friends of France
with their enemies, at my own expense, although I am not a rich man, I
provided some of the men who had followed me with the uniform of the
National Guard. It was to those same men I distributed the arms, to
which, indeed, they had a right, since they helped me to take them. You
have asked me what I have to say in my defence, and I have told you."

He sat down amidst loud applause, which only ceased after repeated
orders from the president.

Next came Cavaignac's turn.

"You accuse me of being a Republican," he said; "I uphold that
accusation both as a title of honour and a paternal heritage. My
father was one of those who proclaimed the Republic from the heart of
the National Convention, before the whole of Europe, then victorious;
he defended it before the armies, and that was why he died in exile,
after twelve years of banishment; and whilst the Restoration itself was
obliged to let France have the fruits of that revolution which he had
served, whilst it overwhelmed with favours those men whom the Republic
had created, my father and his colleagues alone suffered for the great
cause which many others betrayed! It was the last homage their impotent
old age could offer to the country they had vigorously defended in
their youth!... That cause, gentlemen, colours all my feelings as his
son; and the principles which it embraced are my heritage. Study has
naturally strengthened the bent given to my political opinions, and
now that the opportunity is given me to utter a word which multitudes
proscribe, I pronounce it without affection, and without fear, at heart
and from conviction I am a Republican!"

It was the first time such a declaration of principles had been made
boldly and publicly before both the court of law and society; it was
accordingly received at first in dumb stupor, which was immediately
followed by a thunder of applause. The president realised that he could
not struggle against such enthusiasm; he let the applause calm down,
and Cavaignac continue his speech. Godefroy Cavaignac was an orator,
and more eloquent than his brother, although he, like General Lamarque
and General Foy, gave utterance to some eminently French sentiments
which enter more deeply into people's hearts than the most beautiful
speeches. Cavaignac continued with increasing triumph. Finally, he
summed up his opinions and hopes, and those of the party, which, then
almost unnoticed, was to triumph seventeen years later--

"The Revolution! Gentlemen, you attack the Revolution! What folly! The
Revolution includes the whole nation, except those who exploit it; it
is our country, fulfilling the sacred mission of freeing the people
entrusted to it by Providence; it is the whole of France, doing its
duty to the world! As for ourselves, we believe in our hearts that we
have done our duty to France, and every time she has need of us, no
matter what she, our revered mother, asks of us, we, her faithful sons,
will obey her!"

It is impossible to form any idea of the effect this speech produced;
pronounced as it was in firm tones, with a frank and open face,
eyes flashing with enthusiasm and heartfelt conviction. From that
moment the cause was won: to have found these men guilty would have
caused a riot, perhaps even a revolution. The questions put to the
jury were forty-six in number. At a quarter to twelve, noon, the
jurymen went into their consulting room: they came out at half-past
three, and pronounced the accused men not guilty on any one of the
forty-six indictments. There was one unanimous shout of joy, almost
of enthusiasm, clapping of hands and waving of hats; everyone rushed
out, striding over the benches, overturning things in their way; they
wanted to shake hands with any one of the nineteen prisoners, whether
they knew him or not. They felt that life, honour and future principles
had been upheld by those prisoners arraigned at the bar. In the midst
of this hubbub the president announced that they were set at liberty.
There remained, therefore, nothing further for the accused to do but
to escape the triumphant reception awaiting them. Victories, in these
cases, are often worse than defeats: I recollect the triumph of
Louis Blanc on 15 May. Guinard, Cavaignac and the students from the
schools succeeded in escaping the ovation: instead of leaving by the
door of the Conciergerie, which led to the Quai des Lunettes, they
left by the kitchen door and passed out unrecognised. Trélat, Pescheux
d'Herbinville and three friends (Achille Roche, who died young and
very promising, Avril and Lhéritier) had got into a carriage, and had
told the driver to drive as fast as he could; but they were recognised
through the closed windows. Instantly the carriage was stopped, the
horses taken out, the doors opened; they had to get out, pass through
the crowd, bow in response to the cheering and walk through waving
handkerchiefs, the flourishing of hats and shouts of "Vivent les
républicains!" as far as Trélat's home. Guilley, also recognised, was
still less fortunate: they carried him in their arms, in spite of all
his protests and efforts to escape. Only one of them, who left by the
main entrance, passed through the crowd unrecognised, Commissionaire
Gourdin, who pushed a hand-cart containing his luggage and that of his
comrades in captivity, which he carried back home.

This acquittal sent me back to my rehearsals; and it was almost
settled for _Antony_ to be run during the last days of April. But the
last days of April were to find us thrown back into an altogether
different sort of agitation. The law of 13 December 1830 with respect
to national rewards had ordained the creation of a new order of merit
which was to be called the _Cross of July._ There had been a reason
for this creation which might excuse the deed, and which had induced
republicans to support the law. A decoration which recalls civil war
and a victory won by citizens over fellow-citizens, by the People
over the Army or by the Army over the People, is always a melancholy
object; but, as I say, there was an object underlying it different from
this. It was to enable people to recognise one another on any given
occasion, and to know, consequently, on whom to rely. These crosses
had been voted by committees comprised of fighters who were difficult
to deceive; for, out of their twelve members, of which, I believe,
each bureau consisted, there were always two or three who, if the cross
were misplaced on some unworthy breast, were able to set the error
right, or to contradict it. The part I took in the Revolution was
sufficiently public for this cross to be voted to me without disputes;
but, besides, as soon as the crosses were voted, as the members of the
different committees could not give each other crosses, I was appointed
a member of the committee commissioned to vote crosses to the first
distributors. The institution was therefore, superficially, quite
popular and fundamentally Republican. Thus we were astounded when, on
30 April, an order appeared, countersigned by Casimir Périer, laying
down the following points--

    "The Cross of July shall consist of a three-branched star.
    The reverse side shall bear on it: 27, 28 and 29 _July_
    1830. It shall have for motto: _Given by the King of the
    French._ It shall be worn on a blue ribbon edged with red.
    The citizens decorated with the July Cross SHALL BE PREPARED
    TO SWEAR FIDELITY TO THE KING OF THE FRENCH, and obedience
    to the Constitutional Charter and to the laws of the realm."

The order was followed by a list of the names of the citizens to whom
the cross was awarded. I had seen my name on the list, with great
delight, and on the same day I, who had never worn any cross, except
on solemn occasions, bought a red and black ribbon and put it in my
buttonhole. The red and black ribbon requires an explanation. We had
decided, in our programme which was thus knocked on the head by the
Royal command, that the ribbon was to be red, edged with black. The red
was to be a reminder of the blood that had been shed; the black, for
the mourning worn. I did not, then, feel that I could submit to that
portion of the order which decreed blue ribbon edged with red,--any
more than to the motto: _Given by the King_, or to the oath of fidelity
to the king, the Constitutional Charter and the laws of the kingdom.
Many followed my example, and, at the Tuileries, where I went for a
walk to see if some agent of authority would come and pick a quarrel
with me on account of my ribbon, I found a dozen decorated persons,
among whom were two or three of my friends, who, no doubt, had gone
there with the same intention as mine. Furthermore, the National Guard
was, at that date, on duty at the Tuileries, and they presented arms
to the red and black ribbon as to that of the Légion d'honneur. At
night, we learnt that there was to be a meeting at Higonnet's, to
protest against the colour of the ribbon, the oath and the motto. I
attended and protested; and, next day, I went to my rehearsal wearing
my ribbon. That was on 1 May; we had arrived at general rehearsals,
and, as I have said, I was becoming reconciled to my piece, without,
however,--so different was it from conventional notions--having any
idea whether the play would succeed or fail. But the success which the
two principal actors would win was incontestable. Bocage had made use
of every faculty to bring out the originality of the character he had
to represent, even to the physical defects we have notified in him.

Madame Dorval had made the very utmost out of the part of Adèle. She
enunciated her words with admirable precision, all the striking points
were brought out, except one which she had not yet discovered. "Then I
am lost!" she had to exclaim, when she heard of her husband's arrival.
Well, she did not know how to render those four words: "Then I am
lost!" And yet she realised that, if said properly, they would produce
a splendid effect. All at once an illumination flashed across her mind.

"Are you here, author?" she asked, coming to the edge of the footlights
to scan the orchestra.

"Yes ... what is it?" I replied.

"How did Mlle. Mars say: 'Then I am lost!'?"

"She was sitting down, and got up."

"Good!" replied Dorval, returning to her place, "I will be standing,
and will sit down."

The rehearsal was finished; Alfred de Vigny had been present, and
given me some good hints. I had made Antony an atheist, he made me
obliterate that blot in the part. He predicted a grand success for me.
We parted, he persisting in his opinion, I shaking my head dubiously.
Bocage led me into his dressing-room to show me his costume. I say
_costume_, for although Antony was clad like ordinary mortals, in
a cravat, frock-coat, waistcoat and trousers, there had to be, on
account of the eccentricity of the character, something peculiar in
the set of the cravat and shape of the waistcoat, in the cut of the
coat and in the set of the trousers. I had, moreover, given Bocage my
own ideas on the subject, which he had adapted to perfection; and,
seeing him in those clothes, people understood from the very first
that the actor did not represent just an ordinary man. It was settled
that the piece should be definitely given on 3 May; I had then only
two more rehearsals before the great day. The preceding ones had been
sadly neglected by me; I attended the last two with extreme assiduity.
When Madame Dorval reached the sentence which had troubled her for
long, she kept her word: she was standing and sank into an armchair as
though the earth had given way under her feet, and exclaimed, "Then
I am lost!" in such accents of terror that the few persons who were
present at the rehearsal broke into cheers. The final general rehearsal
was held with closed doors; it is always a mistake to introduce even
the most faithful of friends to a general rehearsal: on the day of the
performance they tell the plot of the play to their neighbours, or walk
about the corridors talking in loud voices, and creaking their boots on
the floor. I have never taken much credit to myself for giving theatre
tickets to my friends for the first performance; but I have always
repented of giving them tickets of admission for a general rehearsal.
Against this it will be argued that spectators can give good advice: in
the first place, it is too late to act upon any important suggestion
at general rehearsals; then, those who really offer valuable
advice, during the course of rehearsals, are the actors, firemen,
scene-shifters, supernumeraries and everybody, in fact, who lives by
the stage, and who know the theatre much better than all the Bachelors
of Arts and Academicians in existence. Well, then! my theatrical world
had predicted _Antony's_ success, scene-shifters, firemen craning their
necks round the wings, actors and actresses and supers going into the
auditorium and watching the scenes in which they didn't appear. The
night of production had come.



CHAPTER V


    The first representation of _Antony_--The play, the actors,
    the public--_Antony_ at the Palais-Royal--Alterations of the
    _dénoûment_


The times were unfavourable for literature: all minds were turned
upon politics, and disturbances were flying in the air as, on hot
summer evenings, swifts fly overhead with their shrill screams, and
black-winged bats wheel round. My piece was as well put on as it could
be; but, except for the expenditure of talent which the actors were
going to make, M. Crosnier had gone to no other cost; not a single new
carpet or decoration, not even a salon was renovated. The work might
fail without regret, for it had only cost the manager the time spent
over the rehearsals.

The curtain rose, Madame Dorval, in her gauze dress and town attire, a
society woman, in fact, was a novelty at the theatre, where people had
recently seen her in _Les Deux Forçats_, and in _Le Joueur_: so her
early scenes only met with a half-hearted success; her harsh voice,
round shoulders and peculiar gestures, of which she so often made use
that, in the scenes which contained no passionate action, they became
merely vulgar, naturally did not tell in favour of the play or the
actress. Two or three admirably true inflections, however, found grace
with the audience, but did not arouse its enthusiasm sufficiently to
extract one single cheer from it. It will be recollected that Bocage
has very little to do in the first act: he is brought in fainting,
and the only chance he has for any effect is where he tears off the
bandage from his wound, uttering, as he faints away for the second
time: "And now I shall remain, shall I not?" Only after that sentence
did the audience begin to understand the piece, and to feel the
hidden dramatic possibilities of a work whose first act ended thus.
The curtain fell in the midst of applause. I had ordered the intervals
between the acts to be short. I went behind the scenes myself to
hurry the actors, managers and scene-shifters. In five minutes' time,
before the excitement had had time to cool down, the curtain went up
again. The second act fell to the share of Bocage entirely. He threw
himself vigorously into it, but not egotistically, allowing Dorval
as much part as she had a right to take; he rose to a magnificent
height in the scene of bitter misanthropy and amorous threatening, a
scene, by the bye, which--except for that of the foundlings--took up
pretty nearly the whole act. I repeat that Bocage was really sublime
in these parts: intelligence of mind, nobleness of heart, expression
of countenance,--the very type of the Antony, as I had conceived him,
was presented to the public. After the act, whilst the audience were
still clapping, I went behind to congratulate him heartily. He was
glowing with enthusiasm and encouragement, and Dorval told him, with
the frankness of genius, how delighted she was with him. Dorval had
no fears at all. She knew that the fourth and fifth acts were hers,
and quietly waited her turn. When I re-entered the theatre it was in a
state of excitement; one could feel the air charged with those emotions
which go to the making of great success. I began to believe that I was
right, and the whole world wrong, even my manager; I except Alfred de
Vigny, who had predicted success. My readers know the third act, it is
all action, brutal action; with regard to violence, it bears a certain
likeness to the third act of _Henri III._, where the Duc de Guise
crushes his wife's wrist to force her to give Saint-Mégrin a rendezvous
in her own handwriting. Happily, the third act at the Théâtre-Français
having met with success, it made a stepping-stone for that at the
Porte-Saint-Martin. Antony, in pursuit of Adèle, is the first to reach
a village inn, where he seizes all the post-horses to oblige her to
stop there, chooses the room that suits him best of the only two in the
house, arranges an entrance into Adèle's room from the balcony, and
withdraws as he hears the sound of her carriage wheels. Adèle enters
and begs to be supplied with horses. She is only a few leagues from
Strassburg, where she is on her way to join her husband; the horses
taken away by Antony are not to be found: Adèle is obliged to spend the
night in the inn. She takes every precaution for her safety, which, the
moment she is alone, becomes useless, because of the opening by the
balcony, forgotten in her nervous investigations. Madame Dorval was
adorable in her feminine simplicity and instinctive terrors. She spoke
as no one had spoken, or ever will speak them, those two extremely
simple sentences: "But this door will not shut!" and "No accident has
ever happened in your hotel, Madame?" Then, when the mistress of the
inn has withdrawn, she decides to go into her bedroom. Hardly had she
disappeared before a pane of the window falls broken to atoms, an arm
appears and unlatches the catch, the window is opened and both Antony
and Adèle appear, the one on the balcony of her window, the other on
the threshold of the room. At the sight of Antony, Adèle utters a cry.
The rest of the scene was terrifyingly realistic. To stop her from
crying out again, Antony placed a handkerchief on Adèle's mouth, drags
her into the room, and the curtain falls as they are both entering it
together. There was a moment of silence in the house. Porcher, the man
whom I have pointed out as one of our three or four pretenders to the
crown as the most capable of bringing about a restoration, was charged
with the office of producing my restoration, but hesitated to give the
signal. Mahomet's bridge was not narrower than the thread which at
that moment hung Antony suspended between success and failure. Success
carried the day, however. A great uproar succeeded the frantic rounds
of applause which burst forth in a torrent. They clapped and howled
for five minutes. When I have failures, rest assured I will not spare
myself; but, meanwhile, I ask leave to be allowed to tell the truth. On
this occasion the success belonged to the two actors; I ran behind the
theatre to embrace them. No Adèle and no Antony to be found! I thought
for a moment that, carried away by the enthusiasm of the performance,
they had resumed the play at the words, "_Antony lui jette un mouchoir
sur la bouche, et remporte dans sa chambre_," and had continued the
piece. I was mistaken: they were both changing their costumes and were
shut in their dressing-rooms. I shouted all kinds of endearing terms
through the door.

"Are you satisfied?" Bocage inquired.

"Enchanted."

"Bravo! the rest of the piece belongs to Dorval."

"You will not leave her in the lurch?"

"Oh! be easy on that score!"

I ran to Dorval's door.

"It is superb, my child--splendid! magnificent!"

"Is that you, my big bow-wow?"

"Yes."

"Come in, then!"

"But the door is fast."

"To everybody but you." She opened it; she was unstrung; and, half
undressed as she was, she flung herself into my arms.

"I think we have secured it, my dear!"

"What?"

"Why! a success, of course!"

"H'm! h'm!"

"Are you not satisfied?"

"Yes, quite."

"Hang it! You would be hard to please, if you were not."

"It seems to me, however, that we have passed out of the worst
troubles!"

"True, all has gone well so far; but ..."

"But what, come, my big bow-wow! Oh! I do love you for giving me such a
fine part!"

"Did you see the society women, eh?"

"No."

"What did they say of me?"

"But I did not see them ..."

"You will see them?"

"Oh yes."

"Then you will repeat what they say ... but frankly, mind."

"Of course."

"Look, there is my ball dress."

"Pretty swell, I fancy!"

"Oh! big dog, do you know how much you have cost me?"

"No."

"Eight hundred francs!"

"Come here." I whispered a few words in her ear.

"Really?" she exclaimed.

"Certainly!"

"You will do that?"

"Of course, since I have said so."

"Kiss me."

"No."

"Why not?"

"I never kiss people when I make them a present."

"Why?"

"I expect them to kiss me."

She threw her arms round my neck.

"Come now, good luck!" I said to her.

"And you must have it too."

"Courage? I am going to seek it."

"Where?"

"At the Bastille."

"At the Bastille?"

"Yes, I have a notion the beginning of the fourth act will not get on
so well."

"Why not?"

"Come now! the fourth act is delightful: I will answer for it."

"Yes, you will make the end go, but not the beginning."

"Ah I yes, that is a _feuilleton_ which Grailly speaks."

"Bah! it will succeed all the same: the audience is enthusiastic; we
can feel that, all of us."

"Ah I you feel that?"

"Then, too, see you, my big bow-wow; there are people in the stalls of
the house, _gentlemen_ too! who stare at me as they never have stared
before."

"I don't wonder."

"I say ..."

"What?"

"If I am going to become the rage?"

"It only depends on yourself."

"Liar!"

"I swear it only depends on yourself."

"Yes ... but ... Alfred, eh?"

"Exactly!"

"Upon my word, so much the worse! We shall see."

The voice of the stage-manager called Madame Dorval!

"Can we begin?"

"No, no, no; I am not dressed yet, I am only in my chemise! He's a
pretty fellow, that Moëssard! What would the audience say?... It is
you who have hindered me like this ... Go off with you then!"

"Put me out."

"Go! go! go!"

She kissed me three times and pushed me to the door. Poor lips, then
fresh and smiling and trembling, which I was to see closed and frozen
for ever at the touch of death!

I went outside; as I was in need of air. I met Bixio in the corridors.

"Come with me," I said.

"Where the dickens are you off to?"

"I am going for a walk."

"What! a walk?"

"Yes!"

"Just when the curtain is going to rise?"

"Exactly! I do not feel sure about the fourth act and would much rather
it began without me."

"Are you sure about the end?"

"Oh! the end is a different matter ... We will come back for that,
never fear!"

And we hurried out on to the boulevard.

"Ah!" I exclaimed, as I breathed the air.

"What is the matter with you?... Is it your piece that is upsetting
you like this?"

"Get along, hang my piece!"

I dragged Bixio in the direction of the Bastille. I do not remember
what we talked of. I only know we walked for half a league, there and
back, chattering and laughing. If anybody had said to the passers-by,
"You see that great lunatic of a man over there? He is the author
of the play being acted at this very moment at the theatre of la
Porte-Saint-Martin!" they would indeed have been amazed.

I came in again at the right moment, at the scene of the insult. The
_feuilleton_, as Dorval called it, meaning the apology for this modern
style of drama, the real preface to _Antony_, had passed over without
hindrance and had even been applauded. I had a box close to the stage
and I made a sign to Dorval that I was there; she signalled back that
she saw me. Then the scene began between Adèle and the Vicomtesse,
which is summed up in these words, "But I have done nothing to this
woman!" Next comes the scene between Adèle and Antony, where Adèle
repeatedly exclaims, "She is his mistress!"

Well! I say it after twenty-two years have passed by,--and during those
years I have composed many plays, and seen many pieces acted, and
applauded many actors,--he who never saw Dorval act those two scenes,
although he may have seen the whole repertory of modern drama, can have
no conception how far pathos can be carried.

The reader knows how this act ends; the Vicomtesse enters; Adèle,
surprised in the arms of Antony, utters a cry and disappears. Behind
the Vicomtesse, Antony's servant enters in his turn. He has ridden full
gallop from Strassburg, to announce to his master the return of Adèle's
husband. Antony dashes from the stage like a madman, or one driven
desperate, crying, "Wretch! shall I arrive in time?"

I ran behind the scenes. Dorval was already on the stage, uncurling
her hair and pulling her flowers to pieces; she had at times her
moments of transports of passion, exceeding those of the actress. The
scene-shifters were altering the scenes, whilst Dorval was acting her
part. The audience applauded frantically. "A hundred francs," I cried
to the shifters, "if the curtain be raised again before the applause
ceases!" In two minutes' time the three raps were given: the curtain
rose and the scene-shifters had won their hundred francs. The fifth act
began literally before the applause for the fourth had died down. I had
one moment of acute anguish. In the middle of the terrible scene where
the two lovers, caught in a net of sorrows, are striving to extricate
themselves, but can find no means of either living or dying together, a
second before Dorval exclaimed, "Then I am lost!" I had, in the stage
directions, arranged that Bocage should move the armchair ready to
receive Adèle, when she is overwhelmed at the news of her husband's
arrival. And Bocage forgot to turn the chair in readiness. But Dorval
was too much carried away by passion to be put out by such a trifle.
Instead of falling on the cushion, she fell on to the arm of the chair,
and uttered a cry of despair, with such a piercing grief of soul
wounded, torn, broken, that the whole audience rose to its feet. This
time the cheers were not for me at all, but for the actress and for her
alone, for her marvellous, magnificent performance! The _dénoûment_ is
known; it is utterly unexpected, and is summed up in a single phrase
of six startling words. The door is burst open by M. de Hervey just as
Adèle falls on a sofa, stabbed by Antony.

"Dead?" cries Baron de Hervey.

"Yes, dead!" coldly answers Antony. _Elle me résistait: je l'ai
assassinée!_ And he flings his dagger at the husband's feet. The
audience gave vent to such cries of terror, dismay and sorrow, that
probably a third of the audience hardly heard these words, a necessary
supplement to the piece, which, however, without them would be
nothing but an ordinary intrigue of adultery, unravelled by a simple
assassination. The effect, all the same, was tremendous. They called
for the author with frantic cries. Bocage came forward and told them.
Then they called for Antony and Adèle again, and both returned to take
their share in such an ovation as they had never had, nor ever would
have again. For they had both attained to the highest achievement in
their art! I flew from my box to go to them, without noticing that the
passages were blocked with spectators coming out of their seats. I had
not taken four steps before I was recognised; then I had my turn, as
the author of the play. A crowd of young persons of my own age (I was
twenty-eight), pale, scared, breathless, rushed at me. They pulled
me right and left and embraced me. I wore a green coat buttoned up
from top to bottom; they tore the tails of it to shreds. I entered
the green-room, as Lord Spencer entered his, in a round jacket; the
rest of my coat had gone into a state of relics. They were stupefied
behind the scenes; they had never seen a success taking such a form
before, never before had applause gone so straight from the audience
to the actors; and what an audience it was too! The fashionable
world, the exquisites who take the best boxes at theatres, those who
only applaud from habit, who, this time, made themselves hoarse with
shouting so loudly, and had split their gloves with clapping! Crosnier
was hidden. Bocage was as happy as a child. Dorval was mad! Oh, good
and brave-hearted friends, who, in the midst of their own triumphs,
seemed to enjoy my success more even than their own! who put their
own talent on one side and loudly extolled the poet and the work! I
shall never forget that night; Bocage has not forgotten it either.
Only a week ago we were talking of it as though it had happened only
yesterday; and I am certain, if such matters are remembered in the
other world, Dorval remembers it too! Now, what became of us all after
we had been congratulated? I know not. Just as there is around every
luminous body a mist, so there was one over the rest of the evening and
night, which my memory, after a lapse of twenty-two years, is unable to
penetrate. In conclusion, one of the special features of the drama of
_Antony_ was that it kept the spectators spell-bound to the final fall
of the curtain. As the _morale_ of the work was contained in those
six words, which Bocage pronounced with such perfect dignity, "_Elle
me résistait: je l'ai assassinée!_" everybody remained to hear them,
and would not leave until they had been spoken, with the following
result. Two or three years after the first production of _Antony_, it
became the piece played at all benefit performances; to such an extent
that once they asked Dorval and Bocage to act it for the Palais-Royal
Theatre. I forget, and it does not matter, for whom the benefit was to
be performed. The play met with its accustomed success, thanks to the
acting of those two great artistes; only, the manager had been told the
wrong moment at which to call the curtain down! So it fell as Antony
is stabbing Adèle, and robbed the audience of the final _dénoûment._
That was not what they wanted: it was the _dénoûment_ they meant to
have; so, instead of going they shouted loudly for _Le dénoûment! le
dénoûment!_ They clamoured to such an extent that the manager begged
the actors to let him raise the curtain again, and for the piece to be
concluded.

Dorval, ever good-natured, resumed her pose in the armchair as the
dead woman, while they ran to find Antony. But he had gone into his
dressing-room, furious because they had made him miss his final
effect, and withdrawing himself into his tent, like Achilles; like
Achilles, too, he obstinately refused to come out of it. All the time
the audience went on clapping and shouting and calling, "Bocage!
Dorval!.... Dorval! Bocage!" and threatening to break the benches. The
manager raised the curtain, hoping that Bocage, when driven to bay,
would be compelled to come upon the stage. But Bocage sent the manager
about his business. Meanwhile, Dorval waited in her chair, with her
arms hung down, and head lying back. The audience waited, too, in
profound silence; but, when they saw that Bocage was not coming back,
they began cheering and calling their hardest. Dorval felt that the
atmosphere was becoming stormy, and raised her stiff arms, lifted her
bent head, rose, walked to the footlights, and, in the midst of the
silence which had settled down miraculously, at the first movement she
had ventured to make:

"_Messieurs_" she said, "_Messieurs, je lui résistais, il m'a
assassinée!_" Then she made a graceful obeisance and left the stage,
hailed by thunders of applause. The curtain fell and the spectators
went away enchanted. They had had their _dénoûment_, with a variation,
it is true; but this variation was so clever, that one would have had
to be very ill-natured not to prefer it to the original form.



CHAPTER VI


    The inspiration under which I composed _Antony_--The
    Preface--Wherein lies the moral of the piece--Cuckoldom,
    Adultery and the Civil Code--_Quem nuptiœ demonstrant_--Why
    the Critics exclaimed that my Drama was immoral--Account
    given by the least malevolent among them--How prejudices
    against bastardy are overcome


_Antony_ has given rise to so many controversies, that I must ask
permission not to leave the subject thus; moreover, this work is not
merely the most original and characteristic of all my works, but
it is one of those rare creations which influences its age. When I
wrote _Antony_, I was in love with a woman of whom, although far from
beautiful, I was horribly jealous; jealous because she was placed in
the same position as Adèle; her husband was an officer in the army;
and the fiercest jealousy that a man can feel is that roused by the
existence of a husband, seeing that one has no grounds for quarrelling
with a woman who possesses a husband, however jealous one may be of
him. One day she received a letter from her husband announcing his
return. I almost went mad. I went to one of my friends employed in
the War Office; three times the leave of absence, which was ready to
be sent off, disappeared; it was either torn up or burnt by him. The
husband did not return. What I suffered during that time of suspense, I
could not attempt to describe, although twenty-four years have passed
over, since that love departed the way of the poet Villon's "old
moons." But read _Antony_: that will tell you what I suffered!

_Antony_ is not a drama, nor a tragedy! not even a theatrical piece;
_Antony_ is a description of love, of jealousy and of anger, in five
acts. Antony was myself, leaving out the assassination, and Adèle was
my mistress, leaving out the flight. Therefore, I took Byron's words
for my epigram, "_People said Childe Harold was myself ... it does not
matter if they did!_ "I put the following verses as my preface; they
are not very good; I could improve them now: but I shall do nothing of
the kind, they would lose their flavour. Poor as they are, they depict
two things well enough: the feverish time at which they were composed
and the disordered state of my heart at that period.

    "Que de fois tu m'as dit, aux heures du délire,
    Quand mon front tout à coup devenait soucieux:
    'Sur ta bouche pourquoi cet effrayant sourire?
        Pourquoi ces larmes dans tes yeux?'

    Pourquoi? C'est que mon cœur, au milieu des délices,
    D'un souvenir jaloux constamment oppressé,
    Froid au bonheur présent, va chercher ses supplices
        Dans l'avenir et le passé!

    Jusque dans tes baisers je retrouve des peines,
    Tu m'accables d'amour!... L'amour, je m'en souviens,
    Pour la première fois s'est glissé dans tes veines
        Sous d'autres baisers que les miens!

    Du feu des voluptés vainement tu m'enivres!
    Combien, pour un beau jour, de tristes lendemains!
    Ces charmes qu'à mes mains, en palpitant, tu livres,
        Palpiteront sous d'autres mains!

    Et je ne pourrai pas, dans ma fureur jalouse,
    De l'infidélité te réserver le prix;
    Quelques mots à l'autel t'ont faite son épouse,
        Et te sauvent de mon mépris.

    Car ces mots pour toujours ont vendu tes caresses;
    L'amour ne les doit plus donner ni recevoir;
    L'usage des époux à réglé les tendresses,
        Et leurs baisers sont un devoir.

    Malheur, malheur à moi, que le ciel, en ce monde,
    A jeté comme un hôte à ses lois étranger!
    À moi qui ne sais pas, dans ma douleur profonde,
        Souffrir longtemps sans me venger!

    Malheur! car une voix qui n'a rien de la terre
    M'a dit: 'Pour ton bonheur, c'est sa mort qu'il te faut?'
    Et cette voix m'a fait comprendre le mystère
        Et du meurtre et de l'échafaud....

    Viens donc, ange du mal, dont la voix me convie,
    Car il est des instants où, si je te voyais,
    Je pourrais, pour son sang, t'abandonner ma vie
        Et mon âme ... si j'y croyais!"

What do you think of my lines? They are impious, blasphemous and
atheistic, and, in fact, I will proclaim it, as I copy them here nearly
a quarter of a century after they were made, they would be inexcusably
poor if they had been written in cold blood. But they were written at a
time of passion, at one of those crises when a man feels driven to give
utterance to his sorrows, and to describe his sufferings in another
language than his ordinary speech. Therefore, I hope they may earn the
indulgence of both poets and philosophers.

Now, was _Antony_ really as immoral a work as certain of the papers
made out? No; for, in all things, says an old French proverb (and,
since the days of Sancho Panza, we know that proverbs contain the
wisdom of nations), we must see the end first before passing judgment.
Now, this is how _Antony_ ends. Antony is engaged in a guilty intrigue,
is carried away by an adulterous passion, and kills his mistress to
save her honour as a wife, and dies afterwards on the scaffold, or at
least is sent to the galleys for the rest of his days. Very well, I
ask you, are there many young society people who would be disposed to
fling themselves into a sinful intrigue, to enter upon an adulterous
passion,--to become, in short, Antonys and Adèles, with the prospect in
view, at the end of their passion and romance, of death for the woman
and of the galleys for the man? People will answer me, that it is the
form in which it is put that is dangerous, that Antony makes murder
admirable, and Adèle justifies adultery.

But what would you have! I cannot make my lovers hideous in character,
unsightly in looks and repulsive in manners. The love-making between
Quasimodo and Locuste would not be listened to beyond the third scene!
Take Molière for instance. Does not Angélique betray Georges Dandin
in a delightful way? And Valère steal from his father in a charming
fashion? And Don Juan deceive Dona Elvire in the most seductive of
language? Ah! Molière knew as well as the moderns what adultery was! He
died from its effects. What broke his heart, the heart which stopped
beating at the age of fifty-three? The smiles given to the young Baron
by la Béjart, her ogling looks at M. de Lauzun, a letter addressed
by her to a third lover and found the morning of that ill-fated
representation of the _Malade imaginaire_ which Molière could scarcely
finish! It is true that, in Molière's time, it was called cuckoldry and
made fun of; that nowadays, we style it adultery, and weep over it.
Why was it called cuckoldry in the seventeenth century and adultery in
the nineteenth? I will tell you. Because, in the seventeenth century,
the Civil Code had not been invented. The Civil Code? What has that to
do with it? You shall see. In the seventeenth century there existed
the rights of primogeniture, seniority, trusteeship and of entail; and
the oldest son inherited the name, title and fortune; the other sons
were either made M. le Chevalier or M. le Mousquetaire or M. l'Abbé,
as the case might be. They decorated the first with the Malta Cross,
the second they decked out in a helmet with buffalo tails, they endowed
the third with a clerical collar. While, as for the daughters, they
did not trouble at all about them; they married whom they liked if
they were pretty, and anybody who would have them if they were plain.
For those who either would not or could not be married there remained
the convent, that vast sepulchre for aching hearts. Now, although
three-quarters of the marriages were _marriages de convenance_, and
contracted between people who scarcely knew each other, the husband
was nearly always sure that his first male child was his own. This
first male child secured,--that is to say, the son to inherit his name,
title and fortune, when begotten by him,--what did it matter who was
the father of M. le Chevalier, M. le Mousquetaire or M. l'Abbé? It
was all the same to him, and often he did not even inquire into the
matter! Look, for example, at the anecdote of Saint-Simon and of M. de
Mortemart.

But in our days, alas, it is very different! The law has abolished
the right of primogeniture; the Code forbids seniorities, entail and
trusteeships. Fortunes are divided equally between the children;
even daughters are not left out, but have the same right as sons to
the paternal inheritance. Now, from the moment that the _quem nuptiœ
demonstrant_ knows that children born during wedlock will share his
fortune in equal portions, he takes care those children shall be his
own; for a child, not his, sharing with his legitimate heirs, is
simply a thief. And this is the reason why adultery is a crime in the
nineteenth century, and why cuckoldom was only treated as a joke in the
seventeenth.

Now, what is the reason that people do not exclaim at the immorality
of Angélique, who betrays Georges Dandin, of Valère who robs his papa,
of Don Juan who deceives Charlotte, Mathurine and Doña Elvire all at
the same time? Because all those characters--Georges Dandin, Harpagon,
Don Carlos, Don Alonzo and Pierrot--lived two or three centuries
before us, and did not talk as we do, nor were dressed as we dress;
because they wore breeches, jerkins, cloaks and plumed hats, so that
we do not recognise ourselves in them. But directly a modern author,
more bold than others, takes manners as they actually are, passion as
it really is, crime from its secret hiding-places and presents them
upon the stage in white ties, black coats, and trousers with straps
and patent leather boots--ah! each one sees himself as in a mirror,
and sneers instead of laughing, attacks instead of approving, groans
instead of applauding. Had I put Adèle into a dress of the time of
Isabella of Bavaria and Antony into a doublet of the time of Louis
d'Orléans, and if I had even made the adultery between brother-in-law
and sister-in-law, nobody would have objected. What critic dreams of
calling Œdipus immoral, who kills his father and marries his mother,
whose children are his sons, grandson and brothers all at the same
time, and ends, by putting out his own eyes to punish himself, a
futile action, since the whole thing was looked upon as the work of
fate? Not a single one! But would any poor devil be so silly as to
recognise a likeness of himself under either a Grecian cloak or a
Theban tunic? I would, indeed, like to have the opinion of some of the
moralists of the Press who condemned _Antony;_ that, for instance of
M. ---- who, at that time, was living openly with Madame ---- (I nearly
said who). If I put it before my readers, the revelation would not fail
to interest them. I can only lay my hands on one article; true, I am at
Brussels and write these lines after two in the morning. I exhume that
article from a very honest and innocent book--the _Annuaire historique
et universel_ by M. Charles Louis-Lesur. Here it is--it is one of the
least bitter of the criticisms.

    "_Théâtre de la Porte-Saint-Martin_ (3 May).

    _"First performance of Antony, a drama in five acts by M.
    Alexandre Dumas._

    "In an age and in a country where bastardy would be a
    stain bearing the stamp of the law, sanctioned by custom
    and a real social curse, against which a man, however
    rich in talent, honours and fortune would struggle in
    vain, the moral aim of the drama of _Antony_ could easily
    be explained; but, nowadays when, as in France, _all
    special privileges of birth are done away with_, those
    of plebeian as well as of illegitimate origin, why this
    passionate pleading, to which, necessarily, there cannot
    be any contradiction and reply? Moral aim being altogether
    non-existent in _Antony_, what else is there in the work?
    Only the frenzied portrayal of an adulterous passion, which
    stops at nothing to satisfy itself, which plays with dangers
    and murder and death."

Then follows an unamiable analysis of the piece and the criticism
continues--

    "Such a conception no more bears the scrutiny of good
    common sense than a crime brought before the Assize-courts
    can sustain the scrutiny of a jury. The author, by placing
    himself in an unusual situation of ungovernable and cruel
    passions, which spare neither tears nor blood, removes
    himself outside the pale of literature; his work is a
    monstrosity, although we ought in fairness to say that some
    parts are depicted with an uncommon degree of strength,
    grace and beauty. Bocage and Madame Dorval distinguished
    themselves by the talent and energy with which they played
    the two leading parts of Antony and Adèle."

My dear Monsieur Lesur, I could answer your criticism from beginning to
end; but I will only reply to the statements I have underlined, which
refer to bastardy, with which you start your article. Well, dear sir,
you are wrong; privileges of birth are by no means overcome, as you
said. I myself know and you also knew,--I say _you knew_, because I
believe you are dead,--you, a talented man--nay, even more, a man of
genius, who had a hard struggle to make your fortune, and who, in spite
of talent, genius, fortune, were constantly reproached with the fatal
accident of your birth. People cavilled over your age, your name, your
social status ... Where? Why, in that inner circle where laws are made,
and where, consequently, they ought not to have forgotten that the law
proclaims the equality of the French people one with another. Well!
that man, with the marvellous persistence which characterises him, will
gain his object: he will be a Minister one day. Well, at that day what
will they attack in him?--His opinions, schemes, Utopian ideas? Not at
all, only his birth!--And who will attack it?--Some mean rascal who has
the good luck to possess a father and a mother, who, unfortunately,
have reason to blush for him!

But enough about _Antony_, which we will leave, to continue its run
of a hundred performances in the midst of the political disturbances
outside; and let us return to the events which caused these
disturbances.



CHAPTER VII


    A word on criticism--Molière estimated by Bossuet, by
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau and by Bourdaloue--An anonymous
    libel--Critics of the seventeenth and nineteenth
    centuries--M. François de Salignac de la Motte de
    Fénelon--Origin of the word _Tartuffe_--M. Taschereau and M.
    Étienne


Man proposes and God disposes. We ended our last chapter with the
intention of going back to political events; but, behold, since we have
been talking of criticism, we are seized with the desire to dedicate
a whole short chapter to the worthy goddess. There will, however,
be no hatred nor recrimination in it. We are only incited with the
desire to wander aside for a brief space, and to place before our
readers opinions which are either unknown to them or else forgotten.
The following, for instance, was written about Molière's comedies
generally:--

    "We must, then, make allowances for the impieties and
    infamous doings with which Molière's comedies are packed, as
    honestly meant; or we may not put on a level with the pieces
    of to-day those of an author who has declined, as it were,
    before our very eyes and who even yet fills all our theatres
    with the coarsest jokes which ever contaminated Christian
    ears. Think, whether you would be so bold, nowadays, as
    openly to defend pieces wherein virtue and piety are always
    ridiculed, corruption ever excused and always treated as a
    joke.

    "Posterity may, perhaps, see entire oblivion cover the
    works of that poet-actor, who, whilst acting his _Malade
    imaginaire_, was attacked by the last agonies of the disease
    of which he died a few hours later, passing away from the
    jesting of the stage, amidst which he breathed almost his
    last sigh, to the tribunal of One who said, '_Woe to ye who
    laugh, for ye shall weep'!_"

By whom do you suppose this diatribe against one whom modern criticism
styles _the great moralist_ was written? By some Geoffroy or Charles
Maurice of the day? Indeed! well you are wrong: it was by the eagle
of Meaux, M. de Bossuet.[1] Now listen to what is said about _Georges
Dandin_:

    "See how, to multiply his jokes, this man disturbs the
    whole order of society! With what scandals does he upheave
    the most sacred relations on which it is founded! How he
    turns to ridicule the venerable rights of fathers over
    their children, of husbands over their wives, masters over
    their servants! He makes one laugh; true, but he is all
    the more to be blamed for compelling, by his invincible
    charm, even wise persons to listen to his sneers, which
    ought only to rouse their indignation. I have heard it
    said that he attacks vices; but I would far rather people
    compared those which he attacks with those he favours. Which
    is the criminal? A peasant who is fool enough to marry a
    young lady, or a wife who tries to bring dishonour upon her
    husband? What can we think of a piece when the pit applauds
    infidelity, lies, impudence, and laughs at the stupidity of
    the punished rustic."

By whom was that criticism penned? Doubtless by some intolerant
priest, or fanatical prelate? By no means. It was by the author of
the _Confessions_ and of the _Nouvelle Héloïse_, by Jean-Jacques
Rousseau![2] Perhaps the _Misanthrope_, at any rate, may find favour
with the critics. It is surely admitted, is it not, that this play is a
masterpiece? Let us see what the unctuous Bourdaloue says about it, in
his _Lettre à l'Académie Française._ It is short, but to the point.

    "Another fault in Molière that many clever people forgive in
    him, but which I have not allowed myself to forgive, is that
    he makes vice fascinating and virtue ridiculously rigid and
    odious!"

Let us pass on to _l'Avare,_ and return to Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

    "It is a great vice to be a miser and to lend upon usury,
    said the Genevan philosopher, but is it not a still greater
    for a son to rob his father, to be wanting in respect to
    him, to insult him with innumerable reproaches and, when the
    annoyed father curses him, to answer in a bantering way,
    '_Qu'il n'a que faire de ses dons._' 'I have no use for
    your gifts.' If the joke is a good one, is it, therefore,
    any the less deserving of censure? And is not a piece which
    makes the audience like an insolent son a bad school for
    manners?"[3]

Let us take a sample from an anonymous critic: _Don Juan_ and
_Tartuffe_, this time; then, after that, we will return to a well-known
name, to a poet still cutting his milk teeth and to a golden-mouthed
orator. We will begin by the anonymous writer. Note that the precept of
Horace was still in vogue at this time: _Sugar the rim of the cup to
make the drink less bitter!_

"I hope," said the critic, "that Molière will receive these
observations the more willingly because passion and interest have no
share in them: I have no desire to hurt him, but only to be of use to
him."

Good! so much for the sugaring the rim of the cup; the absinthe is to
come, and, after the absinthe, the dregs. Let us continue:

    "We have no grudge against him personally, but we object
    to his atheism; we are not envious of his gain or of his
    reputation; it is for no private reasons, but on behalf of
    all right-thinking people; and he must not take it amiss if
    we openly defend the interests of God, which he so openly
    attacks, or because a Christian sorrowfully testifies when
    he sees the theatre in rebellion against the Church, comedy
    in arms against the Gospel, a comedian who makes game of
    mysteries and fun of all that is most sacred and holy in
    religion!

    "It is true that there are some fine passages in Molière's
    works, and I should be very sorry to rob him of the
    admiration he has earned. It must be admitted that, if
    he succeeds but ill in comedy, he has some talent in
    farce; and, although he has neither the witty skill of
    Gauthier-Garguille, nor the impromptu touches of Turlupin,
    nor the power of Capitan, nor the naïveté of Jodelet, nor
    the retort of Gros-Guillaume, nor the science of Docteur, he
    does not fail to please at times, and to amuse in his own
    way. He speaks French passably well; he translates Italian
    fairly, and does not err deeply in copying other authors;
    but he does not pretend to have the gift of invention or
    a genius for poetry. Things that make one laugh when said
    often look silly on paper, and we might compare his comedies
    with those women who look perfect frights in undress, but
    who manage to please when they are dressed up, or with
    those tiny figures which, having left off their high-heeled
    shoes, look only half-sized. At the same time, we must not
    deny that Molière is either very unfortunate or very clever
    in managing to pass off his false coin successfully, and
    to dupe the whole of Paris with his poor pieces. Those, in
    short, are the best and most favourable things we can say
    for Molière.

    "If that author had set forth only affected
    characterisations, and had stuck entirely to doublets and
    large frills, he would not have brought upon himself any
    public censure and he would not have roused the indignation
    of every religious-minded person. But who can stand the
    boldness of a farce-writer who makes jokes at religion, who
    upholds a school of libertinism, and who treats the majesty
    of God as the plaything of a stage-manager or a call-boy.
    To do so would be to betray the cause of religion openly at
    a time when its glory is publicly attacked and when faith
    is exposed to the insults of a buffoon who trades on its
    mysteries and profanes its holy things; who confounds and
    upsets the very foundations of religion in the heart of
    the Louvre, in the home of a Christian prince, before wise
    magistrates zealous in God's cause, holding up to derision
    numberless good pastors as no better than Tartuffes! And
    this under the reign of the greatest, the most religious
    monarch in the world, whilst that gracious prince is
    exerting every effort to uphold the religion that Molière
    labours to destroy! The king destroys temples of heresy,
    whilst Molière is raising altars to atheism, and the more
    the prince's virtue strives to establish in the hearts of
    his subjects the worship of the true God, by the example
    of his own acts, so much the more does Molière's libertine
    humour try to ruin faith in people's minds by the license of
    his works.

    "Surely it must be confessed that Molière himself is a
    finished Tartuffe, a veritable hypocrite! If the true object
    of comedy is to correct men's faults while amusing them,
    Molière's plan is to send them laughing to perdition. Like
    those snakes the poison of whose deadly bite sends a false
    gleam of pleasure across the face of its victim, it is an
    instrument of the devil; it turns both heaven and hell to
    ridicule; it traduces religion, under the name of hypocrisy;
    it lays the blame on God, and brags of its impious doings
    before the whole world! After spreading through people's
    minds deadly poisons which stifle modesty and shame, after
    taking care to teach women to become coquettes and giving
    girls dangerous counsel, after producing schools notoriously
    impure, and establishing others for licentiousness--then,
    when it has shocked all religious feeling, and caused all
    right-minded people to look askance at it, it composes its
    _Tartuffe_ with the idea of making pious people appear
    ridiculous and hypocritical. It is indeed all very well for
    Molière to talk of religion, with which he had little to do,
    and of which he knew neither the practice nor the theory.

    "His avarice contributes not a little to the incitement of
    his animus against religion; he is aware that forbidden
    things excite desire, and he openly sacrifices all the
    duties of piety to his own interests; it is that which makes
    him lay bold hands on the sanctuary, and he has no shame in
    wearing out the patience of a great queen who is continually
    striving to reform or to suppress his works.

    "Augustus put a clown to death for sneering at Jupiter, and
    forbade women to be present at his comedies, which were
    more decent than were those of Molière. Theodosius flung
    to the wild beasts those scoffers who turned religious
    ceremonies into derision, and yet even their acts did not
    approach Molière's violent outbursts against religion. He
    should pause and consider the extreme danger of playing
    with God; that impiety never remains unpunished; and that
    if it escapes the fires of this earth it cannot escape
    those of the next world. No one should abuse the kindness
    of a great prince, nor the piety of a religious queen at
    whose expense he lives and whose feelings he glories in
    outraging. It is known that he boasts loudly that he means
    to play his _Tartuffe_ in one way or another, and that the
    displeasure the great queen has signified at this has not
    made any impression upon him, nor put any limits to his
    insolence. But if he had any shadow of modesty left would he
    not be sorry to be the butt of all good people, to pass for
    a libertine in the minds of preachers, to hear every tongue
    animated by the Holy Spirit publicly condemn his blasphemy?
    Finally, I do not think that I shall be putting forth too
    bold a judgment in stating that no man, however ignorant in
    matters of faith, knowing the content of that play, could
    maintain that Molière, _in the capacity of its author_, is
    worthy to participate in the Sacraments, or that he should
    receive absolution without a public separation, or that he
    is even fit to enter churches, after the anathemas that the
    council have fulminated against authors of imprudent and
    sacrilegious spectacles!"

Do you not observe, dear reader, that this anonymous libel, addressed
to King Louis XIV. in order to prevent the performance of _Tartuffe_,
is very similar to the petition addressed to King Charles X. in order
to hinder the performance of _Henri III._? except that the author or
authors of that seventeenth century libel had the modesty to preserve
their anonymity, whilst the illustrious Academicians of the nineteenth
boldly signed their names: Viennet, Lemercier, Arnault, Étienne
Jay, Jouy and Onésime Leroy. M. Onésime Leroy was not a member of
the Academy, but he was very anxious to be one! Why he is not is a
question I defy any one to answer. These insults were at any rate from
contemporaries and can be understood; but Bossuet, who wrote ten years
after the death of Molière; Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who wrote eighty
years after the production of _Tartuffe_; and Bourdaloue and Fénelon
... Ah! I must really tell you what Fénelon thought of the author of
the _Précieuses ridicules._ After the Eagle of Meaux, let us have the
Swan of Cambrai! There are no fiercer creatures when they are angered
than woolly fleeced sheep or white-plumed birds!

    "Although Molière thought rightly he often expressed himself
    badly; he made use of the most strained and unnatural
    phrases. Terence said in four or five words, and with the
    most exquisite simplicity, what it took Molière a multitude
    of metaphors approaching to nonsense to say. _I much prefer
    his prose to his poetry._ For example, _l'Avare_ is less
    badly written than the plays which are in verse; but, taken
    altogether, it seems to me, that even in his prose, he does
    not speak in simple enough language to express all passions."

Remark that this was written twenty years after the death of Molière,
and that Fénelon, the author of _Télémaque_, in speaking to the
Academy, which applauded with those noddings of the head which
did not hinder their naps, boldly declared that the author of the
_Misanthrope_, of _Tartuffe_ and of the _Femmes Savants_ did not
know how to write in verse. O my dear Monsieur François de Salignac
de la Motte de Fénelon, if I but had here a certain criticism that
Charles Fourier wrote upon your _Télémaque_, how I should entertain
my reader! In the meantime, the man whom seventeenth and eighteenth
century criticism, whom ecclesiastics and philosophers, Bossuet and
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, treated as heretical, a corrupter and an
abomination; who, according to the anonymous writer of the letter to
the king, _spoke French passably well_; who, according to Fénelon _did
not know how to write in verse_--that man, in the nineteenth century,
is considered a great moralist, a stern corrector of manners, an
inimitable writer!

Yet more: men who, in their turn, write letters to the descendant
of Louis XIV., in order to stop the heretics, corrupters of morals,
abominable men of the nineteenth century from having their works
played, grovel on their knees before the illustrious dead; they search
his works for the slenderest motives he might have had or did not
have, in writing them; they poke about to discover what he could have
meant by such and such a thing, when he was merely giving to the world
the fruits of such inspiration as only genius possesses; they even
indulge in profound researches concerning the man who furnished the
type for _Tartuffe_ and into the circumstances which gave him the name
of _Tartuffe_ (so admirably appropriate to that personage, that it has
become not only the name of a man, but the name of _men._)

    "We have pointed out where Molière got his model; it now
    remains to us to discuss the origin of the title of his
    play. To trace the derivation of a word might seem going
    into unnecessary detail in any other case; _but nothing
    which concerns the masterpiece of our stage should be
    devoid of interest._ Several commentators, among others
    Bret, have contended that Molière, busy over the work he
    was meditating, one day happened to be at the house of the
    Papal Nuncio where many saintly persons were gathered. A
    truffle-seller came to the door and the smell of his wares
    wafted in, whereupon the sanctimonious contrite expression
    on the faces of the courtiers of the ambassador of Rome lit
    up with animation, 'TARTUFOLI, _Signor Nunzio!_ TARTUFOLI!'
    they exclaimed, pointing out the best to him. According to
    this version, it was the word _tartufoli_, pronounced with
    earthly sensuality by the lips of mystics, which suggested
    to Molière the name of his impostor. We were the first to
    dispute that fable and we quote below the opinion of one
    of the most distinguished of literary men, who did us the
    honour of adopting our opinion.

    "In the time of Molière, the word _truffer_ was generally
    used for tromper (_i.e._ to deceive), from which the word
    _truffe_ was taken, a word eminently suitable to the kind of
    eatable it describes, because of the difficulty there is in
    finding it. Now, it is quite certain that, formerly, people
    used the words _truffe_ and _tartuffe_ indiscriminately,
    for we find it in an old French translation of the treatise
    by Platina, entitled _De konestâ voluptate_, printed in
    Paris in 1505, and quoted by le Duchat, in his edition of
    Méntage's _Dictionnaire Étymologique._ One of the chapters
    in Book IX. of this treatise is entitled, _Des truffes ou
    tartuffes_, and as le Duchat and other etymologists look
    upon the word _truffe_ as derived from _truffer_, it is
    probable that people said _tartuffe_ for _truffe_ in the
    fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, just as they could
    equally say _tartuffer_ for _truffer_."

That is by M. Taschereau, whose opinion, let us hasten to say, is
worth nothing in the letter to Charles X., but which is of great
weight in the fine study he has published upon Molière. But here is
what M. Étienne says, the author of _Deux Gendres,_ a comedy made in
collaboration with Shakespeare and the Jesuit Conaxa:

    "The word _truffes_, says M. Étienne, of the French Academy,
    comes, then, from _tartufferie_, and perhaps it is not
    because they are difficult to find that this name was given
    them but because they are a powerful means of seduction, and
    the object of seduction is deception. Thus, in accordance
    with an ancient tradition, great dinner-parties, which
    exercise to-day such a profound influence in affairs of
    State, should be composed of Tartuffes. There are many more
    irrational derivations than this."

Really, my critical friend, or, rather, my enemy--would it not be
better if you were a little less flattering to the dead and a little
more tolerant towards the living? You would not then have on your
conscience the suicide of Escousse, and of Lebras, the drowning of Gros
and the _suspension_ of _Antony._


[1] _Maximes et Réflexions sur la comédie._

[2] _Lettre à d'Alembert sur les spectacles._

[3] _Lettre à d'Alembert stir les spectacles._



CHAPTER VIII


    Thermometer of Social Crises--Interview with M. Thiers--His
    intentions with regard to the Théâtre-Français--Our
    conventions--_Antony_ comes back to the rue de
    Richelieu--_The Constitutionnel_--Its leader against
    Romanticism in general, and against my drama in
    particular--Morality of the ancient theatre--Parallel
    between the Théâtre-Français and that of the
    Porte-Saint-Martin--First suspension of _Antony_


The last chapter ended with these words: "And the suspension of
_Antony."_ What suspension? my reader may, perhaps, ask: that ordered
by M. Thiers? or the one confirmed by M. Duchâtel? or that which M. de
Persigny had just ordered? _Antony_, as M. Lesur aptly put it, is an
abnormal being--_un monstre_; it was created in one of those crises
of extravagant emotion which ensue after revolutions, when that moral
institution called the censorship had not yet had time to be settled
and in working order; so that whenever society was being shaken to its
foundations, _Antony_ was played; but directly society was settled,
and stocks went up and morality triumphed, _Antony_ was suppressed. I
had taken advantage of the moment when society was topsy-turvy to get
_Antony_ put on the stage, as I was wise; for, if I had not done so,
the moral government which was crucified between the Cubières trial and
the Praslin assassination would, most certainly, never have allowed the
representation.

But _Antony_ had been played thirty times; _Antony_ had acclimatised
itself; it had made its mark and done its worst, and there did not
seem to be any reason to be anxious, until M. Thiers summoned me one
morning to the Home Office. M. Thiers is a delightful man; I have known
few more agreeable talkers and few listeners as intelligent. We had
seen each other many times, and, furthermore, he and I understood one
another, because "he was he and I was I."

"My dear poet," he said to me, "have you noticed something?"

"What, my dear historian?"

"That the Théâtre-Français is going to the devil?"

"Surely that is no news?"

"No, I mention it merely as a misfortune."

"Pooh!..."

"What do you advise in the case of the Théâtre-Français?"

"What one applies to an old structure--a pontoon."

"Good! Do you believe, then, that it can no longer stand against the
sea?"

"Oh! certainly, with a new keel, new sails and a different gear."

"Exactly my own opinion: it reminds me of the horse which, in his
madness, Roland dragged by the bridle; it had all the attributes of a
horse, only, all these attributes were useless on account of one small
misfortune: it was dead!"

"Precisely the case."

"Well, Hugo and you have been very successful at the
Porte-Saint-Martin; and I want to do at the Théâtre-Français what they
have done at the Musée: to open it on Sunday to enable people to come
there to see and study the works of dead authors, and to reserve all
the rest of the week for living authors and for Hugo and you specially."

"Well, my dear historian, that is the first time I have heard a Home
Minister say anything sensible upon a question of art. Let me note the
time of day and the date of the month, I must keep it by me ... 15
March 1834, at seven a.m."

"Now, what would you want for a comedy, a tragedy, or a drama of five
acts at the Théâtre-Français?"

"I should first of all need actors who can act drama: Madame Dorval,
Bocage, Frédérick."

"You cannot have everything at once. I will allow you Madame Dorval;
the others must come afterwards."

"All right! that is something at all events ... Then I must have some
reparation in respect of _Antony._ Therefore I desire that Madame
Dorval shall resume her rôle of Adèle."

"Granted ... what else?"

"That is all."

"Oh, you must give us a fresh piece."

"In three months' time."

"On what terms?"

"Why on the usual terms."

"There I join issue: they will give you five thousand francs down!"

"Ah! five thousand francs!"

"Well, I will approach Jouslin de la Salle ... and you shall approach
Madame Dorval: only, tell her to be reasonable."

"Oh! never fear! to act at the Français and to play _Antony_ there, she
would make any sacrifices ... Then, it is settled?"

"Yes."

"Let us repeat the terms."

"Very good."

"Hugo and I are to enter the Théâtre-Français by a breach, as did M. de
Richelieu's litter."

"Exactly."

"We are each to write two pieces a year...?"

"Agreed."

"Dorval is engaged? Bocage and Frédérick shall be later?"

"Granted."

"And Dorval shall make her début in _Antony?_"

"She shall have that specified in her agreement."

"Excellent!... Here's to the first night of the revival of that
immoral play!"

"To-day I will engage my box in order to secure a place."

We parted and I ran to Madame Dorval's house to announce this good
news. She had not been re-engaged at the Porte-Saint-Martin; she was,
therefore, free and could go to the Théâtre-Français without delay.
The following day she received a call from Jouslin de la Salle. The
terms did not take long to discuss; for, as I had said, to be engaged
at the Théâtre-Français, and to play _Antony_ there, Dorval would
have engaged herself for nothing. The rehearsals began immediately. I
had signed my contract with the manager, and it was specified in this
contract that, by order of the government, _Antony_ was revived at the
Comédie-Française, and that Dorval was to make her début in that drama.
_Antony_ re-appeared on the bills in the rue de Richelieu; and, this
time, the odds were a hundred to one that it would be performed, since
it was to re-appear under Government commands. The bill announced the
piece and Dorval's appearance for 28 April 1834. But we were reckoning
without _The Constitutionnel._ That paper had an old grudge against me,
concerning which I did not trouble myself much: I thought it could no
longer bite. I was the first who had dared,--in this very _Antony_,--to
attack its omnipotence.

It will be remembered that, in _Antony_, there is a stout gentleman,
who, no matter what was said to him, invariably answered,
"Nevertheless, monsieur, _The Constitutionnel .._" without ever giving
any other reason. Moëssard acted this stout gentleman. That was not
all. A piece called _la Tour de Babel_ had been produced at the
Variétés. The scene that was the cause of scandal in that play was the
one where subscription to _The Constitutionnel_ is discontinued, which
they naturally laid at my door, on account of my well-known dislike of
that journal. I had not denied it, and I was, if not the actual father,
at least the putative sire.

On the morning of 28 April 1834, as I had just done distributing my
tickets for the performance that night, my son, who had just turned
ten, came to me with a number of _The Constitutionnel_ in his hands.
He had been sent to me by Goubaux, with whom he was at school, and who
cried out to me, like Assas, _A vous! c'est l'ennemi!_ "To arms! the
enemy is upon you!" I unfolded the estimable paper and read,--in the
leading article if you please,--the following words. A literary event
was thus considered as important as a political one.

    "PARIS, 28 _April_ 1834

    "The Théâtre-Français is subsidised by the State Budget
    to the amount of two hundred thousand francs. It is a
    considerable sum; but, if we reflect upon the influence
    which that theatre must exercise, in the interests of
    society, in the matter of taste and manners, and its
    influence on good dramatic literature, the grant does not
    seem too large. The Théâtre-Français, enriched by many
    _chefs-d'œuvre_ which have contributed to the progress of
    our civilisation is, like the Musée, a national institution
    which should neither be neglected nor degraded. It ought
    not to descend from the height to which the genius of our
    great authors has lifted it, to those grotesque and immoral
    exhibitions that are the disgrace of our age, alarming
    public modesty and spreading deadly poison through society!
    There is no longer any curb put to the depravity of the
    stage, on which all morality and all decorum is forgotten;
    violation, adultery, incest, crime in their most revolting
    forms, are the elements of the poetry of this wretched
    dramatic period, which, deserving of all scorn, tries to set
    at nought the great masters of art, and takes a fiendish
    pleasure in blasting every noble sentiment, in order to
    spread corruption among the people, and expose us to the
    scorn of other nations!"

This is well written, is it not? True, it is written by an Academician.
I will proceed--

    "Public money is not intended for the encouragement of a
    pernicious system. The sum of two hundred thousand francs
    is only granted to the Théâtre-Français on condition that
    it shall keep itself pure from all defilement, that the
    artistes connected with that theatre, who are still the
    best in Europe, shall not debase themselves by lending the
    support of their talent to those works which are unworthy to
    be put on the national stage, works the disastrous tendency
    of which should arouse the anxiety of the Government, for
    it is responsible for public morality as well as for the
    carrying out of laws. Well, who would believe it? At this
    very moment the principal actors of the Porte-Saint-Martin
    are being transferred to the Théâtre-Français, and silly
    and dirty melodramas are to be naturalised there, in
    order to replace the dramatic master-pieces which form an
    important part of our glorious literature. A plague of
    blindness appears to have afflicted this unhappy theatre.
    The production of _Antony_ is officially announced by _The
    Moniteur_ for to-morrow, Monday: _Antony_, the most brazenly
    obscene play which has appeared in these obscene times!
    _Antony_, at the first appearance of which respectable
    fathers of families exclaimed, 'For a long time we have
    not been able to take our daughters to the theatre; now,
    we can no longer take our wives!' So we are going to see
    at the theatre of Corneille, Racine, Molière and Voltaire,
    a woman flung into an alcove with her mouth gagged; we are
    to witness violation itself on the national stage: the day
    of this representation is fixed. What a school of morality
    to open to the public; what a spectacle to which to invite
    the youth of the country; you boast that you are elevating
    them, but they will soon recognise neither rule nor control!
    It is not its own fault; but that of superior powers,
    which take no steps to stem this outbreak of immorality.
    There is no country in the world, however free, where it
    is permissible to poison the wells of public morality. In
    ancient republics, the presentation of a dramatic work was
    the business of the State; it forbade all that could change
    the national character, undermine the honour of its laws and
    outrage public modesty."

Witness the _Lysistrata_ of Aristophanes, of which we wish to say a few
words to our readers, taking care, however, to translate into Latin
those parts which cannot be reproduced in French.

"Le latin dans les mots brave l'honnêteté!"

It will be seen I quote Boileau when he serves my purpose. Poor
Boileau! What a shame for him to be forced to come to the rescue of the
author of _Henri III._ and _Antony!_

We are at Athens. The Athenians are at war with the Lacedæmonians; the
women are complaining of that interminable Peloponnesian War, which
keeps their husbands away from them and prevents them from fulfilling
their conjugal duties. The loudest in her complaints is Lysistrata,
wife of one of the principal citizens of Athens; so she calls together
all the matrons not only of Athens, but also from Lacedæmon, Anagyrus
and Corinth. She has a suggestion to make to them. We will let her
speak. She is addressing one of the wives convoked by her, who has come
to the place of meeting.[1]

    "LISISTRATA.--Salut, Lampito! Lacédémonienne chérie, que
    tu es belle! Ma douce amie, quel teint frais! quel air de
    santé! Tu étranglerais un taureau!

    "LAMPITO.--Par Castor et Pollux, je le crois bien: je
    m'exerce au gymnase, et je me frappe du talon dans le
    derrière."

The dance to which Lampito alludes, with a _naïveté_ in keeping with
the Doric dialect natural to her, was called _Cibasis._ Let us proceed:

    "LISISTRATA, _lui prenant la gorge._--Que tu as une belle
    gorge!

    "LAMPITO.--Vous me tâtez comme une victime.

    "LISISTRATA.--Et cette autre jeune fille, de quel pays
    est-elle?

    "LAMPITO.--C'est une Béotienne des plus nobles qui nous
    arrive.

    "LISISTRATA.--Ah! oui, c'est une Béotienne?.. Elle a un joli
    jardin!"

That reminds me, I forgot to say--and it was the word _jardin_ which
reminded me of that omission--that Lampito and Kalonike, the Bœotian,
play their parts in the costume Eve wore in the earthly paradise before
she sinned.

    "CALONICE.--Et parfaitement soigné! on eu a arraché le
    pouliot."

Here the learned translator informs us that the _pouliot_ was a plant
which grew in abundance in Bœotia. Then he adds: _Sed intelligit
hortum muliebrem undè pilos educere aut evellere solebant._ Lysistrata
continues, and lays before the meeting her reason for convening it.

    "LISISTRATA.--Ne regrettez-vous pas que les pères de vos
    enfants soient retenus loin de vous par la guerre? Car je
    sais que nous avons toutes nos maris absents.

    "CALONICE.--Le mien est en Thrace depuis cinq mois.

    "LISISTRATA.--Le mien est depuis sept mois à Pylos.

    "LAMPITO.--Le mien revient à peine de l'armée, qu'il reprend
    son bouclier, et repart.

    "LISISTRATA.--_Sed nec mœchi relicta est scintilla! ex quo
    enim nos prodiderunt Milesi ne olisbum quidem vidi octo
    digitos longum, qui nobis esset conâceum auxilium._"

Poor Lysistrata! One can well understand how a wife in such trouble
would put herself at the head of a conspiracy. Now, the conspiracy
which Lysistrata proposed to her companions was as follows:

    "LISISTRATA.--Il faut nous abstenir des hommes!... Pourquoi
    détournez-vous les yeux? où allez-vous?... Pourquoi vous
    mordre les lèvres, et secouer la tête? Le ferez-vous ou ne
    le ferez-vous pas?... Que décidez-vous?

    "MIRRHINE.--Je ne le ferai pas! Que la guerre continue.

    "LAMPITO.--Ni moi non plus! Que la guerre continue.

    "LISISTRATA.--O sexe dissolu! Je ne m'étonne plus que nous
    fournissions des sujets de tragédie: nous ne sommes bonnes
    qu'à une seule chose!... O ma chère Lacédémonienne,--car tu
    peux encore tout sauver en t'unissant à moi,--je tien prie,
    seconde mes projets!

    "LAMPITO.--C'est qu'il est bien difficile pour des femmes de
    dormir _sine mentula!_ Il faut cependant s'y résoudre, car
    la paix doit passer avant tout.

    "LISISTRATA.--La paix, assurément! Si nous nous tenions chez
    nous bien fardées, et sans autre vêtement qu'une tunique
    fine et transparente, _incenderemus glabro cunno, arrigerent
    viri, et coïre cuperent!_"

The wives consent. They decide to bind themselves by an oath. This is
the oath:

    "LISISTRATA.--Mettez toutes la main sur la coupe, et qu'une
    seuls répète, en votre nom à toutes, ce que je vais vous
    dire: Aucun amant ni aucun époux....

    "MIRRHINE.--Aucun amant ni aucun époux....

    "LISISTRATA.--Ne pourra m'approcher _rigente
    nervo!_--Répète."

Myrrine repeats.

    "LISISTRATA.--Et, s'il emploie la violence....

    "MIRRHINE.--Oui, s'il emploie la violence....

    "LISISTRATA._--Motus non addam!_"

One can imagine the result of such an oath, which is scrupulously kept.

My readers will remember M. de Pourceaugnac's flight followed by the
apothecaries? Well, that will give you some idea of the _mise en
scène_ of the rest of the piece. The wives play the rôle of M. de
Pourceaugnac, and the husbands that of the apothecaries. And that is
one of the plays which, according to the author of _Joconde_, gave such
a high tone to ancient society! It is very extraordinary that people
know Aristophanes so little when they are so well acquainted with
Conaxa!

    "In the ancient republics," our censor continues with
    assurance, "spectacular games were intended to excite noble
    passions, not to excite the vicious leanings of human
    nature; their object was to correct vice by ridicule, and,
    by recalling glorious memories, energetically to rouse
    souls to the emulation of virtue, enthusiasm for liberty
    and love of their country! Well, we, proud of our equivocal
    civilisation, have no such exalted thoughts; all we demand
    is to have at least one single theatre to which we can take
    our children and wives without their imaginations being
    contaminated, a theatre which shall be really a school of
    good taste and manners."

    Was it at this theatre that _Joconde_ was to be played?

    "We do not look for it in the direction of the Beaux-Arts; a
    romantic coterie, the sworn enemy of our great literature,
    reigns supreme in that quarter; a coterie which only
    recognises its own specialists and flatterers and only
    bestows its favours upon them; an undesigning artiste is
    forgotten by it. It wants to carry out its own absurd
    theories: it hunts up from the boulevards its director, its
    manager, its actors and its plays, which are a disgrace to
    the French stage: that is its chief object; and those are
    the methods it employs. We are addressing these remarks
    to M. Thiers, Minister for Home Affairs, a distinguished
    man of letters and admirer of those sublime geniuses which
    are the glory of our country; it is to him, the guardian
    of a power which should watch over the safety of this
    noble inheritance, that we appeal to prevent it falling
    into hostile hands, and to oppose that outburst of evil
    morals which is invading the theatre, perverting the youth
    in our colleges, throwing it out upon the world eager for
    precocious pleasures, impatient of any kind of restraint,
    and making it soon tired of life. This disgust with life
    almost at the beginning of it, this terrible phenomenon
    hitherto unprecedented, is largely owing to the baneful
    influence of those dangerous spectacles where the most
    unbridled passions are exhibited in all their nakedness, and
    to that new school of literature where everything worthy of
    respect is scoffed at. To permit this corruption of youth,
    or rather to foster its corruption, is to prepare a stormy
    and a troubled future; it is to compromise the cause of
    Liberty, to poison our growing institutions in the bud;
    it is, at the same time, the most justifiable and deadly
    reproach that can be made against a government...."

Poor _Antony_! it only needed now to be accused of having violated the
Charter of 1830!

    "And we are here stating the whole truth: it is not
    Republican pamphlets which have lent their support to this
    odious system of demoralisation; whatever else we may
    blame them for, we must admit that they have repulsed this
    Satanic literature and immoral drama with indignation, and
    have remained faithful to the creed of national honour. It
    is the journals of the Restoration, it is the despicable
    management of the Beaux-Arts, which, under the eyes of the
    Ministry, causes such great scandal to the civilised world:
    the scandal of contributing to the publicity and success of
    these monstrous productions, which take us back to barbarous
    times and which will end, if they are not stopped, in making
    us blush that we are Frenchmen ..."

Can you imagine the author of _Joconde_ blushing for being a Frenchman
because M. Hugo wrote _Marion Delorme_, and M. Dumas, _Antony_, and
compelled to look at _la Colonne_ to restore his pride in his own
nationality?

    "But why put a premium upon depravity? Why encumber the
    state budget with the sum of 200,000 francs for the
    encouragement of bad taste and immorality? Why not, at
    least, divide the sum between the Théâtre-Français and the
    Porte-Saint-Martin? There would be some justice in that, for
    their rights are equal; very soon, even the former of these
    theatres will be but a branch of the other, and this last
    will indeed deserve all the sympathies of the directors of
    the _Beaux-Arts._ It would, then, be shocking negligence on
    their part to leave it out in the cold."


You are right this time, Monsieur l'Académicien. A subsidy ought to
be granted to the theatre which produces literary works which are
remembered in following years and remain in the repertory. Now, let us
see what pieces were running at the Théâtre Français concurrently with
those of the Porte-Saint-Martin, and then tell me which were the pieces
during this period of four years which you remember and which remain on
its repertory?

    THÉÂTRE-FRANÇAIS

    _Charlotte Corday--Camille Desmoulins, le Clerc et le
    Théologien--Pierre III.--Le Prince et la Grisette--Le
    Sophiste--Guido Reni--Le Presbytère--Caïus Gracchus, ou le
    Sénat et le Peuple--La Conspiration de Cellamare--La Mort
    de Figaro--Le Marquis de Rieux--Les Dernières Scènes de la
    Fronde--Mademoiselle de Montmorency._

    THÉÂTRE DE LA PORTE-SAINT-MARTIN

    _Antony--Marion Delorme--Richard Darlington--La Tour de
    Nesle--Perrinet Leclerc--Lucrèce Borgia--Angèle--Marie
    Tudor--Catherine Howard._

True, we find, without reckoning _les Enfants d'Édouard_ and _Louis
XI._ by Casimir Delavigne, _Bertrand et Raton_ and _la Passion
secrète_ by Scribe, who had just protested against that harvest of
unknown, forgotten and buried works, flung into the common grave
without epitaph to mark their resting-places,--it is true, I say,
that we find four or five pieces more at the Théâtre-Français than
at the Porte-Saint-Martin; but that does not prove that they played
those pieces at the Théâtre-Français for a longer period than those
of the Porte-Saint-Martin, especially when we carefully reflect
that the Théâtre-Français only plays its new pieces for two nights
at a time, and gives each year a hundred and fifty representations
of its old standing repertory! You are therefore perfectly correct,
_Monsieur l'acadèmicien_: it was to the Porte-Saint-Martin and not
to the Théâtre-Français that the subsidy ought to have been granted,
seeing that, with the exception of two or three works, it was at the
Porte-Saint-Martin that genuine literature was produced. We will
proceed, or, rather, the author of _Joconde_ shall proceed:

    "If the Chamber of Deputies is not so eager to vote for
    laws dealing with financial matters, we must hope, that in
    so serious a matter as this one, so intimately connected
    with good order and the existence of civilisation, some
    courageous voice will be raised to protest against such an
    abusive use of public funds, and to recall the Minister to
    the duties with which he is charged. The deputy who would
    thus speak would be sure of a favourable hearing from an
    assembly, whose members every day testify against the
    unprecedented license of the theatres, destructive of all
    morality, and who are perfectly cognisant of all the dangers
    attached thereto."

But you were a member of the Chamber, illustrious author of _Joconde!_
Why did you not take up the matter yourself? Were you afraid,
perchance, that they might think you still held, under the sway of the
younger branch of the Bourbon family, the position of dramatic critic
which you exercised so agreeably under Napoléon?

    "We shall return to this subject," continues the ex-dramatic
    censor, "which seems to us of the highest importance for the
    peace of mind of private families and of society in general.
    We have on our side every man of taste, all true friends
    of our national institutions and, in fact, all respectable
    persons in all classes of society!"

"Well! That is a polite thing, indeed, to say to the spectators who
followed the one hundred and thirty performances of _Antony_, the
eighty representations of _Marion Delorme_, the ninety of _Richard
Darlington_, the six hundred of _la Tour de Nesle_, the ninety
productions of _Perrinet-Leclerc_, the one hundred and twenty of
_Lucrèce Borgia_, one hundred of _Angèle_, seventy of _Marie Tudor_ and
fifty of _Catherine Howard!_ What were these people, if your particular
specimens are "men of taste," the "true friends of our national
institutions," and "respectable persons"? They must be blackguards,
subverters of government, thieves and gallows-birds? The deuce! Take
care! For I warn you that the great majority of these people were not
only from Paris, but from the provinces. This is how the moralist of
the _Constitutionnel_ ends:

    "We are convinced that even the artistes of the
    Théâtre-Français, who see with satisfaction the enlightened
    portion of the public rallying to their side, will decide in
    favour of the successful efforts of our protests. It will
    depend on the Chamber and on the Home Minister. Political
    preoccupations, as is well known, turned his attention
    from the false and ignoble influences at work at the
    Théâtre-Français; there is no longer any excuse for him, now
    that he knows the truth."

                                            ÉTIENNE ["A. JAY"][2]

Perhaps you thought, when you began to read this denunciation, that it
was anonymous or signed only with an initial or by a masonic sign, or
by two, three or four asterisks? No indeed! It was signed by the name
of a man, of a deputy, of a dramatic author, or, thereabouts, of an
académicien, M. Étienne! [M. Jay]. Now, the same day that this article
appeared, about two in the afternoon, M. Jouslin de Lasalle, director
of the Théâtre-Français, received this little note, short but clear.

    "The Théâtre-Français is forbidden to play _Antony_ to-night.

                                                            "THIERS"

I took a cab and gave orders to the driver to take me to the Home
Minister.


[1] We have borrowed the following quotations from M. Arland's
excellent translation. If we had translated it ourselves, in the first
place the translation would be bad, then people might have accused us
of straining the Greek to say more than it meant.

[2] TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.--The Brussels edition gives Étienne; the current
Paris edition, A. Jay.



CHAPTER IX


    My discussion with M. Thiers--Why he had been compelled
    to suspend _Antony_--Letter of Madame Dorval to the
    _Constitutionnel_--M. Jay crowned with roses--My lawsuit
    with M. Jouslin de Lasalle--There are still judges in Berlin!


At four o'clock, I got down to the door of the Home Office. I went in
at once and reached the Minister's private office, without any obstacle
preventing me; the office-boys and ushers who had seen me come there
three or four times during the past fortnight, that is to say during
the period M. Thiers had been Home Minister, did not even think of
asking me where I was going. M. Thiers was at work with his secretary.
He was exceedingly busy just at that time; for Paris had only just come
out of her troubles of the 13 and 14 April, and the insurrection of the
Lyons Mutualists was scarcely over; the budget of trade and of public
works was under discussion, for, in spite of a special department,
these accounts remained under the care of the Home Office; finally,
they were just passing to the general discussion of the Fine Arts,
and consequently had entered upon the particular discussion of the
subsidising of the Théâtre-Français.

At the noise I made opening the door of his room, M. Thiers raised his
head.

"Good!" he said, "I was expecting you."

"I think not," I replied.

"What do you mean?"

"Because, if you had expected me, you would have known my reasons for
coming, and would have forbidden my entrance."

"And what are your reasons for coming?"

"I have come simply to ask an explanation of the man who fails to keep
his promise as a Minister."

"You do not know, then, what passed in the Chambers?"

"No! I only know what has happened at the Théâtre-Français."

"I was obliged to suspend _Antony_."

"Not to suspend, but to stop it."

"To stop or to suspend...."

"Do not mean the same thing."

"Well, then, I was obliged to stop _Antony._"

"Obliged? A Minister! How could a Minister be obliged to stop a piece
which he had himself taken out of the hands of the prompter of another
theatre, when, too, he had engaged his own box to see the first
representation of that piece?"

"Yes--obliged, I was compelled to do it!"

"By the article in the _Constitutionnel?_"

"Bah! if it had only been that article I should, indeed, have made
myself a laughing-stock, although good ink went to the writing of it."

"You call that good ink, do you? I defy you to suck M. Jay's
[Étienne's] pen, without having an attack of the colic."

"Well, call it bad ink, if you like ... But it was the Chamber!"

"How do you make that out?"

"Oh! I had the whole Chamber against me! If _Antony_ had been allowed
to be played to-night, the Budget would not have passed."

"The Budget would not have passed?"

"No ... Remember that such people as Jay, Étienne, Viennet and so
forth ... can command a hundred votes in the Chamber, a hundred people
who vote like one man. I was pinned into a corner--'_Antony_ and no
budget!' or, 'A budget and no _Antony_!' ... Ah! my boy, remain a
dramatic author and take good care never to become a Minister!"

"Oh! come! do you really think matters can rest thus?"

"No, I am well aware I owe you an indemnity; fix it yourself and I will
pass for payment any sum you may exact!"

"A fig for your indemnity! Do you think I work only to earn
indemnities?"

"No, you work to earn author's rights."

"When my pieces are played, not when they are forbidden."

"However, you have a right to compensation."

"The Court will fix that."

"Trust in me and do not have recourse to law-suits."

"Why?"

"Because the same thing will happen to you that happened to Hugo
with regard to the _Roi s'amuse_: the tribunal will declare itself
incompetent."

"The Government did not interfere with the contract of the _Roi
s'amuse_, as you have in the case of _Antony._"

"Indirectly."

"The Court will appreciate that point."

"This will not prevent you from writing a new piece for us."

"Good! So that they may refuse you the budget of 1835? Thanks!"

"You will think better of your determination."

"I? I will never set foot in your offices again!"

And out I went, sulking and growling; which I would certainly not have
done had I known that, in less than two years' time, this same Thiers
would break his word to Poland, by letting the Austrians, Prussians
and Russians occupy Cracow; to Spain, by refusing to intervene; and to
Switzerland by threatening to blockade her. What was this paltry little
broken promise to a dramatic author in comparison with these three
great events?

I rushed to Dorval, whom the ministerial change of front hit more
cruelly than it did me. Indeed, _Antony_ was only banned by the
Théâtre-Français; elsewhere, its reputation was well established, and
its revival could not add anything to mine. But it was different in
the case of Dorval: she had never had a part in which she had been so
successful as she had been in that of Adèle; none of her old rôles
could supply the place of this one, and there was no probability
that any new part would give her the chance of success, which the
suppression of _Antony_ took away from her. She began by writing the
following letter to the _Constitutionnel_:--

    "MONSIEUR,--When I was engaged at the Français, it was on
    the express condition that I should begin in _Antony._
    That condition was ratified in my agreement as the basis
    of the contract into which I entered with the management
    of the Théâtre Richelieu. Now, the Government decides
    that the piece received at the Théâtre-Français in 1830,
    censured under the Bourbons, played a hundred times at the
    Porte-Saint-Martin, thirty times at the Odéon and once at
    the Italiens, cannot be acted by the king's comedians. A
    lawsuit between the author and M. Thiers will settle the
    question of rights. But, until that law-suit is decided, I
    feel myself compelled to cease appearing in any other piece.
    I am anxious, at the same time, to make clear that there is
    nothing in my refusal which can injure the authors of _une
    Liaison_, to whom I owe particular thanks for their generous
    dealings with me.

                                                     "MARIE DORVAL"

This was the serious and sad side to the situation; then, when she had
accomplished this duty towards herself,--and especially to her family,
of whom she was the only support,--Dorval was desirous of repaying M.
Étienne [M. Jay], after her own fashion, not having the least doubt
that I should also pay him back in my own way some day or other. I came
across the fact that I am going to relate in an album which the poor
woman sent me when dying, and which I have tenderly preserved.

    "On 28 April 1834, my appearance in _Antony_ at the
    Théâtre-Français was forbidden, at the solicitation,
    or rather upon the denunciation, of M. Antoine Jay
    [M. Étienne], author of _Joconde_ and editor of the
    _Constitutionnel._ I conceived the idea of sending him a
    crown of roses. I put the crown in a card-board box with
    a little note tied to it with a white favour. The letter
    contained these words:

    'MONSIEUR,--Here is a crown which was flung at my feet in
    _Antony_, allow me to place it on your brow. I owe you that
    homage.

"'Personne ne sait davantage
Combien vous l'avez mérite!'"

    "MARIE DORVAL"

    Below the signature of that good and dear friend, I
    discovered two more lines, and the following letter:--

    "M. Jay [M. Étienne] sent back the box, the crown and the
    white favour with this note--

    "'MADAME,--The epigram is charming, and although it is not
    true it is in such excellent taste that I cannot refrain
    from appropriating it. As for the crown, it belongs to grace
    and talent, so I hasten to lay it again at your feet.

                                               "A. JAY [ÉTIENNE]

                                             "30 _April_ 1834"

As I had warned M. Thiers I appealed from his decision to the _tribunal
de commerce._ The trial was fixed for the 2nd June following. My friend
Maître Mermilliod laid claim on my behalf for the representation of
_Antony_, or demanded 12,000 francs damages. Maître Nouguier, M.
Jouslin de Lasalle's advocate, offered, in the name of his client,
to play _Antony_, but on condition that I should produce the leave
of the Home Office. Maître Legendre, attorney to the Home Office,
disputed the jurisdiction of the tribunal, his plea being that acts of
administrative authority could not be brought before a legal tribunal
for decision. It was quite simple, as you see: the Government stole my
purse; and, when I claimed restitution it said to me "Stop, you scamp!
I am too grand a seigneur to be prosecuted!" Happily, the Court did not
allow itself to be intimidated by the grand airs of Maître Legendre,
and directed that M. Jouslin de Lasalle should appear in person at
the bar. The case was put off till the fifteenth. Now I will open the
_Gazette des Tribunaux_, and copy from it.

    "TRIBUNAL DE COMMERCE DE PARIS

"_Hearing_ 30 _June_, 1834
"_President_--M. VASSAL

    "M. ALEXANDRE DUMAS _against_ JOUSLIN de LASALLE.

    "MAÎTRE HENRY NOUGUIER, Counsel for the Comédie Française.

    "The Court having directed the parties to come in person
    to lay their case before it, M. Jouslin de Lasalle only
    appears out of deference to the court, but protests against
    that appearance, on the grounds that it will establish a
    precedent which will lead to M. Jouslin de Lasalle having
    to appear in person in all disputes which may concern the
    Comédie-Française, and to reveal his communications with
    administrative authority; and he leaves the merits of this
    protest to be decided by reference to previous decisions.

    "M. ALEXANDRE DUMAS.--As plaintiff, I plead first, when
    the Home Ministry formed the plan of regenerating or
    re-organising the Théâtre-Français, it first of all decided
    to appoint a good manager and to call in, I will not
    say authors of talent, but authors who could draw good
    houses. The intention of the Government was, at first, to
    begin by re-establishing the old material prosperity of
    the theatre. It order to attain that end, it was needful
    that it should have plays in its répertoire which should
    attract the public and bring in good receipts in addition
    to the subsidy it proposed to grant. M. Thiers procured an
    exceedingly clever manager in the person of M. Jouslin de
    Lasalle. He bethought himself also of me as one enjoying a
    certain degree of public favour. The Minister, therefore,
    sent for me to his cabinet, and suggested I should work
    for the Théâtre-Français, even going so far as to offer
    me a premium. I asked to be treated like other authors in
    respect of future plays, and I demanded no other condition
    before I gave my consent than the promise that three of my
    old dramas should be played, _Antony_, _Henri III._ and
    _Christine._ M. Thiers told me he did not know _Antony_,
    although that drama had been represented eighty times; that
    he had seen _Christine_, which had given him much pleasure,
    and that he had even made it the subject of an article when
    the play appeared. My condition was accepted without any
    reservation. Thus, I was in treaty with the Minister before
    the manager of the Théâtre-Français had an interview with
    me. M. Jouslin de Lasalle even found me in the office of M.
    Thiers. The latter indicated the clauses of the contract
    and charged M. Jouslin to put them down in writing. In
    conformity with the agreements then arrived at, _Antony_ was
    put in rehearsal and announced in the bills.

    "However, in that work, using the liberty of an author, I
    had rallied the _Constitutionnel_ and its old-fashioned
    doctrines. The _Constitutionnel_, which, before 1830, had
    been something of a power, took offence at the gibes of a
    young dramatic author, and, in its wrath, it thundered forth
    in an article wherein it pretended to show that _Antony_
    was an immoral production, and that it was scandalous to
    allow its representation at the leading national theatre.
    The journal's anger might not, perhaps, have exerted great
    influence over the Minister for Home Affairs had not MM. Jay
    and Étienne happened at that time to be concerned with the
    theatre budget. These worthy deputies, whose collaboration
    in the _Constitutionnel_ is well known, imagined that the
    epigrams of _Antony_ referred to them personally; having
    this in mind, they informed the Minister that they would
    cause the theatre budget to be rejected if my satirical
    play was not prohibited at the Théâtre-Français. _Antony_
    was to have been played on the very day upon which these
    threats were addressed to M. Thiers. That Minister sent to
    M. Jouslin de Lasalle, at four o'clock in the afternoon,
    the order to stop the representation; I was informed of
    this interdict some hours later. I knew that M. Jouslin
    de Lasalle had acted in good faith, and that he had done
    all that rested with him, concerning the preparation of
    my play. The injury came from the Government alone, which
    had placed _Antony_ on the Index, without his knowledge,
    as he himself said before the tribune. That ministerial
    interdict has been fatal to my interests, for Prefects of
    the _Departements_ have, following in the footsteps of their
    chief, striven to have my play prohibited. It is no longer
    even allowed to be played at Valenciennes. M. Jouslin de
    Lasalle has offered to stage any other play I might choose
    in place of _Antony_, but that would not be the same thing
    as the execution of the signed contract; moreover, I cling
    to the representation of _Antony_, which is my favourite
    work, and that of many young writers who are good enough to
    regard me as their representative. Upon the faith of these
    ministerial promises, and of the agreement made with M.
    Jouslin de Lasalle, I withdrew _Antony_ forcibly from the
    repertory of the Porte-Saint-Martin, where it was bringing
    in large sums. I am thus deprived of my author's rights,
    which came in daily. It is, consequently, only just that M.
    Jouslin should compensate me for the harm he has done me by
    the non-execution of the contract. The Government are sure
    to provide him with the necessary funds. The private quarrel
    I had with the _Constitutionnel_ ought not to be permitted
    to cause the manager of the Théâtre-Français, much less the
    Government, to stop the production of a piece which forms a
    part of my means of livelihood; that would be nothing short
    of spoliation. If M. Thiers had not intended to treat with
    me, he should not have sent for me to call upon him a dozen
    to fifteen times; he should not have taken upon himself
    the arrangement of theatrical details which are outside
    the scope of a Minister. M. Jouslin was evidently but an
    intermediary.

    "M. JOUSLIN DE LASALLE.--I drew up the agreement with M.
    Alexandre Dumas in my office. The Minister knew I had done
    so, but he was not acquainted with the details of that
    contract. I did all in my power to fulfil the compact. The
    prohibition of the Minister came suddenly without my having
    received previous notice, and that alone prevented the
    carrying out of my promise. It was an act of _force majeure_
    for which I do not hold myself responsible.

    "M. ALEXANDRE DUMAS.--Did you not meet me at the Minister's?

    "M. JOUSLIN DE LASALLE.--Yes, a fortnight ago.

    "MAÎTRE MERMILLIOD.--The Minister knew that _Antony_ formed
    part of Madame Dorval's repertory, and that she was to make
    her appearance in that piece.

    "M. ALEXANDRE DUMAS.--Madame Dorval made it a special
    stipulation in her engagement.

    "M. JOUSLIN DE LASALLE.--Madame Dorval was engaged two or
    three months before the treaty with M. Alexandre Dumas.
    No stipulation was then made relative to _Antony._ After
    the contract with the plaintiff, M. Merle, Madame Dorval's
    husband, came and begged me to add the clause to which
    reference has just been made; I did not refuse that act of
    compliance because I did not foresee that _Antony_ was to be
    forbidden. I added the clause at the foot of the dramatic
    contract.

    "M. ALEXANDRE DUMAS.--Had the additional clause any definite
    date attached?

    "M. JOUSLIN DE LASALLE.--No.

    "MAÎTRE MERMILLIOD.--M. Jouslin de Lasalle receives a
    subsidy from the Government, and is in a state of dependence
    which prevents him from explaining his position openly.

    "M. JOUSLIN DE LASALLE.--I am not required to explain my
    relations with the Government; and it would be unseemly on
    my part to do so.

    "M. LE PRÉSIDENT.--Are you bound, in consequence of the
    subsidy you receive, only to play those pieces which suit
    the Government?

    "M. JOUSLIN de LASALLE.--No obligation of that kind whatever
    is imposed on me. I enjoy, in that respect, the same liberty
    that all other managers have; but, like them, I am bound to
    submit to any prohibitions issued by the state. There is no
    difference in this respect between my confrères and myself.

    "After these explanations, the manager of the
    Théâtre-Français at once left the Court. The president
    declared that the Court would adjourn the case for
    consideration, and that judgment would be pronounced in a
    fortnight's time."

    "_Hearing of_ 14 _July_

    "The Court taking into consideration the connection between
    the cases, decides to join them, and gives judgment upon
    both at one and the same time. Concerning the principal
    claim: It appearing that, if it had been decided by the
    Court that the prohibition to produce a piece which was
    opposed to good manners and public morality, legally made
    by a competent Minister, might be looked upon as a case of
    _force majeure_, thus doing away with the right of appeal of
    the author against the manager, the tribunal has only been
    called upon to deal with the plea of justification which
    might have been put forward in respect to new pieces where
    their performance would seem dangerous to the administration:

    "It appearing that in the actual trial the parties found
    themselves to be in totally different positions with respect
    to the matter, and it is no longer a question of the
    production of a new play, subject to the twofold scrutiny
    of both the public and the Government, but of a work which,
    being in the repertory of another theatre, would there
    have had a great number of performances, without let or
    hindrance on the part of the Government; with regard to the
    position of M. Jouslin, manager of a theatre subsidised by
    the Government, it is right to examine him in this case, as
    the decisions in previous cases are not applicable to this
    action:

    "It appearing from the documents produced, and the pleadings
    and explanations given in public by the parties themselves,
    that the Home Minister, in the interests of the prosperity
    of the Théâtre Français, felt it necessary to associate M.
    Alexandre Dumas's talent with that theatre, and that to
    this end a verbal agreement was come to between Jouslin de
    Lasalle and Alexandre Dumas, and that the first condition of
    the said agreement was that the play of _Antony_ should be
    performed at the Théâtre-Français:

    "Further, it appearing, that the play of _Antony_ belonged
    to the repertory of the Porte-Saint-Martin; that it had been
    played a great number of times without any interference or
    hindrance from authority; that it is consequently correct to
    say that Jouslin de Lasalle knew the gist of the agreement
    to be made with Alexandre Dumas, and that it was at his risk
    and peril that he was engaged:

    "It appearing that, if Jouslin de Lasalle thought it his
    duty to submit, without opposition or protest on his
    part, to the mere notice given him by the Government, in
    its decision to stop the production of _Antony_ at the
    Théâtre-Français on 28 April, the said submission of Jouslin
    de Lasalle must be looked upon as an act of compliance
    which was called forth by his own personal interests, and
    on account of his position as a subsidised manager, since
    he did not feel it his duty to enter a protest against the
    ministerial prohibition; that we cannot recognise here
    any case of _force majeure_; that this act of compliance
    was not sufficient warranty for prejudicing the rights of
    Alexandre Dumas; that his contract with Jouslin de Lasalle
    ought therefore to have been fulfilled or cancelled with the
    consequent indemnity:

    "It further appearing that it is for the tribunal to settle
    the sum to which Alexandre Dumas is entitled as damages
    for the wrong that has been done him up to this present
    date by the non-performance by Jouslin de Lasalle of the
    contract made between them, the amount is fixed at 10,000
    francs; therefore in giving judgment on the first count the
    Court directs Jouslin de Lasalle to pay to Alexandre Dumas
    the said sum of 10,000 francs in full satisfaction of all
    damages:

    "Further, deciding upon the additional claim of Alexandre
    Dumas: It appearing that it was not in the latter's power
    to be able to oppose the prohibition relative to the
    production of the play of _Antony_, but was the business of
    the subsidised manager to do so, since he had engaged the
    plaintiff at his own risk and peril:

    "The Court orders that, during the next fortnight Jouslin de
    Lasalle shall use his power with the authority responsible,
    to get the Government to remove the prohibition; otherwise,
    and failing to do this during the said period, after that
    time, until the prohibition is removed, it is decided, and
    without any further judgment being necessary, that Jouslin
    de Lasalle shall pay Alexandre Dumas the sum of 50 francs
    for each day of the delay; it further orders Jouslin de
    Lasalle to pay the costs:

    "In the matter of the claim of indemnity between Jouslin
    de Lasalle and the Home Minister: As it is a question of
    deciding upon an administrative act, this Court has no
    jurisdiction to deal with the matter, and dismisses the
    cases, and as the parties interested, who ought to have
    known this, have brought it before the Court, condemns M.
    Jouslin de Lasalle to pay the costs of this claim ..."

We do not think it necessary to make any commentary on this decision of
the Court.



CHAPTER X


    Republican banquet at the _Vendanges de Bourgogne_--The
    toasts--_To Louis-Philippe!_--Gathering of those who were
    decorated in July--Formation of the board--Protests--Fifty
    yards of ribbon--A dissentient--Contradiction in the
    _Moniteur_---Trial of Évariste Gallois--His examination--His
    acquittal


Let us skip over the reception of M. Viennet into the Académie
Française, which fact M. Viennet doubtless learnt from his porter, as
he learned later, from the same porter, that he was made a peer of
France, and let us return to our friends, acquitted amidst storms of
applause and enthusiastically escorted to their homes on the night
of 16 April. It was decided that we should give them a banquet by
subscription. This was fixed for 9 May and took place at the _Vendanges
de Bourgogne._ There were two hundred subscribers. It would have been
difficult to find throughout the whole of Paris two hundred guests more
hostile to the Government than were these who gathered together at five
o'clock in the afternoon, in a long dining-room on the ground-floor
looking out on the garden. I was placed between Raspail, who had just
declined the cross, and an actor from the Théâtre-Français, who had
come with me far less from political conviction than from curiosity.
Marrast was the depositary of the official toasts which were to be
offered, and it had been decided that none should be drunk but such as
had been approved by the president.

Things went smoothly enough throughout two-thirds of the dinner; but,
at the popping of the bottles of champagne, which began to simulate a
well-sustained discharge of musketry, spirits rose; the conversation,
naturally of a purely political character, resolved itself into a
most dangerous dialogue, and, in the midst of official toasts, there
gradually slipped private toasts.

The first illicit toast was offered to Raspail, because he had declined
the Cross of the Légion d'Honneur. Fontan, who had just obtained it,
took the matter personally, and began to entangle himself in a speech,
the greater part of which never reached the ears of the audience. Poor
Fontan had not the gift of speech and, luckily, the applause of his
friends drowned the halting of his tongue.

I had no intention of offering any toast: I do not like speaking in
public unless I am carried away by some passion or other. However,
shouts of "Dumas! Dumas! Dumas!" compelled me to raise my glass. I
proposed a toast which would have seemed very mild, if, instead of
coming before the others, it had come after. I had completely forgotten
what the toast was, but the actor whom I mentioned just now came
to dine with me a week ago and recalled it to me. It was: "To Art!
inasmuch as the pen and the paint-brush contribute as efficaciously
as the rifle and sword to that social regeneration to which we have
dedicated our lives and for which cause we are ready to die!"

There are times when people will applaud everything: they applauded my
toast. Why not? They had just applauded Fontan's speech. It was now
Étienne Arago's turn. He rose.

"_To the sun of_ 1831!" he said; "may it be as warm as that of 1830 and
not dazzle us as that did!"

This deserved and obtained a triple salvo of cheers. Then came the
toasts of Godefroy and Eugène Cavaignac. I blame myself for having
forgotten them; especially do I regret forgetting Eugène's, which was
most characteristic. Suddenly, in the midst of a private conversation
with my left-hand neighbour, the name of Louis-Philippe, followed by
five or six hisses, caught my ear. I turned round. A most animated
scene was going on fifteen or twenty places from me. A young fellow
was holding his raised glass and an open dagger-knife in the same
hand and trying to make himself heard. It was Évariste Gallois, who
was afterwards killed in a duel by Pescheux d'Herbinville, that
delightful young man who wrapped his cartridges in tissue-paper, tied
with rose-coloured favours. Évariste Gallois was scarcely twenty-three
or twenty-four years of age at that time; he was one of the fiercest of
Republicans. The noise was so great, that the cause of it could not be
discovered because of the tumult. But I could gather there was danger
threatening; the name of Louis-Philippe had been uttered--and the open
knife plainly showed with what motive. This far exceeded the limits of
my Republican opinions: I yielded to the persuasion of the neighbour
on my left, who, in his capacity as king's comedian, could not dare
to be compromised, and we leapt through the window into the garden. I
returned home very uneasy: it was evident that this affair would have
consequences, and, as a matter of fact, Évariste Gallois was arrested
two or three days later. We shall meet him again at the end of the
chapter before the Court of Assizes. This event happened at the same
time as another event which was of some gravity to us. I have related
that the decree concerning the Cross of July instituted the phrase,
_Given by the King of the French_, and imposed the substitution of the
blue ribbon edged with red, for the red edged with black. The king had
signed this order in a fit of ill-temper. At one of the meetings at
which I was present as a member of the committee, one of the king's
aide-de-camps,--M. de Rumigny, so far as I can remember, although I
cannot say for certain,--presented himself, asking, in the king's name
and on behalf of the king, for the decoration of the Three Days, which
had been accorded with much enthusiasm to La Fayette, Laffitte, Dupont
(de l'Eure) and Béranger. This proceeding had surprised us, but not
disconcerted us; we launched into discussion and decided, unanimously,
that, the decoration being specially reserved for the combatants of the
Three Days, or for citizens, who, without fighting, had during those
three days taken an active part in the Revolution, the king, who had
not entered Paris until the night of the 30th, had, therefore, no sort
of right either to the decoration or to the medal. This decision was
immediately transmitted to the messenger, who transmitted it instantly
to his august principal. Now, we never doubted that our refusal was
the cause of the decree of 30 April. I believe I have also mentioned
that a protest was made by us against the colour of the ribbon, the
subscription and the oath.

Two days before the banquet at the _Vendanges de Bourgogne_, a general
assembly had taken place in the hall of the _Grande-Chaumière_ in
the _passage du Saumon._ The total number of the decorated amounted
to fifteen hundred and twenty-eight. Four hundred belonged to the
_départements_, the remainder to Paris. Notices having been sent to
each at his own house, all those decorated were prompt in answering
the appeal; there were nearly a thousand of us gathered together. We
proceeded to form a board. The president was elected by acclamation. He
was one of the old conquerors of the Bastille, aged between seventy and
seventy-five,---who wore next the decoration of 14 July 1789 the Cross
of 29 July 1830. M. de Talleyrand was right in his dictum that nothing
is more dangerous than enthusiasm; we learnt afterwards that the man we
made president by acclamation was an old blackguard who had been before
the assizes for violating a young girl.

Then we proceeded to the voting. The board was to be composed of
fourteen members, one for each arrondissement; the thirteenth and
fourteenth arrondissements represented the outlying dependencies. By a
most wonderful chance, I have discovered the list of members of that
board close to my hand; here it is--

    "_First arrondissement_, Lamoure; _second_, Étienne Arago;
    _third_, Trélat; _fourth_, Moussette; _fifth_, Higonnet;
    _sixth_, Bastide; _seventh_, Garnier--Pagès; _eighth_,
    Villeret; _ninth_, Gréau; _tenth_, Godefroy Cavaignac;
    _eleventh_, Raspail; _twelfth_, Bavoux; _thirteenth_,
    Geibel; _fourteenth_, Alexandre Dumas."

The names of the fourteen members were given out and applauded; then we
proceeded with the discussion. The meeting was first informed of the
situation; next, different questions were put upon which the meeting
was asked to deliberate. All these queries were put to the vote, for
and against, and decided accordingly. The following minutes of the
meeting were immediately dispatched to the three papers, the _Temps_,
the _Courrier_ and the _National._

    "No oath, inasmuch as the law respecting national awards had
    not prescribed any such oath.

    "No superscription of _Donnée par le roi_; the Cross of July
    is a national award, not a royal.

    "All those decorated for the events of July pledge
    themselves to wear that cross, holding themselves authorised
    to do so by the insertion of their names upon the list of
    national awards issued by the committee.

    "The king cannot be head of an order of which he is not even
    chevalier.

    "Even were the king a chevalier of July, and he is not, his
    son, when he comes to the throne, would not inherit that
    decoration.

    "Further, there is no identity whatever between his position
    with regard to the decoration of July and his position with
    regard to the Légion d'Honneur and other orders which are
    inherited with the kingdom.

    "The right won at the place de Grève, at the Louvre and at
    the Caserne de Babylon is anterior to all other rights: it
    is not possible, without falling into absurdity, to imagine
    a decoration to have been given by a king who did not exist
    at that time, and for whose person, we publicly confess we
    should not have fought for then.

    "With regard to the ribbon, as its change of colour does not
    change any principle, the ribbon suggested by the Government
    may be adopted."

This last clause roused a long and heated discussion. In my opinion,
the colour of the ribbon was a matter of indifference; moreover, to
cede one point showed that we had not previously made up our minds to
reject everything. I gained a hearing, and won the majority of the
meeting over to my opinion. As soon as this point had been settled
by vote. I drew from my pocket three or four yards of blue ribbon
edged with red, with which I had provided myself in advance, and I
decorated the board and those members of the order who were nearest
me. Among them was Charras. I did not see him again after that for
twenty-two years--and then he was in exile. Hardly was it noticed that
a score of members were decorated, before everybody wished to be in
the same case. We sent out for fifty yards of ribbon, and the thousand
spectators left the _passage du Saumon_ wearing the ribbon of July in
their buttonholes. This meeting of 7 May made a great stir in Paris.
The _Moniteur_ busied itself with lying as usual. It announced that the
resolutions had not been unanimously passed, and that many of those
decorated had protested there and then. On the contrary, no protests
of any kind had been raised. This was the only note which reached the
board--

    "I ask that all protests against all or part of the decree
    relative to the distribution of the Cross of July shall be
    decided by those who are interested in the matter, and that
    no general measure shall be adopted and imposed on everyone;
    each of us ought to rest perfectly free to protest or not as
    he likes.
                                                       HUET"

This note was read aloud and stopped with hootings. We sent the
following contradiction to the _Moniteur_ signed by our fourteen names--

    "_To the Editor of the Moniteur Universal_

    "SIR,--You state that the account of the meeting of those
    wearing the July decoration is false, although you were
    not present thereat and took no part whatever in the acts
    of the combatants of the Three Days. We affirm that it
    contained nothing but the exact truth. We will not discuss
    the illegality of the decree of 30 April: it has been
    sufficiently dwelt upon by the newspapers.

    "We will only say that it is a lie that any combatant of
    1789 and of 1830 was brought to that meeting by means
    of a prearranged surprise. Citizen Decombis came of his
    own accord to relate how the decoration of 1789 had been
    distributed, and at the equally spontaneous desire of the
    meeting he was called to the board. It was not, as you
    state, a small number of men who protested against the
    decree; the gathering was composed of over a thousand
    decorated people. The illegality of the oath and of
    the superscription _Donnée par le roi_, was recognised
    _unanimously._ None of the members present raised a hand
    to vote against it; all rose with enthusiasm to refuse to
    subscribe to that twofold illegality; this we can absolutely
    prove; for, in case any of the questions had not been
    thoroughly understood, each vote for and against the motions
    was repeated.

    "Furthermore: all those decorated remained in the hall for
    an hour after the meeting, waiting for ribbons, and during
    that time no objections were raised against the conclusions
    arrived at during the deliberations.

    "And this we affirm, we who have never dishonoured our pens
    or our oaths.

    "_Signed_: LAMOURE, ST. ARAGO, TRÉLAT, MOUSSETTE, HIGONNET,
    BASTIDE, GARNIER-PAGÈS, VILLERET, GRÉAU, G. CAVAIGNAC,
    RASPAIL, BAVOUX, GEIBEL, ALEX. DUMAS."

The affair, as I have said, made a great noise; and had somewhat
important consequences: an order of Republican knighthood was
instituted, outside the pale of the protection and oversight of the
Government. A thousand knights of this order rose up solely of their
own accord, pledged only to their own conscience, able to recognise one
another at a sign, always on the alert with their July guns ready to
hand. The Government recoiled.

On 13 May the king issued an order decreeing that the Cross of July
should be remitted by the mayors to the citizens of Paris and of the
outskirts included in the _état nominatif_ and in the supplementary
list which the commission on national awards had drawn up. To that
end, a register was opened at all municipal offices to receive the
oaths of the decorated. The mayors did not have much business to do
and the registers remained almost immaculate. Each one of us paid for
his own decoration, and people clubbed together to buy crosses for
those who could not afford that expense. The Government left us all in
undisturbed peace. I have said that Gallois was arrested. His trial
was rapidly hurried on: on 15 June, he appeared before the Court of
Assizes. I never saw anything simpler or more straightforward than that
trial, in which the prisoner seemed to make a point of furnishing the
judges with the evidence of which they might be in need. Here is the
writ of indictment--it furnishes me with facts of which I, at any rate,
did not yet know. Carried away in other directions by the rapidity of
events, I had not troubled myself about that stormy evening. People
lived fast and in an exceedingly varied way at that period. But let us
listen to the king's procurator--

    "On 9 May last, a reunion of two hundred persons assembled
    at the restaurant _Vendanges de Bourgogne_, in the
    faubourg du Temple to celebrate the acquittal of MM.
    Trélat, Cavaignac and Guinard. The repast took place in a
    dining-room on the ground-floor which opened out on the
    garden. Divers toasts were drunk, at which the most hostile
    opinions against the present Government were expressed.
    In the middle of this gathering Évariste Gallois rose and
    said in a loud voice, on his own responsibility: '_To
    Louis-Philippe!_' holding a dagger in his hand meantime.
    He repeated it twice. Several persons imitated his example
    by raising their hands and shouting similarly: '_To
    Louis-Philippe!_' Then hootings were heard, although the
    guests wish to disclaim the wretched affair, suggesting,
    _as Gallois declares_, that they thought he was proposing
    the health of the king of the French; it is, however, a
    well-established fact that several of the diners loudly
    condemn what happened. The dagger-knife had been ordered by
    Gallois on 6 May, from Henry, the cutler. He had seemed in
    a great hurry for it, giving the false excuse of going a
    journey."

We will now give the examination of the prisoner in its naked
simplicity--

    "THE PRESIDENT.--Prisoner Gallois, were you present at the
    meeting which was held on 9 May last, at the _Vendanges de
    Bourgogne_?

    "THE PRISONER.--Yes, Monsieur le Président, and if you will
    allow me to instruct you as to the truth of what took place
    at it, I will save you the trouble of questioning me.

    "THE PRESIDENT.--We will listen.

    "THE PRISONER.--This is the exact truth of the incident to
    which I owe _the honour_ of appearing before you. I had
    a knife which had been used to carve with throughout the
    banquet; at dessert, I raised this knife and said: '_For
    Louis-Philippe ... if he turns traitor_.' These last words
    were only heard by my immediate neighbours, because of the
    fierce hootings that were raised by the first part of my
    speech and the notion that I intended to propose a toast to
    that man.

    "D.[1]--Then, in your opinion, a toast proposed to the
    king's health was proscribed at that gathering?

    "R.--To be sure!

    "D.--A toast offered purely and simply to Louis-Philippe,
    king of the French, would have excited the animosity of that
    assembly?

    "R.--Assuredly.

    "D.--Your intention, therefore, was to put King
    Louis-Philippe to the dagger?

    "R.--In case he turned traitor, yes, monsieur.

    "D.--Was it, on your part, the expression of your own
    personal sentiment to set forth the king of the French as
    deserving a dagger-stroke, or was your real intention to
    provoke the others to a like action?

    "R.--I wished to incite them to such a deed if
    Louis-Philippe proved a traitor, that is to say, in case he
    ventured to depart from legal action.

    "D.--Why do you suppose the king is likely to act illegally?

    "R.--Everybody unites in thinking that it will not be long
    before he makes himself guilty of that crime, if he has not
    already done so.

    "D.--Explain yourself.

    "R.--I should have thought it clear enough.

    "D.--No matter! Explain it.

    "R.--Well, I say then, that the trend of Government action
    leads one to suppose that Louis-Philippe will some day be
    treacherous if he has not already been so."

It will be understood that with such lucid questions and answers the
proceedings would be brief. The jury retired to a room to deliberate
and brought in a verdict of not guilty. Did they consider Gallois mad,
or were they of his opinion? Gallois was instantly set at liberty.
He went straight to the desk on which his knife lay open as damning
evidence, picked it up, shut it, put it in his pocket, bowed to the
bench and went out. I repeat, those were rough times! A little mad,
maybe; but you will recollect Béranger's song about _Les Fous._


[1] TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.--D = _Demande_ (Question). R = _Réponse_
(Answer).



CHAPTER XI


    The incompatibility of literature with riotings--_La
    Maréchale L'Ancre_--My opinion concerning that
    piece--_Farruck le Maure_--The début of Henry Monnier at the
    Vaudeville--I leave Paris--Rouen--Havre--I meditate going
    to explore Trouville--What is Trouville?--The consumptive
    English lady--Honfleur--By land or by sea


It was a fatiguing life we led: each day brought its emotions, either
political or literary. _Antony_ went on its successful course in the
midst of various disturbances. Every night, without any apparent motive
whatsoever, a crowd gathered on the boulevard. The rallying-place
varied between the Théâtre-Gymnase and that of the Ambigu. At first
composed of five or six persons, it grew progressively; policemen would
next appear and walk about with an aggressive air along the boulevard;
the gutter urchins threw cabbage stumps or carrot ends at them, which
was quite sufficient after half an hour or an hour's proceedings to
cause a nice little row, which began at five o'clock in the afternoon
and lasted till midnight. This daily popular irritation attracted many
people to the boulevard and very few to the plays. _Antony_ was the
only piece which defied the disturbances and the heat, and brought
in sums of between twelve thousand and fifteen thousand francs. But
there was such stagnation in business, and so great was the fear that
spread over the book-trade, that the same publishers who had offered me
six thousand francs for _Henri III._, and twelve thousand francs for
_Christine_, hardly dared offer to print _Antony_ for half costs and
half profits. I had it printed, not at half costs by a publisher, but
entirely at my own expense.

There was no way possible for me to remain in Paris any longer: riots
swallowed up too much time and money. _Antony_ did not bring in enough
to keep a man going; also, I was being goaded by the demon of poetry,
which urged me to do something fresh. But how could one work in Paris,
in the midst of gatherings at the _Grande-Chaumière_, dinners at the
_Vendanges de Bourgogne_ and lawsuits at the Assize Courts? I conferred
with Cavaignac and Bastide. I learnt that there would be nothing
serious happening in Paris for six months or a year, and I obtained a
holiday for three months. Only two causes kept me still in Paris: the
first production of the _Maréchale d'Ancre_ and the début of Henry
Monnier. De Vigny, who had not yet ventured anything at the theatre
but his version of _Othello_, to which I referred in its right place,
was about to make his real entry in the _Maréchale d'Ancre._ It was a
fine subject; I had been on the point of treating it, but had renounced
it because my good and learned friend Paul Lacroix, better known then
under the name of the bibliophile Jacob, had begun a drama on the same
subject.

Louis XIII., that inveterate hunter after _la pie-grièche_, escaping
from the guardianship of his mother by a crime, proclaiming his coming
of age to the firing of pistols which killed the favourite of Marie de
Médicis, resolving upon that infamous deed whilst playing at chess with
his favourite, de Luynes, who was hardly two years older than himself;
a monarch timid in council and brave in warfare, a true Valois astray
among the Bourbons, lean, melancholy and sickly-looking, with a profile
half like that of Henri IV. and half like Louis XIV., without the
goodness of the one and the dignity of the other; this Louis XIII. held
out to me the promise of a curious royal figure to take as a model,
I who had already given birth to _Henri III._ and was later to bring
_Charles IX._ to the light of day. But, as I have said, I had renounced
it. De Vigny, who did not know Paul Lacroix, or hardly knew him, had
not the same reason for abstaining, and he had written a five-act drama
in prose on this subject, which had been received at the Odéon. Here
was yet another battle to fight.

De Vigny, at that time, as I believe he still does, belonged to the
Royalist party. He had therefore two things to fight--the enemies
which his opinions brought him, and those who were envious of his
talent,--a talent cold, sober, charming, more dreamy than virile, more
intellectual than passionate, more nervous than strong. The piece was
excellently well put on: Mademoiselle Georges took the part of the
Maréchale d'Ancre; Frédérick, that of Concini; Ligier, Borgia; and
Noblet, Isabelle. The difference between de Vigny's way of treating
drama and mine shows itself in the very names of the characters. One
looked in vain for Louis XIII. I should have made him my principal
personage. Perhaps, though, the absence of Louis XIII. in de Vigny's
drama was more from political opinion than literary device. The author
being, as I say, a Royalist, may have preferred to leave his royalty
behind the wings than to show it in public with a pale and bloodstained
face. The _Maréchale d'Ancre_ is more of a novel than a play; the
plot, so to speak, is too complicated in its corners and too simple
in its middle spaces. The Maréchale falls without a struggle, without
catastrophe, without clinging to anything: she slips and falls to the
ground; she is seized; she dies. As to Concini, as the author was much
embarrassed to know what to do with him, he makes him spend ten hours
at a Jew's, waiting for a young girl whom he has only seen once; and,
just when he learns that Borgia is with his wife, and jealousy lends
him wings to fly to the Louvre, he loses himself on a staircase. During
the whole of the fourth act, whilst his wife is being taken to the
Bastille, and they are trying her and condemning her, he is groping
about to find the bannisters and seeking the door; when he comes out of
Isabelle's room at the end of the third act, he does not re-appear again
on the stage till the beginning of the fifth, and then only to die in
a corner of the rue de la Ferronnerie. That is the principal idea of
the drama. According to the author, Concini is the real assassin of
Henry IV.; Ravaillac is only the instrument. That is why, instead of
being killed within the limits of the court of the Louvre, the Maréchal
d'Ancre is killed close to the rue de la Ferronnerie, on the same spot
where the assassin waited to give the terrible dagger-stroke of Friday,
14 May 1610. In other respects I agree with the author; I do not think
it at all necessary that a work of art should possess as hall-mark,
"un parchemin par crime et un in-folio par passion." For long I have
held that, in theatrical matters specially, it seems to me permissible
to violate history provided one begets offspring thereby; but to let
Concini kill Henri IV. with no other object than that Concini should
reign, after the death of Béarnais, by the queen and through the queen,
is to give a very small reason for so great a crime. Put Concini
behind Ravaillac if you will, but, behind Concini, place the queen and
Épernon, and behind the queen and Épernon place Austria, the eternal
enemy of France! Austria, who has never put out her hand to France
save with a knife in it, the blade of Jacques Clément, the dagger of
Ravaillac and the pen-knife of Damiens, knowing well it would be too
dangerous to touch her with a sword-point.

It did not meet with much success, in spite of the high order of
beauty which characterised the work, beauty of style particularly. An
accident contributed to this: after the two first acts, the best in my
opinion, I do not know what caprice seized Georges, but she pretended
she was ill, and the stage-manager came on in a black coat and white
tie to tell the spectators that the remainder of the representation
was put off until another day. As a matter of fact, the _Maréchale
d'Ancre_ was not resumed until eight or ten days later. It needs a
robust constitution to hold up against such a check! The _Maréchale
d'Ancre_ held its own and had quite a good run. Between the _Maréchale
d'Ancre_ and Henry Monnier's first appearance a three-act drama was
played at the Porte-Saint-Martin, patronised by Hugo and myself: this
was _Farruck le Maure_, by poor Escousse. The piece was not good, but
owing to Bocage it had a greater success than one could have expected.
It afterwards acquired a certain degree of importance because of the
author's suicide, who, in his turn, was better known by the song, or
rather, the elegy which Béranger wrote about him, than by the two plays
he had had played. We shall return to this unfortunate boy and to
Lebras his fellow-suicide.

It was on 5 July that Henry Monnier came out. I doubt if any début
ever produced such a literary sensation. He was then about twenty-six
or twenty-eight years of age; he was known in the artistic world on
three counts. As painter, pupil of Girodet and of Gros, he had, after
his return from travel in England, been instrumental in introducing
the first wood-engraving executed in Paris, and he published _Mœurs
administratives, Grisettes_ and _Illustrations de Béranger._ As author,
at the instigation of his friend Latouche, he printed his _Scènes
populaires_, thanks to which the renown of the French _gendarme_ and of
the Parisian _titi_[1] spread all over the world. Finally, as a private
actor in society he had been the delight of supper-parties, acting for
us, with the aid of a curtain or a folding-screen, his _Halte d'une
diligence_, his _Étudiant_ and his _Grisette_, his _Femme qui a trop
chaud_ and his _Ambassade de M. de Cobentzel._

On the strength of being applauded in drawing-rooms, he thought he
would venture on the stage, and he wrote for himself and for his own
début, a piece called _La Famille improvisée_, which he took from his
_Scènes populaires._ Two types created by Henry Monnier have lasted and
will last: his Joseph Prudhomme, professor of writing, pupil of Brard
and Saint-Omer; and Coquerel, lover of la Duthé and of la Briand. I
have spoken of the interior of the Théâtre-Français on the day of the
first performance of _Henri III._; that of the Vaudeville was not less
remarkable on the evening of 5 July; all the literary and artistic
celebrities seemed to have arranged to meet in the rue de Chartres.
Among artists and sculptors were, Picot, Gérard, Horace Vernet, Carle
Vernet, Delacroix, Boulanger, Pradier, Desbœufs, the Isabeys, Thiolier
and I know not who else. Of poets there were Chateaubriand, Lamartine,
Hugo, the whole of us in fact. For actresses, Mesdemoiselles Mars,
Duchesnois, Leverd, Dorval, Perlet and Nourrit, and every actor who
was not taking part on the stage that night. Of society notabilities
there were Vaublanc, Mornay, Blanc-ménil, Madame de la Bourdonnaie,
the witty Madame O'Donnell, the ubiquitous Madame de Pontécoulant,
Châteauvillars, who has the prerogative of not growing old either in
face or in mind, Madame de Castries, all the faubourg Saint-Germain,
the Chaussée-d'Antin and the faubourg Saint-Honoré. The whole of the
journalist world was there. It was an immense success. Henry Monnier
reappeared twice, being called first as actor then as author. This, as
I have said, was on 5 July, and from that day until the end of December
the piece was never taken off the bills.

I went away the next day. Where was I going? I did not know. I had
flung a feather to the wind; it blew that day from the south, so my
feather was carried northwards. I set out therefore, for the north, and
should probably go to Havre. There seems to be an invincible attraction
leading one back to places one has previously visited. It will be
remembered that I was at Havre in 1828 and rewrote _Christine_, as
far as the plot was concerned, in the coach between Paris and Rouen.
Then, too, Rouen is such a beautiful town to see with its cathedral,
its church of Saint-Ouen, its ancient houses with their wood-carvings,
its town-hall and hôtel Bourgtheroude, that one longs to see it all
again! I stopped a day there. Next day the boat left at six in the
morning. At that time it still took fourteen hours to get from Paris
to Rouen by diligence, and ten hours from Rouen to Havre by boat. Now,
by _express train_ it only takes three and a half! True, one departs
and arrives--when one does arrive--but one does not really travel;
you do not see Jumiéges, or la Meilleraie or Tancarville, or all that
charming country by Villequier, where, one day, ten years after I was
there, the daughter of our great poet met her death in the midst of a
pleasure party. Poor Léopoldine! she would be at Jersey now, completing
the devout colony which provided a family if not a country for our
exiled Dante, dreaming of another inferno! Oh! if only I were that
mysterious unknown whose elastic arm could extend from one side of the
Guadalquiver to the other, to offer a light to Don Juan's cigar, how
I would stretch out each morning and evening my arm from Brussels to
Jersey to clasp the beloved hand which wrote the finest verse and the
most vigorous prose of this century!

We no longer see Honfleur, with its fascinating bell-tower, built by
the English; an erection which made some bishop or other, travelling
to improve his mind, say, "I feel sure that was not made here!" In
short, one goes to Havre and returns the same day, and one can even
reach Aix-la-Chapelle the next morning. If you take away distance, you
augment the duration of time. Nowadays we do not live so long, but we
get through more.

When I reached Havre I went in search of a place where I could spend
a month or six weeks; I wanted but a village, a corner, a hole,
provided it was close to the sea, and I was recommended to go to
Sainte-Adresse and Trouville. For a moment I wavered between the two
districts, which were both equally unknown to me; but, upon pursuing
my inquiries further, and having learnt that Trouville was even more
isolated and hidden and solitary than Sainte-Adresse, I decided upon
Trouville. Then I recollected, as one does in a dream, that my good
friend Huet, the landscape painter, a painter of marshes and beaches,
had told me of a charming village by the sea, where he had been nearly
choked with a fish bone, and that the village was called Trouville.
But he had forgotten to tell me how to get to it. I therefore had to
make inquiries. There were infinitely more opportunities for getting
from Havre to Rio-de-Janeiro, Sydney or the coast of Coromandel than
there were to Trouville. Its latitude and longitude were, at that time,
almost as little known as those of Robinson Crusoe's island. Sailors,
going from Honfleur to Cherbourg, had pointed out Trouville in the
distance, as a little settlement of fishermen, which, no doubt, traded
with la Délivrande and Pont-l'Évêque, its nearest neighbours; but that
was all they knew about it. As to the tongue those fisherfolk talked
they were completely ignorant, the only relations they had hitherto
had with them had been held from afar and by signs. I have always had
a passion for discoveries and explorations; I thereupon decided, if
not exactly to discover Trouville, at least to explore it, and to do
for the river de la Touque what Levaillant, the beloved traveller of
my childhood, had done for the Elephant River. That resolution taken,
I jumped into the boat for Honfleur, where fresh directions as to the
route I should follow would be given me. We arrived at Honfleur. During
that two hours' crossing at flood-tide, everybody was seasick, except
a beautiful consumptive English lady, with long streaming hair and
cheeks like a peach and a rose, who battled against the scourge with
large glasses of brandy! I have never seen a sadder sight than that
lovely figure standing up, walking about the deck of the boat, whilst
everybody else was either seated or lying down; she, doomed to death,
with every appearance of good health, whilst all the other passengers,
who looked at the point of death, regained their strength directly they
touched the shore again, like many another Antæus before them. If there
are spirits, they must walk and look and smile just as that beautiful
English woman walked and looked and smiled. When we landed at Honfleur,
just as the boat stopped, her mother and a young brother, as fair
and as rosy as she seemed, rose up as though from a battlefield and
rejoined her with dragging steps. She, on the contrary, whilst we were
sorting out our boxes and portmanteaux, lightly cleared the drawbridge
which was launched from the landing-stage to the side of the miniature
steam-packet, and disappeared round a corner of the rue de Honfleur.
I never saw her again and shall never see her again, probably, except
in the valley of Jehoshaphat; but, whether I see her again, there or
elsewhere--in this world, which seems to me almost impossible, or in
the other, which seems to me almost improbable--I will guarantee that I
shall recognise her at the first glance.

We were hardly at Honfleur before we were making inquiries as to the
best means of being transported to Trouville. There were two ways of
going, by land or by sea. By land they offered us a wretched wagon
and two bad horses for twenty francs, and we should travel along a
bad road, taking five hours to reach Trouville. Going by sea, with
the outgoing tide, it would take two hours, in a pretty barque rowed
by four vigorous oarsmen; a picturesque voyage along the coast, where
I should see great quantities of birds, such as sea-mews, gulls and
divers, on the right the infinite ocean, on the left immense cliffs.
Then if the wind was good--and it could not fail to be favourable,
sailors never doubt that!--it would only take two hours to cross. It
was true that, if the wind was unfavourable, we should have to take
to oars, and should not arrive till goodness knows when. Furthermore,
they asked twelve francs instead of twenty. Happily my travelling
companion--for I have forgotten to say that I had a travelling
companion--was one of the most economical women I have ever met;
although she had been very sick in crossing from Havre to Honfleur,
this saving of eight francs appealed to her, and as I had gallantly
left the choice of the two means of transport to her she decided on the
boat. Two hours later we left Honfleur as soon as the tide began to
turn.


[1] Young workman of the Parisian faubourgs.



CHAPTER XII


    Appearance of Trouville--Mother Oseraie--How people are
    accommodated at Trouville when they are married--The
    price of painters and of the community of martyrs--Mother
    Oseraie's acquaintances--How she had saved the life of
    Huet, the landscape painter--My room and my neighbour's--A
    twenty-franc dinner for fifty sous--A walk by the
    seashore--Heroic resolution


The weather kept faith with our sailors' promise: the sea was calm,
the wind in the right quarter and, after a delightful three hours'
crossing--following that picturesque coast, on the cliffs of which,
sixteen years later, King Louis-Philippe, against whom we were to wage
so rude a war, was to stand anxiously scanning the sea for a ship, if
it were but a rough barque like that Xerxes found upon which to cross
the Hellespont--our sailors pointed out Trouville. It was then composed
of a few fishing huts grouped along the right bank of the Touque, at
the mouth of that river, between two low ranges of hills enclosing a
charming valley as a casket encloses a set of jewels. Along the left
bank were great stretches of pasture-land which promised me magnificent
snipe-shooting. The tide was out and the sands, as smooth and shining
as glass, were dry. Our sailors hoisted us on their backs and we were
put down upon the sand.

The sight of the sea, with its bitter smell, its eternal moaning, has
an immense fascination for me. When I have not seen it for a long time
I long for it as for a beloved mistress, and, no matter what stands in
the way, I have to return to it, to breathe in its breath and taste its
kisses for the twentieth time. The three happiest months of my life, or
at any rate the most pleasing to the senses, were those I spent with my
Sicilian sailors in a _speronare_, during my Odyssey in the Tyrrhenian
Sea. But, in this instance, I began my maritime career, and it must be
conceded that it was not a bad beginning to discover a seaport like
Trouville. The beach, moreover, was alive and animated as though on a
fair day. Upon our left, in the middle of an archipelago of rocks, a
whole collection of children were gathering baskets full of mussels;
upon our right, women were digging in the sand with vigorous plying
of spades, to extract a small kind of eel which resembled the fibres
of the salad called _barbe de capucin_ (_i.e._ wild chicory); and all
round our little barque, which, although still afloat, looked as though
it would soon be left dry, a crowd of fishermen and fisher-women were
shrimping, walking with athletic strides, with the water up to their
waists and pushing in front of them long-handled nets into which they
reaped their teeming harvest. We stopped at every step; everything
on that unknown seashore was a novelty to us. Cook, landing on the
Friendly Isles, was not more absorbed or happy than was I. The sailors,
noticing our enjoyment, told us they would carry our luggage to the inn
and tell them of our coming.

"To the inn! But which inn?" I asked.

"There is no fear of mistake," replied the wag of the company, "for
there is but one."

"What is its name?"

"It has none. Ask for Mother Oseraie and the first person you meet will
direct you to her house."

We were reassured by this information and had no further hesitation
about loafing to our heart's content on the beach of Trouville. An hour
later, various stretches of sand having been crossed and two or three
directions asked in French and answered in Trouvillois, we managed to
land at our inn. A woman of about forty--plump, clean and comely, with
the quizzical smile of the Norman peasant on her lips--came up to us.
This was Mother Oseraie, who probably never suspected the celebrity
which one day the Parisian whom she received with an almost sneering
air was to give her. Poor Mother Oseraie! had she suspected such a
thing, perhaps she would have treated me as Plato in his _Republic_
advises that poets shall be dealt with: crowned with flowers and shown
to the door! Instead of this, she advanced to meet me, and after gazing
at me with curiosity from head to foot, she said--

"Good! so you have come?"

"What do you mean by that?" I asked.

"Well, your luggage has arrived and two rooms engaged for you."

"Ah! now I understand."

"Why two rooms?"

"One for madame and one for myself."

"Oh! but with us when people are married they sleep together!"

"First of all, who told you that madame and I were married?...
Besides, when we are, I shall be of the opinion of one of my friends
whose name is Alphonse Karr!"

"Well, what does your friend whose name is Alphonse Karr say?"

"He says that at the end of a certain time, when a man and a woman
occupy only one room together, they cease to become lover and mistress
and become male and female; that is what he says."

"Ah! I do not understand. However, no matter! you want two rooms?"

"Exactly."

"Well, you shall have them; but I would much rather you only took one
[_prissiez_]."

I will not swear that she said _prissiez_, but the reader will forgive
me for adding that embellishment to our dialogue.

"Of course, I can see through that," I replied; "you would have made
us pay for two and you would have had one room left to let to other
travellers."

"Precisely!--I say, you are not very stupid for a Parisian, I declare!"

I bowed to Mother Oseraie.

"I am not altogether a Parisian," I replied; "but that is a mere matter
of detail."

"Then you will have the two rooms?"

"I will."

"I warn you they open one out of the other."

"Capital!"

"You shall be taken to them."

She called a fine strapping lass with nose and eyes and petticoats
turned up.

"Take madame to her room," I said to the girl; "I will stop here and
talk to Mother Oseraie."

"Why?"

"Because I find your conversation pleasant."

"Gammon!"

"Also I want to know what you will take us for per day."

"And the night does not count then?"

"Night and day."

"There are two charges: for artists, it is forty sous."

"What! forty sous ... for what?"

"For board and lodging of course!"

"Ah! forty sous!... And how many meals for that?"

"As many as you like! two, three, four--according to your hunger--of
course!"

"Good! you say, then, that it is forty sous per day?"

"For artists--Are you a painter?"

"No."

"Well, then it will be fifty sous for you and fifty for your lady--a
hundred sous together."

I could not believe the sum.

"Then it is a hundred sous for two, three or four meals and two rooms?"

"A hundred sous--Do you think it is too dear?"

"No, if you do not raise the price."

"Why should I raise it, pray?"

"Oh well, we shall see."

"No! not here ... If you were a painter it would only be forty sous."

"What is the reason for this reduction in favour of artists?"

"Because they are such nice lads and I am so fond of them. It was they
who began to make the reputation of my inn."

"By the way, do you know a painter called Decamps?"

"Decamps? I should think so!"

"And Jadin?"

"Jadin? I do not know that name."

I thought Mother Oseraie was bragging; but I possessed a touch-stone.

"And Huet?" I asked.

"Oh, yes! I knew him."

"You do not remember anything in particular about him, do you?"

"Indeed, yes, I remember that I saved his life."

"Bah! come, how did that happen?"

"One day when he was choking with a sole bone. It doesn't take long to
choke one's self with a fish bone!"

"And how did you save his life."

"Oh! only just in time. Why, he was already black in the face."

"What did you do to him?"

"I said to him, 'Be patient and wait for me.'"

"It is not easy to be patient when one is choking."

"Good heavens! what else could I have said? It wasn't my fault. Then
I ran as fast as I could into the garden; I tore up a leek, washed
it, cut off its stalks and stuffed it right down his throat. It is a
sovereign remedy for fish bones!"

"Indeed, I can well believe it."

"Now, he never speaks of me except with tears in his eyes."

"All the more since the leek belongs to the onion family."

"All the same, it vexes me."

"What vexes you? That the poor dear man was not choked?"

"No, no, indeed! I am delighted and I thank you both in his name and in
my own: he is a friend of mine, and, besides, a man of great talent.
But I am vexed that Trouville has been discovered by three artists
before being discovered by a poet."

"Are you a poet, then?"

"Well, I might perhaps venture to say that I am."

"What is a poet? Does it bring in an income?"

"No."

"Well, then, it is a poor sort of business."

I saw I had given Mother Oseraie but an indifferent idea of myself.

"Would you like me to pay you a fortnight in advance?"

"What for?"

"Why! In case you are afraid that as I am a poet I may go without
paying you!"

"If you went away without paying me it would be all the worse for you,
but not for me."

"How so?"

"For having robbed an honest woman; for I am an honest woman, I am."

"I begin to believe it, Mother Oseraie; but I, too, you see, am not a
bad lad."

"Well, I don't mind telling you that you give me that impression. Will
you have dinner?"

"Rather! Twice over rather than once."

"Then, go upstairs and leave me to attend to my business."

"But what will you give us for dinner?"

"Ah! that is my business."

"How is it your business?"

"Because, if I do not satisfy you, you will go elsewhere."

"But there is nowhere else to go!"

"Which is as good as to say that you will put up with what I have got,
my good friend.... Come, off to your room!"

I began to adapt myself to the manners of Mother Oseraie: it was what
is called in the _morale en action_ and in collections of anecdotes
"la franchise villageoise" (country frankness). I should much have
preferred "l'urbanité parisienne" (Parisian urbanity); but Mother
Oseraie was built on other lines, and I was obliged to take her as
she was. I went up to my room: it was quadrilateral, with lime-washed
walls, a deal floor, a walnut table, a wooden bed painted red, and a
chimney-piece with a shaving-glass instead of a looking-glass, and, for
ornament, two blue elaborately decorated glass vases; furthermore there
was the spray of orange-blossom which Mother Oseraie had had when she
was twenty years of age, as fresh as on the day it was plucked, owing
to the shade, which kept it from contact with the air. Calico curtains
to the window and linen sheets on the bed, both sheets and curtains
as white as the snow, completed the furnishings. I went into the
adjoining room; it was furnished on the same lines, and had, besides,
a convex-shaped chest of drawers inlaid with different coloured woods
which savoured of the bygone days of du Barry, and which, if restored,
regilded, repaired, would have looked better in the studio of one of
the three painters Mother Oseraie had just mentioned. The view from
both windows was magnificent. From mine, the valley of the Touque could
be seen sinking away towards Pont-l'Évêque, which is surrounded by
two wooded hills; from my companion's, the sea, flecked with little
fishing-boats, their sails white against the horizon, waiting to
return with the tide. Chance had indeed favoured me in giving me the
room which looked on to the valley: if I had had the sea, with its
waves, and gulls, and boats, its horizon melting into the sky always
before me, I should have found it impossible to work. I had completely
forgotten the dinner when I heard Mother Oseraie calling me--

"I say, monsieur poet!"

"Well! mother!" I replied.

"Come! dinner is ready."

I offered my arm to my neighbour and we went down. Oh! worthy Mother
Oseraie! when I saw your soup, your mutton cutlets, your soles _en
matelote_, your mayonnaise of lobster, your two roast snipe and your
shrimp salad, how I regretted I had had doubts of you for an instant!
Fifty sous for a dinner which, in Paris, would have cost twenty francs!
True, wine would have accounted for some of the difference; but we
might drink as much cider as we liked free of charge. My travelling
companion suggested taking a lease of three, six, or nine years with
Mother Oseraie; during which nine years, in her opinion, we could
economise to the extent of a hundred and fifty thousand francs! Perhaps
she was right, poor Mélanie! but how was Paris and its revolutions to
get on without me? As soon as dinner was finished we went back to the
beach. It was high tide, and the barques were coming into the harbour
like a flock of sheep to the fold. Women were waiting on the shore with
huge baskets to carry off the fish. Each woman recognised her own boat
and its rigging from afar; mothers called out to their sons, sisters
to their brothers, wives to their husbands. All talked by signs before
the boats were near enough to enable them to use their voices, and it
was soon known whether the catch had been good or bad. All the while, a
hot July sun was sinking below the horizon, surrounded by great clouds
which it fringed with purple, and through the gaps between the clouds
it darted its golden rays, Apollo's arrows, which disappeared in the
sea. I do not know anything more beautiful or grand or magnificent
than a sunset over the ocean! We remained on the beach until it was
completely dark. I was perfectly well aware that, if I did not from
the beginning cut short this desire for contemplation which had taken
possession of me, I should spend my days in shooting sea-birds,
gathering oysters among the rocks and catching eels in the sand. I
therefore resolved to combat this sweet enemy styled idleness, and to
set myself to work that very evening if possible.

I was under an agreement with Harel; it had been arranged that I
should bring him back a play in verse, of five acts, entitled _Charles
VII chez ses grands vassaux._ M. Granier, otherwise de Cassagnac,
published, in 1833, a work on me, since continued by M. Jacquot,
otherwise de Mirecourt, a work in which he pointed out the sources
whence I had drawn all the plots for my plays, and taken all the ideas
for my novels. I intend, as I go on with these Memoirs, to undertake
that work myself, and I guarantee that it shall be more complete and
more conscientious than that of my two renowned critics; only, I hope
my readers will not demand that it shall be as malicious. But let me
relate how the idea of writing _Charles VII._ came to me, and of what
heterogeneous elements that drama was composed.



CHAPTER XIII


    A reading at Nodier's--The hearers and the
    readers--Début--_Les Marrons du feu_--La Camargo and the
    Abbé Desiderio--Genealogy of a dramatic idea--Orestes
    and Hermione--Chimène and Don Sancho-_Goetz von
    Berlichingen_--Fragments--How I render to Cæsar the things
    that are Cæsar's


Towards the close of 1830, or the beginning of 1831, we were invited
to spend an evening with Nodier. A young fellow of twenty-two or
twenty-three was to read some portions of a book of poems he was about
to publish. This young man's name was then almost unknown in the
world of letters, and it was now going to be given to the public for
the first time. Nobody ever failed to attend a meeting called by our
dear Nodier and our lovely Marie. We were all, therefore, punctual
in our appearance. By everybody, I mean our ordinary circle of the
Arsenal: Lamartine, Hugo, de Vigny, Jules de Rességuier, Sainte-Beuve,
Lefèbvre, Taylor, the two Johannots, Louis Boulanger, Jal, Laverdant,
Bixio, Amaury Duval, Francis Wey, etc.; and a crowd of young girls
with flowers in their dresses, who have since become the beautiful
and devoted mothers of families. About ten o'clock a young man of
ordinary height--thin, fair, with budding moustache and long curling
hair, thrown back in clusters to the sides of his head, a green,
tight-fitting coat and light-coloured trousers--entered, affecting
a very easy demeanour which, perhaps, was meant to conceal actual
timidity. This was our poet. Very few among us knew him personally,
even by sight or name. A table, glass of water and two candles had
been put ready for him. He sat down, and, so far as I can remember,
he read from a printed book and not from a manuscript. From the very
start that assembly of poets trembled with excitement; they felt they
had a poet before them, and the volume opened with these lines, which
I may be permitted to quote, although they are known by all the world.
We have said, and we cannot repeat it too often, that these memoirs
are not only Memoirs but recollections of the art, poetry, literature
and politics of the first fifty years of the century. When we have
attacked, severely, perhaps, but honestly and loyally, things that
were base and low and shameful; when we have tracked down hypocrisy,
punished treachery, ridiculed mediocrity, it has been both good and
sweet to raise our eyes to the sky, to look at, and to worship in
spirit, those beautiful golden clouds which, to many people, seem
but flimsy vapours, but which to us are planetary worlds wherein we
hope our souls will find refuge throughout eternity; and, even though
conscious that we may, perhaps, be wrong in so doing, we hail their
uncommon outlines with more pride and joy than when setting forth our
own works. I am entirely disinterested in the matter of the author
of these verses; for I scarcely knew him and we hardly spoke to one
another a dozen times. I admire him greatly, although he, I fear, has
not a great affection for me. The poet began thus--

    "Je n'ai jamais aimé, pour ma part, ces bégueules
    Qui ne sauraient aller au Prado toutes seules;
    Qu'une duègne toujours, de quartier en quartier,
    Talonne, comme fait sa mule un muletier;
    Qui s'usent, à prier, les genoux et la lèvre,
    Se courbent sur le grès plus pâles, dans leur fièvre,
    Qu'un homme qui, pieds nus, marche sur un serpent,
    Ou qu'un faux monnayeur au moment qu'on le pend.
    Certes, ces femmes-là, pour mener cette vie,
    Portent un cœur châtré de tout noble envie;
    Elles n'ont pas de sang e pas d'entrailles!--Mais,
    Sur ma télé et mes os, frère, je vous promets
    Qu'elles valent encor quatre fois mieux que celles
    Dont le temps se dépense en intrigues nouvelles.
    Celles-là vont au bal, courent les rendez-vous,
    Savent dans un manchon cacher un billet doux,
    Serrar un ruban noir sur un beau flanc qui ploie,
    Jeter d'un balcon d'or une échelle de soie,
    Suivre l'imbroglio de ces amours mignons
    Poussés dans une nuit comme des champignons;
    Si charmantes d'ailleurs! Aimant en enragées
    Les moustaches, les chiens, la valse et les dragées.
    Mais, oh! la triste chose et l'étrange malheur,
    Lorsque dans leurs filets tombe un homme de cœur!
    Frère, mieux lui vaudrait, comme ce statuaire
    Qui pressait de ses bras son amante de pierre,
    Réchauffer de baisers un marbre! Mieux vaudrait
    Une louve enragée en quelque âpre forêt!..."

You see he was not mistaken in his own estimate; these lines were
thoughtful and well-constructed; they march with a proud and lusty
swing, hand-on-hip, slender-waisted, splendidly draped in their Spanish
cloak. They were not like Lamartine, or Hugo or de Vigny: a flower
culled from the same garden, it is true; a fruit of the same orchard
even; but a flower possessed of its own odour and a fruit with a
taste of its own. Good! Here am I, meaning to relate worthless things
concerning myself, saying good things about Alfred de Musset. Upon my
word, I do not regret it and it is all the better for myself.[1] I
have, however, do not let us forget, yet to explain how that dramatic
_pastiche_ which goes by the name of _Charles VII._ came to be written.
The night went by in a flash. Alfred de Musset read the whole volume
instead of a few pieces from it: _Don Paez, Porcia,_ the _Andalouse,
Madrid,_ the _Ballade à la lune, Mardoche_, etc., probably about two
thousand lines; only, I must admit that the young girls who were
present at the reading, whether they were with their mammas or alone,
must have had plenty to do to look after their eyelids and their fans.
Among these pieces was a kind of comedy entitled the _Marrons du feu._
La Camargo, that Belgian dancer, celebrated by Voltaire, who was the
delight of the opera of 1734 to 1751, is its heroine; but, it must be
said, the poor girl is sadly calumniated in the poem. In the first
place, the poet imagines she was loved to distraction by a handsome
Italian named Rafaël Garuci, and that this love was stronger at the
end of two years than it had ever been. Calumny number one. Then, he
goes on to suppose that Seigneur Garuci, tired of the dancer, gives his
clothes to the Abbé Annibal Desiderio, and tells him how he can gain
access to the beautiful woman. Calumny number two--but not so serious
as the first, Seigneur Rafaël Garuci having probably never existed save
in the poet's brain. Finally, he relates that, when she finds herself
face to face with the abbé disguised as a gentleman, and finds out that
it is Rafaël who has provided him with the means of access to her,
whilst he himself is supping at that very hour with la Cydalise, la
Camargo is furious against her faithless lover, and says to the abbé--

    "Abbé, je veux du sang! j'en suis plus altérée
    Qu'une corneille au vent d'un cadavre attirée!
    Il est là-has, dis-tu? Cours-y donc! coupe-lui
    La gorge, et tire-le par les pieds jusqu'ici!
    Tords-lui le cœur, abbé, de peur qu'il n'en réchappe;
    Coupe-le en quatre, et mets les morceaux dans la nappe!
    Tu me l'apporteras; et puisse m'écraser
    La foudre, si tu n'as par blessure un baiser!...
    Tu tressailles, Romain? C'est une faute étrange,
    Si tu te crois conduit ici par ton bon ange!
    Le sang te fait-il peur? Pour t'en faire un manteau
    De cardinal, il faut la pointe d'un couteau!
    Me jugeais-tu le cœur si large, que j'y porte
    Deux amours à la fois, et que pas un n'en sorte?
    C'est une faute encor: mon cœur n'est pas si grand,
    Et le dernier venu ronge l'autre en entrant ..."

The abbé has to fight Rafaël on the morrow; he entreats her to wait at
least until after that.

        "Et s'il te tu
    Demain? et si j'en meurs? si j'en suis devenue
    Folle? si le soleil, de prenant à pâlir,
    De ce sombre horizon ne pouvait plus sortir?
    On a vu quelquefois de telles nuits au monde!
    Demain! le vais-je attendre à compter, par seconde,
    Les heures sur mes doigts, ou sur les battements
    De mon cœur, comme un juif qui calcule le temps
    D'un prêt? Demain, ensuite, irai-je, pour te plaire,
    Jouer à croix ou pile, et mettre ma colère.
    Au bout d'un pistolet qui tremble avec ta main?
    Non pas! non! Aujourd'hui est à nous, mais demain
    Est a Dieu!..."

The abbé ended by giving in to the prayers, caresses and tears of la
Camargo, as Orestes yielded to Hermione's promises, transports and
threats; urged on by the beautiful, passionate courtesan, he killed
Rafaël, as Orestes killed Pyrrhus; and, like Orestes, he returned to
demand from la Camargo recompense for his love, the price of blood.
Like Hermione, she failed to keep her word to him. Calumny number three.

    "Entrez!
    (_L'abbé entre et lui présente son poignard; la Camargo le
    considère quelque temps, puis se lève._)
                A-t-il souffert beaucoup?
                                        --Bon! c'est l'affaire
    D'un moment!
                --Qu'a-t-il dit?
                                --Il a dit que la terre
    Tournait.
             --Quoi! rien de plus?
                                  --Ah! qu'il donnait son bien
    A son bouffon Pippo.
                        --Quoi! rien de plus?
                                             --Non, rien.
    --Il porte au petit doigt un diamant: de grâce,
    Allez me le chercher!
                         --Je ne le puis.
                                         --La place
    Où vous l'avez laissé n'est pas si loin.
                                            --Non, mais
    Je ne le puis.
                  --Abbé, tout ce que je promets,
    Je le tiens.
                --Pas ce soir!...
                              --Pourquoi?
                                         --Mais...
                                                  --Misérable
    Tu ne l'as pas tué!
                       --Moi? Que le ciel m'accable
    Si je ne l'ai pas fait, madame, en vérité!
    --En ce cas, pourquoi non?
                              --Ma foi, je l'ai jeté
    Dans la mer.
                --Quoi! ce soir, dans la mer?
                                            --Oui, madame.
    --Alors, c'est un malheur pour vous, car, sur mon âme,
    Je voulais cet anneau.
                          --Si vous me l'aviez dit,
    Au moins!
             --Et sur quoi donc t'en croirai-je, maudit
    Sur quel honneur vas-tu me jurer? sur laquelle
    De tes deux mains de sang? oh la marque en est elle?
    La chose n'est pas sûre, et tu peux te vanter!
    Il fallait lui couper la main, et l'apporter.
    --Madame, il fassait nuit, la mer était prochaine ...
    Je l'ai jeté dedans.
                        --Je n'en suis pas certaine.
    --Mais, madame, ce fer est chaud, et saigne encor!
    --Ni le feu ni le sang ne sont rares!
                                         --Son corps
    N'est pas si loin, madame; il se peut qu'on se charge ...
    --La nuit est trop épaisse, et l'Océan trop large!
    --Mais je suis pâle, moi tenez!
                                  --Mon cher abbé,
    L'étais-je pas, ce soir, quand j'ai joué Thisbé,
    Dans l'opéra?
                 --Madame, au nom du ciel!
                                          --Peut-être

    Qu'en y regardant bien, vous l'aurez.... Ma fenêtre
    Donne sur la mer.

    (_Elle sort._)

                    --Mais elle est partie!... O Dieu!
    J'ai tué mon ami, j'ai mérité le feu,
    J'ai taché mon pourpoint, et l'on me congédie!
    C'est la moralité de cette comédie."

The framework of this scene, far removed from it though it is by its
form, is evidently copied from this scene in Racine's _Andromaque_:


    "HERMIONE.

    Je veux qu'à mon départ toute l'Épire pleure!
    Mais, si vous me vengez, vengez-moi dans une heure.
    Tous vos retardements sont pour moi des refus.
    Courez au temple! Il faut immoler ...

    ORESTE.
                                  Qui?

    HERMIONE.
                                            Pyrrhus!
    --Pyrrhus, madame?
                        --Hé quoi! votre haine chancelle!
    Ah! courez, et craignez que je ne vous rappelle!
       .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
    Ne vous suffit-il pas que je l'ai condamné?
    Ne vous suffit-il pas que ma gloire offensée
    Demande une victime à moi seule adressée;
    Qu'Hermione est le prix d'un tyran opprimé;
    Que je le hais! enfin, seigneur, que je l'aimai?
    Malgré la juste horreur que son crime me donne,
    Tant qu'il vivra, craignez que je ne lui pardonne!
    Doutez jusqu'à sa mort d'un courroux incertain.
    S'il ne meurt aujourd'hui je peux l'aimer demain!
       .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
    --Mais, madame, songez ...
                                  --Ah! c'en est trop, seigneur
    Tant de raisonnements offensent ma colère.
    J'ai voulu vous donner les moyens de me plaire,
    Rendre Oreste content; mais, enfin, je vois bien
    Qu'il veut toujours se plaindre, et ne mériter rien.
    Je m'en vais seule au temple où leur hymen s'apprête,
    Où vous n'osez aller mériter ma conquête;
    Là, de mon ennemi je saurai m'approcher;
    Je percerai le cœur que je n'ai pu toucher,
    Et mes sanglantes mains, sur moi-même tournées.
    Aussitôt, malgré lui, joindront nos destinées;
    Et, tout ingrat qu'il est, il me sera plus doux
    De mourir avec lui que de vivre avec vous!
    --Non, je vous priverai de ce plaisir funeste,
    Madame, il ne mourra que de la main d'Oreste!
    Vos ennemis par moi vous vont être immolés,
    Et vous reconnaîtrez mes soins, si vous voulez!"

And Orestes departs, kills Pyrrhus, then returns with his bloody sword
in his hand to find Hermione.

    "--Madame, c'en est fait, et vous êtes servie:
    Pyrrhus rend à l'autel son infidèle vie!
    --Il est mort?...
                   --Il expire, et nos Grecs, irrités,
    Ont lavé dans son sang ses infidélités!
       .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
    Mais c'est moi dont l'ardeur leur a servi d'exemple;
    Je les ai pour vous seule entraînés dans le temple,
    Madame, et vous pouvez justement vous flatter
    D'une mort que leurs bras n'ont fait qu'exécuter:
    Vous seule avez porté les coups!
                                    --Tais-toi, perfide!
    Et n'impute qu'à toi lâche parricide!
    Va faire chez les Grecs admirer ta fureur,
    Va! je te désavoue, et tu me fais horreur!...
    Barbare! qu'as-tu fait? Avec quelle furie
    As-tu tranché le cours d'une si belle vie?
    Avez-vous pu, cruels, l'immoler aujourd'hui,
    Sans que tout votre sang se soulevât pour lui?
    Mais parle! De son sort qui t'a rendu l'arbitre?
    Pourquoi l'assassiner? qu'a-t-il fait? à quel titre?
    Qui te l'a dit?
                   --O dieux! quoi! ne m'avez-vous pas
    Vous-même, ici, tantôt, ordonné son trépas?
    --Ah! fallait-il en croire une amante insensé?..."

It is the same passion, we see, in both women: Opera dancer and Spartan
princess, they speak differently, but act in the same manner. True,
both have copied la Chimène in the _Cid._ Don Sancho enters, sword in
hand, and prostrates himself before Chimène.

    -Madame, à vos genoux j'apporte cette épée ...
    --Quoi! du sang de Rodrigue encor toute trempée?
    Perfide! oses-tu bien te montrer à mes yeux
    Après m'avoir ôté ce que j'aimais le mieux?
    Éclate, mon amour! tu n'as plus rien à craindre;
    Mon père est satisfait; cesse de te contraindre!
    Un même coup a mis ma gloire en sûreté,
    Mon âme au désespoir, ma flamme en liberté!
    --D'un esprit plus rassis ...
                                  --Tu me parles encore,
    Exécrable assassin du héros que j'adore!
    Va, tu l'as pris en traître! Un guerrier si vaillant
    N'eût jamais succombé sous un tel assaillant!
    N'espère rien de moi; tu ne m'as point servie;
    En croyant me venger, tu m'as ôté la vie!...

True, Corneille borrowed this scene from Guilhem de Castro, who took
it from the romancers of the _Cid._ Now, the day I listened to that
reading by Alfred de Musset, I had had already, for more than a year,
a similar idea in my head. It had been suggested to me by the reading
of Goethe's famous drama _Goetz von Berlichingen._ Three or four scenes
are buried in that titanic drama, each of which seemed to me sufficient
of themselves to make separate dramas. There was always the same
situation of the woman urging the man she does not love to kill the one
she loves, as Chimène in the _Cid_, as Hermione in _Andromaque._ The
analysis of _Goetz von Berlichingen_ would carry us too far afield, we
will therefore be content to quote these three or four scenes from our
friend Marmier's translation:

    "ADÉLAÏDE, _femme de Weislingen_; FRANTZ, _page de

    Weislingen._
    ADÉLAÏDE.--Ainsi, les deux expéditions sont en marche?
    FRANTZ.--Oui, madame, et mon maître a la joie de combattre
    vos ennemis....
    --Comment va-t-il ton maître?
    --A merveille! il m'a chargé de vous baiser la main.
    --La voici ... Tes lèvres sont brûlantes!
    --C'est ici que je brûle. (_Il met la main sur son cœur._)
    Madame, vos domestiques sont les plus heureux des hommes!
    ... Adieu! il faut que je reparte. Ne m'oubliez pas!
    --Mange d'abord quelque chose, et prends un peu repos.
    --A quoi bon? Je vous ai vue, je ne me sens ni faim ni
    fatigue.
    --Je sais que tu es un garçon plein de zèle.
    --Oh! madame!
    --Mais tu n'y tiendrais pas ... Repose-toi, te dis-je, et
    prends quelque nourriture.
    --Que de soins pour un pauvre jeune homme!
    --Il a les larmes aux yeux ... Je l'aime de tout mon cœur!
    Jamais personne ne m'a montré tant d'attachement!
    ADÉLAÏDE, FRANTZ, _entrant une lettre à la main._
    FRANTZ.--Voici pour vous, madame.
    ADÉLAÏDE.--Est-ce Charles lui-même qui te l'a remise?
    --Oui.
    --Qu'as-tu donc? Tu parais triste!
    --Vous voulez absolument me faire périr de langueur ... Oui,
    je mourrai dans l'âge de l'espérance, et c'est vous qui en
    serez cause!
    --Il me fait de la peine ... Il m'en coûterait si peu pour
    le rendre heureux!--Prends courage, jeune homme, je connais
    ton amour, ta fidélité; je ne serai point ingrate.
    --Si vous en étiez capable, je mourrais! Mon Dieu! moi qui
    n'ai pas une goutte de sang qui ne soit à vous! moi qui n'ai
    de sens que pour vous aimer et pour obéir à ce que vous
    désirez!
    --Cher enfant!
    --Vous me flattez! et tout cela n'aboutit qu'a s'en voir
    préférer d'autres ... Toutes vos pensées tournées vers
    Charles!... Aussi, je ne le veux plus ... Non, je ne veux
    plus servir d'entremetteur!
    --Frantz, tu t'oublies!
    --Me sacrifier!... sacrifier mon maître! mon cher maître!
    --Sortez de ma présence!
    --Madame....
    --Va, dénonce-moi a ton cher maître ... J'étais bien folle
    de te prendre pour ce que tu n'es pas.
    --Chère noble dame, vous savez que je vous aime!
    --Je t'aimais bien aussi; tu étais près de mon cœur ... Va,
    trahis-moi!
    --Je m'arracherais plutôt le sein!... Pardonnez-moi,
    madame; mon âme est trop pleine, je ne suis plus maître de
    moi!
    --Cher enfant! excellent cœur!
    (_Elle lui prend les mains, l'attire à elle; leurs bouches
    se rencontrent; il se jette à son you en pleurant._)
    --Laisse-moi!... Les murs ont des yeux ... Laisse-moi ...
    (_Elle se dégage._) Aime-moi toujours ainsi; sois toujours
    aussi fidèle; la plus belle récompense t'attend! (_Elle
    sort._)
    --La plus belle récompense! Dieu, laisse-moi vivre jusque!
    ... Si mon père me disputait cette place, je le tuerais!


    WEISLINGEN, FRANTZ.

    WEISLINGEN.--Frantz!
    FRANTZ.--Monseigneur!
    --Exécute ponctuellement mes ordres: tu m'en réponds sur
    ta vie. Remets-lui cette lettre; il faut qu'elle quitte la
    cour, et se retire dans mon château à l'instant même. Tu
    la verras partir, et aussitôt tu reviendras m'annoncer son
    départ.
    --Vos ordres seront suivis.
    --Dis-lui bien qu'il faut qu'elle le veuille ... Va!

    ADÉLAÏDE, FRANTZ.

    (_Adélaïde tient à la main la lettre de son mari apportée
    par Frantz._)
    ADÉLAÏDE.--Lui ou moi!... L'insolent! me menacer! Nous
    saurons le prévenir ... Mais qui se glisse dans le salon?
    FRANTZ, _se jetant à son you._--Ah! madame! chère madame!...
    --Écervelé! si quelqu'un t'avait entendu!
    --Oh! tout dort!... tout le monde dort!
    --Que veux-tu?
    --Je n'ai point de sommeil: les menaces de mon maître ...
    votre sort ... mon cœur ...
    --Il était bien en colère quand tu l'as quitté?
    --Comme jamais je ne l'ai vu! 'Il faut qu'elle parte pour
    mon château! a-t-il dit; il faut qu'elle le veuille!'
    --Et ... nous obéirons?
    --Je n'en sais rien, madame.
    --Pauvre enfant, dupe de ta bonne foi, tu ne vois pas où
    cela mène! Il sait qu'ici je suis en sûreté ... Ce n'est
    pas d'aujourd'hui qu'il en veut à mon indépendance ... Il
    me fait aller dans ses domaines parce que, là, il aura le
    pouvoir de me traiter au gré de son aversion.
    --Il ne le fera pas!
    --Je vois dans l'avenir toute ma misère! Je ne resterai
    pas longtemps dans son château: il m'en arrachera pour
    m'enfermer dans un cloître!
    --O mort! ô enfer!
    --Me sauveras-tu?
    --Tout! tout plutôt que cela!
    --Frantz! (_En pleurs et l'embrassant._) Oh! Frantz! pour
    nous sauver....
    --Oui, il tombera ... il tombera sous mes coups! je le
    foulerai aux pieds!
    --Point d'emportement! Teins, remets-lui plutôt un billet
    plein de respect, où je l'assure de mon entière soumission à
    ses ordres ... Et cette fiole ... cette fiole, vide-la dans
    son verre.
    --Donnez, vous serez libre!

    WEISLINGEN, _puis_ FRANTZ.

    WEISLINGEN.--Je suis si malade, si faible!... mes os sont
    brisés: une fièvre ardente en a consumé la moelle! Ni paix
    ni trêve, le jour comme la nuit ... un mauvais sommeil agité
    de rêves empoisonnés.... (_Il s'assied._) Je suis faible,
    faible ... Comme mes ongles sont bleus!...Un froid glaciel
    circule dans mes veines, engourdit tous mes membres ...
    Quelle sueur dévorante! tout tourne autour de moi ... Si je
    pouvais dormir!...
    FRANTZ, _entrant dans la plus grande
    agitation._--Monseigneur!
    --Eh bien?
    --Du poison ... du poison de votre femme ... Moi, c'est moi!
    (_Il s'enfuit, ne pouvant en dire davantage._)
    --Il est dans le délire ... Oh! oui, je le sens ... le
    martyre! la mort.... (_Voulant se lever._) Dieu! je n'en
    puis plus! je meurs!... je meurs!... et, pourtant, je ne
    puis cesser de vivre ... Oh! dans cet affreux combat de la
    vie et de la mort, il y a tous les supplices de l'enfer!..."

Now that the reader has had placed before him all these various
fragments from _Goetz von Berlichingen_, the _Cid, Andromaque_ and the
_Marrons du feu_, which the genius of four poets--Goethe, Corneille,
Racine and Alfred de Musset--have given us, he will understand the
analogy, the family likeness which exists between the different scenes;
they are not entirely alike, but they are sisters.

Now, as I have said, these few passages from _Goetz von Berlichingen_
had lain dormant in my memory; neither the _Cid_ nor _Andromaque_ had
aroused them: the irregular, passionate, vivid poetry of Alfred de
Musset galvanized them into life, and from that moment I felt I must
put them to use.

About the same time, too, I read _Quentin Durward_ and was much
impressed by the character of Maugrabin; I had taken note of several
of his phrases full of Oriental poetry. I decided to place my drama in
the centre of the Middle Ages and to make my two principal personages,
a lovely and austere lady of a manor and an Arab slave who, whilst
sighing after his native land, is kept tied to the land of exile by a
stronger chain than that of slavery. I therefore set to work to hunt
about in chronicles of the fifteenth century to find a peg on which
to hang my picture. I have always upheld the admirable adaptibility
of history in this respect; it never leaves the poet in the lurch.
Accordingly, my way of dealing with history is a curious one. I begin
by making up a story; I try to make it romantic, tender and dramatic,
and, when sentiment and imagination are duly provided, I hunt through
history for a framework in which to set them, and it is invariably
the case that history furnishes me with such a setting; a setting so
perfect and so exactly suited to the subject, that it seems as though
the frame had been made to fit the picture, and not the picture to fit
the frame. And, once more, chance favoured me and was more than kind.
See what I found on page five of the _Chronicles of King Charles VII._,
by Maître Alain Chartier homme très-honorable:

    "And at that time, it happened to a knight called Messire
    Charles de Savoisy that one of his horse-boys, in riding
    a horse to let him drink at the river, bespattered a
    scholar, who, with others, was going in procession to Saint
    Katherine, to such an extent that the scholar struck the
    said horse-boy; and, then, the servants of the aforesaid
    knight sallied forth from his castle armed with cudgels, and
    followed the said scholars right away to Saint Katherine;
    and one of the servants of the aforesaid knight shot an
    arrow into the church as far as to the high altar, where the
    priest was saying Mass; then, for this fact, the University
    made such a pursuit after the said knight, that the house
    of the said knight was smitten down, and the said knight
    was banished from the kingdom of France and excommunicated.
    He betook himself to the pope, who gave him absolution, and
    he armed four galleys and went over the seas, making war
    on the Saracens, and there gained much possessions. Then
    he returned and made his peace, and rebuilt his house in
    Paris, in fashion as before; but he was not yet finished,
    and caused his house of Signelay (Seignelais) in Auxerrois
    to be beautifully built by the Saracens whom he had brought
    from across the sea; the which château is three leagues from
    Auxerre."

It will be seen that history had thought of everything for me, and
provided me with a frame which had been waiting for its picture for
four hundred years.

It was to this event, related in the _Chronicle_ of Maître Alain
Chartier, that Yaqoub alludes when he says to Bérengère:

         "Malheureux?... malheureux, en effet;
    Car, pour souffrir ainsi, dites-moi, qu'ai-je fait?...
    Est-ce ma faute, à moi, si votre époux et maître,
    Poursuivant un vassal, malgré les cris du prêtre,
    Entra dans une église, et, là, d'un coup mortel,
    Le frappa? Si le sang jaillit jusqu'à l'autel,
    Est-ce ma faute? Si sa colère imbécile,
    Oublia que l'église était un lieu d'asile,
    Est-ce ma faute? Et si, par l'Université,
    A venger ce forfait le saint-père excité,
    Dit que, pour désarmer le céleste colère,
    Il fallait que le comte armât une galère,
    Et, portant sur nos bords la désolation,
    Nous fît esclaves, nous, en expiation,
    Est-ce ma faute encore? et puis-je pas me plaindre
    Qu'au fond de mon désert son crime aille m'atteindre?..."

This skeleton found, and my drama now having, so to speak, in the
characters of Savoisy, Bérengère and Yaqoub, its head, heart and legs,
it was necessary to provide arms, muscles, flesh and the rest of its
anatomy. Hence the need of history; and history had in reserve Charles
VII., Agnes and Dunois; and the whole of the great struggle of France
against England was made to turn on the love of an Arab for the wife
of the man who had made him captive and transported him from Africa
to France. I think I have exposed, with sufficient clearness, what I
borrowed as my foundation, from Goethe, Corneille, Racine and Alfred de
Musset; I will make them more palpable still by quotations; for, as I
have got on the subject of self-criticism, I may as well proceed to the
end, rather than remain before my readers, _solus, pauper et nudus_, as
Adam in the Earthly Paradise, or as Noah under his vine-tree!

                   "BÉRENGÈRE, YAQOUB.

                            --Yaqoub, si vos paroles
    Ne vous échappent point comme des sons frivoles,
    Vous m'avez dit ces mots: 'S'il était, par hasard,
    Un homme dont l'aspect blessât votre regard;
    Si ses jours sur vos jours avaient cette influence
    Que son trépas pût seul finir votre souffrance;
    De Mahomet lui-même eût-il reçu ce droit,
    Quand il passe, il faudrait me le montrer du doigt
    Vous avez dit cela?
                       --Je l'ai dit ... Je frissonne
    Mais un homme par moi fut excepté.
                                      --Personne.
    --Un homme à ma vengeance a le droit d'échapper...
    --Si c'était celui-là qu'il te fallût frapper?
    S'il fallait que sur lui la vengeance fût prompte?...
    --Son nom?
              --Le comte.
                        --Enfer? je m'en doutais; le comte?
    --Entendez-vous? le comte!... Eh bien?
                                           --Je ne le puis!
    --Adieu donc pour toujours!
                                  --Restez, ou je vous suis.
    --J'avais cru jusqu'ici, quelle croyance folle!
    Que les chrétiens eux seuls manquaient à leur parole.
    Je me trompais, c'est tout.
                               --Madame ...
                                            --Laissez-moi?
    Oh! mais vous mentiez donc?
                              --Vous savez bien pourquoi
    Ma vengeance ne peut s'allier à la vôtre:
    Il m'a sauvé la vie ... Oh! nommez-moi tout autre!


    Un instant, Bérengère, écoutez-moi!
                                       --J'écoute:
    Dites vite.
              --J'ai cru, je me trompais sans doute,
    Qu'ici vous m'aviez dit, ici même ... Pardon!
    --Quoi?
              --Que vous m'aimiez!
                                  --Oui, je l'ai dit.
                                                  --Eh bien, donc,
    Puisque même destin, même amour nous rassemble,
    Bérengère, ce soir ...
                           --Eh bien?
                                     --Fuyons ensemble!
    --Sans frapper?
                   --Ses remords vous vengeront-ils pas?
    --Esclave, me crois-tu le cœur placé si has,
    Que je puisse souffrir qu'en ce monde où nous sommes,
    J'aie été tour à tour l'amante de deux hommes,
    Dont le premier m'insulte, et que tous deux vivront,
    Sans que de celui-là m'ait vengé le second?
    Crois-tu que, dans un cœur ardent comme le nôtre,
    Un amour puisse entrer sans qu'il dévore l'autre?
    Si tu l'as espéré, l'espoir est insultant!
    --Bérengère!
                --Entre nous, tout est fini ... Va-t'en!
    --Grâce!...
                --Je saurai bien trouver, pour cette tâche,
    Quelque main moins timide et quelque âme moins lâche,
    Qui fera pour de l'or ce que, toi, dans ce jour,
    Tu n'auras pas osé faire pour de l'amour!
    Et, s'il n'en était pas, je saurais bien moi-même,
    De cet assassinat affrontant l'anathème,
    Me glisser an milieu des femmes, des valets,
    Qui flattent les époux de leurs nouveaux souhaits,
    Et les faire avorter, ces souhaits trop précoces,
    En vidant ce flacon dans la coupe des noces!
    --Du poison?
                  --Du poison! Mais ne viens plus, après,
    Esclave, me parler d'amour et de regrets!
    Refuses-tu toujours?... Il te reste un quart d'heure.
    C'est encore plus de temps qu'il n'en faut pour qu'il meure,
    Un quart d'heure!... Réponds, mourra-t-il de ta main?
    Es-tu prêt? Réponds-moi, car j'y vais. Dis!
                                               --Demain!
    --Demain! Et, cette nuit, dans cette chambre même,
    Ainsi qu'il me l'a dit, il lui dira: Je t'aime!
    Demain! Et, d'ici là, que ferai-je? Ah! tu veux,
    Cette nuit, qu'à deux mains j'arrache mes cheveux;
    Que je brise mon front à toutes les murailles;
    Que je devienne folle? Ah! demain! mais tu railles!
    Et si ce jour était le dernier de nos jours?
    Si cette nuit d'enfer allait durer toujours?
    Dieu le peut ordonner, si c'est sa fantaisie.
    Demain? Et si je suis morte de jalousie?
    Tu n'es donc pas jaloux, toi? tu ne l'es donc pas?"

I refrain from quoting the rest of the scene, the methods employed
being, I believe, those peculiar to myself. Yaqoub yields: he dashes
into the Comte's chamber; Bérengère flings herself behind a prie-Dieu;
the Comte passes by with his new wife; he enters his room; a shriek is
heard.

    "BÉRENGÈRE, _puis_ YAQOUB _et_ LE COMTE.

    BÉRENGÈRE.
                                       Le voilà qui tombe!
    Savoisy, retiens-moi ma place dans ta tombe!
    (_Elle avale le poison quelle avait montré à Yaqoub._)

    YAQOUB.
                                          ... Fuyons! il vient
    (_Le comte paraît, sanglant et se cramponnant à la tapisserie._)

    LE COMTE.
                                                       C'est toi.
    Yaqoub, qui m'as tué!

    BÉRENGÈRE.
                                         Ce n'est pas lui: c'est moi!

    LE COMTE.

    Bérengère!... Au secours! Je meurs!

    YAQOUB.
                                             Maintenant, femme,
    Fais-moi tout oublier, car c'est vraiment infâme!
    Viens donc!... Tu m'as promis de venir ... Je t'attends...
    D'être à moi pour toujours!

    BÉRENGÈRE.
                                        Encor quelques instants,
    Et je t'appartiendrai tout entière.

    YAQOUB.
                                            Regarde!
    Ils accourent aux cris qu'il a poussés ... Prends garde,
    Nous ne pourrons plus fuir, il ne sera plus temps.
    Ils viennent, Bérengère!

    BÉRENGÈRE.
                                     Attends, encore, attends!

    YAQOUB.
    Oh! viens, viens! toute attente à cette heure est mortelle!
    La cour est pleine, vois ... Mais viens donc!... Que fait-elle?
    Bérengère, est-ce ainsi que tu gardes ta foi!
    Bérengère, entends-tu? viens!

    BÉRENGÈRE, _rendant le dernier soupir._
                                              Me voici ... Prends moi

    YAQOUB.
    Oh! malédiction!... son front devient livide ...
    Son cœur?... Il ne bat plus!... Sa main? Le flacon vide!..."

It will be seen that this contains three imitations; the imitation
of Racine's _Andromaque_; that of Goethe's _Goetz von Berlichingen_;
and that of Alfred de Musset's _Marrons de feu._ The reason is that
_Charles VII._ is, first of all, a study, a laboriously worked up
study and not a work done on the spur of the moment; it is a work of
assimilation and not an original drama, which cost me infinitely more
labour than _Antony_; but it does not therefore mean that I love it as
much as _Antony._ Yet a few more words before I finish the subject. Let
us run through the imitations in detail. I said I borrowed different
passages from Maugrabin in _Quentin Durward._ Here they are:--

    "'Unhappy being!' Quentin Durward exclaims. 'Think better!
    ... What canst thou expect, dying in such opinions, and
    impenitent?'

    "'To be resolved into the elements,' said the hardened
    atheist; my hope, trust and expectation is, that the
    mysterious frame of humanity shall melt into the general
    mass of nature, to be recompounded in the other forms with
    which she daily supplies those which daily disappear, and
    return under different forms,--the watery particles to
    streams and showers, the earthly parts to enrich their
    mother earth, the airy portions to wanton in the breeze;
    and those of fire to supply the blaze of Aldeboran and his
    brethren--In this faith have I lived, and I will die in it!'"

Yaqoub is condemned to death for having killed Raymond the Comte's
archer.

    "LE COMTE.
    Esclave, si tu meurs en de tels sentiments,
    Q'espères-tu?

    YAQOUB.
                   De rendre un corps aux éléments,
    Masse commune où l'homme, en expirant, rapporte
    Tout ce qu'en le créant la nature en emporte.
    Si la terre, si l'eau, si l'air et si le feu
    Me formèrent, aux mains du hasard ou de Dieu,
    Le vent, en dispersant ma poussière en sa course,
    Saura bien reporter chaque chose à sa source!"

The second imitation examined in detail is again borrowed from Walter
Scott, but from _The Talisman_ this time, not from _Quentin Durward._
The Knight of the Leopard and the Saracen, after fighting against one
another, effect a truce, and take lunch, chatting together, by the
fountain called the Diamond of the Desert.

    "'Stranger,' asked the Saracen,--'with how many men didst
    thou come on this warfare?'

    "'By my faith,' said Sir Kenneth, 'with aid of friends
    and kinsmen, I was hardly pinched to furnish forth ten
    well-appointed lances, with maybe some fifty more men,
    archers and varlets included.'

    "'Christian, here I have five arrows in my quiver, each
    feathered from the wing of an eagle. When I send one of them
    to my tents, a thousand warriors mount on horseback. When
    I send another, an equal force will arise--for the five, I
    can command five thousand men; and if I send my bow, ten
    thousand mounted riders will shake the desert.'"


    "YAQOUB.

    Car mon père, au Saïd, n'est point un chef vulgaire.
    Il a dans son carquois quatre flèches de guerre,
    Et, lorsqu'il tend son arc, et que, vers quatre buts,
    Il le lance en signal à ses quatre tribus,
    Chacune à lui fournir cent cavaliers fidèles
    Met le temps que met l'aigle â déployer ses ailes."

There, thank Heaven, my confession is ended! It has been a long one;
but then _Charles VII._, as an assimilative and imitative work, is my
greatest sin in that respect.



CHAPTER XIV


    Poetry is the Spirit of God--The Conservatoire and l'École
    of Rome--Letter of counsel to my Son--Employment of my
    time at Trouville--Madame de la Garenne--The Vendéan
    Bonnechose--M. Beudin--I am pursued by a fish--What came of
    it


If I had not just steeped my readers in literature, during the
preceding chapters, I should place a work before them which might not
perhaps be uninteresting to them. It would be the ancient tradition
of _Phèdre,_ which is to Euripides, for example, what the Spanish
romancer's is to Guilhem de Castro. Then I would show what Euripides
borrowed from tradition; then what, five hundred years later, the
_Roman_ Seneca borrowed from Euripides; then finally, what, sixteen
centuries later still, the _French_ Racine borrowed from both Euripides
and Seneca. At the same time I should show how the genius of each
nation and the emotional taste of each age brought about changes from
the original character of the subject. One last word. Amongst all
peoples, literature always begins with poetry; prose only comes later.
Orpheus, Homer, Hesiod--Herodotus, Plato, Aristotle.

    "In the beginning, says Genesis, God created the heavens.
    And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the
    face of the deep; and the _Spirit of God moved upon the face
    of the waters._"

Poetry is the Spirit of God, or, rather, it is primeval poetic
substance, impersonal and common property; it floats in space like the
cosmic essence of which Humboldt speaks, a kind of luminous matter,
mother of old worlds, germ of worlds to come; indestructible, because
it is incessantly being renewed, each element faithfully giving back
to it that which it has borrowed.

Gradually, however, this matter settles round the great personalities,
as clouds settle round great mountains, and in like manner as clouds
dissolve into springs of living waters, spreading over plains,
satisfying bodily thirst, so does this cosmic element resolve itself
into poetry, hymns, songs and tragedies which satisfy the thirst of
the soul. The inference to be drawn from the foregoing analogy is,
that human genius creates and individual genius applies. Thus, when
a critic happened to accuse Shakespeare of having taken a scene or
phrase or idea from a contemporary writer, he said: "I have but rescued
a child from evil company to put it among better companions." Again,
Molière answered, even more naively still, when people made the same
reproach with regard to him: "I take my treasure wherever I find it!"
Now, Shakespeare and Molière were right: the man of genius--need I
point out that I mean the great masters, not myself? (I am well aware
that I shall not be of any importance until after my death!)--the
man of genius, I repeat, does not steal, he conquers: he makes a
colony, as it were, of the province he takes; he imposes his own laws
upon it and peoples it with his own subjects; he extends his golden
sceptre over it, and not a soul, seeing his fine kingdom, dares to
say to him (except, of course, the jealous, who are subject to no one
and will not recognise even genius as supreme ruler), "This portion
of territory does not belong to your patrimony." It is an absurd
notion that this arbitrary spirit should accord its protection to
letters: it means that it prohibits foreign literature and discourages
contemporary literature. In a country like France, which is the brain
of Europe, and whose language is spoken throughout the whole world,
owing to the equipoise of consonants and vowels, which disconcert
neither northern nor southern nations, there ought to be a universal
literature besides its national one. Everything of beauty that has
been produced in the whole world, from Æschylus down to Alfieri, from
_Sakountala_ to _Roméo_, from the romancero of the _Cid_ down to
Schiller's _Brigands_,--all ought to belong to France, if not by right
of inheritance, at least by right of conquest. Nothing that an entire
people has admired can be without value, and everything that has a
value ought to find its place in that vast casket entitled French
intelligence. It is on account of this false system that there is a
Conservatoire and an École at Rome. We have already, in connection with
the _mise-en-scène_ of Soulié's _Juliette_, said a few words about this
Conservatoire, which has the unique object of teaching young men to
scan Molière and to recite Racine's _Corneille._ We will now complete
the sketch begun. As a result of the invariable programme, adopted by
the government, every pupil of the Conservatoire, after three years'
study, leaves the rue Bergère incapable of appreciating any modern
or foreign literature; acquainted with the _songe_ of Athalie, the
_récit_ of Théramène, the monologue of Auguste, the scene between
Tartuffe and Elmire, that of the Misanthrope and Oronte, of Gros-René
and Marinette; he is completely ignorant that there existed at Athens
people of the names of Æschylus, Euripides, Sophocles and Aristophanes;
at Rome, Ennius, Plautus, Terence and Seneca; in England, Shakespeare,
Otway, Sheridan and Byron; in Germany, Goethe, Schiller, Uhland and
Kotzebue; in Spain, Guillem de Castro, Tirso de Molina, Calderon and
Lope de Vega; in Italy, Macchiavelli, Goldoni, Alfieri; that these
men have left a trail of light across twenty-four centuries and among
five different peoples, consisting of stars called _Orestes, Alcestis,
Œdipus at Colonus, The Knights, Aulularia, Eunuchus, Hippolytus,
Romeo and Juliet, Venice Preserved, The School for Scandal, Manfred,
Goetz von Berlichingen, Kabale und Liebe, les Pupilles, Menschenhass
und Reue, The Cid, Don Juan, le Chien du Jardinier, le Médecin de
son honneur, le Meilleur Alcade c'est le Roi, la Mandragora, le
Bourra bienfaisant, and Philippe II._ You will see that I only quote
one masterpiece by each of these men; also that the pupils of the
Conservatoire are utterly ignorant, behind the times and of no use on
any stage except those which play Molière, Racine and Corneille. And,
furthermore!... None of the great actors of our time have come from
the Conservatoire; neither Talma, nor Mars, Firmin, Potier, Vernet,
Bouffé, Rachel, Frédérick-Lemaître, Bocage, Dorval, Mélingue, Arnal,
Numa, Bressant, Déjazet, Rose Chéri, Duprez, Masset, nor any prominent
person whatsoever. What is to be said about a mill which goes round and
says tic-tac but does not grind?

Ah! well, the same vice exists in the École of Rome as in the
Conservatoire. If there is a changeable art it is that of painting.
Each artist sees a colour which is not that of his neighbour; one calls
it green, another yellow, another blue, another red: one inclines
towards the Flemish School, another to the Spanish and yet another to
the German. You would think they would send each student, according
as his bent might be, to study Rubens at Anvers, Murillo at Madrid,
Cornelius at Munich? Nothing of the sort! They all go to Rome to
study Raphael or Michael Angelo! Not a painter, not a single original
sculptor of our time was a pupil at Rome; neither Delacroix, nor
Rousseau, Diaz, Dupré, Cabot, Boulanger, Müller, Isabey, Brascassat,
Giraud, Barrye, Clésinger, Gavarni, Rosa Bonheur, nor ... upon my word,
I was tempted to say--nor anybody! But as the institution is absurd it
will still continue to exist. With half the money to spend they could
turn out twice as many actors, painters and sculptors; only, they would
turn them out capable instead of incapable.

We have travelled a long way from Trouville! What would you have me do?
Fancy has the wings of Icarus, the horses of Hippolytus: she goes as
far as she dare towards the sun, as near as she dare without dashing
herself against the rocks. Let us return to _Charles VII._, the first
cause of all this digression. Whatever may have been the cause; when I
returned to Mother Oseraie's inn, at nine o'clock on the evening of 7
July, I wrote the first lines of that scene. By the following morning,
the first hundred lines of the drama were done, and among them were the
thirty-six or thirty-eight relating Yaqoub's lion hunt. They should
rank among the few really good lines I have written. On the other
hand, in order that an exact idea may be formed of the value I put
upon my own poetry, I may be allowed to transcribe here a letter which
I wrote, fifteen or sixteen years ago, to my son, who asked my advice
on the poetry he ought to read and on the ancient and modern poets he
ought to study.

    "MY DEAR BOY,--Your letter gave me great pleasure, as
    every letter from you does which shows you are doing what
    is right. You ask me the use of the Latin verses--which
    you are forced to compose; they are not very important;
    nevertheless, you learn metre by so doing, and that enables
    you to scan properly and to understand the music of Virgil's
    poetry and the freedom and ease of Horace. Again, this habit
    of scanning will come in useful, if you ever have to talk
    Latin in Hungary, where every peasant speaks it. Learn Greek
    steadily and thoroughly, so as to be able to read Homer,
    Æschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes in the
    original, and you will then be able to learn modern Greek in
    three months. Practise yourself well in the pronunciation
    of German; later you will learn English and Italian. Then,
    when you know all these, we will decide together what career
    you shall follow. At the same time do not neglect drawing.
    Tell Charlieu to give you not only Shakespeare but Dante
    and Schiller as well. Do not place much reliance on the
    verses they make you read, at school: professor's verses
    are not worth a son! Study the Bible, as a religious book,
    a history and a poem; Sacy's translation, although very
    poor, is the best; look for the magnificent poetry contained
    beneath all those ambiguous veilings and obscurities; in
    Saul and Joseph, and especially in Job, a poem which is
    one long human wail. Read Corneille; learn portions of him
    by heart. Corneille is not always poetical, he is at times
    pettifogging; but he always uses fine, picturesque and
    concise language. Tell Charpentier, from me, to give you
    André Chénier: he is the poet of solitude and the night,
    akin to the nightingales. Charpentier lives in the rue de
    Seine; you can get his address from Buloz. Tell Collin to
    give you, through Hachette, four volumes entitled, _Rome
    au Siècle d'Auguste_; it is a dry but learned work on
    ancient times. Read all Hugo; read Lamartine, but only the
    _Méditations_ and the _Harmonies._ Then write an essay
    on the passages you think beautiful and those you think
    bad; and show it to me on my return. Finally, always keep
    yourself occupied, and rest yourself by the variety of
    your occupations. Take care of your health _and be wise._
    Good-bye, my dear lad. I told D to give you twenty francs
    for a New Year's gift.                      ALEXANDRE DUMAS"

    _P.S.--_Tell Collin that, as soon as my piece is received,
    I will write to Buloz to arrange the business of his
    introduction to the Théâtre-Français. Go to Tresse, at
    the Palais Royal; get from him at my expense the poems of
    Hugo, and his dramas, and Molière of the Panthéon; the
    Lamartine I will give you on my return. Read Molière often,
    much, always; with Saint-Simon and Madame Sévigné he is
    the supreme type of the language of the time of Louis XIV.
    Learn by heart certain passages of _Tartuffe_, the _Femmes
    savantes_ and the _Misanthrope_: there have been and there
    will be other masterpieces of style, but nothing will ever
    exceed these in beauty. Learn by heart the monologue of
    Charles Quint from _Hernani_, all _Marion Delorme_, the
    monologue of Saint-Vallier and that of Triboulet in _Le Roi
    s'amuse_, the speech of Angelo on Venice; in conclusion,
    although I have few things to mention in comparison with
    the works I have just pointed out to you, learn the recital
    of Stella, in my _Caligula_; Yaqoub's lion-hunt, as well
    as the whole scene between the Comte, the King and Agnes
    Sorel, in the third act of _Charles VII._ Read de Vigny's
    _Othello_ and _Roméo_; read de Musset without being carried
    away by his great facility and his inaccuracy, which in him
    might almost be reckoned a virtue, but which, in another,
    would be a serious fault. These are the ancient and modern
    writers I advise you to study. Later you shall pass on from
    these to a wider range. Adieu, you see I am treating you as
    though you were a grown-up youth and reasoning with you. You
    will soon be fifteen, and what I have said is quite easy
    to understand--your health, your health before all things:
    health is the foundation of everything in your future, and
    especially of talent.
                                                        "A. D."

I hope the sincerity and impartiality of my opinion upon others will be
believed, when it is seen with what sincerity and impartiality I speak
of myself.

From that day our life began to assume the uniformity and monotony
of the life of the waters. I bethought me that I ought to introduce
myself to the mayor, M. Guétier, a brave and excellent man, who I
believe played a somewhat active part in 1848, in the embarking of
King Louis-Philippe. He gave me free leave to hunt over the communal
marshes, which leave I took advantage of from that very day. The rising
sun shot through the window of my room, and, although the curtains were
drawn, it woke me in my bed. I opened my eyes, stretched out my hand
for my pencil and set to work. At ten o'clock, Mother Oseraie came and
told us breakfast was ready; at eleven, I took my gun and shot three
or four snipe; at two, I began work again until four; at four, I went
for a swim till five; and at half-past five dinner was ready for us;
from seven until nine o'clock we went for a walk on the shore; at nine
o'clock work was begun again and continued until eleven o'clock or
midnight. _Charles VII._ advanced at the rate of a hundred lines per
day. Undiscovered though Trouville was, nevertheless a few Normandy,
Vendéan or Breton bathers came there. Among these was a charming woman,
accompanied by her husband and her son; I remember nothing more about
her than her name and face: she was gracious and prepossessing in
expression, with a slightly aristocratic air; her name was Madame de la
Garenne. From the day of her arrival, directly she knew I was living at
the hotel, she began the preliminaries of making an acquaintanceship
by boldly lending me her album. I had just finished the great scene
in the third act between the Comte de Savoisy and Charles VII., and I
copied it out for her, newly born from my brain. A good sort of young
fellow had come with them, who concealed some degree of knowledge and
great determination under the retiring air of a country gentleman. He
was a sportsman, which similarity of tastes rapidly made us congenial
companions if not exactly friends. He was the unfortunate Bonnechose,
who was hung during the Vendéan insurrection of 1832. Whilst we were
walking and hunting in the marsh lands round Trouville, Madame la
Duchesse de Berry obtained permission from King Charles X. to make
an attempt on France, under the title of regent; she left Edinburgh,
went through Holland, stayed a day or two at Mayence, and the same at
Frankfort, crossed the frontier of Switzerland and entered Piedmont;
then, finally, under the name of the Comtesse de Sagana, she stopped
at Sestri, a small town a dozen leagues from Genoa, in the provinces
of King Charles-Albert. Thus, all unsuspected by Bonnechose, death
was postponed for one year! Meantime, the report began to spread in
Paris that a new seaport had been discovered between Honfleur and
la Délivrande. The result was that from time to time a venturesome
bather would arrive who would ask timidly, "Is there a village called
Trouville about here, and is that it with the belfry tower?" And I
would reply _yes_, to my great regret: for I foresaw the time when
Trouville would become another Dieppe or Boulogne or Ostend. I was not
mistaken. Alas! Trouville has now ten inns; and land which could be
bought at a hundred francs the arpent,[1] to-day fetches five francs
per foot. One day among these venturesome bathers, these wandering
tourists, these navigators without compass, there arrived a man of
twenty-eight to thirty years of age, who gave out that his name was
Beudin and that he was a banker. On the very evening of his arrival
I was bathing a long distance off in the sea, when about ten yards
from me, on the crest of a wave, I perceived a fish which realised the
dream of Marécot in the _Ours et le Pacha_--that is to say, it was a
huge enormous fish such as one scarcely ever sees, the like of which
many never have seen. Had I possessed a little more vanity, I might
have taken it for a dolphin and imagined it had taken me for another
Arion; but I simply took it for a fish of gigantic proportions, and,
I confess, its proximity disturbed me--I set to work to swim to the
shore as hard as I could. I was a good swimmer, in those days, but my
neighbour, the fish, could swim still better; accordingly, without any
apparent effort, it followed me, always keeping an equal distance from
me. Two or three times, feeling fatigued--mostly from want of breath--I
thought of taking to my feet, but I was afraid of becoming nervous if
I found too great a depth of water beneath me. I therefore continued
to swim until my knees ploughed into the sand. The other swimmers were
looking at me in astonishment; my fish was following me as though I
held it in leash. When I got to the point of touching the sand with my
knees I stood up. My fish made somersault after somersault and seemed
overjoyed with satisfaction. I turned round and looked at it more
closely and calmly. I saw it was a porpoise. Instantly I ran to Mother
Oseraie's house. I ran through the village just as I was, in my bathing
drawers. Although Mother Oseraie was not very impressionable, she was
not accustomed to receive travellers in so light a costume and she
uttered a cry.

"Don't mind me, Mother Oseraie," I said to her, "I have come to get my
gun."

"Good Lord!" she said, "are you going to hunt in the happy hunting
fields?"

Had I been in less of a hurry, I would have stopped and complimented
her on her wit; but I only thought of the porpoise. Upon the stairs
I met Madame de la Garenne; the staircase was very narrow and I drew
aside to let her pass. I thought of asking how her husband and son
were, but I reflected that the moment for holding a conversation was
ill-chosen. Madame de la Garenne passed by and I flew into my room and
seized hold of my carbine. The chamber-maid was making my bed.

"Ah! monsieur, instead of taking your gun hadn't you better take some
clothes?"

It seemed as though my costume inspired wit in all who saw me. I ran
full tilt down the road to the sea. My porpoise was still turning
somersaults. I went up to my waist in the water until I was about
fifty feet from him; I was afraid I might frighten him if I went any
nearer; besides, I was just at the right range. I took aim and fired.
I heard the dull sound of the ball penetrating the flesh. The porpoise
dived and disappeared. Next day, the fishermen found it dead among the
mussel-covered rocks. The bullet had entered a little below the eye and
gone through the head.


[1] TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.--An old French measure varying in different
provinces from 3 roods to 2 English acres.



CHAPTER XV


    Why M. Beudin came to Trouville--How I knew him under
    another name--Prologue of a drama--What remained to
    be done--Division into three parts--I finish _Charles
    VII._--Departing from Trouville--In what manner I learn of
    the first performance of _Marion Delorme_


The night of that adventure, the fresh bather came up to me and
complimented me on my skill. It was an excuse for beginning a
conversation. We sat out on the beach and chatted. After a few remarks
had been exchanged he said to me:

"Well! there is one thing you have no idea of."

"What is that?" I asked.

"That I have come here almost on your account."

"How so?"

"You do not recognise me under my name of Beudin?"

"I confess I do not."

"But you may, perhaps, recognise me under that of Dinaux?"

"What! Victor Ducange's collaborator!"

"Exactly."

"The same who wrote _Trente ans ou la vie d'un Joueur_ with him?"

"That was I ... or rather us."

"Why us?"

"There were two of us: Goubaux and myself."

"Ah! I knew Goubaux; he is a man of boundless merit."

"Thanks!"

"Pardon ... one cannot be skilful both with gun and in conversation ...
With the gun, now, I should not have missed you!"

"You have not missed me as it is; in the first shot you brought me down
by saying that Goubaux was a clever man and that I was an idiot!"

"Confess that you never thought I meant anything of the kind?"

"Upon my word, no!" And we burst out laughing.

"Well," I resumed, "as you probably did not hunt me out to receive the
compliment I have just given you, tell me why you did."

"To talk to you about a play which Goubaux and I did not feel equal to
bringing to a satisfactory conclusion, but which, in your hands, would
become--plus the style--equal to the _Joueur._"

I bowed my thanks.

"No, upon my word of honour, I am certain the idea will take your
fancy!" continued Beudin.

"Have you any part done or is it still in a nebulous state?"

"We have done the prologue, which is in quite a tangible shape.... But,
as for the rest, you must help us to do it."

"Have you the prologue with you?"

"No, nothing is written down yet; but I can relate it to you."

"I am listening."

"The scene is laid in Northumberland, about 1775. An old physician
whom, if you will, we will call Dr. Grey and his wife separate, the
wife to go to bed, the husband to work part of the night. Scarcely has
the wife closed the door of her room, before a carriage stops under the
doctor's windows and a man inquires for a doctor. Dr. Grey reveals his
profession; the travellers asks hospitality for some one who cannot
go any further. The doctor opens his door and a masked man, carrying
a woman in his arms, enters upon the scene, telling the postilion to
unharness the horses and hide both them and the carriage."

"Bravo! the beginning is excellent!... We can picture the masked man
and the sick woman."

The woman is near her confinement; her lover is carrying her away and
they are on their way to embark at Shields when the pangs of childbirth
come upon the fugitive; it is important to conceal all trace of her;
her father, who is the all-powerful ambassador of Spain in London, is
in pursuit of her. The doctor attends to them with all haste: he points
out a room to the masked man who carries the patient into it; then he
rouses his wife to help him to attend to the sick woman. At this moment
they hear the sound of a carriage passing at full gallop. The cries of
the woman call the doctor to her side; the masked man comes back on the
stage, not having the courage to witness his mistress's sufferings.
After a short time the doctor rushes to find his guest: the unknown
woman has just given birth to a boy, and mother and child are both
doing well."

The narrator interrupted himself.

"Do you think," he asked me, "that this scene would be possible on the
stage?"

"Why not? It was possible in Terence's day."

"In what way?"

"Thus:

    "PAMPHILA.
    Miseram me! differor deloribus! Juno Lucina, fer opem! Serva
    me, obsecro!

    REGIO.
    Numnam ilia, quæso, parturit?... Hem!

    PAMPHILA.
    Oh! unhappy wretch! My pains overcome me! Juno Lucina, come
    to my aid! save me, I entreat thee.

    REGIO.
    Hullo, I say, is she about to be confined?"

"Is that in Terence?"

"Certainly."

"Then we are saved!"

"I quite believe it! It is as purely classical as _Amphitryon_ and
_l'Avare."_

"I will proceed, then."

"And I will listen!"

"Just as the masked man is rushing into the chamber of the sick
woman, there is a violent knocking at Dr. Grey's door. 'Who is there?
Open in the name of the law!' It is the father, a constable and two
police-officers. The doctor is obliged to admit that he has given
shelter to the two fugitives; the father declares that he will carry
his daughter away instantly. The doctor opposes in the name of humanity
and his wife; the father insists; the doctor then informs him of the
condition of the sick woman, and both beg him to be merciful to her.
Fury of the father, who completely ignores the situation. At that
moment, the masked man comes joyfully out of the sickroom and is aghast
to see the father of the woman he has carried off; the father leaps at
his throat and demands his arrest. The noise of the struggle reaches
the _accouchée_, who comes out half-fainting and falls at her father's
feet: she vows she will follow her lover everywhere, even to prison;
that he is her husband in the eyes of men. The father again and more
energetically calls into requisition the assistance of the constable
and takes his daughter in his arms to carry her away. The doctor and
his wife implore in vain. The masked man comes forward in his turn ...
and the act finishes there; stay, I have outlined the last scene ...
Let us suppose that the masked man has assumed the name of Robertson,
that the father is called Da Sylva and the young lady Caroline:--

    "ROBERTSON, _putting his hand on Da Sylva's
    shoulder._--Leave her alone.

    CAROLINE.--Oh, father!... my Robertson!...

    DA SYLVA.--Thy Robertson, indeed!... Look, all of you and I
    will show you who thy Robertson is ... Off with that mask."
    (He snatches it from Robertson's face).--"Look he is ..."

    "ROBERTSON.--Silence; in the name of and for the sake of
    your daughter."

"You understand," Beudin went on "he quickly puts his mask on again, so
quickly that nobody, except the audience whom he is facing, has time to
see his countenance."

"Well; after that?"

"After?"

    "You are right," says Da Sylva; "she alone shall know who
    you are.... This man."

    "Well?" asks Caroline anxiously.

    "This man," says Da Sylva leaning close to his daughter's
    ear; "this man is the executioner!"

"Caroline shrieks and falls. That is the end of the prologue."

"Wait a bit," I said, "surely I know something similar to that ... yes
... no. Yes, in the _Chronicles of the Canongate!_"

"Yes; it was, in fact, Walter Scott's novel which gave us the idea for
our play."

"Well, but what then? There is no drama in the remainder of the novel."

"No.... So we depart completely from it here."

"Good! And when we leave it what follows?"

"There is an interval of twenty-six years. The stage represents the
same room; only, everything has grown older in twenty-six years,
personages, furniture and hangings. The man whose face the audience
saw, and whom Da Sylva denounced in a whisper to his daughter, as the
executioner, is playing chess with Dr. Grey; Mrs. Grey is sewing;
Richard, the child of the prologue, is, standing up writing; Jenny, the
doctor's daughter, watches him as he writes."

"Stay, that idea of everybody twenty-six years older is capital."

"And then?"

"Ah! plague take it! That is all there is," said Beudin. "What, you
stop there?"

"Yes ... the deuce! you know well enough that if the play were
concluded we should not want your assistance!"

"Quite so ... but still, you must have some idea concerning the rest of
the play?"

"Yes ... Richard has grown up under his father's care. Richard is
ambitious, and wants to become a member of the House of Commons. Dr.
Grey's influence can help him: he pretends to be in love with his
daughter ... We will have the spectacle of an English election, which
will be out of the common."

"And then?"

"Well then, you must invent the rest."

"But, come, that means that there is nearly the whole thing to finish!"

"Yes, very nearly ... But that won't trouble you!"

"That's all very well; but, at this moment, I am busy on my drama,
_Charles VII._, and I cannot give my mind to anything else."

"Oh! there is no desperate hurry for it! meantime Goubaux will work
away at it whilst I will do likewise ... You like the idea?"

"Yes."

"All right! when you return to Paris we will have a meeting at your
house or at mine or at Goubaux's and we will fix our plans."

"Granted, but on one condition."

"What?"

"That it shall be under your names and I shall remain behind the
curtain."

"Why so?"

"Because, in the first place, the idea is not mine; and, secondly,
because I have decided never to let my name be associated with any
other name."[1]

"Then we will withhold our names."

"No, indeed! that is out of the question."

"Very well, as you will! We will settle the point when we have come to
it.... You will take half share?"

"Why half, when there are three of us?"

"Because we are leaving you the trouble of working out the plot."

"I will compose the play if you wish; but I will only take a third of
the profits."

"We will discuss all that in Paris."

"Precisely so! But do not forget that I make my reservations."

"Then, this 24 July, at five o'clock in the afternoon, it is agreed
that you, Goubaux and I shall write _Richard Darlington_ between us."

"To-day, 24 July, my birthday, it is agreed, at five o'clock in the
afternoon, that Goubaux, you and I shall write _Richard Darlington._"

"Is to-day your birthday?"

"I was twenty-nine at four o'clock this morning."

"Bravo! that will bring us good luck!"

"I hope so!"

"When shall you be in Paris?"

"About 15 August."

"That will suit perfectly!"

"Now, jot down the plan of the prologue for me on a slip of paper."

"Why now?"

"Because I shall come to the rendezvous with the prologue completed....
The more there is done the less will there be to do."

"Capital! you shall have the outline to-morrow."

"Oh! it will do if I have it just before I leave; if I have it
to-morrow, I shall finish it the day after to-morrow, and that will
cause trouble in the matter of the drama I am writing."

"Very well; I will keep it ready for you."

"Ah! one more favour."

"Which is?"

"Do not let us speak of _Richard Darlington_ again; I shall think of
it quite enough, you need not fear, without talking about it."

"We will not mention it again."

And, as a matter of fact, from that moment, there was no reference made
between us to _Richard Darlington_--I will not say as though it had
never existed, but as though it never were to exist. On the other hand,
_Charles VII._ went on its way. On 10 August I wrote the four last
lines.

              "Vous qui, nés sur la terre,
    Portez comme des chiens, la chaîne héréditaire,
    Demeurez en hurlant près du sépulcre ou vert ...
    Pour Yakoub, il est libre, et retourne au désert!"

When the work was finished, I read it over. It was, as I have said,
more in the nature of a _pastiche_ than a true drama; but there was an
immense advance in style between _Christine_ and _Charles VII._ True,
_Christine_ is far superior to _Charles VII._ in imagination and in
dramatic feeling.

Nothing further kept me at Trouville. Beudin had preceded me to Paris
several days before. We took leave of M. and Madame de la Garenne; we
settled our accounts with Madame Oseraie and we started for Paris.
Bonnechose accompanied us as far as Honfleur. He did not know how to
part with us, poor fellow! He might have guessed that we were never to
see each other again. The same night we took diligence from Rouen. Next
day, at dawn, the travellers got down to climb a hillside; I thought
I recognised, among our fellow-passengers, one of the editors of the
_Journal des Débats._ I went up to him as he was coming towards me, and
we got into conversation.

"Well!" he said, "you have heard?"

"What?"

"_Marion Delorme_ has been performed."

"Ah really?... And here am I hurrying to be present at the first
performance!"

"You will not see it ... and you will not have lost much."

It was a matter of course that the editor of a journal so devoted an
admirer of Hugo as was the _Journal des Débats_ should speak thus of
the great poet.

"Why do I not miss much? Has the play not succeeded?"

"Oh! yes indeed! but coldly, coldly, coldly; and no money in it."

My companion said this with the intense gratification of the critic
taking his revenge upon the author, of the eunuch with his foot on the
sultan's neck.

"Cold? No money?" I repeated.

"And besides, badly played!"

"Badly played by Bocage and Dorval! Come now!"

"If the author had had any common-sense he would have withdrawn the
play or he would have had it performed after the July Revolution, while
things were warm after the rejection of MM. de Polignac and de la
Bourdonnaie."

"But as to poetry?..."

"Weak! Much poorer than _Hernani!_"

"Ah! say you so," I burst forth, "a drama weak in poetry that contains
such lines as these!"--

    "LE ROI.

    Je sais l'affaire, assez q'avez vous a me dire?

    LE MARQUIS DE NANGIS.

    Je dis qu'il est bien temps que vous y songiez, sire:
    Que le cardinal-due a de sombres projets,
    Et qu'il boit le meilleur du sang de vos sujets.
    Votre père Henri, de mémoire royale,
    N'eut point ainsi livré sa noblesse loyale;
    Il ne la frappait point sans y fort regarder,
    Et, bien gardé par elle, il savait la garder;
    Il savait qu'on peut faire, avec des gens d'épees,
    Quelque chose de mieux que des têtes coupées;
    Qu'ils sont bons à la guerre! Il ne l'ignorait point,
    Lui, dont plus d'une balle a troué le pourpoint.
    Ce temps était le bon; j'en fus, et je l'honore;
    Un peu de seigneurie y palpitait encore.
    Jamais à des seigneurs un prêtre n'eût touché;
    On n'avait point alors de tête à bon marché.
    Sire, en des jours mauvais comme ceux où nous sommes,
    Croyez un vieux; gardez un peu de gentilshommes.
    Vous en aurez besoin peut-être à votre tour!
    Hélas! vous gémirez peut-être, quelque jour!
    Que la place de Grève ait été si fêtée,
    Et que tant de seigneurs, de valeur indomptée;
    Vers qui se tourneront vos regrets envieux,
    Soient morts depuis longtemps, qui ne seraient pas vieux!

    Car nous sommes tout chauds de la guerre civile,
    Et le tocsin d'hier gronde encor dans la ville
    Soyez plus ménager des peines du bourreau:
    C'est lui qui doit garder son estoc au fourreau,
    Non pas nous! D'échafauds montrez vous économe;
    Craignez d'avoir, un jour, à pleurer tel brave homme,
    Tel vaillant de grand cœur dont, à l'heure qu'il est,
    Le squelette blanchit aux chaînes d'un gibet!
    Sire, le sang n'est pas un bonne rosée;
    Nulle moisson ne vient sur la grève arrosée;
    Et le peuple des rois évite le balcon,
    Quand, aux dépens du Louvre, ils peuplent Montfaucon.
    Meurent les courtisans, s'il faut que leur voix aille
    Vous amuser, pendant que le bourreau travaille!
    Cette voix des flatteurs qui dit que tout est bon,
    Qu'après tout, on est fils d'Henri Quatre, et Bourbon,
    Si haute qu'elle soit, ne couvre pas sans peine
    Le bruit sourd qu'en tombant fait une tête humaine.
    Je vous en donne avis, ne jouez pas ce jeu,
    Roi, qui serez, un jour, face a face avec Dieu.
    Donc, je vous dis, avant que rien ne s'accomplisse,
    Qu'à tout prendre, il vaut mieux un combat qu'un supplice,
    Que ce n'est pas la joie et l'honneur des États
    De voir plus de besogneaux bourreaux qu'aux soldats!
    Que ce n'est un pasteur dur pour la France où vous êtes,
    Qu'un prêtre qui se paye une dîme de têtes,
    Et que cet homme, illustre entre les inhumains,
    Qui touche à votre sceptre, a du sang à ses mains!"

"Why! you know it by heart then?"

"I hope so, indeed!"

"Why the deuce did you learn it?"

"I know nearly the whole of _Marion Delorme_ by heart."

And I quoted almost the whole of the scene between Didier and Marion
Delorme, in the island.

"Ah! that is indeed odd!" he said.

"No! there is nothing odd about it. I simply think _Marion Delorme_ one
of the most beautiful things in the world. I had the manuscript at my
disposal and have read and re-read it. The lines I have just recited
have remained in my memory and I repeated them to you in support of my
opinion."

"Then, too," continued my critic, "the plot is taken from de Vigny's
novel...."

"Good! that is exactly where Hugo shows his wisdom. I would willingly
have been his John the forerunner in this instance."

"Do you mean to say that Saverny and Didier are not copied from
Cinq-Mars and de Thou?"

"As man is copied from man and no further!"

"And Didier is your Antony."

"Rather say that Antony is taken from Didier, seeing that _Marion
Delorme_ was made a year before I dreamt of _Antony_ "Ah! well, one
good thing has come out of it."

"What is that?"

"Your defence of Victor Hugo."

"Why not? I like him and admire him."

"A colleague!" said the critic in a tone of profound pity, and
shrugging his shoulders.

"Take your seats, gentlemen!" shouted the conductor.

We remounted, the editor of the _Journal des Débats_ inside, I in the
coupé, and the diligence resumed a monotonous trot, to meditation.


[1] I resolutely stuck to this decision until the time when my great
friendship with Maquet determined me to spring the surprise upon him
of putting forth his name with mine as the author of the drama of _Les
Mousquetaires._ This was but fair, however, since we did not only
the drama, but also the romance, in collaboration. I am delighted to
be able to add, that, although we have not worked together now for a
couple of years, the friendship is just the same, at all events on my
side.



CHAPTER XVI


    _Marion Delorme_


I fell into meditation. What was the reason the public was not of my
way of thinking about _Marion Delorme_? I had remarked to Taylor on the
night of the reading at Devéria's--

"If Hugo makes as much dramatic progress as is usual in ordinary
dramatic development, we shall all be done for!"

The first act of _Marion_, in style and argument, is one of the
cleverest and most fascinating ever seen on the stage. All the
characters take part in it: Marion, Didier and Saverny. The last six
lines forecast the whole play, even including the conversion of the
courtesan. Marion remains in a reverie for a while, then she calls out--

    "MARION.
    Dame Rose
         (_Montrant la fenêtre._)
                 Fermez ...


    DAME ROSE, _à part._
                         On dirait qu'elle pleure!
    (_Haut._)
    Il est temps de dormir, madame.

    MARION.
                                       Oui, c'est votre heure,
    A vous autres ...
    (_Défaisant ses cheveux._)
                   Venez m'accommoder.

    DAME ROSE _(la désabillant)._
                                              Eh bien,
    Madame, le monsieur de ce soir est-il bien?...
    Riche?...

    MARION.
              Non.

    DAME ROSE.
                  Galant?

    MARION.
                          Non, Rose: il ne m'a pas même
    Baisé la main!

    DAME ROSE.
                 Alors, qu'en faites-vous?

    MARION, _pensive._
                                           Je l'aime!..."

The second act scintillates with wit and poetry. The very original
character of Langely, which is unfolded in the fourth act, is inserted
as neatly as possible.

As regards poetry I know none in any other language constructed like
this--

    "Monsieur vient de Paris? Dit-on quelques nouvelles?
    --Point! Corneille toujours met en l'air les cervelles;
    Guiche a l'Ordre, Ast est duc. Puis des riens à foisson:
    De trente huguenots on a fait pendaison.
    Toujours nombre de duels. Le trois, c'était Augennes
    Contre Arquien, pout avoir porté du point de Gênes.
    Lavardin avec Pons s'est rencontré le dix,
    Pour avoir pris a Pons la femme de Sourdis;
    Sourdis avec d'Ailly, pour une du théâtre
    De Mondori; le neuf, Nogent avec la Châtre,
    Pour avoir mal écrit trois vers a Colletet;
    Gorde avec Margaillan, pour l'heure qu'il était;
    D'Humière avec Gondi, pour le pas à l'église;
    Et puis tous les Brissac contre tous les Soubise,
    A propos du pari d'un cheval contre un chien;
    Enfin, Caussade avec la Tournelle, pour rien,
    Poir le plaisir! Caussade a tué la Tournelle.
        .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
                 --Refais nous donc la liste

    De tous ces duels ... Qu'en dit le roi?
                 --Le cardinal
    Est furieux, et veux un prompt remède au mal!
    --Point de courrier du camp?
                 --Je crois que, par surprise,
    Nous avons pris Figuière ... ou bien qu'on nous l'à prise ...
    C'est a nous qu'on l'a prise!
    --Et que dit de ce coup
    Le roi?
            --Le cardinal n'est pas content du tout!
    --Que fait la cour? le roi se porte bien, sans doute?
    --Non pas: le cardinal a la fièvre et la goutte,
    Et ne va qu'en litière.
                     --Étrange original!
    Quand nous te parlons roi, tu réponds cardinal!
    --Ah! c'est la mode!"

In order to understand the value of the second act, we must quote line
after line. The whole play, in fact, has but one defect: its dazzling
poetry blinds the actors; players of the first order are necessary for
the acting of the very smallest parts. There is a M. de Bouchavannes
who says four lines, I think; the first two upon Corneille--

    "Famille de robins, de petits avocats,
    Qui se sont fait des sous en rognant des ducats!"

And the other two upon Richelieu--

    "Meure le Richelieu, qui déchire et qui flatte!
    L'homme a la main sanglante, à la robe écarlate!"

If you can get those four lines said properly by a supernumerary
you will indeed be a great teacher! Or if you can get them said
by an artiste, you will indeed be a clever manager! Then all the
discussion upon Corneille and Gamier, which I imitated in _Christine_,
is excellently appropriate. It had, in fact, come to open fighting
from the moment they accused us of offending against good taste the
theme supported by M. Étienne, M. Viennet and M. Onésime Leroy, and
of placing before the public the opinion held about Corneille, when
Cardinal Richelieu influenced the Academy to censure the _Cid_ in
the same way that we in our turn had censured it! When I say _the
same way_, I mean the same as regards sequence of time and not of
affiliation: Academicians do not reproduce; as is well-known, it is
only with difficulty that they even manage to produce. In conclusion,
the second act is admirably summed up in this line of Langely--

    "Ça! qui dirait qu'ici c'est moi qui suis le fou?"

Then comes the third act, full of imagination, in which Laffemas,
Richelieu's black servant, affords contrast to the grey figure of His
Eminence; where Didier and Marion come to ask hospitality from the
Marquis de Nangis, lost in the midst of a troop of mountebanks; when
Didier learns from Saverny that Marie and Marion are one and the same
woman, and where, his heart broken by one of the greatest sorrows that
can wring man's soul, he gives himself up to the guilty lieutenant.

The fourth act is a masterpiece. It has been objected that this act
no more belongs to the play than a drawer does to a chest of drawers;
granted! But in that drawer the author has enclosed the very gem of
the whole play: the character of Louis XIII., the wearied, melancholy,
ill, weak, cruel and superstitious king, who has nobody but a clown to
distract his thoughts, and who only talks with him of scaffolds and of
beheadings and of tombs, not daring to complain to anyone else of the
state of dependence in which the terrible Cardinal holds him.

Listen to this--

    "LANGELY.--Votre Majesté donc souffre bien?

    LE ROI.--Je m'enniue!
    Moi, le premier de France, en être le dernier!
    Je changerais mon sort au sort d'un braconnier.
    Oh! chasser tout le jour en vos allures franches;
    N'avoir rien qui vous gêne, et dormir sous les branches;
    Rire des gens du roi, chanter pendant l'éclair,
    Et vivre libre au bois, comme l'oiseau dans l'air!
    Le manant est, du moins, maître et roi dans son bouge.
    Mais toujours sous les yeux avoir cet homme rouge;
    Toujours là, grave et dur, me disant à toisir:
    'Sire, il faut que ceci soit votre bon plaisir.'
    Dérision! cet homme au peuple me dérobe;
    Comme on fait d'un enfant, il me met dans sa robe;
    Et, lorsqu'un passant dit: 'Qu'est-ce donc que je vois
    Dessous le cardinal?' on répond: 'C'est le roi!'
    Puis ce sont, tous les jours, quelques nouvelles listes:
    Hier, des huguenots, aujourd'hui, des duellistes,
    Dont il lui faut la tête ... Un duel! le grand forfait!
    Mais des têtes, toujours! qu'est-ce donc qu'il en fait?..."

In a moment of spite you hear him say to Langely--

    "Crois-tu, si je voulais, que je serais le maître?"

And Langely, ever faithful, replies by this line, which has passed into
a proverb--

    "Montaigne dit: 'Que sais-je?' Et Rabelais: 'Peut-être!'"

At last he breaks his chain for a second, picks up a pen; and when on
the point of signing a pardon for Didier and Saverny, to his jester,
who says to him--

    "Toute grâce est un poids qu'un roi du cœur s'enlève!"

he replies--

    "Tu dis vrai: j'ai toujours souffert, les jours de Grève!
    Nangis avait raison, un mort jamais ne sert,
    Et Montfaucon peuplé rend le Louvre désert.
    C'est une trahison que de venir, en face,
    Au fils du roi Henri nier son droit de grâce!
    Que fais-je ainsi, déchu, détrôné, désarmé,
    Comme dans un sépulcre en cet homme enfermé?
    Sa robe est mon linceul, et mes peuples me pleurent ...
    Non! non! je ne veux pas que ces deux enfants meurent!
    Vivre est un don du ciel trop visible et trop beau!
    Dieu, qui sait où l'on va, peut ouvrir un tombeau;
    Un roi, non ... Je les rends tous deux à leur famille;
    Us vivront ... Ce vieillard et cette jeune fille
    Me béniront! C'est dit.
        (_Il signe._)
                              J'ai signé, moi, le roi!
    Le cardinal sera furieux; mais, ma foi!
    Tant pis! cela fera plaisir à Bellegarde."

And Langely says half aloud--

    "On peut bien, une fois, être roi, par mégarde!"

What a masterpiece is that act! And then one remembers that because
M. Crosnier was closely pressed, and had to change his spectacle,
he suppressed that act, which, in the words of the critic, _faisait
longueur!_ ...

Ah well!...

In the fifth act the pardon is revoked. The young people must die.
They are led out into the courtyard of the prison for a few minutes'
fresh air. Didier converses with the spectre of death visible only to
himself; Saverny sleeps his last sleep. By prostituting herself to
Laffemas, Marion has secured from the judge the life of her lover, and
as she enters, bruised still from the judge's mauling, she says--

    "Sa lèvre est un fer rouge, et m'a toute marquée!"

Suppose Mademoiselle Mars, who did not want to say--

    "Vous êtes, mon lion, superbe et généreux!"

had had such a line as that to say, think what a struggle there would
have been between her and the author. But Dorval found it easy enough,
and she said the line with admirable expression.

As for Bocage, the hatred, pride and scorn which he displayed were
truely superb, when, not able to contain himself longer, he lets the
secret escape, which until then had been gnawing his entrails as the
fox the young Spartan's, he exclaimed--

    "Marie ... ou Marion?
                         --Didier, soyez clément!

    --Madame, on n'entre pas ici facilement;

    Les bastilles d'État sont nuit et jour gardées;
    Les portes sont de fer, les murs ont vingt coudées!
    Pour que devant vos pas la porte s'ouvre ainsi,
    A qui vous êtes-vous prostituée ici?
    --Didier, qui vous a dit?
                             --Personne ... Je devine!
    --Didier, j'en jure ici par la bonté divine,
    C'était pour vous sauver, vous arracher d'ici,
    Pour fléchir les bourreaux, pour vous sauver ...
                                                 --Merci!
    Ah! qu'on soit jusque-là sans pudeur et sans âme,
    C'est véritablement une honte, madame!
    Où donc est le marchand d'opprobre et de mépris
    Qui se fait acheter ma tête à de tels prix?
    Où donc est le geôlier, le juge? où donc est l'homme?
    Que je le broie ici! qui je l'écrase ... comme
    Ceci!
          (_Il brise le portrait de Marion._)
       Le juge! Allez, messieurs, faites des lois,
    Et jugez! Que m'importe, à moi, que le faux poids
    Qui fait toujours pencher votre balance infâme
    Soit la tête d'un homme ou l'honneur d'une femme!"

I challenge anyone to find a more powerful or affecting passage in
any language that has been written since the day when the lips of man
uttered a first cry, a first complaint. Finally, Didier forgives Marion
for being Marion, and, for a moment, the redeemed courtesan again
becomes the lover. It is then that she speaks these two charming lines,
which were suppressed at the performance and even, I believe, in the
printed play--

    "De l'autre Marion rien en moi n'est resté,
    Ton amour m'a refait une virginité!"

Then the executioner enters, the two young people walk to the scaffold,
the wall falls, Richelieu passes through the breach in his litter, and
Marion Delorme, laid on the ground, half-fainting, recognises Didier's
executioner, rises, exclaiming with a gesture of menace and of despair--

    "Regardez tous! voici l'homme rouge qui passe!"

It is twenty-two years ago since I meditated thus in the coupé of my
diligence, going over in memory the whole play of _Marion Delorme._
After twenty-two years I have just re-read it in order to write this
chapter; my appreciation of it has not changed; if anything, I think
the drama even more beautiful now than I did then. Now, what was the
reason that it was less successful than _Hernani_ or than _Lucrèce
Borgia?_ This is one of those mysteries which neither the sibyl of Cumæ
nor the pythoness of Delphi will ever explain,--nor _the soul of the
earth_, which speaks to M. Hennequin. Well, I say it boldly, there is
one thing of which I am as happy now as I was then: in reading that
beautiful drama again, for each act of which I would give a year of
my life, were it possible, I have felt a greater admiration for my
dear Victor, a more fervent friendship towards him and not one atom
of envy. Only, I repeat at my desk in Brussels what I said in the
Rouen diligence: "Ah! if only I could write such lines as these since
I know so well how to construct a play!..." I reached Paris without
having thought of anything else but _Marion Delorme._ I had completely
forgotten _Charles VII._ I went to pay my greetings to Bocage and
Dorval the very evening of my arrival. They promised to act for me, and
I took my place in the theatre. Exactly what I expected had happened to
spoil the play; except for Bocage, who played Didier; Dorval, Marion;
and Chéri, Saverny; the rest of the play was ruined. The result of
course was that all the marvellous poetry was extinguished, as a breath
extinguishes the clearness of a mirror. I left the theatre with a heavy
heart.



CHAPTER XVII


    Collaboration


I had to let a few days go by before I had the courage to return to
my own verses after having heard and re-read those of Hugo. I felt
inclined to do to _Charles VII._ what Harel had asked me to do to
_Christine_: to put it into prose. Finally, I gathered together some
friends at my house, and read them my new drama. But, whether I read
badly or whether they came to me with biased minds, the reading did
not have the effect upon them that I expected. This want of success
discouraged me. Two days later, I had to read to Harel, who had already
sent me my premium of a thousand francs, and also to Georges, to whom
the part of Bérengère was allotted. I wrote to Harel not to count on
the play and I sent him back his thousand francs. I decided not to have
my drama played. Harel believed neither in my abnegation nor in my
honesty. He came rushing to me in alarm. I laid my reasons before him,
taking as many pains to depreciate my work as another would have done
to exalt his. But to everything I said Harel took exception, repeating--

"It is not that ... it is not that ... it is not that!"

"What, then, is it?" I exclaimed.

"The Théâtre-Français had offered you five thousand francs premium!"

"Me?"

"I know it."

"Me, five thousand francs premium?"

"I tell you I know it, and in proof ..." He drew five one-thousand
franc notes from his pocket.

"The proof lies here in the five thousand francs I bring you." And he
held out the five notes to me.

I took one of them.

"All right," I said, "there is nothing to change in the programme; I
will read it the day after to-morrow. Only, tell Lockroy to be at the
reading."

"Well, what about the remaining four thousand francs?"

"They do not belong to me, my dear fellow; therefore you must take them
back."

Harel scratched his ear and looked at me sideways. It was evident he
did not understand.

Poor Harel! how sharp he was!

Two days later, before Harel, Georges, Janin and Lockroy I read the
play with immense success. It was at once put in rehearsal and was to
appear soon after a drama of _Mirabeau_, which was being studied. I
would fain say what the drama of _Mirabeau_ was like, but I cannot now
remember. All I know is that the principal part was for Frédérick, and
that they thought a great deal of the work.

_Charles VII._ was distributed as follows:--Savoisy, Ligier; Bérengère,
Georges; Yaqoub, Lockroy; Charles VII., Delafosse: Agnes Sorel, Noblet.
This business of the distribution done, I immediately turned to
_Richard_; its wholly modern colouring, political theme, vivid and
rather coarse treatment was more in accord with my own age and special
tastes than studies of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Let me
hasten to say that I was then not anything like as familiar with those
periods as I am now.

I wrote to Goubaux that I was at his disposition if it pleased him
to come, either next day to breakfast at my house, or at his own if
he preferred. We had become neighbours; I had left my lodgings in
the rue de l'Université and had taken a third floor in the square
d'Orléans, a very fine house just built in the rue Saint-Lazare, 42,
where several of my friends already lived, Zimmermann, Étienne Arago,
Robert Fleury and Gué. I believe Zimmermann and Robert Fleury still
live there: Gué is dead and Étienne Arago is in exile. Goubaux, who
lived at No. 19 rue Blanche, fixed a rendezvous there for six in
the evening. We were to dine first and talk of _Richard Darlington_
afterwards. I say _talk_, because, at the time of reading, it was found
that hardly anything had been written. However, Goubaux had found
several guide-posts to serve as beacons for our three acts. There were,
pre-eminently, traits of character to suit ambitious actors. One of
the principal was where Dr. Grey recalls to Richard and Mawbray, when
Richard is about to marry Jenny, the circumstances of the famous night
which formed the subject of the prologue, relating how a carriage
stopped at the door. "Had that carriage a _coat of arms?_" asked
Richard. Another item, still more remarkable, was given me to make what
I liked of it: the daughter of Da Sylva, Caroline, Richard's mother,
has married a Lord Wilmor; it is his daughter who is to marry Richard,
led away by the king determined to divorce Jenny. Only, Caroline, who
sees no more in Richard than an influential Member of Parliament, one
day destined to become a minister, demands an interview with Richard
to reveal a great secret to him; the secret is the existence of a
boy who was lost in the little village of Darlington, and who, being
her son, has the right to her fortune. Richard listens with growing
attention; then, at one particular passage, Wilmor's recital coincides
so remarkably with that of Mawbray as to leave no room for doubt in his
mind; but, instead of revealing himself, instead of flinging himself
into the arms of the woman who confesses her shame and weeps, asking
for her child back again, he gently disengages himself from her in
order to say to himself in a whisper, "She is my mother!" and to ask
himself, still in a whisper, "Who can my father be?" Finally, Richard
accepts the king's proposals; he must get rid of his wife, no matter
at what price, even were it that of a crime. This is about as far as
the work had progressed at our first talk with Goubaux. I kept my word
and brought the prologue entirely finished. I had done it exactly
as Goubaux had imagined it should be written; I had, therefore, but
to take courage and to continue. While Goubaux talked, my mind was
gathering up all the threads he held, and, like an active weaver, in
less than an hour, I had almost entirely sketched out the plan on my
canvas. I shared my mental travail with him, all unformed as it was.
The divorce scene between Richard and his wife, in especial, delighted
me immensely. A scene of Schiller had returned to my memory, a scene of
marvellous beauty and vigour. I saw how I could apply the scene between
Philip II. and Elizabeth, to Richard and Jenny. I will give the two
scenes in due course. All this preparatory work was settled between
us;--in addition to this, it was decided that Goubaux and Beudin should
write the election scene together, for which I had not the necessary
data, while Beudin had been present at scenes of this nature in London.
Then Goubaux looked at me.

"Only one thing troubles me now," he said.

"Only one?"

"Yes; I see all the rest of the play, which cannot fail to turn out all
right in your hands."

"Then what is the thing that troubles you?"

"The _dénoûment._"

"Why the _dénoûment?_ We have got that already."

Mawbray comes forward as witness and says to Richard, who is about to
sign: 'You are my son, and I am the executioner!' Richard falls to the
ground and a fit of apoplexy sends him to the devil, which is the right
place for him."

"No, that is not it at all," said Goubaux, shaking his head.

"What is it then?"

"It is the way in which he gets rid of his wife."

"Ah!" I said. "And you have no idea how that is to be done?"

"I had indeed some idea of making him put poison in her tea."

It was now my turn to shake my head.

"The death of Jenny must be caused by something in the situation, an
act of frenzy, not by premeditation."

"Oh, yes! I am well aware of that ... but think of a dagger thrust ...
Richard is not an Antony, he does not carry daggers about in his coat
pockets!"

"Then," said I, "he shall not stab her."

"But if he does not poison her or stab her what shall he do?"

"Chuck her out of the window!"

"What?"

I repeated my phrase.

"I must have misunderstood you," said Goubaux.

"No."

"But, my dear friend, you must be out of your mind."

"Leave it to me."

"But it is impossible!"

"I see the scene ... just when Richard thinks Jenny has been carried
off by Tompson, he finds her hidden in the cupboard of the very room
where they are going to sign the contract; at the same moment he
hears the steps of Da Sylva and his daughter on the staircase. In
order not to be surprised with Jenny, there is but one way out of the
difficulty--to throw her out of the window. So he throws her out of the
window."

"I must confess you frighten me with your methods of procedure! In the
second act, he breaks Jenny's head against the furniture; in the third
act he flings her out of the window. . . . Oh! come, come!"

"Listen, let me finish the thing as I like--then, if it is absurd, we
will alter it."

"Will you listen to reason?"

"I? Set your mind at rest; when I am convinced, I will, if necessary,
reconstruct the whole play from beginning to end."

"When will the first act be ready?"

"What day of the week is this?"

"Monday."

_"_ Come and dine with me on Thursday: it will be done."

"But your rehearsals at the Odéon?"

"Bah! The parts are being collated to-day; for a fortnight they will
read round a table or rehearse with the parts in their hands. By the
end of the fortnight Richard will be finished."

_"Amen!_"

"Adieu."

"Are you going already?"

"I must get to work."

"At what?"

"Why at _Richard_, of course! Do you think I have too much time? Our
first act is not an easy one to begin."

"Don't forget the part of Tompson!"

"You needn't be anxious, I have it ... When we come to the scene where
Mawbray kills him we will give him a Shakespearian death!"

"Mawbray kills him then?"

"Yes ... Did I not tell you that?"

"No."

"The deuce! does it displease you, then, that Mawbray kills Tompson?"

"I? Not the slightest."

"You will leave it to me? Tompson?"

"Certainly."

"Then he is a dead man. Adieu."

I ran off and got into bed. At that time I still maintained the
habit of writing my dramas in bed. Whilst I wrote the first scene of
the first act, Goubaux and Beudin did the election scene, a lively,
animated scene, full of character. When Goubaux came to dine with me,
on the following Thursday, everything was ready and the two scenes
could be fitted together. I then began on the second act, that is to
say, upon the vital part of the drama. Richard's talent has caused him
to reach the front rank of the Opposition, and he refuses all offers
made him by the ministers; but he is cleverly brought in contact with
an unknown benefactor, who makes him such offers and promises that
Richard sells his conscience to become the son-in-law of Lord Wilmor
and to be a minister. It is in the second scene of that act that
the divorce incident takes place between Richard and Jenny, which
was imitated from Schiller. On the Tuesday following we had a fresh
meeting. All went swimmingly, except the scene between the king and
Richard. I had completely failed in this, and so Goubaux undertook to
remould it, and he made it what it is, that is to say, one of the best
and cleverest in the work. Here is the scene imitated from Schiller--

    "ACTE IV.--SCENE IX.

    LE ROI.--Je ne me connais plus moi-même! je ne respecte
    plus aucune voix, aucune loi de la nature, aucun droit des
    nations!

    LA REINE.--Combien je plains Votre Majesté!

    LE ROI.--Me plaindre? La pitié d'une impudique!

    L'INFANTE, _se jetant tout effrayée dans les bras de sa
    mère._--Le roi est en colère, et ma mère chérie pleure! (_Le
    roi arrache l'infante des bras de sa mère._)

    LA REINE, _avec douceur et dignité mais à une voix
    tremblante._--Je dois pourtant garantir cette enfant des
    mauvais traitements!... Viens avec moi, ma fille! (_Elle la
    prend dans ses bras._) Si le roi ne veut pas te reconnaîtra,
    je ferai venir de l'autre côté des Pyrénées des protecteurs
    pour défendre notre cause!

    (_Elle veut sortir._)

    LE ROI, _trouble._--Madame!

    LA REINE.--Je ne puis plus supporter ... C'en est trop!
    (_Elle s'avance vers la porte, mais s'évanouit et tombe avec
    l'infante._)

    LE ROI, _courant a elle avec effroi._--Dieu! qu'est-ce donc?

    L'INFANTE, _avec des cris de frayeur._--Hélas! ma mère
    saigne! (_Elle s'enfuit en pleurant._)

    LE ROI, _avec anxiété._--Quel terrible accident! Du sang!
    ... Ai-je mérité que vous me punissiez si cruellement?...
    Levez-vous! remettez-vous ... On vient ... levez-vous ...
    On vous surprendra ... levez-vous!... Faut-il que toute ma
    cour se repaisse de ce spectacle? Faut-il donc vous prier de
    vous lever?..."

Now to _Richard._ Richard wants to force Jenny to sign the act of
divorce and she refuses.

    "JENNY.--Mais que voulez-vous donc, alors? Expliquez-vous
    clairement; car tantôt je comprends trop, et tantôt pas
    assez.

    RICHARD.--Pour vous et pour moi, mieux vaut un consentement
    mutuel.

    JENNY.--Vous m'avez donc crue bien lâche? Que, moi, j'aille
    devant un juge, sans y être traînée par les cheveux,
    déclarer de ma voix, signer de ma main que je ne suis pas
    digne d'être l'épouse de sir Richard? Vous ne me connaissez
    donc pas, vous qui croyez que je ne suis bonne qu'aux soins
    d'un ménage dédaigné; que me croyez anéantie par l'absence;
    qui pensez que je ploierai parce que vous appuierez le poing
    sur ma tête; Dans le temps de mon bonheur, oui, cela aurait
    pu être; mais mes larmes ont retrempé mon cœur; mes nuits
    d'insomnie ont affermi mon courage? le malheur enfin m'a
    fait une volonté! Ce que je suis, je vous le dois, Richard;
    c'est votre faute; ne vous en prenez donc qu'a vous ...
    Maintenant, voyons! à qui aura le plus de courage, du faible
    ou du fort. Sir Richard, je ne veux pas!

    RICHARD.--Madame, jusqu'ici, je n'ai fait entendre que des
    paroles de conciliation.

    JENNY.--Essayez d'avoir recours à d'autres!

    RICHARD, _marchant à elle._--Jenny!

    JENNY, _froidement._--Richard!

    RICHARD.--Malheureuse! savez-vous ce dont je suis capable?

    JENNY.--Je le devine.

    RICHARD.--Et vous ne tremblez pas?

    JENNY.--Voyez.

    RICHARD, _lui prenant les mains._--Femme!

    JENNY, _tombant à genoux de la secousse._--Ah!...

    RICHARD.--A genoux!

    JENNY, _les mains au ciel._--Mon Dieu, ayez pitié de lui!
    (_Elle se releve._)

    RICHARD.--Ah! c'est de vous qu'il a pitié, car je m'en vais
    ... Adieu, Jenny; demandez au ciel que ce soit pour toujours!

    JENNY, _courant à lui, et lui jetant les bras autour du
    you._--Richard! Richard! ne t'en va pas!

    RICHARD.--Laissez-moi partir.

    JENNY.--Si tu savais comme je t'aime!

    RICHARD.--Prouvez-le-moi.

    JENNY.--Ma mère! ma mère!

    RICHARD--Voulez-vous?

    JENNY.---Tu me l'avais bien dit!

    RICHARD.--Un dernier mot.

    JENNY.--Ne le dis pas.

    RICHARD.--Consens-tu?

    JENNY.--Écoute-moi.

    RICHARD.--Consens-tu? (_Jenny se tait._) C'est bien. Mais
    plus de messages, plus de lettres ... Que rien ne vous
    rappelle à moi, que je ne sache même pas que vous existez!
    Je vous laisse une jeunesse sans époux, une vieillesse sans
    enfant.

    JENNY.--Pas d'imprécations! pas d'imprécations!

    RICHARD.--Adieu!

    JENNY.--Vous ne partirez pas!

    RICHARD.--Damnation!

    JENNY.--Vous me tuerez plutôt!

    RICHARD.--Ah! laissez-moi! (_Jenny, repoussée, va tomber la
    tête sur l'angle d'un meuble._)

    JENNY.--Ah!... (_Elle se relève tout ensanglantée._) Ah!
    Richard!... (_Elle chancelle en étendant les bras de son
    côté, et retombe._) Il faut que je vous aime bien! (_Elle
    Évanouit._)

    RICHARD.--Évanouie!... blessée!... du sang!...
    Malédiction!... Jenny!... Jenny! (_Il la porte sur
    un fauteuil._) Et ce sang qui ne s'arrête pas ... (_Il
    l'étanche avec son mouchoir._) Je ne peux cependant pas
    rester éternellement ici. (_Il se rapproche d'elle._) Jenny,
    finissons ... Je me retire ... Tu ne veux pas répondre?...
    Adieu donc!..."

There remained the last act; it was composed of three scenes: the first
takes place in Richard's house in London, the second in a forest,
the third in Jenny's chamber. My reader knows the engagement I had
undertaken, to have Jenny thrown out of the window. Very well, I boldly
prepared myself to keep it, and I wrote the scene in my bed, as usual.
This is the situation: Mawbray has killed Tompson, who carried Jenny
off, and has brought her into the room where in the second act the
scene between her and her husband took place. This room has only two
doors: one leading to the stairs, the other into a cupboard, and one
window, the view from which looks deep down into a precipice. Scarcely
is Jenny left alone with her terror,--for she has no doubt that it is
her husband who has had her carried off,--than she hears and recognises
Richard's step. Not able to flee she takes refuge in the cabinet.
Richard enters.

    "RICHARD.--J'arrive à temps! À peine si je dois avoir, sur
    le marquis et sa famille, une demi-heure d'avance.--James,
    apportez des flambeaux, et tenez-vous à la porte pour
    conduire ici les personnes qui arriveront dans un instant
    ... Bien ... Allez! (_Tirant sa montre._) Huit heures!
    Tompson doit être maintenant à Douvres, et, demain matin,
    il sera à Calais. Dieu le conduise!... Voyons si rien
    n'indique que cet appartement a été habité par une femme.
    (_Apercevant le chapeau et le châle que Jenny vient de
    déposer sur une chaise._) La précaution n'était pas inutile
    ... Que faire de cela? Je n'ai pas la clef des armoires
    ... Les jeter par la fenêtre: on les retrouvera demain ...
    Ah! des lumières sur le haut de la montagne ... C'est sans
    doute le marquis; il est exact ... Mais où diable mettre ces
    chiffons? Ah! ce cabinet ...j'en retirerai la clef. (_Il
    ouvre le cabinet._)

    JENNY.--Ah!

    RICHARD, _la saisissant par le bras._--Qui est là?

    JENNY.--Moi, moi, Richard ... Ne me faites point de mal!

    RICHARD, _l'attirant sur le théâtre_.--Jenny! mais c'est
    donc un démon qui me la jette à la face toutes les fois que
    je crois être débarrassé d'elle?... Que faites-vous ici?
    qui vous y ramène? Parlez vite ...

    JENNY.--Mawbray!

    RICHARD.--Mawbray! toujours Mawbray! Où est-il, que je ma
    venge enfin sur un homme?

    JENNY.--Il est loin ... bien loin ... reparti pour Londres
    ... Grâce pour lui!

    RICHARD.--Eh bien?

    JENNY.--Il a arrêté la voiture.

    RICHARD.--Après?... Ne voyez-vous pas que je brûle?

    JENNY.--Et moi, que je ...

    RICHARD.--Après? vous dis-je?

    JENNY.--Ils se sont battus.

    RICHARD.--Et?...

    JENNY.--Et Mawbray a tué Tompson.

    RICHARD.--Enfer!... Alors, il vous a ramenée ici?

    JENNY.--Oui ... oui.. pardon!

    RICHARD.--Jenny, écoutez!

    JENNY.--C'est le roulement d'une voiture.

    RICHARD.--Cette voiture ...

    JENNY.--Eh bien?

    RICHARD.--Elle amène ma femme et sa famille.

    JENNY.--Votre femme et sa famille!... Et moi, moi, que
    suis-je donc?

    RICHARD.--Vous, Jenny? vous?... Vous êtes mon mauvais
    génie! vous êtes l'abîme où vont s'engloutir toutes mes
    espérances! vous êtes le démon qui me pousse à l'échafaud,
    car je ferai un crime!

    JENNY.--Oh! mon Dieu!

    RICHARD.--C'est qu'il n'y à plus a reculer, voyez-vous! vous
    n'avez pas voulu signer le divorce, vous n'avez pas voulu
    quitter l'Angleterre ...

    JENNY.--Oh! maintenant, maintenant, je veux tout ce que vous
    voudrez.

    RICHARD.--Eh! maintenant, il est trop tard!

    JENNY.--Qu'allez-vous donc faire alors?

    RICHARD.--Je ne sais ... mais priez Dieu!

    JENNY.--Richard!

    RICHARD, _lui mettant la main sur la bouche._--Silence!
    ne les entendez-vous pas? ne les entendez-vous pas? Ils
    montent!... ils montent!... ils vont trouver une femme
    ici!"

Here I stopped short. I had gone as far as I could go. But there was
the question of keeping my promise to Goubaux. I leapt out of my bed.
It is impossible! I cried out to myself, and Goubaux said well. Richard
is to be forced to take his wife, and drag her towards the window;
she will defend herself; the public will not bear the sight of that
struggle and it will be perfectly right ... Besides, when he lifts
her up over the balcony, Richard will give the spectators a view of
his wife's legs: the spectators will laugh, which is much worse than
if they hissed ... Decidedly I am a fool. There must be some way out
of the difficulty!... But it was not easy to find means. I racked my
brains for a fortnight all in vain. Goubaux had no notion of the time
it took me to compose the third act. He wrote me letter after letter.
I did not wish to tell him the real cause of my delay; I made all
sorts of excuses: I was busy with my rehearsals; I had gone to see my
daughter at her nurse's house; I had a shooting party and all sorts
of other things;--all pretexts nearly as valid as those which Pierre
Schlemihl gave in excuse for not having a shadow. Finally, one fine
night, I woke up with a start, crying like Archimedes Ευρηκα! and in
the same costume as he, I ran, not through the streets of Syracuse,
but into the corners and recesses of my bedroom to find a tinder-box.
When the candles were lit, I got back into bed and took hold of my
pencil and manuscript, shrugging my shoulders in disgust at myself.
Good Heavens! said I, it is as simple as Christopher Columbus's egg;
only, one must break the end off! The end was broken; there was no
more difficulty, Jenny no longer would have to risk showing her ankles
and Richard would still throw his wife out of the window. Behold the
mechanism thereof! After the words: "Ils vont trouver une femme ici!"
Richard ran to the door, closed it and double-locked it. Meanwhile,
Jenny ran to the window and cried from the balcony, "Help! help!"
Richard followed her precipitately; Jenny fell on her knees. A noise
was heard on the stairs; Richard closed the two shutters of the window
on himself, shutting himself out with Jenny on the balcony. A cry was
heard. Richard, pale and wiping his brow, reopened the two shutters
with a blow of his fist; he was alone on the balcony; Jenny had
disappeared! The trick was taken.

By eight o'clock next morning I was writing the last line of the third
act of _Richard_, and, by nine, I was with Goubaux; by ten, he had
acknowledged that the window was, indeed, Jenny's only way of exit.



BOOK IV



CHAPTER I


    The feudal edifice and the industrial--The workmen of
    Lyons--M. Bouvier-Dumolard--General Roguet--Discussion
    and signing of the tariff regulating the price of the
    workmanship of fabrics--The makers refuse to submit to
    it--_Artificial prices_ for silk-workers--Insurrection
    of Lyons--Eighteen millions on the civil list--Timon's
    calculations--An unlucky saying of M. de Montalivet


During this time three political events of the gravest importance took
place: Lyons broke into insurrection ; the civil list was debated; the
Chamber passed the law abolishing the heredity of the peerage. We will
pass these three events in review as rapidly as possible, but we owe it
to the scheme of these Memoirs to make a note of the principal details.
It must be clear that every time the country has been in trouble we
have listened to its cry. Let us begin with Lyons.

Everybody knows Lyons, a poor, dirty town with a canopy of smoke and a
jumble of wealth and misery, where people dare not drive through the
streets in carriages, not for fear of running over the passengers but
for fear of being insulted; where for forty thousand unfortunate human
beings the twenty-four hours of the day contain eighteen hours of work,
noise and agony. You remember Hugo's beautiful comparison in the fourth
act of _Hernani_--

    "Un édifice avec deux hommes au sommet,
    Deux chefs élus auxquels tout roi-né se soumet.
    . . . . . Être ce qui commence,
    Seul, debout au plus haut de la spirale immense,
    D'une foule d'États l'un sur l'autre étagés
    Être la clef de voûte, et voir sous soi rangés
    Les rois, et sur leurs fronts essuyer ses sandales,
    Voir, au-dessous des rois, les maisons féodales,
    Margraves, cardinaux, doges, ducs à fleurons;
    Puis évêques, abbés, chefs de clans, hauts barons;
    Puis clercs et soldats; puis, loin du faite où nous sommes,
    Dans l'ombre, tout au fond de l'abîme, les hommes."

Well, in comparison with this aristocratie pyramid, crowned by _those
two halves of God, the Pope and the Emperor_, resplendent with gold
and diamonds on everyone of its stages, put the popular pyramid, by
the aid of which we are going to try to make you understand what
Lyons is like, and you will have, not an exact pendant to it but, on
the contrary, a terrible contrast. So, imagine a spiral composed of
three stages: at the top, eight hundred manufacturers; in the middle,
ten thousand foremen; at the base, supporting this immense weight
which rests entirely on them, forty thousand workmen. Then, buzzing,
gleaning, picking about this spiral like hornets round a hive, are
the commissionaires, the parasites of the manufacturers, and those
who supply raw materials to the trade. Now, the commercial mechanism
of this immense machine is easy to understand. These commissionaires
live on the manufacturers; the manufacturers live on the foremen; the
foremen live on the workpeople. Add to this the Lyonnais industry, the
only one by which these fifty to sixty thousand souls live, attacked at
all points by competition--England producing and striking a double blow
at Lyons, first because she has ceased to supply herself from there,
and, secondly, because she is producing on her own account--Zurich,
Bâle, Cologne and Berne, all setting up looms, and becoming rivals
of the second town of France. Forty years ago, when the continental
system of 1810 compelled the whole of France to supply itself from
Lyons, the workman earned from four to six francs a day. Then he could
easily provide for his wife and the numerous family which nearly always
results from the improvidence of the working-man. But, since the fall
of the Empire, for the past seventeen years wages have been on the
decline, from four francs to forty sous, then to thirty-five, then to
thirty, then to twenty-five. Finally, at the time we have now reached,
the ordinary weaving operative only earns eighteen sous per day for
eighteen hours work. One son per hour!... It is a starvation wage.

The unfortunate workmen struggled in silence for a long time, trying,
as each quarter came round, to move into smaller rooms, to more noxious
quarters; trying, day by day, to economise something in the shape of
their meals and those of their children. But, at last, when they came
face to face with the deadening effect of bad air and of starvation
for want of bread, there went up from the Croix-Rousse,--appropriate
names, are they not?--that is to say, from the working portion of the
city--a great sob, like that which Dante heard when he was passing
through the first circle of the Inferno. It was the cry of one hundred
thousand sufferers. Two men were in command at Lyons, one representing
the civil power, the other the military: a préfet and a general. The
préfet was called Bouvier-Dumolard; the general's name was Roguet. The
first, in his administrative capacity, came in contact with all classes
of society, and was able to study that dark and profound misery; a
misery, all the more terrible, because no remedy could be found for
it, and because it went on increasing every day. As for the general,
since he knew his soldiers had five sous per day, and that each of them
had a ration sufficiently ample for a _canut_ (silk-weaver) to feed
his wife and children upon, he never troubled his head about anything
else. The cry of misery of the poor famished creatures therefore
affected the general and the préfet very differently. They made
their separate inquiries as to the cause of this cry of misery. The
workpeople demanded a tariff. General Roguet called a business meeting
and demanded repressive measures. M. Bouvier-Dumolard, on the contrary,
seeing the tradespeople in council, asked them for an increase of
salary. On 11 October this council issued the following minute:--

    "As it is a matter of public notoriety that many of the
    manufacturers actually pay for their fabrics at too low a
    rate, it is advisable that _a minimum_ tariff be fixed for
    the price of fabrics."

Consequently, a meeting was held at the Hôtel de la Préfecture on 15
October. The tariff was discussed on both sides by twenty-two workmen
appointed by their comrades, and twenty-two manufacturers who were
appointed by the Chamber of Commerce.

That measure, presuming that it needed a precedent before it could be
legalised, had been authorised in 1789, by the Constituent Assembly,
in 1793 by the Convention and, finally, in 1811 by the Empire. Nothing
was settled at the first meeting. On 21 October a new assembly was
convoked at the same place, and with the same object. The manufacturers
were less pressing than the workmen: that is conceivable enough: they
have to give and the workmen to receive; they have to lose and the
workmen to gain. The manufacturers said that having been officially
appointed they could not bind their confrères. A third meeting was
arranged to give them time to obtain a power of attorney. Meanwhile
workpeople died of hunger. This meeting was fixed for 25 October. The
life or death of forty thousand operatives, that of their fathers and
mothers, their wives and their children, the very existence of over one
hundred thousand persons was to be discussed at that sitting. So, the
unusual, lamentable and fearful spectacle was to be seen, at ten in the
morning, of this unfortunate people waiting outside in the place de la
Préfecture to hear their sentence. But there was not a single weapon
to be seen among those thousands of supplicants! A weapon would have
prevented them from joining their hands together, and they only wanted
to pray.

The préfet, terrified by that multitude, terrified of its very silence,
came forward. Amongst all that sixty to eighty thousand persons of all
ages and of both sexes, there were nearly thirty thousand men.

"My good people," said the préfet to them, "I beg you to withdraw--it
will be to your own interests to do so. If you stay there the tariff
will seem to have been imposed by your presence. Now, in order to be
valid, the deliberations must be doubly free: free in reality and free
in appearance."

All these famished voices with laboured breathings summoned strength to
shout, "Vive le préfet!" Then they humbly retired without complaint or
comment.

The tariff was signed: the result was an increase of twenty-five per
cent--not quite five sous per day. But five sous per day meant the
lives of two children. So there was great joy throughout that poor
multitude: the workmen illuminated their windows, and sang and danced
far into the night. Their joy was very innocent, but the manufacturers
thought the songs were songs of triumph and the Carmagnole dances
meant a second '93. And they were made the means of refusing the
tariff. A week had not gone before there were ten or a dozen refusals
to carry it out. The Trades Council censured those who refused. The
manufacturers met and decided that instead of a partial refusal they
would all protest. And so a hundred and four manufacturers protested,
declaring that they did not think themselves compelled to come to the
assistance of men who were bolstered up by _artificial prices_ (_des
besoins factices_). _Artificial prices_, at eighteen sous per day! what
sybarites! The préfet, who was a goodhearted fellow but vacillating,
drew back before that protest. The Trades Council in turn drew back
when they saw that the préfet had given way. Both Trades Council and
préfet declared that the tariff was not at all obligatory, and that
those of the manufacturers who wished to avoid the increase of wage
imposed had the right to do it. Six to seven hundred, out of the
eight hundred manufacturers, took advantage of the permission. The
unfortunate weavers then decided to go on strike for a week, during
which time they walked the town as unarmed suppliants, making no
demonstration beyond affectionate and grateful salutations to those
of the manufacturers who were more humane than the others and had
observed the tariff. This humble attitude only hardened the hearts of
the manufacturers: one of them received a deputation of workmen with
pistols on his table; another, when the wretched men said to him, "For
two days we have not had a morsel of bread in our stomachs," replied,
"--Well then, we must thrust bayonets into them!" General Roguet, also,
who was ill and, consequently, in a bad temper, placarded the Riot Act.
The préfet realised all the evils that would accrue from putting such
a measure into force, and went to General Roguet to try to get him to
withdraw it. General Roguet declined to receive him. There are strange
cases of blindness, and military leaders are especially liable to such
fits.

Thirty thousand workpeople--unarmed, it is true, but one knows how
rapidly thirty thousand men can arm themselves--were moving about
the streets of Lyons; General Roguet had under his command only the
66th regiment of the line, three squadrons of dragoons, one battalion
of the 13th and some companies of engineers: barely three thousand
soldiers in all. He persisted in his policy of provocation. It was 19
November; the general, under the pretext of a reception for General
Ordomont, commanded a review on the place Bellecour to be held on
the following day. It was difficult not to see an underlying menace
in that order. Unfortunately, those threatened had begun to come to
the end of their patience. What one of their number had said was no
poetic metaphor--many had not tasted food for forty-eight hours. Two
or three more days of patience on the part of the military authority,
and they need have had no more fear: the people would be dead. On
21 November--it was a Monday--four hundred silk-workers gathered at
the Croix-Rousse. They proceeded to march, headed by their syndics,
and with no other arms but sticks. They realised things had come to
a crisis and they resolved to go from workshop to workshop, and to
persuade their comrades to come out on strike with them until the
tariff should be adopted in a serious and definitive manner. Suddenly,
as they turned the corner of a street, they found themselves face to
face with sixty or so of the National Guard on patrol. An officer,
carried away by a war-like impulse, shouted when he saw them, "Lads,
let us sweep away all that _canaille._" And, drawing his sword, he
sprang upon the workmen, the sixty National Guards following him with
fixed bayonets. Twenty-five of the sixty National Guards were disarmed
in a trice; the rest took to flight. Then, satisfied with their
first victory, without changing the wholly peaceful nature of their
demonstration, the workmen took each other's arms again and, marching
four abreast, began to descend what is known as la Grante-Côte. But the
fugitives had given the alarm. A column of the National Guard of the
first legion, entirely composed of manufacturers, took up arms in hot
haste, and advanced resolutely to encounter the workmen. These were two
clouds, charged with electricity, hurled against each other by contrary
currents and the collision meant lightning.

The column of the National Guard fired; eight workmen fell. After that,
it was a species of extermination--blood had flowed. At Paris, in 1830,
the people had fought for an idea, and they had fought well; at Lyons,
in 1831, they were going to fight for bread and they would fight better
still. A terrible, formidable, great cry went up throughout the whole
of the labour quarter of the city: To arms! They are murdering our
brothers!

Then anger set that vast hive buzzing which hunger had turned dumb.
Each household turned into the streets every man that it contained old
enough to fight; all had arms of one sort or another: one had a stick,
another a fork, some had guns. In the twinkling of an eye barricades
were constructed by the women and children; a group of insurgents,
amidst loud cheers, carried off two pieces of cannon belonging to the
National Guard of the Croix-Rousse; the National Guard not only let the
cannon be taken but actually offered them. If it did not pursue the
operatives into their intrenchments it would remain neutral; but if the
barricades were attacked it would defend them with guns and cartridge.
Next evening, forty thousand men were armed ready, hugging the banners
which bore these words, the most ominous, probably, ever traced by the
bloody hand of civil war--

                         VIVRE EN TRAVAILLANT
                                  OU
                         MOURIR EN COMBATTANT!

They killed each other through the whole of the night of the 21st,
and the whole day of the 22nd. Oh! how fiercely do compatriots,
fellow-citizens and brothers kill one another! Fifty years hence civil
war will be the only warfare possible. By seven o'clock at night all
was over, and the troops beat a retreat before the people, vanquished
at every point. At midnight, General Roguet, lifted up bodily on
horseback, where he shook with fever, left the town, which he found
impossible to hold any longer. He withdrew by way of the faubourg
Saint-Clair, under a canopy of fire, through a hail of bullets. The
smell of powder revived the strength of the old soldier: he sat up on
his horse, and rose in his stirrups--

"Ah!" he said, "now I can breathe once more! I feel better here than in
the Hôtel de Ville drawing-rooms."

Meantime, the people were knocking at the doors of that same Hôtel de
Ville which the préfet and members of the municipality had abandoned.
When at the Hôtel de Ville, that palace of the people, the people felt
they were the masters. But they scarcely realised this before they
were afraid of their power. This power was deputed to eight persons:
Lachapelle, Frédéric, Charpentier, Perenon, Rosset, Garnier, Dervieux
and Filliol. The three first were workmen whose only thought was to
maintain the tariff; the five others were Republicans who thought of
political questions and not merely of pecuniary. The next day after
that on which the eight delegates of the people had established a
provisional administration, the provisional administrators were at the
point of killing one another. Some wanted boldly to follow the path of
insurrection; others wanted to join the party of civil authority. The
latter carried the day, and M. Bouvier-Dumolard was reinstalled. On 3
December, at noon, the Prince Royal and Maréchal Soult took possession
once more of the second capital of the kingdom, and re-entered with
drums beating and torches lit. The workpeople were disarmed and fell
back to confront their necessities and the _besoins factices_ they had
created, at eighteen sous per diem. The National Guard was disbanded
and the town placed in a state of siege. M. Bouvier-Dumolard was
dismissed.

What was the king doing during this time? His ministers, at his
dictation, were preparing a minute in which he asked the Chamber for
eighteen million francs for the civil list, fifteen hundred thousand
francs per month, fifty thousand francs per day; without reckoning his
private income of five millions, and two or three millions in dividends
from special investments.

M. Laffitte had already, a year before, submitted to the committee of
the Budget a minute proposing to fix the king's civil list at eighteen
million francs. The committee had read the minute, and this degree of
justice should be given to it: it had been afraid to bring it forward.
Even that minute had left a very bad impression, so disturbing, that
it had been agreed between the minister and the king, that the king
should write a confidential letter to the minister, saying he had
never thought of so high a sum as eighteen millions, and that the
demand should be attributed to too hasty courtiers, whose devotion
compromised the royal power they thought to serve. That confidential
letter had been shown in confidence and had produced an excellent
effect. But when it was learnt at court that the revolt at Lyons was
not political, and that the _canuts_ were only rising because they
could not live on eighteen sous per twenty-four hours, it was deemed
that the right moment had come to give the king his fifty thousand
francs per day. They asked for one single man that which, a hundred and
twenty leagues away, was sufficient to keep fifty-four thousand men. It
was thirty-seven times more than Bonaparte had asked as First Consul,
and a hundred and forty-eight times more than the President of the
United States handled. The time was all the more ill chosen in that, on
1 January 1832,--we are anticipating events by three months,--the Board
of Charity of the 12th Arrondissement published the following circular--

    "Twenty-four thousand persons are inscribed on the registers
    of the 12th Arrondissement of Paris as in need of food and
    clothing. Many are asking for a few trusses of straw on
    which to sleep."

True, the request for eighteen millions of Civil List were stated to
be for royal necessities,--people's necessities differ. Thus, whilst
five or six thousand wretched people of the 12th Arrondissement were
asking for a few trusses of straw on which to sleep, the king _was in
need of_ forty-eight thousand francs for the medicaments necessary to
his health; the king _was in need of_ three million seven hundred and
seventy-three thousand five hundred francs for his personal service;
the king _was in need of_ a million two hundred thousand francs to
provide fuel for the kitchen fires of the royal household.

It must be admitted that these were a fair number of remedies for a
king whose health had become proverbial, and who knew enough about
medicine to pass a doctor's degree, in his ordinary indispositions; it
was a great luxury for a king who had suppressed the offices of chief
equerry, master of the hounds, master of ceremonies and all the great
state expenses, and who had set forth the programme, new to France,
of a small court half-bourgeois and half-military; also it was a good
deal of wood and coal to allow a king who possessed the finest forests
in the state, either by right of inheritance or as appanage. True,
it was calculated that the sale of wood annually made by the king,
which would be sufficient to warm a tenth part of France, was not
sufficient to warm the underground kitchen fires of the Palais-Royal.
People calculated differently. It was the time of calculations. There
was, at that period, a great calculator, since dead, called Timon the
misanthrope. Ah! if only he were still alive!... He reckoned that
eighteen millions of Civil List amounted to the fiftieth part of
the Budget of France; the contribution of three of our most densely
populated departments,--Seine, Seine-Inférieure and Nord; the land
tax paid to the state by eighteen other departments; four times
more than flowed into the state coffers from Calais, Boulonnais,
Artois and their six hundred and forty thousand inhabitants, by way
of contributions of every kind in a year; three times more than the
salt tax brought in; twice more than the government winnings from
its lottery; half what the monopoly of the sale of tobacco produced;
half what is annually granted for the upkeep of our bridges, roads,
harbours and canals--an expenditure which gives work to over fifteen
thousand persons; nine times more than the whole budget for public
education, including its support, subsidies, national scholarships;
double the cost of the foreign office, which pays thirty ambassadors
and ministers-plenipotentiary, fifty secretaries to the embassies
and legations, one hundred and fifty consuls-general, consuls,
vice-consuls, dragomans and consular agents; ninety head clerks and
office clerks, under-clerks, employees, copyists, translators and
servants; the pay of an army of fifty-five thousand men, officers
of all ranks, noncommissioned officers, corporals and soldiers, a
third more than the cost of the whole staff of the administration of
justice;--note that in saying that justice is paid for, we do not
mean to say that it ought to be given up. In short, a sum sufficient
to provide work for a whole year to sixty-one thousand six hundred
and forty-three workmen belonging to the country!... Although the
bourgeoisie were so enthusiastic over their king, this calculation none
the less made them reflect.

Then, as if it seemed that every misfortune were to be piled up because
of that fatal Civil List of 1832, M. de Montalivet must needs take upon
himself to find good reasons for making the contributors support the
Budget by saying in the open Chamber--

"If luxury is banished from the king's palace, it will soon be banished
from the homes of his _subjects!_"

At these words there was a prompt and loud explosion, as though the
powder magazine at Grenelle had been set on fire.

"Men who make kings are not the subjects of the kings they create!"
exclaims M. Marchal.

"There are no more subjects in France."

"There is a king, nevertheless," insinuates M. Dupin, who held a salary
direct from that king.

"There are no more subjects," repeats M. Leclerc-Lasalle. "Order!
order! order!"

"I do not understand the importance of the interruption," replies M. de
Montalivet.

"It is an insult to the chamber," cries M. Labôissière.

"Order! order! order!" The president rings his bell.--"Order!! order!!
order!!"

The president puts his hat on. "Order!!! order!!! order!!!"

The president breaks up the sitting. The deputies go out, crying
"Order! order! order!"

The whole thing was more serious than one would have supposed at the
first glance: it was a slur on the bourgeois reputation which had made
Louis-Philippe King of France. On the same day, under the presidency
of Odilon Barrot, a hundred and sixty-seven members of the Chamber
signed a protest against the word _subject._ The Civil List was reduced
to fourteen millions. A settlement was made on the queen in case of
the decease of the king; an annual allowance of a million francs was
granted to M. le duc d'Orléans. This was a triumph, but a humiliating
triumph; the debates of the Chamber upon the word _subject_, M. de
Cor's letters--Heavens! what were we going to do? We were confusing
Timon the misanthrope with M. de Cormenin!--the letters of Timon,
Dupont (de l'Eure's) condemnation, the jests of the Republican papers,
all these had in an important degree taken the place of the voice of
the slave of old who cried behind the triumphant emperors, "Cæsar,
remember that thou art mortal!" At the same time a voice cried,
"Peerage, remember that thou art mortal!" It was the voice of the
_Moniteur_ proclaiming the abolition of heredity in the peerage.



CHAPTER II


    Death of _Mirabeau_--The accessories of _Charles VII._--A
    shooting party--Montereau--A temptation I cannot
    resist--Critical position in which my shooting companions
    and I find ourselves--We introduce ourselves into an empty
    house by breaking into it at night--Inspection of the
    premises--Improvised supper--As one makes one's bed, so
    one lies on it--I go to see the dawn rise--Fowl and duck
    shooting--Preparations for breakfast--Mother Galop


It will be seen the times were not at all encouraging for literature.
But there was through that highly strung period such a vital
turgescence that enough force remained in the youth of the day, who had
just been making a political disturbance on the boulevard Saint-Denis
or the place Vendôme, to create a literary disturbance at the Théâtre
Porte-Saint-Martin or the Odéon. I think I have said that _Mirabeau_
had been played, and had passed like a shadow without even being
able, when dying, to bequeathe the name of its author to the public:
the company of the Odéon, therefore, was entirely at the disposal of
_Charles VII._

Whether Harel had returned to my opinion, that the play would not make
money, or whether he had a fit of niggardliness, a rare happening, I
must confess, when Mademoiselle Georges was taking part in a play, he
would not risk any expense, not even to the extent of the stag that
kills Raymond in the first act, not even for the armour which clothes
Charles VII. in the fourth. The result was that I was obliged to go to
Raincy myself to kill a stag, and to get it stuffed at my own expense;
then I had to go and borrow a complete set of armour from the Artillery
Museum, which they obligingly lent me in remembrance of the service
that I had rendered their establishment on 29 July 1830, by saving a
portion of the armour of Francis I. However, the rehearsals proceeded
with such energy that, on 5 September, the opening day of the shooting
season having arrived, I had no hesitation about leaving _Charles VII._
to the strength of the impetus that I had given it, and, as M. Étienne
would say, I went to woo Diana at the expense of the Muses. True, our
Muses, if the illustrious Academician is to be believed, were but sorry
ones!

I had decided to undertake this cynegetic jollification because of
an unlimited permission from Bixio. That permission had been given
to us by our common friend Dupont-Delporte, who, by virtue of our
discretionary powers, we had just made sub-lieutenant in the army,
together with a delightful lad called Vaillant, who, with Louis
Desnoyers, managed a paper called the _Journal Rose_, and also the son
of Mademoiselle Duchesnois, who, I believe, died bravely in Algeria.
As to Vaillant, I know not what became of him, or whether he followed
up his military career; but, if he be still living, no matter where
he may be, I offer him greeting, although a quarter of a century
has rolled by. Now this permission was indeed calculated to tempt a
sportsman. Dupont-Delporte introduced us to his father, and begged him
to place his château and estates at our disposition. The château was
situated three-quarters of a league from Montigny, a little village
which itself was three leagues from Montereau. We left by diligence at
six o'clock on the morning of 4 September, and we reached Montereau
about four in the afternoon. I was not yet acquainted with Montereau,
doubly interesting, historically, by reason of the assassination of the
Duke of Burgundy Jean Sans-Peur, and from the victory which, in the
desperate struggle of 1814, Napoléon won there over the Austrians and
the Würtemburgers. Our caravan was made up of Viardot, author of the
_Histoire des Arabes en Espagne_, and, later, husband of that adorable
and all round actress called Pauline Garcia; of Bessas-Lamégie, then
deputy-mayor of the 10th arrondissement; of Bixio, and of Louis
Boulanger. Whilst Bixio, who knew the town, went in search of a
carriage to take us to Montigny, Boulanger, Bessas-Lamégie, Viardot and
I set to work to turn over the two important pages of history embedded
in the little town, written four centuries ago. The position of the
bridge perfectly explained the scene of the assassination of the Duke
of Burgundy. Boulanger drew for me on the spot a rough sketch, which
served me later in my romance of _Isabeau de Bavière_, and in my legend
of the _Sire de Giac._ Then we went to see the sword of the terrible
duke, which hung in the crypt of the church. If one formed an idea of
the man by the sword one would be greatly deceived: imagine the ball
swords of Francis II. or of Henri III.! When we had visited the church
we had finished with the memories of 1417, and we passed on to those of
1814. We rapidly climbed the ascent of Surville, and found ourselves
on the plateau where Napoléon, once more an artilleryman, thundered,
with pieces of cannon directed by himself, against the Würtemburgers
fighting in the town. It was there that, in getting off his horse and
whipping his boot with his horse-whip, he uttered this remarkable
sentence, an appeal from Imperial doubt to Republican genius--

    "Come, Bonaparte, let us save Napoléon!"

Napoléon was victor, but was not saved: the modern Sisyphus had the
rock of the whole of Europe incessantly falling back upon him.

It was five o'clock. We had three long leagues of country to cover;
three leagues of country, no matter in what department, were it even in
that of Seine-et-Marne, always means five leagues of posting. Now, five
leagues of posting in a country stage-waggon is at least a four hours'
journey. We should only arrive at M. Dupont-Delporte's house, whom not
one of us knew, at nine or half-past nine at night. Was he a loving
enough father to forgive us such an invasion, planting ourselves on him
at unawares? Bixio replied that, with the son's letter, we were sure
to be made welcome by the father, no matter at what hour of the day or
night we knocked at his door.

We started in that belief, ourselves and our dogs all heaped together
in the famous stage-waggon in question, which very soon gave us a
sample of its powers by taking an hour and a quarter to drive the first
league. We were just entering upon the second when, in passing by a
field of lucerne, I was seized with the temptation to go into it with
the dog of one of my fellow-sportsmen. I do not know by what misfortune
I had not my own. My companions sang out to me that shooting had not
yet begun; but my sole reply was that that was but one reason more
for finding game there. And I added that, if I succeeded in killing a
brace of partridges or a hare, it would add some sauce to the supper
which M. Dupont-Delporte would be obliged to give us. This argument
won over my companions. The waggon was stopped; I took Viardot's dog
and entered the field of lucerne. If any sort of gamekeeper appeared,
the waggon was to proceed on its way, and I undertook to outdistance
the above-mentioned gamekeeper. Those who knew my style of walking had
no uneasiness on this score. The journey I made there and back from
Crépy to Paris, shooting by the way with my friend Paillet, will be
recalled to mind. Scarcely had I taken twenty steps in the field of
lucerne before a great leveret, three-quarters face, started under the
dog's nose. It goes without saying that that leveret was killed. As no
gamekeeper had appeared on the scene at the noise of my firing, I took
my leveret by its hind legs and quietly remounted the stage-waggon.
What a fine thing is success! Everybody congratulated me, even the most
timorous. Three-quarters of a league farther on was a second field of
lucerne. A fresh temptation, fresh argument, and fresh yielding. At the
very entrance into the field the dog came across game, and stopped,
pointing. A covey of a dozen or so of partridges started up; I fired
my first shot into the very middle of the covey: two fell, and a third
fell down at my second shot. This would make us a roast which, if not
quite sufficient, would at least be presentable. Again I climbed into
the coach in the midst of the cheering of the travellers. You will see
directly that these details, trivial as they may appear at the first
glance, are not without their importance. I had a good mind to continue
a hunt which seemed like becoming the parallel to the miraculous
draught of fishes; but night was falling, and compelled me to content
myself with my leveret and three partridges. We drove on for another
couple of hours, until we found ourselves opposite a perfectly black
mass. This was the château of M. Dupont-Delporte.

"Ah!" said the driver, "here we are."

"What, have we arrived?"

"Yes."

"Is this the château d'Esgligny?"

"That is the château d'Esgligny."

We looked at one another.

"But everybody is asleep," said Bessas.

"We will create a revolution," added Viardot.

"Messieurs," suggested Boulanger, "I think we should do well to sleep
in the carriage, and only present ourselves to-morrow morning."

"Why! M. Dupont-Delporte would never forgive us," said Bixio, and,
jumping down from the carriage, he resolutely advanced towards the door
and rang.

Meanwhile the driver, who was paid in advance, and who had shuddered
at Boulanger's suggestion of using his stage-waggon for a tent,
quietly turned his horse's head towards Montigny, and suddenly
departed at a trot which proved that his horse felt much relieved at
getting rid of his load. For a moment we thought of stopping him, but
before the debate that began upon this question was ended, driver,
horse and vehicle had disappeared in the darkness. Our boats were
burned behind us! The situation became all the more precarious in
that Bixio had rung, knocked, flung stones at the door, all in vain,
for nobody answered. A terrifying idea began to pass through our
minds: the château, instead of containing sleeping people, seemed to
contain nobody at all. This was a melancholy prospect for travellers
not one of whom knew the country, and all of whom had the appetites
of ship-wrecked men. Bixio ceased ringing, ceased knocking, ceased
throwing stones; the assault had lasted a quarter of an hour, and had
not produced any effect: it was evident that the château was deserted.
We put our heads together in council, and each advanced his own view.
Bixio persisted in his of entering, even if it meant scaling the walls;
he answered for M. Dupont-Delporte's approval of everything he did.

"Look here," I said to him, "will you take the responsibility on
yourself?"

"Entirely."

"Will you guarantee us, if not judicial impunity, at all events civil
absolution?"

"Yes."

"Very well; will somebody light a bit of paper to give me light?"

A smoker (alas! from about that period there were smokers to be found
everywhere) drew a match--box from his pocket, twisted up half a
newspaper, and lighted me with his improvised beacon. In a trice I
had pulled off the lock, by the help of my screw--driver. The door
opened by itself when the lock was off. We found ourselves inside the
park. Before going farther we thought we ought to put back the lock
in its place. Then, feeling our way through the tortuous walks, we
attained the main entrance. By chance the emigrants, probably counting
on the first door to be a sufficient obstacle, had not shut that of
the château. So we entered the château and wandered about among the
salons, bedrooms and kitchens. Everywhere we found traces of a hasty
departure, and that it had been incomplete owing to the haste with
which it had been undertaken. In the kitchen the turnspit was in
position, and there were two or three saucepans and a stove. In the
dining-room were a dozen chairs and a table; eighteen mattresses were
in the linen-room; and, in the cupboard of one room thirty pots of
jam! Each fresh discovery led to shouts of joy equal to those uttered
by Robinson Crusoe on his various visits to the wrecked vessel.
We had the wherewithal to cook a meal, to sit down and to sleep;
furthermore, there were thirty pots of jam for our dessert. It is
true we had nothing for our supper. But at that moment I drew my hare
and the partridges from my pocket, announcing that I was prepared to
skin the hare if the others would pluck the partridges. When hare and
partridges were skinned and plucked I undertook to put them all in the
spit. We only wanted bread. Here Boulanger came on the scene with a
shout of joy. In order to draw the view of the bridge of Montereau, or,
rather, in order to rub out the incorrect lines in his sketch, he had
sent an urchin to fetch some crumbly bread. The lad had brought him a
two-pound loaf. The loaf had been stuffed into someone or other's game
bag. We searched all the game bags, and the loaf of bread was found in
Bessas-Lamégie's bag. At this sight we all echoed Boulanger's shout of
joy. The two pounds of bread were placed under an honourable embargo;
but, for greater security, Bixio put in his pocket the key of the
sideboard in which the bread was enclosed. After this I began to skin
my hare, and my scullion-knaves began to pluck the partridges.

Bessas-Lamégie, who had announced that he had no culinary proclivities,
was sent with a lantern to find any available kind of fuel. He brought
back two logs, stating that the wood-house was abundantly stocked, and
that consequently we need not be afraid of making a good fire. The
hearth-place flamed with joy after this assurance. In a kitchen table
drawer we found a few old iron forks. We were not so particular as to
insist upon silver ones. The table was laid as daintily as possible. We
each had our knife, and, what was more, a flask full of wine or brandy
or kirsch. I, who drink but little wine and am not fond of either
brandy or kirsch, had gooseberry syrup. I was therefore the only one
who could not contribute to the general stock of beverages; but they
forgave me in virtue of the talents I showed as cook. They saw clearly
that I was a man of resource, and they praised my adroitness in killing
the game and my skill in roasting it. It was nearly one in the morning
when we lay down in our clothes on the mattresses. The Spartans took
only one mattress; the Sybarites took two. I was the first to wake,
when it was scarcely daylight. In the few moments that elapsed between
the extinction of the light and the coming of sleep I had reflected
about the future, and promised myself as soon as I waked to look
about for a village or hamlet where we could supply ourselves with
provisions. Therefore, like Lady Malbrouck, I climbed up as high as I
could get, not, however, to a tower, but to the attics. A belfry tower
was just visible in the distance, through the trees, probably belonging
to the village of Montigny. The distance at which it was situated
inspired me with extremely sad reflections, but just then, dropping my
eyes, melancholy-wise towards the earth, I saw a fowl picking about in
a pathway; then, in another path, another fowl; then a duck dabbling
in a kind of pond. It was evident that this was the rear-guard of a
poultry yard which had escaped death by some intelligent subterfuge.
I went downstairs into the kitchen, got my gun, put two charges of
cartridges in my pocket, and ran out into the garden. Three shots gave
me possession of the duck and fowls, and we had food for breakfast.
Furthermore, we would dispatch two of our party to a village for
eggs and bread, wine and butter. At the sound of my three shots the
windows opened, and I saw a row of heads appear which looked like
so many notes of interrogation. I showed my two fowls in one hand
and my duck in the other. The result was immediate. At the sight of
my simple gesture shouts of admiration rose from the spectators. At
supper the night before, we had had roast meats; at breakfast, we were
going to have both roast and stew. I thought I would stew the duck
with turnips, as it seemed of a ripe age. Enthusiasm produces great
devotion: when I suggested drawing lots as to who should go to the
village of Montigny to find butter, eggs, bread and wine, two men of
goodwill volunteered from the ranks. These were Boulanger and Bixio,
who, not being either shooters or cooks, desired to make themselves
useful to society according to their limited means. Their services
were accepted; an old basket was discovered, the bottom of which was
made strong with twine! Bixio set the example of humility by taking
the empty basket,--Boulanger undertook to carry back the full basket.
I set the rest of my people to work to pluck the fowls and the duck,
and I undertook a voyage of discovery. It was impossible that a château
so well provisioned, even in the absence of its owners, should not
include among its appurtenances an orchard and a kitchen-garden. It was
necessary to discover both. I was without a compass, but, by the aid of
the rising sun, I could make out the south from the north. Therefore
the orchard and the kitchen-garden would, naturally, be situated to
the south of the park. When I had gone about a hundred yards I was
walking about among quantities of fruit and vegetables. I had but to
make my choice. Carrots and turnips and salads for vegetables--pears,
apples, currants for fruit. I returned loaded with a double harvest.
Bessas-Lamégie, who saw me coming from afar, took me for Vertumnus, the
god of gardens. Ten minutes later the god of gardens had made room for
the god of cooking. An apron found by Viardot round my body, a paper
cap constructed by Bessas on my head, I looked like Cornus or Vatel. I
possessed a great advantage over the latter in that, not expecting any
fish, I did not inflict on myself the punishment of severing my carotid
artery because the fishmonger was late. To conclude, my scullion lads
had not lost anytime; the fowls and the duck were plucked, and a
brazier of Homeric proportions blazed in the fireplace.

Suddenly, just at the moment when I was spitting my two fowls, loud
cries were heard in the courtyard, then in the ante-chamber, then on the
stairs, and a furious old woman, bonnet-less and thoroughly scared, ran
into the kitchen. It was Mother Galop.



CHAPTER III


    Who Mother Galop was--Why M. Dupont-Delporte was absent--How
    I quarrelled with Viardot--Rabelais's quarter of an
    hour--Providence No. 1.--The punishment of Tantalus--A
    waiter who had not read Socrates--Providence No. 2--A
    breakfast for four--Return to Paris


Mother Galop was M. Dupont-Delporte's kitchen-maid; she was specially
employed to go errands between the château and the village, and they
called her Mother Galop because of the proverbial rapidity with which
she accomplished this kind of commission. I never knew her other name,
and never had the curiosity to inquire what it was. Mother Galop had
seen a column of smoke coming out of the chimney in comparison with
which the column that led the children of Israel in the desert was
but as a vapour, and she had come at a run, never doubting that her
master's château was invaded by a band of incendiaries. Great was her
astonishment when she saw a cook and two or three kitchen-lads spitting
and plucking chickens. She naturally asked us who we were and what we
were doing in _her kitchen._ We replied that M. Dupont-Delporte's son,
being on the eve of marrying, and intending to celebrate his nuptials
at the château, had sent us on in advance to take possession of the
culinary departments. She could believe what she liked of the story; my
opinion is that she did not believe very much of it; but what did that
matter to us? She was not able to prevent us; we could, indeed, have
shown her Dupont-Delporte's letter, but two reasons prevented us from
doing so. In the first place, because Bixio had it in his pocket and
had carried it off to the market; secondly, because Mother Galop did
not know how to read! We in our turn interrogated Mother Galop, with
all the tact of which we were capable, concerning the absence of all
the family, and the desertion of the château.

M. Dupont-Delporte, senior, had been appointed préfet of
Seine-Inférieure, and he had moved house rapidly a week ago, leaving
his château and what remained therein under the surveillance of
Mother Galop. As has been seen, Mother Galop fulfilled her orders
scrupulously. The arrival of Mother Galop had its good side as well
as its bad: it was a censorship; but, at the same time, it meant a
housekeeper for us. The upshot of it was that, in consideration of
a five-franc piece which was generously granted her by myself, we
had both plates and serviettes at our dejeuner. Bixio and Boulanger
arrived as the fowls were accomplishing their final turn on the spit,
and as Mother Galop was serving up the stewed duck. An omelette of
twenty-four eggs completed the meal. Then, admirably fortified, we set
off on our shooting expedition. We had not fired four shots before
we saw the gamekeeper running up in hot haste. This was just what we
hoped would happen; he could read: he accepted our sub-lieutenant's
letter as bona-fide, undertook to take us all over the estate, and to
reassure Mother Galop, whom our metamorphoses from cooks to sportsmen
had inspired with various fresh fears in addition to those which had
troubled her at first, and which had never been entirely allayed. A
sportsman minus a dog (it will be recollected that this was my social
position) is a very disagreeable being, seeing that, if he wants to
kill anything, he must be a Pollux or a Pylades or a Pythias to some
shooter who has a dog. I began by giving the dubious advantage of my
proximity to Bessas-Lamégie, the shooting companion with whom I was the
most intimately connected. Unluckily, Bessas had a new dog which was
making its first début, and which was in its first season. Generally,
dogs--ordinary ones at least--hunt with their noses down and their
tails in the air. Bessas's dog had adopted the opposite system. The
result was that he looked as though he had come from between the legs
of a riding-master, and not from the hands of a keeper; to such an
extent that, at the end of an hour's time, I advised Bessas to saddle
his dog or harness him, but not to shoot with him any more. Viardot,
on the other hand, had a delightful little bitch who pointed under the
muzzle of the gun, standing like a stock and returning at the first
call of the whistle. I abandoned Bessas and began to play with Viardot,
whom I knew least, the scene between Don Juan and M. Dimanche! In the
very middle of the scene a covey of partridges started up. Viardot
fired two shots after them and killed one. I did the same; only, I
killed two. We continued to shoot and to kill in this proportion. But
soon I made a mistake. A hare started in front of Viardot's dog. I
ought to have given him time to fire his two shots, and not to have
fired until he had missed. I drew first and the hare rolled over before
Viardot had had time to put his gun to his shoulder. Viardot looked
askance at me; and with good reason. We entered a field of clover.
I fired my two shots at a couple of partridges, both of which fell
disabled. The services of a dog were absolutely necessary. I called
Viardot's; but Viardot also called her, and Diane, like a well-trained
animal, followed her master and took no notice of me and my two
partridges. No one is so ready to risk his soul being sent to perdition
as a sportsman who loses a head of game: with still greater reason
when he loses two. I called the dog belonging to Bessas-Lamégie, and
Romeo came; that was his name, and no doubt it was given him because
he held his head up, searching for his Juliet on every balcony. Romeo
then came, pawed, pranced about and jumped, but did not deign for an
instant to trouble himself about my two partridges. I swore by all the
saints of Paradise,--my two partridges were lost, and I had fallen
out with Viardot! Viardot, indeed, left us next day, pretending he
had an appointment to keep in Paris which he had forgotten. I have
never had the chance of making it up with him since that day, and
twenty years have now passed by. Therefore, as he is a charming person
with whom I do not wish any longer to remain estranged, I here tender
him my very humble apologies and my very sincere regards. Next day
it was Bessas who left us. He had no need to search for an excuse;
his dog provided him with a most plausible one. I again advised him
to have Romeo trained for the next steeple-chase, and to bet on him
at Croix-de-Berny, but to renounce working him as a shooting dog. I
do not know if he took my advice. I remained the only shooter, and
consequently the only purveyor to the party, which did me the justice
to say that, if they ran any risk of dying of hunger, it would not be
at the château d'Esgligny. But it was at Montereau that this misfortune
nearly happened to us all. We had settled up our accounts with Mother
Galop; we had liquidated our debt with the gamekeeper; we had paid
the peasants the thousand and one contributions which they levy on
the innocent sportsman, for a dog having crossed a potato field, or
for a hare which has spoiled a patch of beetroot; we had returned
to Montereau: here we had supped abundantly; finally, we had slept
soundly in excellent beds, when, next day, in making up our accounts,
we perceived that we were fifteen francs short, even if the waiter was
not tipped, to be even with our host. Great was our consternation when
this deficit was realised. Not one of us had a watch, or possessed the
smallest pin, or could lay hands on the most ordinary bit of jewellery.
We gazed at one another dumbfounded; each of us knew well that he had
come to the end of his own resources, but he had reckoned upon his
neighbour. The waiter came to bring us the bill, and wandered about
the room expecting his money. We withdrew to the balcony as though to
take the air. We were stopping at the _Grand Monarque!_--a magnificent
sign-board represented a huge red head surmounted by a turban. We had
not even the chance, seized by Gérard, at Montmorency, of proposing
to our host to paint a sign for him! I was on the point of frankly
confessing our embarrassment to the hotel-keeper, and of offering
him my rifle as a deposit, when Bixio, whose eyes were mechanically
scanning the opposite house, uttered a cry. He had just read these
words, above three hoops from which dangled wooden candles--

                      CARRÉ, DEALER IN GROCERIES

In desperate situations everything may be of importance. We crowded
round Bixio, asking him what was the matter with him.

"Listen," he said, "I do not wish to raise false hopes; but I was at
school with a Carré who came from Montereau. If, by good fortune, the
Carré of that sign happens to be the same as my Carré, I shall not
hesitate to ask him to lend me the fifteen francs we need."

"Whilst you are about it," I said to Bixio, "ask him for thirty."

"Why thirty?"

"I presume--you have not reckoned that we must go on foot?"

"Ah! good gracious! that is true! Here goes for thirty, then!
Gentlemen, pray that he may be my Carré; I will go and see."

Bixio went downstairs, and we stayed behind upon the balcony, full
of anxiety; the waiter still hanging round. Bixio went out of the
hotel, passed two or three times up and down in front of the shop
unostentatiously; then, suddenly, he rushed into it! And, through the
transparent window-panes, we saw him clasp a fat youth in his arms, who
wore a round jacket and an otter-skin cap. The sight was so touching
that tears came into our eyes. Then we saw no more; the two old
school-fellows disappeared into the back of the shop. Ten minutes later
both came out of the shop, crossed the street and entered the hotel. It
was evident that Bixio had succeeded in his borrowing; otherwise, had
he been refused, we presumed that the Rothschild of Montereau would not
have had the face to show himself. We were not mistaken.

"Gentlemen," said Bixio, entering, "let me introduce to you M. Carré,
my school friend, who not only is so kind as to get us out of our
difficulty by lending us thirty francs, but also invites us to take a
glass of cognac or of curaçao at his house, according to your several
tastes."

The school friend was greeted enthusiastically. Boulanger, whom we
had elected our banker, who for half an hour enjoyed a sinecure,
settled accounts with the waiter, generously giving him fifty centimes
for himself, and put fourteen francs ten sous into his pocket in
reserve for the boat. Then we hurried down the steps, extremely happy
at having extricated ourselves even more cleverly than M. Alexandre
Duval's _Henri V._ The service which we had just received from our
friend Carré--he had asked for our friendship, and we had hastened
to respond--did not prevent us from doing justice to his cognac, his
black-currant cordial and his curaçao; they were excellent. In fact,
we took two glasses of each liqueur to make sure that it was of good
quality. Then, as time was pressing, we said to our new friend, in the
phrase made famous by King Dagobert: "The best of friends must part,"
and we expressed our desire to go to the boat. Carré wished to do us
the honours of his natal town to the last, and offered to accompany
us. We accepted. It was a good thing we did. We had been misinformed
about the fares of places in the boat: we wanted nine francs more to
complete the necessary sum for going by water. Carré drew ten francs
from his pocket with a lordly air, and gave them to Bixio. Our debt had
attained the maximum of forty francs. There remained then twenty sous
for our meals on board the boat. It was a modest sum; but still, with
twenty sous between four people, we should not die of hunger. Besides,
was not Providence still over us? Might not one of us also come across
his Carré? Expectant of this fresh manifestation of Providence, we each
pressed Bixio's friend in our arms, and we passed from the quay to the
boat. It was just time; the bell was ringing for departure, and the
boat was beginning to move. Our adieux lasted as long as we could see
each other. Carré flourished his otter-skin cap, while we waved our
handkerchiefs. There is nothing like a new friendship for tenderness!
At length the moment came when, prominent objects though Carré and his
cap had been, both disappeared on the horizon.

We then began our examination of the boat; but after taking stock of
each passenger we were obliged to recognise, for the time being at any
rate, that Providence had failed us. That certainty led to all the
greater sadness among us, as each stomach, roused by the exhilarating
morning air, began to clamour for food. We heard all round us, as
though in mockery of our wretchedness, a score of voices shouting--

"Waiter! two cutlets!... Waiter! a beefsteak!... Waiter! _un thé
complet!_"

The waiters ran about bringing the desired comestibles, and calling out
in their turn as they passed by us--

"Do not you gentlemen require anything? No lunch? You are the only
gentlemen who have not asked for something!"

At last I replied impatiently: "No; we are waiting for some one who
should join us at the landing-stage of Fontainebleau." Then, turning to
my companions in hunger, I said to them--

"Upon my word, gentlemen, he who sleeps dines; now, the greater
includes the less, so I am going to take my lunch sleeping."

I settled myself in a corner. I had even then the faculty which I have
since largely perfected, I can sleep pretty nearly when I like. Hardly
was I resting on my elbow before I was asleep. I do not know how long
I had been given up to the deceptive illusion of sleep before a waiter
came up to me and repeated three times in an ascending scale--

"Monsieur! monsieur!! monsieur!!!"

I woke up.

"What is it?" I said to him.

"Monsieur said that he and his friends would breakfast with a person he
expected at the landing-place at Fontainebleau."

"Did I say that?"

"Monsieur said so."

"You are sure?"

"Yes."

"Well?"

"Well then, it; is time monsieur ordered his lunch, seeing that we are
approaching Fontainebleau."

"Already?"

"Ah! monsieur has slept a long time!"

"You might have left me to sleep still longer."

"But monsieur's friend ..."

"Monsieur's friend would have found him if he came."

"But is not monsieur sure, then, of meeting his friend?"

"Waiter, when you have read Socrates you will know how rare a friend
is, and, consequently, how little certainty there is of meeting one!"

"But monsieur can still order lunch for three; if monsieur's friend
comes, another cover can be added."

"You say we are nearing Fontainebleau?" I replied, eluding the question.

"In five minutes we shall be opposite the landing-stage."

"Then I will go and see if my friend is coming."

I went up on the deck, and mechanically glanced towards the
landing-stage. We were still too far off to distinguish anything;
but, assisted by tide and steam, the boat rapidly advanced. Gradually
individuals grouped on the bank could be separately distinguished.
Then outlines could be more clearly seen, then the colour of their
clothes, and, finally, their features. My gaze was fastened, almost in
spite of myself, upon an individual who was waiting in the middle of
ten other persons, and whom I believed I recognised. But it was most
unlikely!... However, it was very like him, ... if it were he, what
luck.... No, it seemed impossible.... Nevertheless, it was, indeed, his
shape and figure and physiognomy. The boat approached nearer still.
The individual who was the object of my attention got into the boat to
come on board the steamer, which stopped to take up passengers. When
half-way to the steamer the individual recognised me and waved his hand
to me.

"Is that you?" I shouted.

"Yes, it is I," he replied.

I had found my Carré, only his name was Félix Deviolaine; and, instead
of being just an ordinary school-fellow, he was my cousin. I ran to the
ladder and flung myself into his arms with as much effusion as Bixio
had into Carré's.

"Are you alone?" he asked me.

"No; I am with Bixio and Boulanger."

"Have you lunched?"

"No."

"Well, shall I have lunch with you?"

"Say, rather, may we have lunch with you?"

"It is the same thing."

"Nothing of the kind."

I explained the difference between his lunching with us and we with
him. He understood perfectly. The waiter stood by, serviette in hand;
the amusing fellow had followed me as a shark follows a starving ship.

"Lunch for four!" I said, and, provided that it includes two bottles
of burgundy, eight cutlets, a fowl and a salad, you can then add what
you like in the way of hors-d'œuvre and entremets. Lunch lasted until
we reached Melun. At four that afternoon we landed at the quay of the
Hôtel de Ville, and next day I resumed my rehearsals of _Charles VII._



CHAPTER IV


    _Le Masque de fer_--Georges' suppers--The garden
    of the Luxembourg by moonlight--M. Scribe and
    the _Clerc de la Basoche_--M. d'Épagny and _Le
    Clerc et le Théologien_--Classical performances
    at the Théâtre-Français--_Les Guelfes_, by M.
    Arnault---Parenthesis--Dedicatory epistle to the prompter


In those days nothing had yet tarnished the spirit of that juvenile
love of the capital which had induced me to overcome many obstacles
in order to transport myself thither. Three or four days spent away
from the literary and political whirlpool of Paris seemed to me a long
absence. During the month I had stayed at Trouville I felt as though
the world had stood still. I took but the time to fly home to change
my shooting dress,--as regards the game, my travelling companions had
seen to that,--to make inquiries about things that might have happened
affecting myself, and then I went to the Odéon. It took me a good
half-hour's fast walking, and an hour in a fly, to go from my rue
Saint-Lazare to the Odéon Theatre. Railways were not in existence then,
or I might have followed the method pursued by a friend of mine who
had an uncle living at the barrière du Maine. When he went to see his
uncle--and this happened twice a week, Thursdays and Sundays--he took
the railway on the right bank and arrived by the railway on the left
bank. He only had Versailles to cross through, and there he was at his
uncle's house!

They had rehearsed conscientiously, but the rehearsals had not been
hurried at all. The last piece to be performed was the _Masque de
fer_, by MM. Arnault and Fournier. Lockroy had been magnificent in
it, and although the play was acted _without Georges_ it brought in
money. I say, although it was played _without Georges_, because it
was a superstition at the Odéon, a superstition accredited by Harel,
that no piece paid if Georges was not acting in it. Ligier, a most
conscientious actor, though almost always compelled to struggle against
the drawback of being too small in figure and having too coarse a
voice, had been a genuine success in his part, greater than I can
remember any actor to have had in a rôle created by himself. What a
capital company the Odéon was at that period! Count up on your fingers
those I am about to name, and you will find six or eight players
of the first rank: Frédérick-Lemaître, Ligier, Lockroy, Duparay,
Stockleit, Vizentini, Mademoiselle Georges, Madame Moreau-Sainti
who was privileged always to remain beautiful, and Mlle. Noblet who
unfortunately was not equally privileged to remain for ever virtuous.
Mlle. Noblet, poor woman, who had just played Paula for me, and who was
about to play Jenny; Mlle. Noblet, whose great dark eyes and beautiful
voice and melancholy face gave birth to hopes which now are so utterly
quenched at the Théâtre-Français that, although she is still young,
people have not known for the past ten years whether she, who was so
full of promise, is still alive or dead!

Why were these eclipses of talent so frequent at the theatre of
Richelieu? This is a question which we will examine on the first
suitable opportunity that presents itself. Let Bressant, who has played
the Prince of Wales admirably for me in _Kean_ during the past fifteen
or sixteen years, look to his laurels and cling tight to his new
repertory, or probably he will be lost sight of like the others.

I stayed behind to supper with Georges. I have already said how very
charming her supper-parties were,--very unlike those of Mlle. Mars,
although often both were attended by the same people. But, in this
case, the guests in general took their cue from the mistress of the
house. Mademoiselle Mars was always a little stiff and somewhat formal,
and she seemed as though she were putting her hand over the mouths of
even her most intimate friends, not letting them give vent to their
wit beyond a certain point. While Georges, a thoroughly good sort
beneath her imperial airs, allowed every kind of wit, and laughed
unrestrainedly, Mlle. Mars, on the other hand, for the greater part
of the time, only smiled half-heartedly. Then, how scatter-brained,
extravagant, abandoned we were at Georges' suppers! How evident it
was seen that all the convivial spirits--Harel, Janin, Lockroy--did
not know how to contain themselves! When Becquet, who was a leading
light at Mlle. Mars', adventured into our midst at Mlle. Georges', he
passed into the condition of a mere looker-on. And the type of mind
was entirely different--Harel's, caustic and retaliating; Janin's,
good-natured and merry; Lockroy's, refined and aristocratic. Poor
Becquet! one was obliged to wake him up, to prick him and to spur
him. He reminded one of a respectable drunkard asleep in the midst of
fireworks. Then, after these suppers, which lasted till one or two
in the morning, we went into the garden. The garden had a door in it
leading out on the Luxembourg and the Chamber of Peers, the key of
which Cambacérès lent Harel on the strength of his having once been his
secretary. The result was that we had a royal park for the discussion
of our dessert. Gardens of classical architecture, like Versailles,
the Tuileries and the Luxembourg are very fine seen by night and by
the light of the moon. Each statue looks like a phantom; each fountain
of water a cascade of diamonds. Oh! those nights of 1829 and 1830 and
1831! Were they really as glorious as I think them? Or was it because I
was only twenty-seven or twenty-eight years of age that made them seem
so fragrant, so peaceful and so full of stars?...

But to return. The Théâtre-Français, to our great joy, continued,
by its failures, to afford a melancholy contrast to the success of
its confrères of the boulevards and the outre-Seine. They had just
played a five-act piece entitled the _Clerc et le Théologien_, which
had simply taken as its subject the death of Henri III., a subject
treated with much talent by Vitet in his _Scènes historiques._ Those
who have forgotten the _États de Blois_ and the _Mort d'Henri III._ can
re-read the two works, that have had a great influence on the literary
renascence of 1830, which, according to the amiable M. P---- has yet
to produce its fruit. M. P---- is a gentleman whom I propose to take by
the collar and give a thorough good shaking, when I happen to have eau
de Cologne on my handkerchief and gloves on my hands.

A strange incident preceded the performance of the _Clerc et le
Théologien._ The play, written in collaboration by MM. Scribe and
d'Épagny, and accepted by the Odéon Theatre, had been stopped by the
censor of 1830. Good old Censorship! It is the same in all ages! There
indeed come moments when it cuts its fingers with its own scissors;
but censors are a race of polypii,--their fingers merely grow again.
The censor had, then, stopped MM. Scribe and d'Épagny's drama. The
vessel which bore their twofold banner, upon which the Minister of the
Interior had put his embargo by the medium of his custom officers, was
at anchor in the docks of the rue de Grenelle. The Revolution of 1830
set it afloat again.

We have said that Harel received the work in 1829. Becoming possessed
of his own work again by the events of the revolution of July, Scribe
thought no more of Harel and took his play to the Théâtre-Français. But
Scribe, who usually reckoned carefully, had this time reckoned without
Harel. Harel had far too good a memory to forget Scribe. He pursued
author and play, writ in hand and a sheriff's officer behind him. It
need hardly be said that the officer stopped both the play and the
author just when they were turning the corner of the rue de Richelieu.
Sheriff's officers are very fast runners! A law-suit ensued, and Harel
lost. But the trial inspired Scribe's imagination; in that twofold
insistence of the Théâtre-Français and the Théâtre-Odéon he saw a means
of killing two birds with one stone and of making one play into two.
In this way M. Scribe would have his drama, M. d'Épagny his drama;
the Théâtre-Français its drama, and the Odéon its drama. The play,
consequently, was reduplicated like a photograph: the Théâtre-Français,
which was down on its luck, came in for the _Clerc et le Théologien_
by M. d'Épagny; Harel drew Scribe aside by his coat-tails just as the
_Clerc de la Basoche_ and he were entering, _à reculons_, on the second
French stage. It is to be understood that I use this rather ambitious
locution, the _seconde scène française_, to avoid putting _Odéon_ so
close to _reculons._ Both the dramas were failures, or pretty nearly
so. I did not see either of them, and I shall therefore take good care
to refrain from expressing my opinion upon them.

But our true fête days--I hope I may be forgiven for this harmless
digression--were when it was the turn of one of the gentlemen from the
Institute--Lemercier, Viennet or Arnault--to produce a work. Then there
was general hilarity. We would all arrange to meet in the orchestra of
the Théâtre-Français to be present at the spectacle of a work falling
flat, sometimes with very little assistance, at others gently aided
in its fall by a bitter blast of hisses; a spectacle sad enough for
the author's friends, but very exhilarating to his enemies, and the
gentlemen above mentioned had treated us as enemies.

M. Arnault was the cleverest of the three authors I have just named, a
man, as I have said elsewhere, of immense worth and eminent intellect.
But everyone has his own hobby-horse, as Tristram Shandy says, and
M. Arnault's hobby-horse was tragedy. But his hobby was roaring,
broken-winded, foundered, to such an extent that, in spite of its legs
being fired by the _Constitutionnel_, it could rarely get to the last
line of a fifth act!

We asked that these gentlemen's pieces should be played with as much
fervour as they employed in stating that ours should not. They, on
their side, clamoured loudly to be played, and, as they had the
government to back them up, specially since the July Revolution, their
turn to be represented arrived, in spite of the timid opposition of the
Théâtre-Français, in spite, too, of sighs from members of the staff and
the groans of the cashier. True, the torture did not last long; it was
generally restricted to the three customary performances, even if it
attained to three. Often the first performance was not ended; witness
_Pertinax_ and _Arbogaste._ It was very strange, in this case, to see
the excuses which these gentlemen made up for their failure. Those
made by M. Arnault were delightful, since nobody could possibly have
a readier wit than he. For instance, he had made the Théâtre-Français
take up again an old piece of his, played, I believe, under the Empire
the _Proscrit_, or _les Guelfes et les Gibelins._ The piece fell flat.
Who did the furious Academician blame for it?--Firmin! Why Firmin?
Firmin, delightful, enthusiastic and conscientious player, who enjoyed
much lasting favour from the public, although his memory began to fail
him,--Firmin played the part of Tébaldo, head of the Ghibellines and
brother of Uberti, head of the Guelfs, in the play. The other parts
were played by Ligier, Joanny and Duchesnois. So, we see, M. Arnault
had nothing to grumble at: the Comédie-Française had lent him of its
best; perhaps it had a conviction it would not be for long. Very well,
M. Arnault made Firmin's memory, or, rather, want of memory, the excuse
for this failure, and he dedicated his play to the prompter. We have
this curious dedication before us, and are going to quote it; it will,
we hope, have for our readers at least the attraction of a hitherto
unpublished fragment. This time we are not afraid of being mistaken in
the name of the author _du factum_ as not long since happened to us
concerning an article in the _Constitutionnel_ reproduced by us, which,
by a copyist's error, we ascribed to M. Étienne, whilst it was only by
M. Jay.[1]

And, by the way, as a relation of M. Étienne, a son-in-law or rather,
I think, it was a nephew,--protested in the papers, let me be allowed
a word of explanation, which will completely re-establish my good
faith. I live part of my life in Brussels, part in Paris; the rest
of the time I live in the railway between Brussels and Paris, or
Paris and Brussels. Besides, I have already said that I am writing my
Memoirs without notes. The consequence is that, when I am in Paris,
I have my information close at hand; but when I am in Brussels I am
obliged to have it sent from Paris. Now, I needed the article that
had been published against _Antony_ the very morning of the day it
was to have been played at the Théâtre-Français. I wrote to Viellot,
my secretary--a delightful fellow who never thought of spreading the
report that he was any collaborator,--to unearth the _Constitutionnel_
from the catacombs of 1834, to copy out for me the above-mentioned
article and to send it me. Viellot went to the Bibliothèque, that great
common grave where journals of all sorts of parties and colours and
times are entered. He borrowed the file from the rag-merchant of Pyat
who was taking it away, and who, when he learnt what was wanted, would
not let it off his hook for love or money until he was told that it was
in order to do me a service; then he lent it, and Viellot picked off
from its curved point the _Constitutionnel_ for 28 April 1834. Then
he returned home and copied out the article. Only, in copying it I do
not know what hallucination he was possessed with, whether the style
flew to his head, or the wit got into his brain, or the form upset his
senses, anyhow, he imagined that the article was by M. Étienne, and
signed it with the name of the author of _Brueys et Palaprat_ and of
the _Deux Gendres._ I, seeing the copy of the article, believed,--I
was at a distance of seventy leagues from the scene of action, as they
say poetically in politics,--the signature to be as authentic as the
rest; I therefore fell upon the unfortunate article, and rent it in
pieces--I was going to say tooth and nail, but no, I am too cautious
for that!--with might and main, both article and signature. My error,
though involuntary, was none the less an error on that account, and
deserved that I should acknowledge it publicly. Thereupon, reparation
be made to M. Étienne, and homage paid to M. Jay! Honour to whom honour
is due!

Let us return to M. Arnault and his dedication, which, I remember, at
the time made my poor Firmin so unhappy that he wept over it like a
child!

    "DEDICATORY EPISTLE

    TO THE PROMPTER OF THE THÉÂTRE-FRANÇAIS[2]

    "MONSIEUR,--Authors are by no means all ungrateful beings.
    I know some who have paid homage for their success to the
    player to whom they were particularly indebted. I imitate
    this noble example: I dedicate the _Guelfes_ to you.
    Mademoiselle Duchesnois, M. Joanny, M. Ligier have, without
    doubt, contributed to the success of that work by a zeal as
    great as their talent; but whatever they may have done for
    me, have they done as much as you, monsieur?

    "'_To prompt is not to play_,' M. Firmin will say, who is
    even stronger at the game of draughts than at the game of
    acting.[3] To that I reply with Sganarelle: 'Yes and no!'
    When the prompter merely gives the word to the actor, when
    he only jogs the memory of the player, no, certainly, _to
    prompt is not to play!_ But when the player takes everything
    from the prompter, everything from the first to the last
    line of his part; when your voice covers his; when it is
    yours alone which is heard whilst he gesticulates, certainly
    this is _playing through the prompter!_ Is it not this,
    monsieur, which has happened, not only at the first, but
    even at every performance of the _Guelfes?_ Is it not you
    who really played M. Firmin's part?

    "'His memory,' he says, 'is of the worst.' It is
    conceivable, according to the system which places the seat
    of memory in the head.[4] But, under the circumstances,
    does not M. Firmin blame his memory for the infirmity of
    his will? And why, you will say to me, is M. Firmin wanting
    in kindly feeling towards you, who feel kindly disposed to
    everybody? Towards you, who, from your age, perhaps also
    from your misfortunes, if not on account of past successes,
    had a right at least to that consideration which is not
    refused to the scholar who makes his first appearance? Such
    are indeed the rights which I knew M. Firmin's good nature
    would accord you, rights which I thought to strengthen
    in him by offering one of the most important parts in my
    tragedy, the part that you have prompted, or that you
    have played: it is a case of six of one and a half-dozen
    of another. I was, indeed, far from suspecting that the
    honour done to M. Firmin's talent was an insult to his
    expectations. Yet that is what has happened.

    "The succession to Talma was open for competition. When
    the empire of the world came to be vacant, all who laid
    claim to the empire of Alexander were not heroes: I ought
    to have remembered this; but does one always profit by the
    lessons of history? I did not imagine that the heir to the
    dramatic Alexander would be the one among his survivors who
    least resembled him. Nature had shown great prodigality
    towards Talma. His physical gifts corresponded with his
    moral endowments, a glowing soul dwelt in his graceful body;
    a vast intellect animated that noble head; his powerful
    voice, with its pathetic and solemn intonation, served as
    the medium for his inexhaustible sensitiveness, for his
    indefatigable energy. Talma possesses everything nature
    could bestow; besides all that art could acquire. Although
    M. Firmin has eminent gifts, does he combine in himself all
    perfections? His somewhat slender personal appearance does
    not ill-become all youthful parts, but does it accord with
    the dignity required by parts of leading importance? His
    voice is not devoid of charm in the expression of sentiments
    of affection; but has it the strength requisite for serious
    moods and violent emotions? His intellect is not wanting
    in breadth; but do his methods of execution expand to that
    breadth when he wants to exceed the limits with which nature
    has circumscribed him? The pride of the eagle may be found
    in the heart of a pigeon, and the courage of a lion in that
    of a poodle. But, by whatever sentiment it is animated, the
    rock-pigeon can only coo, the cur can but howl. Now, these
    accents have not at all the same authority as the cry of
    the king of the air, or the roar of the king of the forests.

    "After these sage reflections, distributing the part of my
    tragedy to the actors who have abilities that are the most
    in keeping with the characters of those parts, I gave that
    of Uberti to M. Ligier, an actor gifted with an imposing
    figure and voice, and I reserved the part of the tender
    impassioned Tébaldo for M. Firmin. What the deuce possessed
    me? Just as every Englishman says whenever he comes across
    salt water, '_This belongs to us!_' so does M. Firmin say
    whenever he comes across a part made for the physiognomy
    of Talma, _This belongs to me_![5] The part of Uberti was
    intended for Talma, and I did not offer it to M. Firmin!
    The part of Uberti was claimed by M. Firmin, and I did not
    take it from M. Ligier! A twofold crime of _lèse-majesté._
    Alas! How the majesty of M. Firmin has punished me for
    it! He accepted the rôle that I offered him. Knowing the
    secrets of the Comédie, you know, monsieur, what has been
    the result of that act of complacency. Put into study in
    April, _Les Guelfes_ might have been produced in May, under
    the propitious influence of spring; it was only performed in
    July, during the heat of the dog-days. Thus had M. Firmin
    decided. Oh! the power of the force of inertia! When several
    ships sail in company, the common pace is regulated by that
    of the poorest sailer. The common pace in this case was
    regulated by the memory of M. Firmin, which unfortunately
    was regulated by his good will. Now, this good will thought
    fit to compromise the interests of my reputation. But
    everything has to be paid for. At what point, monsieur, did
    it not serve the interests of your fame? All the newspapers
    kept faithful to it. Did it not exhume you from the pit,
    where hitherto you had buried your capacities, and reveal
    them to the public? Did it not, when raising you to the
    level of the actors behind whom you had hitherto been
    hidden, give them a mouthpiece in you?

    "Declaiming, whilst M. Firmin gesticulated, you have,
    it is true, transferred from the boulevards to the
    Théâtre-Français an imitation of that singular combination
    of a declamatory orator who does not let himself be seen,
    and a gesticulator who does not let himself be heard,
    co-operate in the execution of the same part. People of
    scrupulous taste are, it is true, offended by it; but what
    matters that to you? It is not you, monsieur, who, in these
    scenes, play the buffoon: and what does it matter to me,
    since, acting thus, you have saved my play? Moreover, is it
    the first borrowing, and the least honourable borrowing,
    that your noble theatre has made from those of the
    boulevards?[6]

    "Thanks to that admirable agreement, the _Guelfes_ has had
    several representations. But why has not the run, suspended
    by a journey taken by Mademoiselle Duchesnois, been resumed
    upon her return, as that great actress requested it should
    be, and as the play-bills announced.[7]

    "M. Firmin refused to proceed. The part of Tébaldo, he says,
    has slipped out of his memory. For that matter, it might as
    well never have entered it. But, after all, what is it to
    you or to me whether he knows his part or not? Can he not
    make the same shift in the future as he has in the past?
    Need his memory fail him so long as you do not fail him? Is
    his memory not at the tip of your tongue, which, one knows,
    is by no means paralysed? But do not these difficulties,
    monsieur, that are said to come from M. Firmin, come from
    yourself? Accustomed to working underground, was it not
    you who stirred them up in secret? You have not the entire
    part, like M. Firmin; paid for prompting when you take the
    part of an actor, and of a principal actor, did you not get
    tired, at the last, of becoming out of breath for glory
    alone, and did you not behind the scenes oppose the revival
    of a play during the performance of which you had not time
    to breathe? Justice, monsieur, justice! No doubt M. Firmin
    owes you an indemnity: claim it, but do not compromise the
    interests of the Théâtre-Français by impeding his services
    in preventing him from doing justice to an author's rights;
    that may lead to consequences, remember: the number of
    authors dissatisfied with him on just grounds is already
    but too great; be careful not to increase it. The second
    Théâtre-Français, although people are doing their best to
    kill it, is not yet dead. Would it be impossible to put it
    on its feet again? Will not the players who have been drawn
    off to block the first theatre (which pays them less for
    playing at it than for not playing any part at all) grow
    tired in the end of a state of things which reduces them
    from the status of parish priests to that of curates, or,
    rather, from being the bishops they were degrades them to
    the rank of millers? In conclusion, is there not a nucleus
    of a tragedy-playing company still left at the Odéon? And
    are there no pupils at the school of oratory who could swell
    the number?

    "Think of it, monsieur, the tragedy which they seem to wish
    to stifle in the rue de Richelieu might find a home in the
    faubourg Saint-Germain, which was its cradle and that also
    of the Théâtre-Français. You would not do badly to drop
    a hint of this to the members of the committee. Further,
    happen what may, remember, monsieur, the obligations that I
    owe you will never be erased from my memory, which is not as
    ungrateful as that of M. Firmin.

    "If only I could express my gratitude to you by some homage
    more worthy your acceptance!--Dedicate a tragedy to you, a
    tragedy in verse, written at top speed![8] But each must pay
    in his own coin: monsieur, do not refuse to take mine.

    "Remember, monsieur, that Benedict XIV. did not scorn the
    dedication of _Mahomet._ I am not a Voltaire, I know; but
    neither are you a Pope. All things considered, perhaps the
    relation between us is equivalent to that which existed
    between those two personages. Meanwhile, take this until
    something better turns up. Classic by principle and by habit
    I have not hitherto believed myself possessed of sufficient
    genius to dispense with both rhyme and reason. But who
    knows? Perhaps, some day, I shall be in a condition to try
    my hand at the romantic _guerre_: if I put myself at a
    distance from the age when people rave extravagantly I shall
    draw nearer to that of dotage. Patience then!--I am, with
    all the consideration which is due to you, monsieur, your
    very humble and very obedient servant,
                                                      "ARNAULT"


[1] See p. 277 and footnote.

[2] Three persons are honoured with this title; they differ, however,
in importance, not by reason of the relative importance of their
duties, which are always the same, but according to that of the kind
of work to which their talents are applied. Given the case of a work
of a special nature, a romantic work like _Louis IX._ or _Émilia_,
the prompter-in-chief takes the manuscript, and not a trace of that
noble prose reaches the ears of the players before it has passed
through his lips; but if it is a question of a classical work, a work
in verse, standing then on his dignity, like the executioner who
would only execute gentle folk, he says: you can carry through this
bit of business, you fellows, passing the plebeian copy-book to his
substitutes. When it is a question of high comedy he delegates his
duties to the second prompter, and tragedy is given over to a third,
that is to say to the industrious and modest man to whom this letter is
dedicated.

[3] The game of draughts (_les dames_)--it is the game that is
meant--is in fact this actor's ruling passion, although he is not a
first-rate player. He knows, however, how to reconcile that passion
with his duties, and is scarcely less eager to quit his game in
order to go upon the stage when it is a public performance that is
in question, than to quit the stage to resume his game; when merely
authors are concerned, it is true, he does not exercise so much
alacrity; but as it is only a matter of rehearsals, does he not always
arrive quite soon enough ... when he does come?

[4] The seat of memory varies according to the individual. It lay in
the stomach of that comedian to whom Voltaire sent his _Variantes_ in a
pâté. Mademoiselle Contat placed it in her heart, and her memory was an
excellent one.

[5] In consequence of this right, M. Firmin is preparing to play
Hamlet. He has even bought for it, they tell me, the dress Talma wore
in that part. Fancy his dreaming of such a thing. That costume was not
made for his figure, and besides, all who wear lions' skins are not
always taken for lions.

[6] _Louis XI._ and _Émilia_, whose merits we fully appreciate, seem
indeed to have been borrowed, if not actually robbed, from the theatres
of the boulevards. If, during the performance of these pieces, the
orchestra perchance woke out of its lethargy, whether to announce by a
fanfare of trumpets the entrance or departure of exalted personages,
whether to explain by a short symphony what speech had failed to make
clear, and even when one was in the precincts consecrated to Racine,
Corneille and Voltaire, one was willing enough to fancy oneself at
the Ambigu-Comique or at the Gaieté: it needed nothing more than this
to complete the illusion. Let us hope that the regenerators of this
theatre will take kindly to the remark and will profit by it for the
perfecting of the French stage.

[7] For the last six months, and even to-day, the bill announces:
"Until the performance of _Les Guelfes et Les Gibelins_"; probably
to-morrow it will no longer contain the announcement.

[8] It is especially against tragedies in verse that the umpires of
good taste to-day protest. Their repugnance in respect of poetry
ever outweighs their love for romanticism. If, in that series of
chapters--entitled scenes--whose whole forms a novel called a drama,
which is sold under the title of _Louis XI._; if, in _Louis XI._, the
Scottish prose of Sir Walter Scott had been put into rhymed verse;
that drama would not have been more kindly received by them than a
posthumous tragedy of Racine, although common sense would be scarcely
more respected there than in a melodrama. It is to the absence of rhyme
also that _Émilia_ owes the favour with which these gentlemen have
honoured it. When he had heard the reading of that work, one of the
most influential members of the tribunal by which it had been judged,
exclaimed: "_The problem is solved! The problem is solved!_ _We have
at last a tragedy in prose!_" The Comédiens Français formerly gave a
hundred louis to Thomas Corneille for putting a comedy of Molière's,
_Le Festin de Pierre_, into verse. The Comédiens Français will, it is
said, to-day give a thousand louis to an academician for putting the
tragedies of Corneille, Racine and of Voltaire into prose. Is it indeed
necessary that they should address themselves to an academician for
that? Do not a good many of them perform that parody every day of their
lives?

Verse and rhyme are not natural, say lovers of nature. Clothes,
gentlemen, are not natural, and yet you wear them to distinguish
yourself from the savage; furthermore, you wear clothes of fine
materials to distinguish yourselves from the rabble, and, when you are
rich enough to enable you to do so, you adorn them with trimmings to
distinguish yourself even from well-to-do people. That which one does
for the body permit us to do for the intellect; allow us to do for the
mind that which you do for matter.



CHAPTER V


    M. Arnault's _Pertinax_--_Pizarre_, by M. Fulchiron--M.
    Fulchiron as a politician--M. Fulchiron as magic poet--A
    word about M. Viennet--My opposite neighbour at the
    performance of _Pertinax_--Splendid failure of the
    play--Quarrel with my _vis-à-vis_--The newspapers take it
    up--My reply in the _Journal de Paris_--Advice of M. Pillet


Alas! there are two things for which I have searched in vain! And
verily, God knows, how thoroughly I search when I begin! These
are Firmin's answer to M. Arnault and the tragedy of _Pertinax._
Neither answer nor tragedy exist any longer. Why _Pertinax?_ What is
_Pertinax?_ And what is the successor to Commodus doing here? Rather
ask what the unfortunate being was doing at the Théâtre-Français! He
fell there beneath the hissings of the pit, as he fell beneath the
swords of the prætorians. Here is the history of his second death, his
second fall. After a lapse of seventeen years I cannot say much about
the first; but, after an interval of twenty-four years, I can relate
the second, at which I was present.

After those unlucky _Guelfes_ had obstinately remained on the bills for
nine months they finally disappeared. M. Arnault demanded compensation
for Firmin's defective memory. The committee decided that, although
_Pertinax_ had only been received eleven years ago, it should be put in
rehearsal.

Eleven years ago? You repeat, and you think I am mistaken, do you not?
But it is you who are mistaken. _Arbogaste_, by M. Viennet, received in
1825, was only played in 1841! _Pizarre_, by M. Fulchiron, received in
1803, has not yet been played! Let me put in a parenthesis in favour of
poor _Pizarre_ and the unfortunate M. Fulchiron.

M. Fulchiron, you know him well?--Yes. Well, then, he had had a
tragedy, _Pizarre_, received at the Comédie-Française in the month
of August 1803--Ah! really? And what has the Comédie-Française been
doing the last fifty years?--It has not played M. Fulchiron's tragedy.
And what did this same M. Fulchiron do during those fifty years?--He
asked to have his piece played. Come! come! come!--What more could you
expect? Hope supported him! They had promised it, when they accepted
it, that it would have its turn.

Those are the actual words! Look at the registers of the
Comédie-Française if you don't believe me. True, the police of the
Consulate suspended the work; but the censorship of the Empire was
better informed as to the tragedy and returned it to its author.

Hence it arose that, contrary to the opinion of many people who
preferred the First Consul to the Emperor, M. Fulchiron preferred the
Emperor to the First Consul.

During the whole of the Empire,--that is to say, from 1805 to
1814--during the whole of the Restoration--that is to say, from 1815
to 1830--M. Fulchiron wrote, begged, prayed with, it must be admitted,
that gentleness which is indissolubly bound up with his real character.
In 1830, M. Fulchiron became a politician. Then he had an excuse to
offer. To his friends--M. Fulchiron actually took those people for his
friends! think of it!--who asked him--

"Why, then, dear Monsieur Fulchiron, did you not get your _Pizarre_
played when so many good things had been said about it for a long time?"

He replied--"Because I am a politician, and one cannot be both a
politician and a man of letters at the same time."

"Bah! look at M. Guizot, M. Villemain, M. Thiers!"

"M. Guizot, M. Villemain and M. Thiers have their own ideas on the
subject; I have mine."

"Oh! influence in high quarters, then!"

M. Fulchiron blushed and smiled; then, with that air which M. Viennet
puts on, when talking of Louis-Philippe, he said, _Mon illustre ami_--

"Well, yes," replied M. Fulchiron, "the king took hold of the button of
my coat, which is a habit of his, as you know."

"No, I did not know."

"Ah! that is because you are not one of the frequenters of the château."

"There are people who lay great stress on being intimates of a château!
You understand?"

"When he took me by my coat button," continued M. Fulchiron, "the king
said to me, 'My dear Fulchiron, in spite of the beauties it contains,
do not have your tragedy played.' 'But why not?' 'How can one make a
man a minister who has written a tragedy?' 'Sire, the Emperor Napoléon
said, "If Corneille had lived in my day, I should have made him a
prince!" 'I am not the Emperor Napoléon, and you are not Corneille.'
'Nevertheless, sire, when one has had a tragedy calling from the deeps
for the last thirty years ...' 'You shall read it to me, M. Fulchiron
...' 'Ah! sire, your Majesty's desires are commands. When would your
Majesty like me to read _Pizarre?_' Some day ... when all these devils
of Republicans leave me a bit of respite!'"

The Republicans never left Louis-Philippe, who, you will agree, was
an intelligent man, any respite. That is why M. Fulchiron hated
Republicans so much. What! was that the reason? Yes! You thought
that M. Fulchiron hated Republicans because they tended to usurp
power, to disturb order, to put, as Danton expressed it in his curt
description of the Republic, _à mettre dessus ce qui est dessous?_ You
are mistaken; M. Fulchiron hated Republicans because by means of all
their riots--their 5 June, _14_ April, etc. etc. etc.--upon my word,
I forget all the dates!--they prevented him from reading his play to
Louis-Philippe. So, on 24 February 1848, however devoted he seemed to
be to the established government, M. Fulchiron allowed Louis-Philippe
to fall.

See on what slender threads hang great events! If Louis-Philippe had
heard the reading of _Pizarre_, M. Fulchiron would have supported the
Government of July, and perhaps Louis-Philippe might still be on the
throne. So, after the fall of Louis-Philippe, M. Fulchiron was as
happy as the Prince of Monaco when they took away his principality from
him.

"My political career is a failure," says M. Fulchiron, "and you see me
once more a literary man! I shall not be a minister, but I will be an
academician."

"Indeed!" say you; "then why is not M. Fulchiron an academician?"

"Because _Pizarre_ has not been played."

"Good! Was not M. Dupaty received into the Academy on condition that
his tragedy _Isabelle_ should not be played?"

"Oh! really?"

"They were already sufficiently troubled by the fact that his _Seconde
Botanique_ had been played! That youthful indiscretion delayed his
entry for ten years ... But ten years are not fifty."

So M. Fulchiron began to be impatient, as impatient, that is, as he can
be. From time to time he appears at the Théâtre-Français, and, with
that smile which, it seems to me, should prevent anyone from refusing
him anything, he says--

"About my _Pizarre_, it must be high time they were putting it in hand!"

"Monsieur," says Verteuil to him--the secretary of the
Comédie-Française, a clever fellow, whom we have already had occasion
to mention, through whose hands many plays pass, but who does not
compose any himself--"Monsieur, they are even now busy with it."

"Ah! very good!"

And M. Fulchiron's smile becomes still more winning.--

"Yes, and as soon as M. Viennet's _Achille_, now under rehearsal, has
been played, _Pizarre_ will occupy the stage."

"But, if I remember rightly, M. Viennet's _Achille_ was only accepted
in 1809, and, consequently, I have the priority."

"Doubtless; but M. Viennet had two _tours de faveur_ and you only one."

"Then I was wrong to complain."

And M. Fulchiron goes away always smiling, takes his visiting-card in
person to M. Viennet, and writes in pencil on it these few words,
"Dear colleague, hasten your rehearsals of _Achille!_"

Thus he leaves his card with M. Viennet's porter, the same porter who
informed the said M. Viennet that he was a peer of France; and M.
Viennet, who is horribly spiteful, has not bowed to M. Fulchiron since
the second card. He treats the seven pencilled words of M. Fulchiron as
an epigram and says to everybody--

"Fulchiron may, perhaps, be a Martial, but I swear he is not an
Æschylus!"

And M. Fulchiron, his arms hung down, continues to walk abroad and
through life, as Hamlet says, never doubting that if he is no Æschylus
it is all owing to M. Viennet.[1]

I will close my parenthesis about M. Fulchiron, and return to M.
Arnault and _Pertinax_, which the ungrateful prompter, in spite of the
dedicatory epistle to the _Guelfes_, has never called anything but
_Père Tignace_ (Daddy Tignace).

_Pertinax_, then, was played as some compensation for the disappearance
of the _Guelfes._ Oh! what a pity it is that _Pertinax_ has not been
printed! How I would like to have given you specimens of it and then
you would understand the merriment of the pit! All I recollect is, that
at the decisive moment the Emperor Commodus called for his secretary.
I had in front of me a tall man whose broad shoulders and thick locks
hid the actor from me every time he happened to be in the line of
sight. Unluckily, I did not possess the scissors of Sainte-Foix. By his
frantic applause I gathered that this gentleman understood many things
which I did not. The upshot of it was that, when the Emperor Commodus
called his secretary, the play upon words seemed to me to require an
explanation, and I leant over towards the gentleman in front, and, with
all the politeness I could command, I said to him--

"Pardon me, monsieur, but it seems to me that this is a _pièce à
tiroirs!_" (Comedy made up of unconnected episodes.)

He jumped up in his stall, uttered a sort of roar but controlled
himself. True, the curtain was on the point of falling, and before
it had actually fallen our enthusiast was shouting with all his
might--"Author!"

Unfortunately, everybody was by no means as eager to know the author
as was my neighbour in front. Something like three-quarters of the
house--and, perhaps, among these were M. Arnault's own friends--did not
at all wish him to be named. Placed in the orchestra between M. de Jouy
and Victor Hugo, feeling, on my left, the elbows of Romanticism and, on
my right, those of _Classicism_, if I may be allowed to coin a word, I
waited patiently and courageously until they stopped hissing, just as
M. Arnault had acted towards me in turning the cold shoulder towards me
after _Henri III._, leaving me the privilege of neutrality.

But man proposes and God disposes. God, or rather the devil, inspired
the neighbour to whom I had perhaps put an indiscreet, although very
innocent question, to point me out to his friends, and, consequently,
to M. Arnault, as the Æolus at whose signal all the winds had been let
loose which blew from the four cardinal points of the theatre in such
different ways. A quarrel ensued between me and the tall man, a quarrel
which instantly made a diversion in the strife that was going on. Next
day all the journals gave an account of this quarrel, with their usual
impartiality, generosity and accuracy towards me. It was imperative
that I should reply. I chose the _Journal de Paris_ in which to publish
my reply; it was edited, at that period, by the father of Léon Pillet,
a friend of mine. Therefore, the following day, the _Journal de Paris_
published my letter, preceded and followed by a few bitter and sweet
lines. This is the exordium. After my letter will come the peroration.

    "In reporting the failure which the tragedy of _Pertinax_
    met with at the hands of the critics, we mentioned that
    a dispute took place in the centre of the orchestra. M.
    Alexandre Dumas, one of the actors in this little drama,
    which was more exciting than the one that had preceded it,
    has addressed a letter to us on this subject. We hasten to
    publish it without wishing to constitute ourselves judges
    of the accompanying accusations which the author of _Henri
    III._ brings against the newspapers.

    "'_Friday_, 29 _May_ 1829

    'In spite of the fixed resolution I had taken and have
    adhered to until to-day, of never replying to what the
    papers say of me, I think it my duty to ask you to insert
    this letter in your next issue. It is a reply to the short
    article which forms the complement of the account in
    your issue of yesterday, in which you give an account of
    _Pertinax._ Your article is couched in these terms--

    "'"_As we were leaving the house, a lively contest arose
    in the orchestra, between an old white-haired man and a
    very youthful author, in other words, doubtless, between
    a 'classic' and a 'romantic.' Let us hope that that
    altercation will not lead to unpleasant consequences._"

    "'It is I, monsieur, who have the misfortune to be the
    _very youthful author_, to whom it is of great importance,
    from the very fact of his being young and an author, that
    he should lay down the facts exactly as they happened. I
    was in the orchestra of the Français, between M. de Jouy
    and M. Victor Hugo, during the whole of the performance of
    _Pertinax._ Obliged, in a manner, as a student of art and
    as a student of all that which makes masters to listen, I
    had listened attentively and in silence to the five acts
    which had just concluded, when, in the middle of the lively
    dispute that was going on between some spectators who wished
    M. Arnault to be called and others who did not, I was
    impudently apostrophised, whilst sitting quite silent, by a
    friend of M. Arnault, who stood up and pointed at me with
    his finger. I will repeat what he said word for word--

    "'"_It is not surprising that they are hissing in the
    orchestra when M. Dumas is there. Are you not ashamed,
    monsieur, to make yourself the ringleader of a cabal?_"

    "'"And when I replied that I had not said one word, he
    added--

    "'"_That does not matter, it is you who direct the whole
    league!_"

    "'As some persons may believe this stupid accusation I have
    appealed to the testimony of MM. de Jouy and Victor Hugo.
    This testimony is, as it was inevitable that it would be,
    unanimous.

    "'That is enough, I think, to exonerate myself. But, whilst
    I have the pen in my hand, monsieur, as it is probably
    the first and, perhaps, the last time that I write to a
    newspaper.[2] I desire to add a few words relative to the
    absurd attacks my drama of _Henri III._ has brought down on
    me; such a favourable occasion as this one may, perhaps,
    never present itself again: allow me, therefore, to take
    advantage of it.

    "'I think I understand, and I honestly believe that I
    accept, true literary criticism as well as anyone. But,
    seriously, monsieur, are the facts I have just quoted really
    literary criticism?

    "'The day after the reception of my drama _Henri III._ at
    the Comédie-Française, the _Courrier des Théâtres_, which
    did not know the work, denounced it to the censorship, in
    the hope, so it was said, that the censor would not suffer
    the scandal of such a performance. That seems to me rather
    a matter for the police than for literature. Is it not
    so, monsieur? I will not speak of a petition which was
    presented to the king during my rehearsals pleading that the
    Théâtre-Français should return to the road of the _really
    beautiful._[3]

    "'It is stated that the august personage to whom it was
    addressed replied simply, "_What can I do in a question
    of this nature? I only have a place in the pit, like all
    other Frenchmen._" I have not really the courage to be
    angered against the signatories of a denunciation which has
    brought us such a reply. Besides, several of us would have
    blushed, since, for what they had done, and have said that
    they thought they were signing quite a different thing.
    Then came the day of the representation. It will be granted
    that, on that day alone, the newspapers had the right to
    speak of the work. They made great use of their privileges;
    but several of them, as they themselves confessed, were not
    choice in their style of criticism. The _Constitutionnel_
    and the _Corsaire_ said much kinder things the first day
    than the play deserved. A week later, the _Constitutionnel_
    compared the play with the _Pie Voleuse_, and accused the
    author of having danced a round dance in the green room
    of the Comédie-Française with some wild fanatics, about
    the bust of Racine--which stands with its back against the
    wall--shouting, "_Racine is done for_!" This was merely
    ridicule, and people shrugged their shoulders. The next
    day, the _Corsaire_ said that the work was a monstrosity,
    and that the author was a Jesuit and a pensioner. This, it
    must be admitted, was an excellent joke, addressed to the
    son of a Republican general whose mother never received the
    pension which, it seems, was due to her, whether from the
    government of the Empire or from the king's government.
    This was more than ridicule, it was contemptible. As for
    the _Gazette de France_, I will do it the justice of saying
    that it has not varied for an instant from the opinion that
    M. de Martainville expressed in it on the first day. This
    journal made out that there was a flagrant conspiracy in the
    play against the throne and the altar; while the journalist
    expressed the liveliest regret that he had not seen the
    author appear when he was called for. "People declare," he
    said, "that _his face has a typically romantic air about
    it._" Now, as Romanticism is M. de Martainville's _bête
    noire_, I can believe, without being too punctilious, that
    he had no intention of paying me a compliment. It is not
    merely impolite on M. de Martainville's part, but, worse
    still, it is indelicate: M. de Martainville is very well
    aware that one can make one's reputation but that one cannot
    make one's own physiognomy. His own physiognomy is extremely
    respectable. I could go on explaining the causes of these
    alterations and insults, and make known various sufficiently
    curious anecdotes concerning certain individuals; still more
    could I ... But the twelve columns of your newspaper would
    not suffice. I will therefore conclude my letter, monsieur,
    by asking advice of you, since you have great experience.
    What ought an author to do in order to spare himself the
    quarrels arising out of first performances? I have had
    three of this nature during the last three months;--three
    quarrels, that is to say: had it been three representations
    I should not have survived!

    "'One concerning _Isabelle de Bavière_, with an admirer of
    M. de Lamothe-Langon, who made out that I had hissed. One
    at the _Élections_, with an enemy of M. de Laville, who
    contended that I had applauded. Lastly, one at _Pertinax_
    with a friend of M. Arnault, because I neither clapped nor
    hissed. I await your kind advice, monsieur, and I give you
    my word that I will follow it, if it be anyway possible for
    me to do so.--I have the honour, etc.'"

After the last line of the above, the _Journal de Paris_ attempted a
sort of reply--

    "As to the advice which M. Alexandre Dumas is kind enough to
    ask us to give because of our experience concerning the line
    of conduct he should take to avoid disputes at first-night
    performances, we will reply to him that a young author,
    happy in the enjoyment of a real success, and who knows
    how to conceal his joyous pride beneath suitable modesty;
    a _student of art_ who, like M. Dumas, gives himself up to
    the study of _the works of masters_, including, therein,
    the author of _Pertinax_,--does not need to fear insulting
    provocations. If, in spite of these dispositions, natural,
    no doubt, to the character of M. Dumas, people persist on
    picking these Teuton or classic quarrels with him, I should
    advise him to treat them with contempt, the quarrels, I
    mean, not the Teutons or the classics. Or, indeed, there is
    another expedient left him: namely, to abstain from going to
    first performances."

The advice, it will be admitted, was difficult, if not impossible, to
follow. I was too young, and my heart was too near my head, I had,
as is vulgarly said, "la tête trop près du bonnet" _i.e._ I was too
hot-headed, to treat quarrels with contempt, whether with Teutons
or classics, and I was too inquisitive not to attend first nights
regularly. I have since been cured of this latter disease; but it has
been for want of time. And yet, it is not so much lack of time which
has cured me; it is the first performances themselves.

    NOTE

    I have an apology to make concerning M. Fulchiron. It seems
    I was in error, not about the date of the reception of
    _Pizarre_; not upon the turn of favour[4] which led to the
    performance of that piece in 1803; not, finally, upon the
    darkness of the spaces of Limbo in which it balanced with
    eyes half shut, between death and life--but about the cause
    which prevented it from being played in 1803.

    First of all, let me say that no one claimed again in
    respect of M. Fulchiron, not even he himself. If he had
    claimed again, my pleasantries would have pained him, and
    then, I confess, I should have been as sad as, and even
    sadder than, he, to have given occasion for a protest on the
    part of so honourable a man and, above all, so unexacting an
    author. This is what happened.

    One day, recently, when entering the green room at the
    Théâtre-Français, where I was having a little comedy called
    _Romulus_ rehearsed, which, in spite of its title, had
    nothing to do with the founder of Rome, I was accosted by
    Régnier, who plays the principal part in the work.

    "Ah!" he said, "is that you?... I am delighted to see you!"

    "And I to see you ... Have you some good advice to give me
    about my play?"

    I should tell you that, in theatrical matters, Régnier gives
    the wisest advice I know.

    "Not about your play," he replied, "but about yourself."

    "Oh come, my dear fellow! I would have shaken hands with you
    for advice about my play; but for personal advice, I will
    embrace you."

    "You lay great stress on being impartial?"

    "Why! You might as well ask me if I am keen on living."

    "And when you have been unjust you are very anxious to
    repair your injustice?"

    'Indeed I am!"

    "Then, my dear friend, you have been unfair to M. Fulchiron:
    repair your injustice."

    "What! Was his tragedy by chance received in 1804, instead
    of 1803, as I thought?"

    "No."

    "Will it be played without my knowing anything about it, as
    was M. Viennet's _Arbogaste?_"

    "No, but M. Fulchiron has given his turn of favour to a
    young briefless barrister, who wrote a tragedy in his spare
    moments. M. Raynouard was the barrister; _Les Templiers_ was
    the tragedy."

    "Are you telling me the truth?"

    "I am going to give you proof of it."

    "How will you do that?"

    "Come upstairs with me to the archives."

    "Show me the way."

    Régnier walked in front and I followed him as Dante's
    Barbariceia followed Scarmiglione, but without making so
    much noise as he.

    Five minutes later, we were among the archives, and
    Régnier asked M. Laugier, the keeper of the records of the
    Théâtre-Français, for the file of autograph letters from M.
    Fulchiron. M. Laugier gave them to him. I was going to carry
    them off, and I stretched out my hand with that intention,
    when Régnier snatched them back from me as one snatches a
    bit of pie-crust from a clever dog who does not yet know how
    to count nine properly.

    "Well?" I asked him.

    "Wait."

    He pressed the palm of his hand on M. Fulchiron's letters,
    which were encased in their yellow boards. Please note
    carefully that the epithet is not a reproach; I know people
    who, after fifty years of age, are yellow in a quite
    different sense from that of M. Fulchiron's letter-book
    backs.

    "You must know, first of all, my dear friend," continued
    Régnier, "that formerly, particularly under the Empire, as
    soon as they produced a new tragedy the receipts decreased."

    "I conjecture so; but I am very glad to know it officially."

    "The result is that the committee of the Comédie-Française
    had great difficulty in deciding to play fresh pieces."

    "I can imagine so----"

    "A turn was therefore a precious possession."

    "A thing which had no price!" as said Lagingeole.

    "Very well, now read that letter of M. Fulchiron's."

I took the paper from Régnier's hands and read as follows--

    "_To the Members of the Administrative Committee of the
    Comédie-Française_

    "GENTLEMEN,--I have just learnt that the préfect has given
    his permission to the _Templiers._ Desiring to do full
    justice and to pay all respect to that work and to its
    author, which they deserve, I hasten to tell you that I give
    up my turn to the tragedy; but, at the same time, I ask
    that mine shall be taken up immediately after, so that the
    second tragedy which shall be played, reckoning from this
    present time, shall be _one of mine_; if you will have the
    kindness to give me an actual promise of this in writing, it
    will confirm my definite abandonment of my turn.--I remain,
    gentlemen, respectfully yours,
                                                  "FULCHIRON, fils"


"Ah! but," said I to Régnier, "allow me to point out to you that the
sacrifice was not great and its value was much depreciated owing to the
precautions taken by M. Fulchiron to get one of his tragedies played."

"Wait a bit, though," resumed Régnier. "The suggestion made by M.
Fulchiron was rejected. They made him see that the injustice which
he did not wish done to himself would oppress a third party. If he
renounced his turn it would have to be a complete renunciation, and,
if M. Fulchiron fell out of rank, he must take his turn again at the
end of the file. Now this was a serious matter. Suppose all the chances
were favourable it would mean ten years at least! It must be confessed
that M. Fulchiron took but little time to reflect, considering the
gravity of the subject: then he said, "Well, gentlemen, I know the
tragedy of the _Templiers_; it is much better that it should be
performed at once; and that _Pizarre_ should not have its turn for
ten years. It was, thanks to this condescension, of which very few
authors would be capable towards a colleague, that the tragedy of the
_Templiers_ was played; and, as one knows, that tragedy was one of the
literary triumphs of the Empire. _Les Deux Gendres_ and the _Tyran
domestique_ complete the dramatic trilogy of the period. Almost as
much as eighteen hundred years ago they 'rendered to Cæsar the things
which were Cæsar's.' Why not render to M. Fulchiron the justice which
is his due?" Chateaubriand "I am not the person to refuse this," I said
to Régnier, "and I am delighted to have the opportunity to make M.
Fulchiron a public apology! M. Fulchiron did better than write a good
tragedy: he did a good deed; whilst I, by sneering at him, did a bad
action--without even the excuse of having written a good tragedy!"


[1] See note at end of chapter.

[2] Like Buonaparte on 15 Vendémiaire, I was far from being able to see
clearly into my future.

[3] I have forgotten to inscribe M. de Laville, author of
_Folliculaire_ and of _Une Journée d'Élections_, among the number of
the signers of that petition, which I have cited in another part of
these Memoirs. One of these signatories, who survives the others, has
pointed out my error to me and I here repair it.

[4] TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.--Littré defines _un tour de faveur_ as the
decision of a theatrical committee or manager by virtue of which a
piece is given precedence over others received earlier.



CHAPTER VI


    Chateaubriand ceases to be a peer of France--He leaves
    the country--Béranger's song thereupon--Chateaubriand as
    versifier--First night of _Charles VII._--Delafosse's
    vizor--Yaqoub and Frédérick-Lemaître--_The Reine
    d'Espagne_--M. Henri de Latouche--His works, talent and
    character--Interlude of _The Reine d'Espagne_--Preface of
    the play--Reports of the pit collected by the author


People were very full at this time of the resignation and exile
of Chateaubriand, both of which were voluntary acts. The previous
government had caused his dismissal from the French peerage, by
reason of its abolition of heredity in the peerage. The author of the
_Martyrs_ exiled himself because the uproar caused by his opposition
became daily less evident and he feared that it would die away
altogether.

"Do you know, madame, that Chateaubriand is growing deaf?" I said once
to Madame O'Donnel, a witty woman, the sister and daughter of witty
women.

"Indeed!" she replied, "then it is since people have stopped talking
about him."

It must be confessed that a terrible conspiracy, that of silence, was
on foot against Chateaubriand, who had not the strength to bear it. He
hoped that the echo of his great reputation, which once upon a time had
nearly as much weight in the world as Napoléon's, would spread abroad.
The newspapers made a great stir about this voluntary exile. Béranger
made it the subject of one of his short poems, and he, Voltairian
and Liberal, addressed lines to the author of _Atala, René_ and the
_Martyrs_, a Catholic and Royalist. This poem of Béranger's it will be
remembered began with these four lines--

    "Chateaubriand, pourquoi fuir la patrie,
    Fuir notre amour, notre encens et nos soins?
    N'entends-tu pas la France qui s'écrie:
    'Mon beau ciel pleure une étoile de moins!'"

Chateaubriand had the good taste to reply in prose. The best verses
are very far below Béranger's worst. It was one of the obsessions of
Chateaubriand's life that he made such bad verses and he persisted
in making them. He shared this eccentricity with Nodier: these two
geniuses of modern prose were haunted by the demon of rhyme. Happily
people will forget _Moïse_ and the _Contes en vers_, just as one has
forgotten that Raphael played the violin. While Béranger sang, and
Chateaubriand retired to Lucerne,--where eight or ten months later,
I was to help him to _feed his chickens_,--the day for the first
performance of _Charles VII._ arrived, 20 October.

I have already said what I thought of the merits of my play: as poetry,
it was a great advance upon _Christine_; as a dramatic work it was an
imitation of _Andromaque_, the _Cid_ and the _Camargo._ Ample justice
was done to it: it had a great success and did not bring in a sou!
Let us here state, in passing, that when it was transferred to the
Théâtre-Français, it was performed twenty or twenty-five times, and
made a hundred louis at each performance. The same thing happened
later with regard to the _Demoiselles de Saint-Cyr._ That comedy,
represented in 1842 or 1843 with creditable but not every remunerative
success--although it then had Firmin, Mesdemoiselles Plessy and
Anaïs as its exponents--had, at its revival, six years later, twice
the number of performances which it had had when it was a novelty,
making an incredible amount of money during its odd Saint Martin's
summer. But let us return to _Charles VII._ We have mentioned what
success the work met with; a comic incident very nearly compromised
it. Delafosse, one of the most conscientious comedians I ever knew,
played the part of Charles VII. As I have said, Harel did not want to
go to any expense over the play (this time, indeed, he acted like a
wise man); to such a degree that I had been obliged, as is known, to
borrow a fifteenth-century suit of armour from the Artillery Museum;
this cuirass was, on a receipt from me, taken to the property room
at the Odéon; there, the theatrical armourer had occasion,--not to
clean it, for it shone like silver,--but to oil the springs and joints
in order to bring back the suppleness which they had lost during a
state of rigidity that had endured for four centuries. By degrees,
the obliging cuirass was, indeed, made pliable, and Delafosse, whose
shell at the proper moment it was to become, was able, although in an
iron sheath, to stretch out his legs and move his arms. The helmet
alone declined all concessions; its vizor had probably not been
raised since the coronation of Charles VII.; and, having seen such a
solemnity as this it absolutely refused to be lowered. Delafosse, a
conscientious man, as I have already indicated, looked with pain upon
the obstinacy of his vizor, which, during the whole time of his long
war-like speech did him good service by remaining raised, but which,
when the speech was ended, and he was going off the stage, would give
him when lowered a formidable appearance, upon which he set great
store. The armourer was called and, after many attempts, in which he
used in turn both gentle and coercive measures, oil and lime, he got
the wretched vizor to consent to be lowered. But, when this end was
achieved, it was almost as difficult a task to raise it again as it
had been to lower it. In lowering, it slipped over a spring, made in
the head of a nail, which, after several attempts, found an opening,
resumed its working, and fixed the vizor in such a way that neither
sword nor lance-thrusts could raise it again; this spring had to be
pressed with a squire's dagger before it could be pushed back again
into its socket, and permit the vizor to be raised. Delafosse troubled
little about this difficulty; he went out with lowered vizor and
his squire had plenty of time to perform the operation in the green
room. Had Henri II. but worn such a vizor he would not have died at
the hand of Montgomery! Behold on what things the fate of empires
depend! I might even say the same about the fate of plays! Henri II.
was killed because his vizor was raised. Charles VII. avoided this
because his vizor remained lowered. In the heat of delivery, Delafosse
made so violent a gesture that the vizor fell of itself, yielding,
doubtless, to the emotion that it felt. This may have been its manner
of applauding. Whatever the cause, Delafosse suddenly found himself
completely prevented from continuing his discourse. The lines began in
the clearest fashion imaginable; they were emphasised most plainly,
but ended in a lugubrious and unintelligible bellowing. The audience
naturally began to laugh. It is said that it is impossible for our
closest friend to refrain from laughter when he sees us fall. It is
no laughing matter, I can tell you, when a play fails, but my best
friends began to laugh. Luckily, the squire of King Charles VII., or,
rather, Delafosse's super (whichever you like), did not forget on the
stage the part he played behind the scenes; he rushed forward, dagger
in hand, on the unfortunate king; the public only saw in the accident
that had just happened a trick of the stage and, in the action of
the super, a fresh-incident. The laughter ceased and the audience
remained expectant. The result of the pause was that in a few seconds
the vizor rose again, and showed Charles VII., as red as a peony and
very nearly stifled. The play concluded without any other accident.
Frédérick-Lemaître was angry with me for a long time because I did not
give him the part of Yaqoub; but he was certainly mistaken about the
character of that personage, whom he took for an Othello. The sole
resemblance between Othello and Yaqoub lies in the colour of the face;
the colour of the soul, if one may be allowed to say so, is wholly
different. I should have made Othello--and I should have been very
proud of it if I had!--jealous, violent, carried away by his passions,
a man of initiative and of will-power, leader of the Venetian galleys;
an Othello with flattened nose, thick lips, prominent cheek-bones,
frizzy hair; an Othello, more negro than Arab, should I have given
to Frédérick. But my Othello, or, rather, my Yaqoub was more Arab
than negro, a child of the desert, swarthy complexioned rather than
black, with straight nose, thin lips, and smooth and flat hair; a sort
of lion, taken from his mother's breast and carried off from the red
and burning sands of the Sahara to the cold and damp flagstones of a
château in the West; in the darkness and cold he becomes enervated,
languid, poetical. It was the fine, aristocratic and rather sickly
nature of Lockroy which really suited the part. And, according to
my thinking, Lockroy played it admirably. The day after the first
performance of _Charles VII._ I received a good number of letters
of congratulation. The play had just enough secondary merit not to
frighten anybody, and brought me the compliments of people who, whether
unable or unwilling to pay them any longer to Ancelot, felt absolutely
obliged to pay them to somebody.

Meanwhile, the Théâtre-Français was preparing a play which was to cause
a much greater flutter than my poor _Charles VII._ This was the _Reine
d'Espagne_, by Henri de Latouche. M. de Latouche,--to whom we shall
soon have to devote our attention in connection with the appearance
upon our literary horizon of Madame Sand,--was a sort of hermit,
who lived at the Vallée-aux-Loups. The name of the hermitage quite
sufficiently describes the hermit. M. de Latouche was a man of genuine
talent; he has published a translation of Hoffmann's _Cardillac_, and
a very remarkable Neapolitan novel. The translation--M. de Latouche
obliterated the name on his stolen linen--was called _Olivier Brusson_;
the Neapolitan novel was called _Fragoletta._ The novel is an obscure
work, badly put together, but certain parts of it are dazzling in their
colour and truth; it is the reflection of the Neapolitan sun upon the
rocks of Pausilippe. The Parthenopean Revolution is described therein
in all its horrors, with the bloodthirsty and unblushing nakedness of
the peoples of the South. M. de Latouche had, besides, rediscovered,
collected and published the poetry of André Chénier. He easily made
people believe that these poems were if not quite all his own, at least
in a great measure his. We will concede that M. Henri de Latouche
concocted a hemistich here and there where it was wanting, and joined
up a rhyme which the pen had forgotten to connect, but that the verses
of André Chénier are by M. de Latouche we will not grant!

We only knew M. de Latouche slightly; at the same time, we do not
believe that there was so great a capacity for the renunciation of
glory on his part as this, that he gave to André Chénier, twenty-five
years after the death of the young poet, that European reputation from
which he was able to enrich himself. Yet M. de Latouche wrote very
fine verse; Frédérick Soulié, who was then on friendly terms with him,
told me at times that his poetry was of marvellous composition and
supreme originality. In short, M. de Latouche, a solitary misanthrope,
a harsh critic, a capricious friend, had just written a five-act
prose comedy upon the most immodest subject in France and Spain; not
content with shaking the bells of Comus, as said the members of the
Caveau, he rang a full peal on the bells of the theatre of the rue de
Richelieu. This comedy took for its theme the impotence of King Charles
II., and for plot, the advantage accruing to Austria supposing the
husband of Marie-Louise d'Orléans produced a child, and the advantage
to France supposing his wife did not have one. As may be seen it was a
delicate subject. It must be admitted that M. de Latouche's redundant
imagination had found a way of skating over the risks of danger which
threatened ordinary authors. When one act is finished it is usually the
same with the author as with the sufferer put to the rack: he has a
rest, but lives in expectation of fresh tortures to follow. But M. de
Latouche would not allow himself any moments of repose; he substituted
Interludes between the acts. We will reproduce verbatim the interlude
between the second and the third act. It is needless to explain the
situation: the reader will easily guess that, thanks to the efforts of
the king's physician, Austria is on the way to triumph over France.

    "INTERLUDE

    "The personages go out, and after a few minutes interval,
    the footlights are lowered; night descends. The
    Chamberlain, preceded by torches, appears at the door
    of the Queen's apartment, and knocks upon it with his
    sword-hilt; the head lady-in-waiting comes to the door. They
    whisper together; the Chamberlain disappears; then, upon a
    sign from the head lady-in-waiting, the Queen's women arrive
    successively and ceremoniously group themselves around their
    chief. A young lady-in-waiting holds back the velvet curtain
    over the Queen's bedroom. The king's cortège advances; two
    pages precede his Majesty, holding upon rich cushions the
    king's sword and the king's breeches. His Majesty is in his
    night attire of silk, embroidered with gold flowers, edged
    with ermine; two crowns are embroidered on the lapels.
    Charles II. wears, carried on a sash, the blue ribbon
    of France, in honour of the niece of Louis XIV. While
    passing in front of the line of courtiers, he makes sundry
    gestures of recognition, pleasure and satisfaction, and the
    recipients of these marks of favour express their delight.
    Charles II. stops a moment: according to etiquette he has
    to hand the candlestick borne by one of the officers to one
    of the Queen's ladies. His Majesty chooses at a glance the
    prettiest girl and indicates this favour by a gesture. Two
    ladies receives the breeches and the sword from the hands
    of the pages, the others allow the King to pass and quickly
    close up their ranks. When the curtain has fallen behind
    his Majesty, the nurse cries, _Vive le roi!_ This cry is
    repeated by all those present. A symphony, which at first
    solemnly began with the air of the _Folies d'Espagne_, ends
    the concert with a serenade."

The work was performed but once and it has not yet been played in
its entirety. From that very night M. de Latouche withdrew his play.
But, although the public forgot his drama, M. de Latouche was of too
irascible and too vindictive a nature to let the public forget it. He
did pretty much what M. Arnault did: he appealed from the performance
to the printed edition; only, he did not dedicate the _Reine d'Espagne_
to the prompter. People had heard too much of what the actors had said,
from the first word to the last; the play failed through a revolt
of modesty and morality, and so the author contested the question
of indecency and immorality. We will reproduce the preface of our
fellow-dramatist de Latouche. As annalist we relate the fact; as
keeper of archives, we find room for the memorandum in our archives.[1]

The protest he made was not enough; he followed it up by pointing out,
in the printed play, every fluctuation of feeling shown in the pit and
even in the boxes. Thus, one finds successively the following notes at
the foot of his pages--

    .·. Here they begin to cough.

    .·. Whispers. The piece is attacked by persons as
    thoroughly informed beforehand as the author of the risks of
    this somewhat novel situation.

As a matter of fact, the situation was so novel, that the public would
not allow it to grow old.


    .·. Here the whispers redouble.

    .·. The pit rises divided between two opinions.

    .·. This detail of manners, accurately historic, excites
    lively disapproval.

See, at page 56 of the play, the detail of manners.


    .·. Uproar.

    .·. A pretty general rising caused by a chaste
    interpretation suggested by the pit.

See page 72, for the suggestion of this chaste interpretation.

    .·. Prolonged, _Oh! oh!'s._

    .·. They laugh.

    .·. They become indignant. _A voice_: "It takes two to make
    a child!"

    .·. Interruption.

    .·. Movement of disapprobation; the white hair of the old
    monk should, however, put aside all ideas of indecency in
    this interview.

    .·. Deserved disapproval.

    .·. The sentence is cut in two by an obscene interruption.

See the sentence, on page 115.

    .·. Disapproval.

    .·. After this scene (_the seventh of the fourth act_) the
    piece, scarcely listened to at all, was not criticised any
    further.

This was the only attempt M. de Latouche made at the theatre, and, from
that time onwards, la Vallée-aux-Loups more than ever deserved its name.

[1] See end of volume.



CHAPTER VII


    Victor Escousse and Auguste Lebras


Meanwhile, the drama of _Pierre III._ by the unfortunate Escousse was
played at the Théâtre-Français. I did not see _Pierre III._; I tried
to get hold of it to read it, but it seems that the drama has not been
printed.

This is what Lesur said about it in his _Annuaire_ for 1831--

    "THÉÂTRE-FRANÇAIS (28 _December._)--First performance
    of _Pierre III._, a drama in five acts; in verse, by M.
    Escousse.

    "The failure of this work dealt a fatal blow to its author;
    carried away, as he probably was, with the success of
    _Farruck le Maure._ In _Pierre III._, neither history, nor
    probability, nor reason, was respected. It was a deplorable
    specimen of the fanatical and uncouth style of literature
    (these two epithets are my own), made fashionable by men
    possessed of too real a talent for their example not to
    cause many lamentable imitations. But who could suspect that
    the author's life was bound up in his work? Yet one more
    trial, one more failure and the unhappy young man was to
    die!..."

And, indeed, Victor Escousse and Auguste Lebras in collaboration
soon put on at the Gaieté the drama of _Raymond_, which also failed.
Criticism must have been cruelly incensed against this drama, since we
find, after the last words of the play, a postscript containing these
few lines, signed by one of the authors--

    "P.S.--This work roused much criticism against us, and
    it must be admitted, few people have made allowances for
    two poor young fellows, the oldest of whom is scarcely
    twenty, in the attempt which they made to create an
    interesting situation with five characters, rejecting all
    the accessories of melodrama. But I have no intention of
    seeking to defend ourselves. I simply wish to proclaim the
    gratitude that I owe to Victor Escousse, who, in order to
    open the way for my entry into theatrical circles, admitted
    me to collaboration with himself; I also wish to defend
    him, as far as it is in my power, against the calumnious
    statements which are openly made against his character as a
    man; imputing a ridiculous vanity to him which I have never
    noticed in him. I say it publicly, I have nothing but praise
    to give him in respect of his behaviour towards me, not only
    as collaborator, but still more as a friend. May these few
    words, thus frankly written, soften the darts which hatred
    has been pleased to hurl against a young man whose talent, I
    hope, will some day stifle the words of those who attack him
    without knowing him! AUGUSTE LEBRAS"

Yet Escousse had so thoroughly understood the fact that with success
would come struggle, and with the amelioration of material position
would come a recrudescence in moral suffering, that, after the success
in _Farruck le Maure_, when he left his little workman's room to take
rather more comfortable quarters as an honoured author, he addressed
to that room, the witness of his first emotions as poet and lover, the
lines here given--

    À MA CHAMBRE

    "De mon indépendance,
    Adieu, premier séjour,
    Où mon adolescence
    A duré moins d'un jour!
    Bien que peu je regrette
    Un passé déchirant,
    Pourtant, pauvre chambrette,
    Je vous quitte en pleurant!

    Du sort, avec courage,
    J'ai subi tous les coups;
    Et, du moins, mon partage
    N'a pu faire un jaloux.
    La faim, dans ma retraite,
    M'accueillait en rentrant ...
    Pourtant, pauvre chambrette,
    Je vous quitte en pleurant!

    Au sein de la détresse,
    Quand je suçais mon lait,
    Une tendre maîtresse
    Point ne me consolait,
    Solitaire couchette
    M'endormait soupirant ...
    Pourtant, pauvre chambrette,
    Je vous quitte en pleurant!

    De ma muse, si tendre,
    Un Dieu capricieux
    Ne venait point entendre
    Le sons ambitieux.
    Briller pour l'indiscrète,
    Est besoin dévorant ...
    Pourtant, pauvre chambrette,
    Je vous quitte en pleurant!

    Adieu! le sort m'appelle
    Vers un monde nouveau;
    Dans couchette plus belle,
    J'oublîrai mon berceau.
    Peut-être, humble poète
    Lion de vous sera grand ...
    Pourtant, pauvre chambrette,
    Je vous quitte en pleurant!"

In fact, that set of apartments which Escousse had taken in place of
his room, and where, it will be seen, he had not installed himself
without pain, saw him enter on 18 February, with his friend Auguste
Lebras, followed by the daughter of the porter, who was carrying
a bushel of charcoal. He had just bought this charcoal from the
neighbouring greengrocer. While the woman was measuring it out, he said
to Lebras--

"Do you think a bushel is enough?"

"Oh, yes!" replied the latter.

They paid, and asked that the charcoal might be sent at once. The
porter's daughter left the bushel of charcoal in the anteroom at their
request, and went away, little supposing she had just shut in Death
with the two poor lads. Three days before, Escousse had taken the
second key of his room from the portress on purpose to prevent any
hindrance to this pre-arranged plan. The two friends separated. The
same night Escousse wrote to Lebras--

    "I expect you at half-past eleven; the curtain will be
    raised. Come, so that we may hurry on the _dénoûment!_"

Lebras came at the appointed hour; he had no thought of failing to keep
the appointment: the fatal thought of suicide had been germinating for
a long while in his brain. The charcoal was already lit. They stuffed
up the doors and windows with newspapers. Then Escousse went to a table
and wrote the following note:--

    "Escousse has killed himself because he does not feel he has
    any place in this life; because his strength fails him at
    every step he takes forwards or backwards; because fame does
    not satisfy his soul, _if soul there be!_

    "I desire that the motto of my book may be--

    "'Adieu, trop inféconde terre,
    Fléaux humains, soleil glacé!
    Comme un fantôme solitaire,
    Inaperçu j'aurai passé.
    Adieu, les palmes immortelles,
    Vrai songe d'une âme de feu!
    L'air manquait: J'ai fermé mes ailes, Adieu!'"


This, as we have said, took place at half-past eleven. At
midnight, Madame Adolphe, who had just been acting at the Théâtre
Porte-Saint-Martin, returned home; she lodged on the same floor as
Escousse, and the young man's suite of rooms was only separated from
her's by a partition. A strange sound seemed to her to come from
those rooms. She listened: she thought she heard a twofold noise as
of raucous breathing. She called, she knocked on the partition, but
she did not obtain any reply. Escousse's father also lived on the same
floor, on which four doors opened; these four doors belonged to the
rooms of Escousse, his father, Madame Adolphe and Walter, an actor I
used to know well at that time, but of whom I have since lost sight.
Madame Adolphe ran to the father of Escousse, awakened him (for he was
already asleep), made him get up and come with her to listen to the
raucous breathing which had terrified her. It had decreased, but was
still audible; audible enough for them to hear the dismal sound of two
breathings. The father listened for a few seconds; then he laughingly
said to Madame Adolphe, "You jealous woman!" And he went off to bed not
wishing to listen to her observations any further.

Madame Adolphe remained by herself. Until two o'clock in the morning
she heard this raucous sound to which she alone persisted in giving its
true significance. Incredulous though Escousse's father had been, he
was haunted by dismal presentiments all night long. About eight o'clock
next morning he went and knocked at his son's door. No one answered.
He listened; all was silent. Then the idea came to him that Escousse
was at the Vauxhall baths, to which the young man sometimes went. He
went to Walter's rooms, told him what had passed during the night, and
of his uneasiness in the morning. Walter offered to run to Vauxhall,
and the offer was accepted. At Vauxhall, Escousse had not been seen by
anyone. The father's uneasiness increased; it was nearly his office
hour, but he could not go until he was reassured by having his son's
door opened. A locksmith was called in and the door was broken open
with difficulty, for the key which had locked it from the inside was
in the keyhole. The key being still in the lock frightened the poor
father to such an extent that, when the door was open, he did not dare
to cross the threshold. It was Walter who entered, whilst he remained
leaning against the staircase bannisters. The inner door was, as we
have said, stuffed up, but not closed either with bolt or key; Walter
pushed it violently, broke through the obstructing paper and went in.
The fumes of the charcoal were still so dense that he nearly fell back.
Nevertheless, he penetrated into the room, seized the first object to
hand, a water-bottle, I believe, and hurled it at the window. A pane
of glass was broken by the crash, and gave ingress to the outer air.
Walter could now breathe, and he went to the window and opened it.

Then the terrible spectacle revealed itself to him in all its fearful
nakedness. The two young men were lying dead: Lebras on the floor,
upon a mattress which he had dragged from the bed; Escousse on the bed
itself. Lebras, of weakly constitution and feeble health, had easily
been overcome by death; but with his companion it had been otherwise;
strong and full of health, the struggle had been long and must have
been cruel; at least, this was what was indicated by his legs drawn
up under his body and his clenched hands, with the nails driven into
the flesh. The father nearly went out of his mind. Walter often told
me that he should always see the two poor youths, one on his mattress,
the other on his bed. Madame Adolphe did not dare to keep her rooms:
whenever she woke in the night, she thought she could hear the
death-rattle, which the poor father had taken for the sighs of lovers!

The excellent elegy which this suicide inspired Béranger to write is
well-known; we could wish our readers had forgotten that we had given
them part of it when we were speaking of the famous song-writer: that
would have allowed us to quote the whole of it here; but how can
they have forgotten that we have already fastened that rich poetic
embroidery on to our rags of prose?



CHAPTER VIII


    First performance of _Robert le Diable_--Véron, manager
    of the Opéra--His opinion concerning Meyerbeer's
    music--My opinion concerning Véron's intellect--My
    relations with him--His articles and _Memoirs_--Rossini's
    judgment of _Robert le Diable_--Nourrit, the
    preacher--Meyerbeer--First performance of the _Fuite de
    Law_, by M. Mennechet--First performance of _Richard
    Darlington_--Frédérick-Lemaître--Delafosse--Mademoiselle
    Noblet


Led away into reminiscences of Escousse and of Lebras, whom we followed
from the failure of _Pierre III._ to the day of their death, from the
evening of 28 December 1831, that is, to the night of 18 February 1832,
we have passed over the first performances of _Richard Darlington_ and
even of _Térésa._ Let us go back a step and return to the night of 21
October, at one o'clock in the morning, to Nourrit's dressing room,
who had just had a fall from the first floor of the Opéra owing to an
ill-fitting trap-door.

The first representation of _Robert le Diable_ had just been given.
It would be a curious thing to write the history of that great opera,
which nearly failed at the first representation, now reckons over
four hundred performances and is the _doyen_ of all operas now born
and, probably, yet to be born. At first, Véron, who had passed from
the management of the _Revue de Paris_ to that of the Opéra, had from
the first hearing of Meyerbeer's work,--in full rehearsal since its
acceptance at the theatre of the rue Lepeletier,--declared that he
thought the score detestable, and that he would only play it under
compulsion or if provided with a sufficient indemnity. The government,
which had just made, with respect to that new management, one of the
most scandalous contracts which have ever existed; the government,
which at that period gave a subsidy to the Opéra of nine hundred
thousand francs, thought Véron's demand quite natural; and convinced,
with him, that the music of _Robert le Diable_ was execrable, gave
to its well-beloved manager sixty or eighty thousand francs subsidy
for playing a work which now provides at least a third of the fifty
or sixty thousand francs income which Véron enjoys. Does not this
little anecdote prove that the tradition of putting a man at the
Opéra who knows nothing about music goes back to an epoch anterior
to the nomination of Nestor Roqueplan,--who, in his letters to Jules
Janin, boasts that he does not know the value of a semibreve or the
signification of a natural? No, it proves that Véron is a speculator
of infinite shrewdness, and that his refusal to play Meyerbeer's opera
was a clever speculation. Now, does Véron prefer that we should say
that he was not learned in music? Let him correct our statement. It
is common knowledge with what respect we submit to correction. There
is one point concerning which we will not admit correction: namely,
what we have just said about Véron's intellect. What we here state
we have repeated a score of times _speaking to him in person,_ as a
certain class of functionaries has it. Véron is a clever man, even
a very clever man, and it would not be doubted if he had not the
misfortune to be a millionaire. Véron and I were never on very friendly
terms; he has never, I believe, had a high opinion of my talent. As
editor of the _Revue de Paris_ he never asked me for a single article;
as manager of the Opéra, he has never asked me for anything but a
single poem for Meyerbeer, and that on condition I wrote the poem in
collaboration with Scribe; which nearly landed me in a quarrel with
Meyerbeer and wholly in one with Scribe. Finally, as manager of the
_Constitutionnel_, he only made use of me when the success which I had
obtained on the _Journal des Débats_, the _Siècle_ and the _Presse_ had
in some measure forced his hand. Our engagement lasted three years.
During those three years we had a lawsuit which lasted three months;
then, finally, we amicably broke the contract, when I had still some
twenty volumes to give him, and at the time of this rupture I owed him
six thousand francs. It was agreed that I should give Véron twelve
thousand lines for these six thousand francs. Some time after, Véron
sold the _Constitutionnel._ For the first journal that Véron shall
start, he can draw upon me for twelve thousand lines, at twelve days'
sight: on the thirteenth day the signature shall be honoured. Our
position with regard to Véron being thoroughly established, we repeat
that it is Véron's millions which injure his reputation. How can it be
admitted that a man can both possess money and intellect? The thing is
impossible!

"But," it will be urged, "if Véron is a clever man, who writes his
articles? Who composes his _Memoirs?_"

Some one else will reply--"He did not; they are written by Malitourne."

I pay no regard to what may lie underneath. When the articles or the
_Memoirs_ are signed Véron, both articles and _Memoirs_ are by Véron
so far as I am concerned: what else can you do? It is Véron's weakness
to imagine that he can write. Good gracious! if he did not write,
his reputation as an intellectual man would be made, in spite of his
millions! But it happens that, thanks to these deuced articles and
those blessed _Memoirs_, people laugh in my face when I say that Véron
has intellect. It is in vain for me to be vexed and angry, and shout
out and appeal to people who have supped with him, good judges in the
matter of wit, to believe me; everybody replies, even those who have
not supped with him: That is all very well! You say this because you
owe M. Véron twelve thousand lines! As if because one owes a man twelve
thousand lines it were a sufficient excuse for saying that he has
intellect! Take, for example, the case of M. Tillot, of the _Siècle_,
who says that I owe him twenty-four thousand lines; at that rate, I
ought to say that he has twice as much intellect as Véron. But I do
not say so; I will content myself with saying that I do not owe him
those twenty-four thousand lines, and that he, on the contrary, owes me
something like three or four hundred thousand francs or more, certainly
not less.

But where on earth were we? Oh! I remember! we were talking about the
first night of _Robert le Diable._ After the third act I met Rossini in
the green-room.

"Come now, Rossini," I asked him, "what do you think of that?"

"Vat do I zink?" replied Rossini.

"Yes, what do you think of it?"

"Veil, I zink zat if my best friend vas vaiting for me at ze corner of
a wood vis a pistol, and put zat pistol to my throat, zaying, 'Rossini,
zu art going to make zur best opera!' I should do it."

"And suppose you had no one friendly enough towards you to render you
this service?"

"Ah! in zat case all vould be at an end, and I azzure you zat I vould
never write one zingle note of music again!"

Alas! the friend was not forthcoming, and Rossini kept his oath.

I meditated upon these words of the illustrious maestro during the
fourth and fifth acts of _Robert_, and, after the fifth act, I went to
the stage to inquire of Nourrit if he was not hurt. I felt a strong
friendship towards Nourrit, and he, on his side, was much attached to
me. Nourrit was not only an eminent actor, he was also a delightful
man; he had but one fault: when you paid him a compliment on his acting
or on his voice, he would listen to you in a melancholy fashion, and
reply with his hand on your shoulder--

"Ah! my friend, I was not born to be a singer or a comedian!"

"Indeed! Then why were you born?"

"I was born to mount a pulpit, not a stage."

"A pulpit!"

"Yes."

"And what the deuce would you do in a pulpit?"

"I should guide humanity in the way of progress.... Oh! you misjudge
me; you do not know my real character."

Poor Nourrit! He made a great mistake in wanting to have been or to
appear other than he was: he was a delightful player! a dignified and
noble and kindly natured man! He had taken the Revolution of 1830 very
seriously, and, for three months, he appeared every other day on the
stage of the Opéra as a National Guard, singing the _Marseillaise_,
flag in hand. Unluckily, his patriotism was sturdier than his voice,
and he broke his voice in that exercise. It was because his voice had
already become weaker that Meyerbeer put so little singing in the part
of Robert. Nourrit was in despair, not because of his failure, but
because of that of the piece. In common with everyone else, he thought
the work had failed. Meyerbeer was himself quite melancholy enough!
Nourrit introduced us to one another. Our acquaintance dates from that
night.

Meyerbeer was a very clever man; from the first he had had the sense to
place a great fortune at the service of an immense reputation. Only,
he did not make his fortune with his reputation; it might almost be
said that he made his reputation with his fortune. Meyerbeer was never
for one instant led aside from his object,--whether he was by himself
or in society, in France or in Germany, at the table of the hotel _des
Princes_ or at the Casino at Spa,--and that object was success. Most
assuredly, Meyerbeer gave himself more trouble to achieve success than
in writing his scores. We say this because it seems to us that there
are two courses to take. Meyerbeer should leave his scores to make
their own successes; we should gain one opera out of every three. I
admire the more this quality of tenacity of purpose in a man since it
is entirely lacking in myself. I have always let managers look after
their interests and mine on first nights; and, next day, upon my word!
let people say what they like, whether good or ill! I have been working
for the stage for twenty-five years now, and writing books for as long:
I challenge a single newspaper editor to say he has seen me in his
office to ask the favour of a single puff. Perhaps in this indifference
lies my strength. In the five or six years that have just gone by, as
soon as my plays have been put on the stage, with all the care and
intelligence of which I am capable, it has often happened that I have
not been present at my first performance, but have waited to hear any
news about it that others, more curious than myself, who had been
present, should bring me.

But at the time of _Richard Darlington_ I had not yet attained to this
high degree of philosophy. As soon as the play was finished, it had
been read to Harel, who had just left the management of the Odéon to
take up that of the Porte-Saint-Martin, and, be it said, Harel had
accepted it at once; he had immediately put it in rehearsal, and,
after a month of rehearsals, all scrupulously attended by me, we had
got to 10 December, the day fixed for the first performance. The
Théâtre-Français was in competition with us, and played the same day
_La Fuite de Law_, by M. Mennechet, ex-reader to King Charles X. In his
capacity of ex-reader to King Charles X., Mennechet was a Royalist. I
shall always recollect the sighs he heaved when he was compelled, as
editor of _Plutarque français_, to insert in it the biography of the
Emperor Napoléon. Had he been in a position to consult his own personal
feelings only, he would certainly have excluded from his publication
the Conqueror of Marengo, of Austerlitz and of Jena; but he was not
the complete master of it: since Napoléon had taken Cairo, Berlin,
Vienna and Moscow, he had surely the right to monopolise fifty or sixty
columns in the _Plutarque français._ I know something about those
sighs; for he came to ask me for that biography of Napoléon, and it was
I who drew it up. In spite of the competition of the Théâtre-Français
there was a tremendous stir over _Richard._ It was known beforehand
that the play had a political side to it of great significance, and
the feverishness of men's minds at that period made a storm out of
everything. People crushed at the doors to get tickets. At the rising
of the curtain the house seemed full to overflowing. Frédérick was
the pillar who supported the whole affair. He had supporting him,
Mademoiselle Noblet, Delafosse, Doligny and Madame Zélie-Paul. But so
great was the power of this fine dramatic genius that he electrified
everybody. Everyone in some degree was inspired by him, and by contact
with him increased his own strength without decreasing that of the
great player. Frédérick was then in the full zenith of his talent.
Unequal like Kean,--whose personality he was to copy two or three
years later,--sublime like Kean, he had the same qualities he exhibits
to-day, and, though in a lesser degree, the same defects. He was
just the same then in the relations of ordinary life,--difficult,
unsociable, capricious, as he is to-day. In other respects he was a
man of sound judgment; taking as much interest in the play as in his
own part in the suggestions he proposed, and as much interest in the
author as in himself. He had been excellent at the rehearsals. At the
performance itself he was magnificent! I do not know where he had
studied that gambler on the grand scale whom we style an ambitious man;
men of genius must study in their own hearts what they cannot know
except in dreams. Next to Frédérick, Doligny was capital in the part
of Tompson. It was to the recollection I had of him in this rôle that
the poor fellow owed, later, the sad privilege of being associated
with me in my misfortunes. Delafosse, who played Mawbray, had moments
of genuine greatness. One instance of it was where he waits at the
edge of a wood, in a fearful storm, for the passing of the post-chaise
in which Tompson is carrying off Jenny. An accident which might have
made a hitch and upset the play at that juncture was warded off by his
presence of mind. Mawbray has to kill Tompson by shooting him; for
greater security, Delafosse had taken two pistols; real stage-pistols,
hired from a gunsmith,--they both missed fire! Delafosse never lost
his head: he made a pretence of drawing a dagger from his pocket, and
killed Tompson with a blow from his fist, as he had not been able to
blow out his brains. Mademoiselle Noblet was fascinatingly tender and
loving, a charming and poetic being. In the last scene she fell so
completely under Frédérick's influence as to utter cries of genuine
not feigned terror. The fable took on all the proportions of reality
for her. The final scene was one of the most terrible I ever saw on
the stage. When Jenny asked him, "What are you going to do?" and
Richard replied, "I do not know; but pray to God!" a tremendous shudder
ran all over the house, and a murmur of fear, escaping from every
breast, became an actual shriek of terror. At the conclusion of the
second act Harel had come up to my _avant-scène_:[1]--I had the chief
_avant-scène_ by right, and from it I could view the performance as
though I were a stranger. Harel, I say, came up to entreat me to have
my name mentioned with that of Dinaux: the name, be it known, by which
Goubaux and Beudin were known on the stage. I refused. During the third
act he came up again, accompanied this time by my two collaborators,
and furnished with three bank-notes of a thousand francs each. Goubaux
and Beudin, good, excellent, brotherly hearted fellows, came to ask me
to have my name given alone. I had done the whole thing, they said,
and my right to the success was incontestable. I had done the whole
thing!--except finding the subject, except providing the outlines of
the development, except, finally, the execution of the chief scene
between the king and Richard, the scene in which I had completely
failed. I embraced them and refused. Harel offered me the three
thousand francs. He had come at an opportune moment: tears were in my
eyes, and I held a hand of each of my two friends in mine. I refused
him, but I did not embrace him. The curtain fell in the midst of
frantic applause. They called Richard before the curtain, then Jenny,
Tompson, Mawbray, the whole company. I took advantage of the spectators
being still glued to their places to go out and make for the door of
communication. I wanted to take the actors in my arms on their return
to the wings. I came across Musset in the corridor; he was very pale
and very much moved.

"Well," I asked him; "what is the matter, my dear poet?"

"I am suffocating!" he replied.

It was, I think, the finest praise he could have paid the work,--the
drama of _Richard_ is, indeed, suffocating. I reached the wings in
time to shake hands with everybody. And yet I did not feel the same
emotion as on the night of _Antony!_ The success had been as great,
but the players were nothing like as dear to me. There is an abyss
between my character and habits and those of Frédérick which three
triumphs in common have not enabled either of us to bridge. What a
difference between my friendship with Bocage! Between Mademoiselle
Noblet and myself, pretty and fascinating as she was at that date,
there existed none but purely artistic relations; she interested me as
a young and beautiful person of promising future, and that was all.
What a difference, to be sure, from the double and triple feelings
with which Dorval inspired me! Although to-day the most active of
these sentiments has been extinguished these twenty years; though she
herself has been dead for four or five years, and forgotten by most
people who should have remembered her, and who did not even see her
taken to her last resting-place, her name falls constantly from my pen,
just as her memory strikes ever a pang at my heart! Perhaps it will
be said that my joy was not so great because my name remained unknown
and my personality concealed. On that head I have not even the shadow
of a regret. I can answer for it that my two collaborators were more
sadly troubled at being named alone than I at not being named at all.
_Richard_ had an immense success, and it was just that it should:
_Richard_, without question, is an excellent drama. I beg leave to be
as frank concerning myself as I am with regard to others.

Twenty-one days after the performance of _Richard Darlington_ the year
1831 went to join its sisters in that unknown world to which Villon
relegates dead moons, and where he seeks, without finding them, the
snows of yester year. Troubled though the year had been by political
disturbances, it had been splendid for art. I had produced three
pieces,--one bad, _Napoléon Bonaparte_; one mediocre, _Charles VII._;
and one good, _Richard Darlington._

Hugo had put forth _Marion Delorme,_ and had published _Notre-Dame de
Paris_--something more than a _roman_, a book!--and his volume the
_Feuilles d'Automne._

Balzac had published the _Peau de chagrin_, one of his most irritating
productions. Once for all, my estimation of Balzac, both as a man
and as an author, is not to be relied upon: as a man, I knew him but
little, and what I did know did not rouse in me the least sympathy;
as regards his talent, his manner of composition, of creation, of
production, were so different from mine, that I am a bad judge of him,
and I condemn myself on this head, quite conscious that I can justly be
called in question.

But to continue. Does my reader know, omitting mention of M. Comte's
theatre and of that of the Funambules, what was played in Paris from
1 January 1809 to 31 December 1831? Well, there were played 3558
theatrical pieces, to which Scribe contributed 3358; Théaulor, 94;
Brazier, 93; Dartois, 92, Mélesville, 80; Dupin, 56; Antier, 53;
Dumersan, 55; de Courcy, 50. The whole world compared with this could
not have provided a quarter of it! Nor was painting far behind: Vernet
had reached the zenith of his talent; Delacroix and Delaroche were
ascending the upward path of theirs. Vernet had exhibited ... But
before speaking of their works, let us say a few words of the men
themselves.


[1] At the front of the stage.--TRANS.



CHAPTER IX


    Horace Vernet


Vernet was then a man of forty-two. You are acquainted with Horace
Vernet, are you not? I will not say as painter--pooh! who does not
know, indeed, the artist of the _Bataille de Montmirail_, of the
_Prise de Constantine_, of the _Déroute de la Smala?_ No, I mean as
man. You will have seen him pass a score of times, chasing the stag
or the boar, in shooting costume; or crossing the place du Carrousel,
or parading in the court of the Tuileries, in the brilliant uniform
of a staff officer. He was a handsome cavalier, a dainty, lithe,
tall figure, with sparkling eyes, high cheek-bones, a mobile face
and moustaches _à la royale Louis XIII._ Imagine him something like
d'Artagnan. For Horace looked far more like a musketeer than a painter;
or, say, like a painter of the type of Velasquez, or Van Dyck, and,
like the Cavalier Tempesta, with curled-up moustache, sword dangling
against his heels, his horse snorting forth fire from its nostrils.
The whole race of Vernets were of a similar type. Joseph Vernet, the
grandfather, had himself bound to a ship's mast during a tempest.
Karl Vernet, the father, would, I am certain, have given many things
to have been carried off, like Mazeppa, across the Steppes of Ukraine
on a furious horse, reeking with foam and blood. For, be it known,
Horace Vernet brings up the rear of a quadruple series, the latest of
four generations of painters,--he is the son of Karl, the grandson of
Joseph Vernet, the great-grandson of Antoine. Then, as though this
were not enough, his maternal ancestor was the younger Moreau, that is
to say, one of the foremost draughts-men and ablest engravers of the
eighteenth century. Antoine Vernet painted flowers upon sedan chairs.
There are two chairs painted and signed by him at Marseilles. Joseph
Vernet has adorned every museum in France with his sea pictures. He is
to Havre, Brest, Lorient, Marseilles and Toulon what Canaletto is to
Venice.

Karl, who began by bearing off the _grand prix_ of Rome with his
composition of the _Enfant prodigue_, became, in 1786, an enthusiastic
painter of everything English. The Duc d'Orléans bought at fabulous
prices the finest of English horses. Karl Vernet became mad on horses,
drew them, painted them, made them his speciality and so became famous.
As for Horace, he was born in 1789, the year in which his grandfather
Joseph died and his father Karl was made an Academician. Born a
painter, so to say, his first steps were taken in a studio.

"Who is your master?" I once asked him.

"I never had one."

"But who taught you to draw and paint?"

"I do not know.... When I could only walk on all fours I used to pick
up pencils and paint brushes. When I found paper I drew; when I found
canvas I painted, and one fine day it was discovered that I was a
painter."

When ten years old, Horace sold his first drawing to a merchant: it
was a tulip commissioned by Madame de Périgord. This was the first
money he had earned, twenty-four sous! And the merchant paid him these
twenty-four sous in one of those white coins that were still to be seen
about in 1816, but which we do not see now and shall probably not see
again. This happened in 1799. From that moment Horace Vernet found a
market for drawings, rough sketches and six-inch canvases. In 1811 the
King of Westphalia commissioned his first two pictures: the _Prise du
camp_ _retranché de Galatz_ and the _Prise de Breslau._ I have seen
them scores of times at King Jérome's palace; they are not your best
work, my dear Horace! But they brought him in sixteen thousand francs.
It was the first considerable sum of money he had received; it was the
first out of which he could put something aside. Then came 1812, 1813
and 1814, and the downfall of the whole Napoléonic edifice. The world
shook to its foundations: Europe became a volcano, society seemed about
to dissolve. There was no thought of painting, or literature, or art!
What do you suppose became of Vernet, who could not then obtain for his
pictures eight thousand francs, or four thousand, or a thousand, or
five hundred, or a hundred, or even fifty? Vernet drew designs for the
_Journal des Modes_;--three for a hundred francs: 33 francs 33 centimes
each drawing! One day he showed me all these drawings, a collection of
which he kept; I counted nearly fifteen hundred of them with feelings
of profound emotion. The 33 francs 33 centimes brought to my mind my
166 francs 65 centimes,--the highest figure my salary had ever reached.
Vernet was a child of the Revolution; but as a young man he knew only
the Empire. An ardent Bonapartist in 1815, more fervent still, perhaps,
in 1816, he gave many sword strokes and sweeps of the paint brush in
honour of Napoléon, both exercised as secretly as possible. In 1818,
the Duc d'Orléans conceived the idea of ordering Vernet to paint
pictures for him. The suggestion was transmitted to the painter on the
prince's behalf.

"Willingly," said the painter, "but on condition that they shall be
military pictures."

The prince accepted.

"That the pictures," added the painter, "shall be of the time of the
Republic and of the Empire."

Again the prince acceded.

"Finally," added the painter, "on condition that the soldiers of the
Empire and of the Revolution shall wear tricolor cockades."

"Tell M. Vernet," replied the prince to this, "that he can put the
first cockade in my hat."

And as a matter of fact the Duc d'Orléans decided that the first
picture which Vernet should execute for him should be of himself as
Colonel of Dragoons, saving a poor refractory priest: a piece of good
fortune which befell the prince in 1792, and which has been related
by us at length in our _Histoire de Louis Philippe._ Horace Vernet
painted the picture and had the pleasure of putting the first tricolor
cockade ostentatiously on the helmet. About this time the Duc de Berry
urgently desired to visit the painter's studio, whose reputation grew
with the rapidity of the giant Adamastor. But Vernet did not love the
Bourbons, especially those of the Older Branch. With the Duc d'Orléans
it was different; he had been a Jacobin. Horace refused admission to
his studio to the son of Charles X.

"Oh! Good gracious!" said the Duc de Berry, "if in order to be received
by M. Vernet it is but a question of putting on a tricolor cockade,
tell him that, although I do not wear M. Laffitte's colours at my
heart, I will put them in my hat, if it must be so, the day I enter his
house."

The suggestion did not come to anything either, because the painter did
not accede to it; or because, the painter having acceded to it, the
prince declined to submit to such an exacting condition.

In less than eighteen months Vernet painted for the Duc d'Orléans--the
condition concerning the tricolor cockades being always respected--the
fine series of pictures which constitute his best work: _Montmirail_,
in which he puts more than tricolor cockades, namely, the Emperor
himself riding away into the distance on his white horse; _Hanau,
Jemappes_ and _Valmy._ But all these tricolor cockades, which blossomed
on Horace's canvases like poppies, cornflowers and marguerites in a
meadow, and above all, that detestable white horse, although it was no
bigger than a pin's head, frightened the government of Louis XVIII.
The exhibition of 1821 declined Horace Vernet's pictures. The artist
held an exhibition at his own house, and had a greater success by
himself than the two thousand painters had who exhibited at the Salon.
This was the time of his great popularity. No one was allowed at that
period, not even his enemies, to dispute his talent. Vernet was more
than a celebrated painter: he belonged to the nation, representing
in the world of art the spirit of opposition which was beginning to
make the reputations of Béranger and of Casimir Delavigne in the
world of poetry. He lived in the rue de la Tour-des-Dames. All that
quarter had just sprung into being; it was the artists' quarter. Talma,
Mademoiselle Mars, Mademoiselle Duchesnois, Arnault lived there. It
was called _La Nouvelle Athènes._ They all carried on the spirit of
opposition in their own particular ways: Mademoiselle Mars with her
violets, M. Arnault with his stories, Talma with his Sylla wig, Horace
Vernet with his tricolor cockades, Mademoiselle Duchesnois with what
she could. One consecration was still lacking in the matter of Horace
Vernet's popularity; he obtained it, that is to say, he was appointed
director of the École Française at Rome. Perhaps this was a means of
getting him sent away from Paris. But the exile, if such it was, looked
so much more like an honour that Vernet accepted it with joy. Criticism
grumbled a little;--it was the time of the raising of Voices!--Some
complained in the hoarse notes, others in the screaming tones which
are the peculiar property of the envious, exclaiming that it was
rather a risk to send to Rome the propagator of tricolor cockades,
and rather a bold stroke to bring into juxtaposition _Montmirail_ and
_The Transfiguration_, Horace Vernet and Raphael; but these voices
were drowned in the universal acclamation which hailed the honour
done to our national painter. It was certainly not Vernet's enemies
who should have indulged in recrimination; but rather his friends who
should have felt afraid. In fact, when Horace Vernet found himself
confronted with the masterpieces of the sixteenth century, even as
Raphael when led into the Sistine Chapel by Bramante, he was seized
with a spasm of doubt. The whole of his education as a painter was
called in question. He felt he had been self-deceived for thirty years
of his life;--at the age of thirty-two, Horace had already been a
painter for thirty years!--he asked himself whether, instead of those
worthy full-length soldiers, clad in military capot and shako, he
was not destined to paint naked giants; the _Iliad_ of Homer instead
of the _Iliad_ of Napoléon. The unhappy painter set himself to paint
great pictures. The Roman school was in a flourishing state upon his
arrival--Vernet succeeded to Guérin;--under Vernet it became splendid.
The indefatigable artist, the never-ceasing creator, communicated a
portion of his fecund spirit to all those young minds. Like a sun he
lighted up and warmed throughout and ripened everything with his rays.
One year after his arrival in Rome he must needs erect an exhibition
hall in the garden of the École. Féron, from whom the institute asked
an eighteen-inch sketch, gave a twenty-feet picture, the _Passage des
Alpes_; Debay gave the _Mort de Lucrèce_; Bouchot, a _Bacchanale_;
Rivière, a _Peste apaisée par les prières du pape._ Sculptors created
groups of statuary, or at the least statues, instead of statuettes;
Dumont sent _Bacchus aux bras de sa nourrice_; Duret, the _Invention de
la Lyre._ It was such an outpouring of productions that the Academy was
frightened. It complained that the École de Rome _produced too much._
This was the only reproach they had to bring against Vernet during his
Ultramontane Vice-regency. He himself worked as hard as a student,
two students, ten students. He sent his _Raphael et Michel-Ange_, his
_Exaltation du pape_, his _Arrestation du prince de Condé_, his ...
Happily for Horace, I cannot recollect any more he sent in at that
period.

I repeat once more, the sight of the old masters had upset all his
old ideas;--in the slang of the studio, Horace splashed about. I say
this because I am quite certain that it is his own opinion. If it
is possible that Horace could turn out any bad painting--if he has
ever done so--and he alone has the right to say this--is it not the
fact, dear Horace, that the bad painting which many artists point out
with glee and triumph was done in Rome. But this period of relative
inferiority for Horace, which was only below his own average in
painting in what is termed the "grand style," was not without its
profit to the artist; he drank the wine of life from its main source,
the eternal spring! He returned to France strengthened by a force
invisible to all, unrealised by himself, and after seven years spent in
the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel and the Farnesina, he found himself
more at ease among his barracks and battlefields, which many people
said, and said wrongly, that he ought not to have quitted.

Ah! Horace led a fine life, dashing through Europe on horseback, across
Africa on a dromedary, over the Mediterranean in a ship! A glorious,
noble and loyal life at which criticism may scoff, but in respect of
which no reproach can be uttered by France.

Now, during this year--_nous revenons à nos moutons_, as M. Berger puts
it--Horace sent two pictures from Rome, namely, those we have mentioned
already: the _Exaltation du pape_, one of the best of his worst
pictures, and the _Arrestation du prince de Condé_, one of the best of
his best pictures.



CHAPTER X


    Paul Delaroche


Delaroche exhibited his three masterpieces at the Salon of 1831: the
_Enfants d'Édouard_; _Cinq-mars et de Thou remontant le Rhône à la
remorque du Cardinal de Richelieu_, and the _Jeu du Cardinal de Mazarin
à son lit de mort._

It is hardly necessary to say that of these three pictures we prefer
the _Cinq-mars et de Thou remontant le Rhône._

The biography of the eminent artist will not be long. His is not an
eccentric character, nor one of those impetuous temperaments which seek
adventures. He did not have his collar-bone broken when he was fifteen,
three ribs staved in at thirty, and his head cut open at forty-five,
as did Vernet; he does not expose his body in every political quarrel;
his recreations are not those of fencing, horse-riding and shooting.
He rests from work by dreaming, and not by some fresh fatiguing
occupation; for although his work is masterly, it is heavy, laboured
and melancholy. Instead of saying before Heaven openly, when showing
his pictures to men and thanking God for having given him the power
to paint them, "Behold, I am an artist! Vivent Raphaël and Michael
Angelo!" he conceals them, he hides them, he withdraws them from sight,
murmuring, "Ah! I was not made for brush, canvas and colours: I was
made for political and diplomatic career. Vivent M. de Talleyrand and
M. de Metternich!" Oh! how unhappy are those spirits, those restless
souls, who do one thing and torment themselves with the everlasting
anxiety that they were created to do something else.

In 1831, Paul Delaroche was thirty-four, and just about at the height
of his strength and his talent. He was the second son of a pawnbroker.
He early entered the studio of Gros, who was then in the zenith of his
fame, and who, after his beautiful pictures of _Jaffa, Aboukir_ and
_Eylau_, was about to undertake the gigantic dome of the Panthéon. He
made genuine and rapid advance in harmony with the design and taste of
the master. Nevertheless, Delaroche began with landscape. His brother
painted historical subjects, and the father did not wish both his two
sons to apply themselves to the same kind of painting. Claude Lorraines
and Ruysdaels were accordingly the studios preferred by Paul; a woman
with whom he fell in love, and whose portrait he persisted in painting,
changed his inclinations. This portrait finished and found to be
acceptable (_bien venu_), as they say in studio language, Delaroche
was won over to the grand school of painting. He made his first
appearance in the Salon of 1822, when he was twenty-five years of age,
with a _Joas arraché du milieu des morts par Josabeth_, and a _Christ
descendu de la croix._ In 1824, he exhibited _Jeanne d'Arc interrogée
dans son cachot par le Cardinal de Winchester, Saint Vincent de Paul
prêchant pour les enfants trouvés, Saint Sébastien secouru par Irene_
and _Filippo Lippi chargé de peindre une vierge pour une convent, et
devenant amoureux de la religieuse qui lui sert de modèle._

The _Jeanne d'Arc_ made a great impression. Instead of being talked of
as a painter of great promise, Delaroche was looked upon as a master
who had realised these hopes.

In 1826 he exhibited his _Mort de Carrache, Le Prétendant sauvé
par Miss MacDonald_, the _Nuit de la Saint Barthélemy_, the _Mort
d'Élisabeth_ and the full-length portrait of the Dauphin.

The whole world stood to gaze at Elizabeth, pallid, dying, dead already
from the waist down. I was riveted in front of the young Scotch girl,
exquisitely sympathetic and admirably romantic in feeling. _Cinq-Mars_
and _Miss MacDonald_ were alone enough to make Delaroche a great
painter. What delicious handling there is in the latter picture, sweet,
tender, moving! What suppleness and _morbidezza_ in those golden
fifteen years, born on the wings of youth, scarcely touching the earth!
O Delaroche! you are a great painter! But if you had only painted four
pictures equal to your _Miss MacDonald_, how you would have been adored!

In 1827, he first produced a political picture, the _Prise du
Trocadéro_; then the _Mort du Président Duranti_, a great and
magnificent canvas, three figures of the first order: the president,
his wife and his child; the figure of the child, in particular, who
is holding up--or, rather, stretching up--its hands to heaven; and
a ceiling for the Charles X. Museum, of which I will not speak, as
I do not remember it. Finally, in 1831, the period we have reached,
Delaroche exhibited _Les Enfants d'Édouard, Cinq-Mars et de Thou_, the
_Jeu de Mazarin_, the portrait of Mlle. Sontag and a _Lecture._ The
painter's reputation, as we have said, had then reached its height. You
remember those two children sitting on a bed, one sickly, the other
full of health; the little barking dog; the ray of light that comes
into the prison through the chink beneath the door. You remember the
Richelieu--ill, coughing, attenuated, with no more strength to cause
the death of others; the beautiful figure of Cinq-Mars, calm, in his
exquisite costume of white satin, pink and white under his pearl-grey
hat; the grave de Thou, in his dark dress, looking at the scaffold
in the distance, which was to assume for him so terrible an aspect
on nearer view; those guards, those rowers, the soldier eating and
the other who is spluttering in the water. The whole is exquisitely
composed and executed, full of intellect and thought, and particularly
full of skill--skill, yes! for Delaroche _par excellence_ is the
dexterous painter. He possesses the expertness of Casimir Delavigne,
with whom he has all kinds of points of resemblance, although, in our
opinion, he strikes us as being stronger, as a painter, than Casimir
Delavigne as a dramatic author. Every artist has his double in some
kindred contemporary. Hugo and Delacroix have many points of contact; I
pride myself upon my resemblance to Vernet.

Delaroche's skill is, indeed, great; not that we think it the fruit of
studied calculation, such cleverness is intuitive, and, perhaps, not so
much an acquired quality as a natural gift, a gift that is doubtless
rather a negative one, from the point of view of art. I prefer certain
painters, poets and players who are inclined to err on the side of
being awkward rather than too skilful. But, just as all the studying in
the world will not change clumsiness into skilfulness, so you cannot
cure a clever man of his defect. Therefore, although it is a singular
statement to make, Delaroche has the defect of being too skilful.
If a man is going to his execution, Delaroche will not choose the
shuddering moment when the guards open the doors of the prison, nor the
terror-stricken instant when the victim catches sight of the scaffold.
No, the resigned victim will pass before the window of the Bishop of
London; as he descends a staircase, will kneel with downcast eyes and
receive the benediction bestowed on him by two white aristocratic
trembling hands thrust through the bars of that window. If he paints
the assassination of the Duc de Guise, he does not choose the moment of
struggle, the supreme instant when the features contract in spasms of
anger, in convulsions of agony; when the hands dig into the flesh and
tear out hair; when hearts drink vengeance and daggers drink blood. No,
it is the moment when all is over, when the Duc de Guise is laid dead
at the foot of the bed, when daggers and swords are wiped clean and
cloaks have hidden the rending of the doublet, when the murderers open
the door to the assassin, and Henri III. enters, pale and trembling,
and recoils as he comes in murmuring--

"Why, he must have been ten feet high?--he looks taller lying down than
standing, dead than alive!"

Again, if he paints the children of Edward, he does not choose the
moment when the executioners of Richard III. rush upon the poor
innocent boys and stifle their cries and their lives with bedding and
pillows. No, he chooses the time when the two lads, seated on the bed
which is to become their grave, are terrified and trembling by reason
of a presentiment of the footsteps of Death, as yet unrecognised by
them, but noted by their dog. Death is approaching, as yet hidden
behind the prison door, but his pale and cadaverous light is already
creeping in through the chinks.

It is evident that this is one side of art, one aspect of genius,
which can be energetically attacked and conscientiously defended.
It does not satisfy the artist supremely, but it gives the middle
classes considerable pleasure. That is why Delaroche had, for a time,
the most universal reputation, and the one that was least disputed
among all his colleagues. It also explains why, after having been too
indulgent towards him, and from the very fact of being over-indulgent,
criticism has become too severe. And this is why we are putting the
artist and his works in their true place and light. We say, then:
Delaroche must not be so much blamed for his skill as felicitated
for it. It is an organic part not merely of his talent, but still
more of his temperament and character. He does not look all round his
subject to find out from which side he can see it the best. He sees
his subject immediately in just that particular pose; and it would be
impossible for the painter to realise it in any other way. Along with
this, Delaroche puts all the consciousness of which he is capable into
his work. Here is yet another point of resemblance between him and
Casimir Delavigne; only, he does not pour his whole self out as does
Delavigne; he does not need, as does Delavigne, friends to encourage
him and give him strength;--he is more prolific: Casimir is cunning;
Delaroche is merely freakish. Then, Casimir shortens, contracts and is
niggardly. He treats the same subject as does Delaroche; but why does
he treat it? Not by any means because the subject is a magnificent
one; or because it moves the heart of the masses and stirs up the Past
of a People; or because Shakespeare has created a sublime drama from
it, but because Delaroche has made a fine picture out of it. Thus the
fifteen more or less lengthy acts of Shakespeare become, under the pen
of Casimir Delavigne, three short acts; there is no mention whatever of
the king's procession, the scene between Richard III. and Queen Anne,
the apparition of the victims between the two armies, the fight between
Richard III. and Richmond. Delavigne's three acts have no other aim
than to make a tableau-vivant framed in the harlequin hangings of the
Théâtre-Français, representing with scrupulous exactitude, and in the
manner of a deceptive painting of still-life, the canvas of Delaroche.
It happens, therefore, that the drama finds itself great, even as is
the Academy, not by any means because of what it possesses, but by
what it lacks. Then, although, in the case of both, their convictions
or, if you prefer it, their prejudices exceed the bounds of obstinacy
and amount to infatuation, Delaroche, being the stronger of the two,
rarely giving in, although he does occasionally! while Casimir never
does so! To give one instance,--I have said that each great artist has
his counterpart in a kindred contemporary art; and I have said that
Delaroche resembled Casimir Delavigne. This I maintain. This is so
true that Victor Hugo and Delacroix, the two least academic talents
imaginable, both had the ambition to be of the Academy. Both competed
for it: Hugo five times and Delacroix ten, twelve, fifteen.... I cannot
count how many times. Very well, you remember what I said before; or
rather, lest you should not remember it, I will repeat it. During one
of the vacancies in the Academy I took it upon myself to call on some
academicians, who were my friends, on Hugo's behalf. One of these calls
was in the direction of Menus-Plasirs, where Casimir Delavigne had
rooms. I have previously mentioned how fond I was of Casimir Delavigne,
and that this feeling was reciprocated. Perhaps it will be a matter
for surprise that, being so fond of him, and boasting of his affection
for myself, I speak _ill_ of him. In the first place, I do not speak
_ill_ of his talent, I merely state the truth about it. That does not
prevent me from liking the man Casimir personally. I speak well of
the talent of M. Delaroche, but does that prove that I like him? No,
I do not like M. Delaroche; but my friendship for the one and my want
of sympathy with the other does not influence my opinion of their
talent. It is not for me either to blame or to praise their talent,
and I may be permitted both to praise and to blame individuals. I
put all these trifles on one side, and I judge their works. With this
explanation I return to Casimir Delavigne, who liked me somewhat,
and whom I liked much. I had decided to make use of this friendship
on behalf of Hugo, whom I loved, and whom I still love with quite a
different affection, because admiration makes up at least two kinds
of my friendship for Hugo, whilst I have no admiration for Casimir
Delavigne at all. So I went to find Casimir Delavigne. I employed all
the coaxing which friendship could inspire, all the arguments reason
could prompt to persuade him to give his vote to Hugo. He refused
obstinately, cruelly and, worse still, tactlessly. It would have been a
stroke of genius for Casimir Delavigne to have voted for Hugo. But he
would not vote for him. Cleverness, in the case of Casimir Delavigne,
was an acquired quality, not a natural gift. Casimir gave his vote to
I know not whom--to M. Dupaty, or M. Flourens, or M. Vatout. Well,
listen to this. The same situation occurred when Delacroix paid his
visits as when Hugo was trying to get himself placed among applicants
for the Academy. Once, twice, Delaroche refused his vote to Delacroix.
Robert Fleury,--you know that excellent painter of sorrowful situations
and supreme anguish, an apparently ideal person to be an impartial
appreciator of Delacroix and of Delaroche! Well, Robert Fleury sought
out Delaroche and did what I had done in the case of Casimir Delavigne,
he begged, implored Delaroche to give his vote to Delacroix. Delaroche
at first refused with shudders of horror and cries of indignation; and
he showed Robert Fleury to the door. But when he was by himself his
conscience began to speak to him; softly at first, then louder and
still louder; he tried to struggle against it, but it grew bigger and
bigger, like the shadow of Messina's fiancée! He sent for Fleury.

"You can tell Delacroix he has my vote!" he burst out;--"all things
considered, he is a great painter."

And he fled to his bed-chamber as a vanquished lion retires into his
cave, as the sulky Achilles withdrew into his tent. Now, in exchange
for that concession made to his conscience when it said to him: "You
are wrong!" let us show Delaroche's stubbornness when conscience said,
"You are right!" Delaroche was not only a great painter, but, as you
will see, he was still more a very fine and a very great character.

In 1835, Delaroche, who was commissioned to paint six pictures for
the dome of the Madeleine, learnt that M. Ingres, who also had been
commissioned to paint the dome, had drawn back from the immense task
and retired. He ran off to M. Thiers, then Minister of the Interior.

"Monsieur le Ministre," he said to him, "M. Ingres is withdrawing;
my work is bound up with his, I am at one with him concerning it; he
discussed his plans with me, and I showed him my sketches; his task
and mine were made to harmonise together. It may not be thus with his
successor. May I ask who his successor is, in order that I may know
whether we can work together as M. Ingres and I have worked together?
In case you should not have any person in view, and should wish me to
undertake the whole, I will do the dome for nothing, that is to say,
you shall pay me the sum agreed upon for my six pictures and I will
give you the dome into the bargain."

M. Thiers got up and assumed the attitude of Orosmane, and said as said
Orosmane--

    "Chrétien, te serais tu flatté,
    D'effacer Orosmane en générosité."

The result of the conversation was that the Minister, after having
said that there might not perhaps be any dome to paint, and that it
was possible they might content themselves with a sculptured frieze,
passed his word of honour to Delaroche--the word of honour which you
knew, which I knew, which Rome and Spain knew!--that, if the dome of
the Madeleine had to be painted, he, Delaroche, should paint it. Upon
that assurance Delaroche departed joyously for Rome, carrying with him
the hope of his life. That work was to be his life's work, his Sistine
Chapel. He reached Rome; he shut himself up, as did Poussin, in a
Camaldule monastery, copied monks' heads, made prodigious studies and
admirable sketches--and the sketches of Delaroche are often worth more
than his pictures--painted by day, designed by night and returned with
huge quantities of material. On his return he learned that the dome was
given to Ziégler! Even as I after the interdiction of _Antony_, he took
a cab, forced his way to the presence of M. Thiers, found him in his
private room, and stopped in front of his desk.

"Monsieur le Ministre, I do not come to claim the work you had promised
me; I come to return you the twenty-five thousand francs you advanced
me."

And, flinging down the bank-notes for that sum upon the Minister's desk,
he bowed and went out.

This was dignified, noble and grand! But it was dismal. The unhappiness
of Delaroche, let us rather say, his misanthropy, dates from that day.



CHAPTER XI


    Eugène Delacroix


Eugène Delacroix had exhibited in the Salon of 1831 his _Tigres_, his
_Liberté_, his _Mort de l'Évêque de Liége._ Notice how well the grave
and misanthropie face of Delaroche is framed between Horace Vernet,
who is life and movement, and Delacroix, who is feeling, imagination
and fantasy. Here is a painter in the full sense of the term, _à la
bonne heure!_ Full of faults impossible to defend, full of qualities
impossible to dispute, for which friends and enemies, admirers and
detractors can cut one another's throats in all conscience. And all
will have right on their side: those who love him and those who hate
him; those who admire, those who run him down. To battle, then! For
Delacroix is equally a _fait de guerre_ and a _cas de guerre._

We will try to draw this great and strange artistic figure, which is
like nothing that has been and probably like nothing that ever will be;
we will try to give, by the analysis of his temperament, an idea of the
productions of this great painter, who bore a likeness to both Michael
Angelo and Rubens; not so good at drawing as the first, nor as good
at composition as the second, but more original in his fancies than
either. Temperament is the tree; works are but its flowers and fruit.

Eugène Delacroix was born at Charenton near Paris,--at
Charenton-les-Fous; nobody, perhaps, has painted such fools as did
he: witness the stupid fool, the timid fool and the angry fool of
the _Prison du Tasse._ He was born in 1798, in the full tide of the
Directory. His father was first a Minister during the Revolution,
then préfet at Bordeaux, and was later to become préfet at Marseilles.
Eugène was the last of his family, the _culot_--the nestling, as
bird-nest robbers say; his brother was twenty-five years old when he
was born, and his sister was married before he was born. It would be
difficult to find a childhood fuller of events than that of Delacroix.
At three, he had been hung, burned, drowned, poisoned and strangled!
He must have been made very tough by Fate to escape all this alive.
One day his father, who was a soldier, took him up in his arms, and
raised him to the level of his mouth; meantime the child amused itself
by twisting the cord of the cavalryman's forage cap round his neck;
the soldier, instead of putting him down on the ground, let him fall,
and behold there was Delacroix hung. Happily, they loosened the cord
of the cap in time, and Delacroix was saved. One night, his nurse left
the candle too near his mosquito net, the wind set the net waving and
it caught fire; the fire spread to the bedding, sheets and child's
nightshirt, and behold Delacroix was on fire! Happily he cries; and, at
his cries people come in, and Delacroix is extinguished. It was high
time, the man's back is to this day marked all over with the burns
which scarred the child's skin. His father passed from the prefecture
of Bordeaux to that of Marseilles, and they gave an inaugural fête
to the new préfet in the harbour; while passing from one boat to
another, the serving lad who carried the child made a false step,
dropped him and there was Delacroix drowning! Luckily, a sailor jumped
into the sea and fished him out just when the serving lad, thinking
of his own salvation, was about to drop him. A little later, in his
father's study, he found some _vert-de-gris_ which was used to clean
geographical maps; the colour pleased his fancy,--Delacroix has always
been a colourist;--he swallowed the _vert-de-gris_, and there he
was poisoned! Happily, his father came back, found the bowl empty,
suspected what had happened and called in a doctor; the doctor ordered
an emetic and freed the child from the poison. Once, when he had been
very good, his mother gave him a bunch of dried grapes; Delacroix was
greedy; instead of eating his grapes one by one, he swallowed the whole
bunch; it stuck in his throat, and he was being suffocated in exactly
the same way as was Paul Huet with the fish bone! Fortunately, his
mother stuffed her hand into his mouth up to the wrist, caught hold of
the bunch by its stalk, managed to draw it up, and Delacroix, who was
choking, breathed again. These various events no doubt caused one of
his biographers to say that he had an _unhappy_ childhood. As we see,
it should rather have been said _exciting._ Delacroix was adored by his
father and mother, and it is not an unhappy childhood to grow up and
develop surrounded by the love of father and mother. They sent him to
school at eight,--to the Lycée Impérial. There he stayed till he was
seventeen, making good progress with his studies, spending his holidays
sometimes with his father and sometimes with his uncle Riesener, the
portrait-painter. At his uncle's house he met Guérin. The craze to be
a painter had always stuck to him: at six years old, in 1804, when in
the camp at Boulogne, he had made a drawing with white chalk on a black
plank, representing the _Descente des Français en Angleterre_; only,
France figured as a mountain and England as a valley; and a company
of soldiers was descending the mountain into the valley: this was the
_descent_ into England. Of the sea itself there was no question. We
see that, at six years of age, Delacroix's geographical ideas were
not very clearly defined. It was agreed upon between Riesener and
the composer of _Clymnestre_ and _Pyrrhus_ that, when Delacroix left
college, he should enter the studio of the latter. There were, indeed,
some difficulties raised by the family, the father inclining to law,
the mother to the diplomatic service; but, at eighteen, Delacroix lost
his fortune and his father; he had only forty thousand francs left, and
liberty to make himself a painter. He then went to Guérin, as soon as
it could be arranged, and, working like a negro, dreamed, composed and
executed his picture of _Dante._ This picture, not the worst of those
he has painted,--strong men sometimes put as much or even more into
their first work as into any afterwards,--came under the notice of
Géricault. The gaze of the young master when in process of painting his
_Naufrage de la Méduse_ was like the rays of a hot sun. Géricault often
came to see the work of Delacroix; the rapidity and original fancy of
the brush of his young rival, or, rather, of his young disciple, amused
him. He looked over his shoulder--Delacroix is of short and Géricault
of tall stature,--or he looked on seated astride a chair. Géricault was
so fond of horses that he always sat astride something. When the last
stroke of the brush was put to the dark crossing of hell, it was shown
to M. Guérin. M. Guérin bit his lips, frowned and uttered a little
growl of disapprobation accompanied by a negative shake of the head.
And that was all Delacroix could extract from him. The picture was
exhibited. Gérard saw it as he was passing by, stopped short, looked at
it a long time and that night, when dining with Thiers,--who was making
his first campaign in literature, as was Delacroix in painting,--he
said to the future Minister--

"We have a new painter!"

"What is his name?"

"Eugène Delacroix!"

"What has he done?"

"_A Dante passant l'Acheron avec Virgile._ Go and see his picture."

Next day Thiers goes to the Louvre, seeks for the picture, finds it,
gazes at it and goes out entranced.

Intellectually, Thiers possessed genuine artistic feeling, even if it
did not spring from the heart. He did what he could for art; and when
he displeased, wounded and discouraged an artist, the fault has lain
with his environment, his family, or some salon coterie, and, even when
causing pain to an artist, and in failing to keep his promises, he did
his utmost to spare the artist any pain he may have had to cause him,
at the cost of pain to himself. He was lucky, also, in his dealings,
if not always just; it was his idea to send Sigalon to Rome. True,
Sigalon died there of cholera; but not till after he had sent from
Rome his beautiful copy of the _Jugement dernier._ So Thiers went back
delighted with Delacroix's picture; he was then working on the staff
of the _Constitutionnel_, and he wrote a splendid article on the new
painter. In short, the _Dante_ did not raise too much envy. It was not
suspected what a family of reprobates the exile from Florence dragged
in his wake! The Government bought the picture for two thousand francs,
upon the recommendation of Gérard and Gros, and had it taken to the
Luxembourg, where it still is. You can see it there, one of the finest
pictures in the palace.

Two years flew by. At that time exhibitions were only held every two
or three years. The salon of 1824 then opened. All eyes were turned
towards Greece. The memories of our young days formed a kind of
propaganda, recruiting under its banner, men, money, poems, painting
and concerts. People sang, painted, made verses, begged for the Greeks.
Whoever pronounced himself a Turkophile ran the risk of being stoned
like Saint Stephen. Delacroix exhibited his famous _Massacre de Scio._

Good Heavens! Have you who belonged to that time forgotten the clamour
that picture roused, with its rough and violent style of composition,
yet full of poetry and grace? Do you remember the young girl tied to
the tail of a horse? How frail and fragile she looked! How easily
one could see that her whole body would shed its fragments like the
petals of a rose, and be scattered like flakes of snow, when it came in
contact with pebbles and boulders and bramble thorns!

Now, this time, the Rubicon was passed, the lance thrown down, and
war declared. The young painter had just broken with the whole of
the Imperial School. When clearing the precipice which divided the
past from the future, his foot had pushed the plank into the abyss
below, and had he wished to retrace his steps it was henceforth an
impossibility. From that moment--a rare thing at twenty-six years
of age!--Delacroix was proclaimed a master, started a school of his
own, and had not only pupils but disciples, admirers and fanatical
worshippers. They hunted out someone to stand in opposition to him;
they exhumed the man who was least like him in all points, and
rallied round him; they discovered Ingres, exalted him, proclaimed
him and crowned him in their hatred of Delacroix. As in the age of
the invasion of the Huns, the Burgundians and the Visigoths, they
called upon the savages to help them, they invoked St. Geneviève, they
adjured the king, they implored the pope! Ingres, certainly, did not
owe his revived reputation to the love and admiration which his grey
monochromes inspired, but to the fear and hatred which were inspired by
the flashing brush of Delacroix. All men above the age of fifty were
for Ingres; all young people below the age of thirty were for Delacroix.

We will study and examine and appreciate Ingres in his turn, never
fear! His name, flung down in passing, shall not remain in obscurity;
although we warn our readers beforehand--and let them now take note
and only regard our judgment for what it is worth--that we are not in
sympathy with either the man or his talents.

Thiers did not fail the painter of the _Massacre de Scio_, any more
than he had failed the creator of _Dante._ Quite as eulogistic an
article as the first, and a surprising one to find in the columns of
the classic _Constitutionnel_, came to the aid of Delacroix in the
battle where, as in the times of the _Iliad_, the gods of art were not
above fighting like ordinary mortals. The Government had its hands
forced, in some measure, by Gérard, Gros and M. de Forbin. The latter
bought the _Massacre de Scio_ in the name of the king for six thousand
francs for the Luxembourg Museum.

Géricault died just when Delacroix received his six thousand francs.
Six thousand francs! It was a fortune. The fortune was spent in buying
sketches at the sale of the famous dead painter's works, and in making
a journey to England. England is the land of fine private collections,
the immense fortunes of certain gentlemen permitting them--either
because it is the fashion or from true love of art--to satisfy their
taste for painting.

Delacroix bethought himself once more of the Old Museum Napoléon,
the museum which the conquest had overthrown in 1818; it abounded in
Flemish and Italian art. That old museum was a wonderful place, with
its collection of masterpieces from all over Europe, and in the midst
of which the English cooked their raw meat after Waterloo.

It was during this period of prosperity--public talk about art always
signifies prosperity; if it does not lead to fortune, it gratifies
pride, and gratified pride assuredly brings keener joy than the
acquiring of a fortune;--it was during this period of prosperity,
we repeat, that Delacroix painted his first _Hamlet_, his _Giaour_,
his _Tasse dans la prison des fous_, his _Grèce sur les ruines de
Missolonghi_ and _Marino Faliero._ I bought the first three pictures;
they are even now the most beautiful Delacroix painted. The _Grèce_ was
bought by a provincial museum. _Marino Faliero_ had a singular fate.
Criticism was furious against this picture. Delacroix would have sold
it, at the time, for fifteen or eighteen hundred francs; but nobody
wanted it. Lawrence saw it, appreciated it, wished to have it and was
about to purchase it when he died. The picture remained in Delacroix's
studio. In 1836, I was with the Prince Royal when he was going to send
Victor Hugo a snuff-box or a diamond ring or something or other, I
forget what, in thanks for a volume of poetry addressed by the great
poet to Madame la duchesse d'Orléans. He showed me the object in
question, and told me of its destination, letting me understand that I
was threatened with a similar present.

"Oh! Monseigneur, for pity's sake!" I said to him, "do not send Hugo
either a ring or snuff-box."

"Why not?"

"Because that is what every prince does, and Monseigneur le duc
d'Orléans, my own particular Duc d'Orléans, is not like other princes;
he is himself a man of intellect, a sincere man and an artist."

"What would you have me send him, then?"

"Take down some picture from your gallery, no matter how unimportant
a one, provided it has belonged to your Highness. Put underneath it,
'Given by the Prince Royal to Victor Hugo,' and send him that."

"Very well, I will. Better still, hunt out for me among your artist
friends a picture which will please Hugo; buy it, have it sent to me, I
will give it him. Then two people will be pleased instead of one; the
painter from whom I buy it, and the poet to whom I give it."

"I will do what you wish, Monseigneur," I said to the prince.

I took my hat and ran out. I thought of Delacroix's _Marino Faliero._
I crossed bridges, I climbed the one hundred and seventeen steps to
Delacroix's studio, who then lived on the quai Voltaire, and I fell
into his studio utterly breathless.

"Hullo!" he said to me. "Why the deuce do you come upstairs so fast?"

"I have good news to give you."

"Good!" exclaimed Delacroix; "what is it?"

"I have come to buy your _Marino Faliero._"

"Ah!" he said, sounding more vexed than pleased.

"What! Are you not delighted!"

"Do you want to buy it for yourself?"

"If it were for myself, what would the price be?"

"Whatever you like to give me: two thousand francs, fifteen hundred
francs, one thousand francs."

"No, it is not for myself; it is for the Duc d'Orléans. How much for
him?"

"Four, five, six thousand francs, according to the gallery in which he
will place it."

"It is not for himself."

"For whom?"

"It is for a present."

"To whom?"

_"I_ am not authorised to tell you; I am only authorised to offer you
six thousand francs."

"My _Marino Faliero_ is not for sale."

"Why is it not for sale? Just now you would have given it me for a
thousand francs."

"To you, yes."

"To the prince for four thousand!"

"To the prince, yes; but only to the prince or you."

"Why this choice?"

"To you, because you are my friend; to the prince, because it is an
honour to have a place in the gallery of a royal artist as intelligent
as he is; but to any one else save you two, no."

"Oh! what an extraordinary notion!"

"As you like! It is my own."

"But, really, you must have a better reason."

"Very likely."

"Would you sell any other picture for which you could get the same
price?"

"Any other, but not that one."

"And why not this one?"

"Because I have been told so often that it is bad that I have taken an
affection for it, as a mother loves her poor, weakly, sickly deformed
child. In my studio, poor pariah that it is! it stands for me to look
it in the face when people look askance at it; to comfort it when
people humiliate it; to defend it when it is attacked. With you, it
would have at all events a guardian, if not a father; for, if you were
to buy it, it would be because you love it, as you are not a rich man.
In the case of the prince, in place of sincere praise there would be
that of courtiers: 'The painting is good, because Monseigneur has
bought it. Monseigneur is too much of an artist and a connoisseur to
make a mistake. Criticism must be at fault, the old witch! Detestable
old Sibyl!' But in the hands of a stranger, an indifferent person, whom
it cost nothing and who had no reason for taking its part, no, no, no.
My poor _Marino Faliero_, do not be anxious, thou shalt not go!"

And it was in vain that I begged and prayed and urged him; Delacroix
stuck to his word. Certain that the Duc d'Orléans should not think
my action wrong, I went as far as eight thousand francs. Delacroix
obstinately refused. The picture is still in his studio. That was just
like the man, or, rather, the artist!

At the Salon of 1826, which lasted six months, and was three times
replenished, Delacroix exhibited a _Justinien_ and _Christ au jardin
des Oliviers_, wonderful for their pain and sadness; they can now be
seen in the rue Saint-Antoine and the Church of St. Paul on the right
as you enter. I never miss going into the church when I pass that
way, to make my oblation as a Christian and an artist should before
the picture. All these subjects were wisely chosen; and as they were
beautiful and not bizarre they did not raise a stir. People indeed said
that _Justinien_ looked like a bird, and the _Christ_, like.... some
thing or other; but they were harking back more to the past than the
present. But, suddenly, at the final replenishing, arrived ... what?
Guess ... Do you not remember?--No--The _Sardanapale._ Ah! so it did!
This time there was a general hue-and-cry.

The King of Assyria, his head wrapped round with a turban, clad
in royal robes, sitting surrounded with silver vases and golden
water-jugs, pearl collars and diamond bracelets, bronze tripods with
his favourite, the beautiful Mirrha, upon a pile of faggots, which
seemed like slipping down and falling on the public. All round the
pile, the wives of the Oriental monarch were killing themselves,
whilst the slaves were leading away and killing his horses. The attack
was so violent, criticism had so many things to find fault with in
that enormous canvas--one of the largest if not the largest in the
Salon--that the attack drowned defence: his fanatical admirers tried
indeed to rally in square of battle about their chief; but the Academy
itself, the Old Guard of _Classicism_, charged determinedly; the
unlucky partizans of _Sardanapale_ were routed, scattered and cut to
pieces! They disappeared like a water-spout, vanished like smoke, and,
like Augustus, Delacroix called in vain for his legions! Thiers had
hidden himself, nobody knew where. The creator of _Sardanapale_,--it
goes without saying that Delacroix was no longer remembered as the
painter of _Dante_, of the _Massacre de Scio_ or of _Grèce sur les
ruines de Missolonghi_, or of _Christ au jardin des Oliviers_, no, he
was the creator of _Sardanapale_ and of no other work whatever!--was
for five years without an order. Finally, in 1831, as we have already
said, he exhibited his _Tigres_, his _Liberté_ and his _Assassinat de
l'Évêque de Liège_, and, round these three most remarkable works, those
who had survived the last defeat began to rally. The Duc d'Orléans
bought the _Assassinat de l'Évêque de Liège_, and the government, the
_Liberté._ The _Tigres_ remained with its creator.



CHAPTER XII


    Three portraits in one frame


Now--judging by myself at least--next to the appreciation of the work
of great men, that which rouses the most curiosity is their method of
working. There are museums where one can study all the phases of human
gestation; conservatories where one can almost by the aid of the naked
eye alone follow the development of plants and flowers. Tell me, is
it not just as curious to watch the varying phenomena of the working
of the intellect? Do you not think that it is as interesting to see
what is passing in the brain of man, especially if that man be an
artist like Vernet, or Delaroche or Delacroix; a scientist like Arago,
Humboldt or Berzélius; a poet like Goethe, Hugo or Lamartine, as it
is to look through a glass shade and see what is happening inside a
bee-hive?

One day I remarked to one of my misanthropic friends that, amongst
animals, the brain of the ant most resembled that of man.

"Your statement is not very complimentary to the ant!" replied the
misanthrope.

I am not entirely of my friend's way of thinking. I believe, on the
contrary, that the brain of man is, of all brains, the most interesting
to examine. Now, as it is the brain--so far, at least, as our present
knowledge permits us to dogmatise--which creates thought, thought
which controls action and action which produces deeds, we can boldly
say that to study character, to examine the execution of works which
are the productions of temperament, is to study the brain. We have
described Horace Vernet's physical appearance: small, thin, slight,
pleasant to look at, good to listen to, with his unusual hair, his
thick eyebrows, his blue eyes, his long nose, his smiling mouth beneath
its long moustache, and his beard cut to a point. He is, we added, all
life and movement. Vernet, at the end of his career, will, indeed, be
one who has lived a full life, and, when he stops, he will have gone
farthest; thanks to the post, to horses, camels, steamboats and the
railroad, he has certainly, by now (and he is sixty-five), travelled
farther than the Wandering Jew! True, the Wandering Jew goes on foot,
his five sous not permitting him rapid ways of locomotion, and his
pride declining gratuitous locomotion. Vernet, we say, had already
travelled farther than the Wandering Jew had done in a thousand years;
his work itself is a sort of journey: we saw him paint the _Smala_ with
a scaffold mounting as high as the ceiling and terraces extending the
whole length of the room; it was curious to see him, going, coming,
climbing up, descending, only stopping at each station for five
minutes, as one stops at Osnières for five minutes, at Creil for ten
minutes and at Valenciennes for half an hour--and, in the midst of
all this, gossiping, smoking, fencing, riding on horseback, on mules,
on camels, in tilburys, in droschkys, in palanquins, relating his
travels, planning fresh ones, impalpable, becoming apparently almost
invisible: he is flame, water, smoke--a Proteus! Then there was another
odd thing about Vernet: he would start for Rome as he would set out
for Saint-Germain; for China as if for Rome. I have been at his house
six or seven times; the first time he was there--the oddness of the
thing fascinated me; the second time he was in Cairo; the third, in
St. Petersburg; the fourth, in Constantinople; the fifth, in Warsaw;
and the sixth, in Algiers. The seventh time--namely, the day before
yesterday--I found him at the Institute, where he had come after
following the hunt at Fontainebleau, and was giving himself a day's
rest by varnishing a little eighteen-inch picture representing an Arab
astride an ass with a still bleeding lion-skin for saddle-cloth, which
had just been taken from the body of the animal; doing it in as sure
and easy a manner as though he were but thirty. The ass is crossing
a stream, unconscious of the terrible burden it bears, and one can
almost hear the stream prattling over the pebbles; the man, with his
head in the air, looks absently at the blue sky which appears through
the leaves; the flowers with their glowing colours twining up the
tree-trunks and falling down like trumpets of mother-of-pearl or purple
rosettes. This Arab, Vernet had actually come across, sitting calm and
indifferent upon his ass, fresh from killing and skinning the lion.
This is how it had happened. The Arab was working in a little field
near a wood;--a wood is always a bad neighbour in Algeria;--a slave
woman was sitting twenty paces from him, with his child. Suddenly, the
woman uttered a cry ... A lion was by her side. The Arab flew for his
gun, but the woman shouted out to him--

"Let me alone!"

I am mistaken, it was not a slave woman, but the mother who called out
thus. He let her alone. She took her child, put it between her knees
and, turning to the lion, she said to it, shaking her fist at the
animal--

"Ah, you coward! to attack a defenceless woman and child! You think to
terrify me; but I know you. Go and attack my husband instead, who is
down there with a gun ... Go, I tell you! You dare not; you wretch!
It is you who are afraid! Go, you jackal! Off with you, you wolf, you
hyæna! You have a lion's skin on your back but you are no lion!"

The lion withdrew, but, unfortunately, it met the Arab's mother, who
was bringing him his dinner. It leapt on the old woman and began to
eat her. At the cries of his mother the Arab ran up with his gun, and,
whilst the lion was quietly cracking the bones and flesh with its
teeth, he put the muzzle of his gun into the animal's ear and killed it
outright. In conclusion, the Arab did not seem to be any the sadder for
being an orphan, or in better spirits for having killed a lion. Vernet
told me this whilst putting the finishing touches to his picture, which
ought to be completed by now.

Delaroche worked in a very different way; he led no such adventurous
life; he had not too much time for his work. With Delaroche, work
is a constant study and not a game. He was not a born painter, like
Vernet; he did not play with brushes and pencils as a child; he learnt
to draw and to paint, whilst Vernet never learnt anything of the kind.
Delaroche is a man of fifty-six, with smooth hair, once black and now
turning grey, a broad bare forehead, dark eyes fuller of intelligence
than of vivacity, and no beard or whiskers. He is of middle height,
well-set up, even to gracefulness; his movements are slow, his speech
is cold; words and actions, one clearly feels, are subjected to
reflection, and, instead of being spontaneous, like Vernet's, only
come, so to speak, as the result of thought. Just as Vernet's life is
turbulent, emotional and, like a leaf, carried unresistingly by the
wind that blows, so the life of Delaroche, of his own free will, was
tranquil and sedentary. Every time Delaroche went a journey,--and he
went very few, I believe,--it was necessity which compelled him to
leave his studio: it was some real, serious, artistic business which
called him away. Wherever he goes, he stays, plants himself down and
takes root, and it costs him as much pain to go back as it did to
come. No one could less resemble Vernet in his method of working than
Delaroche. Vernet knows all his sitters through and through, from the
aigrette on the schako to the gaiter-buttons. He has so often lived
under a tent, that its cords and piquets are familiar objects to
him; he has seen and ridden and drawn so many horses, that he knows
every kind of harness, from the rough sheep-skin of the Baskir to the
embroidered and jewel-bespangled saddle-cloths of the pacha. He has,
therefore, hardly any need of preparatory studies, no matter what his
subject may be. He scarcely sketches them out beforehand: _Constantine_
cost him an hour's work; the _Smala_, a day. Furthermore, what he does
not know, he guesses. It is quite the reverse with Delaroche. He hunts
a long time, hesitates a great deal, composes slowly; Vernet only
studies one thing, the locality; this is why, having painted nearly all
the battlefields of Europe and of Africa, he is always riding over hill
and dale, and travelling by rail and by boat.

Delaroche, on the contrary, studies everything: draperies, clothing,
flesh, atmosphere, light, half-tones, all the effects of Delaroche
are laboured, calculated, prepared; Vernet's are done on the spur of
the moment. When Delaroche is pondering on a picture, everything is
laid under contribution by him: the library for engravings, museums
for pictures, old clothes' shops for draperies; he tires himself out
with making rough sketches, exhausts himself in first attempts, and
often puts his finest talent into a sketch. A certain feeling of
laboriousness in the picture is the result of this preparatory fatigue,
which, however, is a virtue and not a fault in the eyes of industrious
people.

Like all men of transition periods Delaroche was bound to have great
successes, and he has had them. During the exhibitions of 1826, 1831
and 1834, everyone, before venturing to go to the Salon, asked, "Has
M. Delaroche exhibited?" But from the period, the intermediate year,
in which he united the classical school of painting with the romantic,
the past with the future, David with Delacroix, people were unjust
to him, as they are towards all who live in a state of transition.
Besides, Delaroche does not exhibit any longer; he scarcely even works
now. He has done one composition of foremost excellence, his hemicycle
of the Palais des Beaux-Arts, and that composition, which, in 1831,
was run after by the whole of Paris and annoyed most artists. Why? Has
Delaroche's talent become feebler since the time when people stood in
rows before his pictures and fought in front of his paintings? No,
on the contrary, he has improved; he has become more elevated and
masterly. But, what would you expect! I have compared Paul Delaroche
with Casimir Delavigne, and the same thing happened to the poet as to
the painter; only, with this difference, that the genius of the poet
had decreased, whilst that of the painter not only did not remain
stationary, but went on progressing constantly. At the present time,
one needs to be among the most intimate of the friends of Delaroche to
have the right to enter his studio. Besides, he is not even any longer
in Paris: he is at Nice; he is said to be ill. Hot sun, beautiful
starlit nights, an atmosphere sparkling with fireflies, will cure the
soul, and then the body will soon be cured!...

There is no sort of physical resemblance between Delacroix and his
two rivals. He is like Vernet in figure, almost as slender as he,
very neat and fashionable and dandified. He is fifty-five years old,
his hair, whiskers and moustache, are as dark as when he was thirty;
his hair waves naturally, his beard is scanty, and his moustache, a
little bristly, looks like two wisps of tobacco; his forehead is broad
and prominent, with two thick eyebrows below, over small eyes, which
flash like fire between the long black eyelashes; his skin is brown,
swarthy, mobile and wrinkled like that of a lion; his lips are thick
and sensual, and he smiles often, showing teeth as white as pearls.
All his movements are quick, rapid, emphatic; his words are pictures,
his gestures speaking; his mind is subtle, argumentative, quick at
repartee; he loves a discussion, and is ever ready with some fresh,
sparkling, telling and brilliant hit; although of an adventurous,
fanciful, erratic talent, at the same time he is wise, temperate in
his use of paradox, even classical; one might say that Nature, which
tends to equilibrium, has posed him as a clever coachman, reins well in
hand, to restrain those two fiery steeds called imagination and fancy.
His mind at times overflows its bounds; speech becomes inadequate, his
hand drops the brush, incapable of expressing the theory it wishes to
uphold, and seizes the pen. Then those whose business it is to make
phrases and style and appreciate the value of words are amazed at the
artist's facility in constructing sentences, in handling style, in
bringing out his points; they forget the _Dante_, the _Massacre de
Scio_, the _Hamlet_, the _Tasso_, the _Giaour_, the _Evêque de Liège_,
the _Femmes d'Alger,_ the frescoes of the Chamber of Deputies, the
ceiling of the Louvre; they regret that this man, who writes so well
and so easily and so correctly, is not an author. Then, immediately,
one remembers that many can write like Delacroix, but none can paint as
he does, and one is ready to snatch the pen from his hand in a movement
of terror.

Delacroix holds the middle course between Vernet and Delaroche as
regards rapidity of working: he works up his sketches more carefully
than the former, less so than the latter. He is incontestably superior
to both as a colourist, but strikingly inferior in form. He sees the
colour of flesh as violet, and, in the matter of form, he sees rather
the ugly than the beautiful; but his ugliness is always made poetical
by deep feeling. Entirely different from Delaroche, he is attracted
by extremes. His struggles are terrible, his battles furious; all the
suppleness and strength and extraordinary movements of the body are
drawn on his canvas, and he even adds thereto, like a strange varnish
which heightens the vivid qualities of his picture, a certain automatic
impossibility which does not in the least disconcert him. His fighters
seem actually to be fighting, strangling, biting, tearing, hacking,
cleaving one another in two and pounding one another about; his swords
are broken in two, his axes bloody, his heaps of bodies damp with
crushed brains. Look at the _Bataille de Taillebourg_, and you will
have an idea of the strength of his genius: you can hear the neighing
of the horses, the shouts of men, the clashing of steel. You will find
it in the great gallery of Versailles; and, although Louis-Philippe
curtailed the canvas by six inches all round because the measurement
had been incorrectly given, mutilated as it is, dishonoured by being
forced into M. Fontaines' Procrustes' bed, it still remains one of the
most beautiful, perhaps the most beautiful, of all the pictures in the
whole gallery.

At this moment, Delacroix is doing a ceiling at the Hôtel de Ville. He
leaves his home at daybreak and only returns to it at night. Delacroix
belongs to that rugged family of workers which has produced Raphael and
Rubens. When he gets home, he takes a pen and makes sketches. Formerly,
Delacroix used to go out into society a great deal, where he was a
great favourite; a disease of the larynx has compelled him to retire
into private life. Yesterday I went to see him at midnight. He was in
a dressing-gown, his neck wrapped in a woollen cravat, at work close
to a big fire, which made the temperature of the room 30°.[1] I asked
to see his studio by lamplight. We passed through a corridor crowded
with dahlias, agapanthus lilies and chrysanthemums; then we entered the
studio. The absence of the master, who had been working at the other
end of Paris for six months, had made itself felt; yet there were four
splendid canvases, two representing flowers and two fruit. I thought
from a distance that these were pictures borrowed by Delacroix from
Diaz. That was why there were so many flowers in the anteroom. Then,
after the flowers, which to me were quite fresh, I saw a crowd of old
friends hanging on the walls: _Chevaux anglais qui se mordent dans une
prairie_, a _Grèce qui traverse un champ de bataille au galop_, the
famous _Marino Faliero_, faithful companion of the painter's sad moods,
when he has such moods; and, last, by itself, in a little room at the
side of the great studio, a scene from _Goetz von Berlichingen._ We
parted at two o'clock in the morning.


[1] 30° Cent.=85° Fahr.



CHAPTER XIII


    Collaboration--A whim of Bocage--Anicet
    Bourgeois--_Teresa_--Drama at the Opéra-Comique--Laferrière
    and the eruption of Vesuvius--Mélingue--Fancy-dress ball
    at the Tuileries--The place de Grève and the barrière
    Saint-Jacques--The death penalty


During the interval which had elapsed between the construction of
_Richard Darlington_ its first performance, I had blocked out another
play entitled _Teresa._ I have said what I thought of _Charles VII._;
I hope that my collaborator Anicet will allow me to say the same in
the case of _Teresa._ I have no wish to defer expressing my opinion
upon this drama: it is one of my very worst, as _Angèle_, also done
in collaboration with Anicet, is one of my best. The evil of a first
collaboration is that it leads to a second; the man who has once
collaborated is comparable to one who lets his finger-end be entrapped
in a rolling press: after the finger the hand goes, then the arm and,
finally, his whole body! Everything is drawn in--one goes in a man and
one comes out a bit of iron wire.

One day Bocage came to see me with a singular idea in his head. As he
had just played a man of thirty, in the character of Antony, he had got
it into his head that he would do well to play an old man of sixty; it
mattered little to him what manner of man it might be. The old man in
_Hernani_ and in _Marion Delorme_ rose up before him during his sleep
and haunted him in his waking hours: he wanted to play an old man, were
it Don Diègue in the _Cid_, Joad in _Athalie_ or Lusignan in _Zaïre._
He had found his old man out at nurse with Anicet Bourgeois; he came
to fetch me to be foster-father. I did not know Anicet; we became
acquainted on this matter and at this time. Anicet had written the plan
of _Teresa._ I began by laying aside the written sketch and begging
him to relate me the play. There is something more living and lifelike
about a told story. To me a written plot is like a corpse, not a living
thing; one may galvanise it but not give it life. Most of the play as
it stands to-day was in Anicet's original plan. I was at once conscious
of two things, the second of which caused me to overlook the first:
namely, that I could never make _Teresa_ anything more than a mediocre
play, but that I should do Bocage a good turn. And this is how I did
Bocage that service.

Harel, as we have said, had gone from the management of the Odéon
to that of the Porte-Saint-Martin. He had Frédérick, Lockroy,
Ligier: Bocage was no use to him. So he had broken with him, and,
in consequence of this rupture, Bocage found himself without an
engagement. Liberty, in the case of an actor, is not always a gift of
the gods. Bocage was anxious to put an end to this as soon as possible,
and, thanks to my drama, he hoped soon to lose his liberty. That is
why he treated _Teresa_ so enthusiastically as a _chef d'œuvre._ I
have ever been less able to resist unspoken arguments than spoken
ones. I understood the situation. I had had need of Bocage; he had
played Antony admirably, and by so doing had rendered me eminent
service: I could now do him a good turn, and I therefore undertook
to write _Teresa._ Not that _Teresa_ was entirely without merit as a
work. Besides the three artificial characters of Teresa, Arthur and
Paolo, there were two excellent parts, those of Amélie and Delaunay.
Amélie is a flower from the same garden as Miranda in _The Tempest_,
Thekla in _Wallenstein_ and Claire in _Comte d'Egmont_; she is young,
chaste and beautiful, and, at the same time, natural and poetic; she
passes through the play with her bouquet of orange blossom at her
side, her betrothal veil on her head, in the midst of the ignoble
incestuous passion of Arthur and Teresa, without guessing or suspecting
or understanding anything of it. She is like a crystal statue which
cannot see through others but lets others see through it. Delaunay is
a fine type, a little too much copied from Danville in the _École de
Vieillards_, and from Duresnel in the _Mère et la Fille._ However--one
must be just to everyone, even to oneself,--there are two scenes in
his part which reach to the greatest heights of beauty to be met with
on the stage: the first is where he insults Arthur, when the secret of
the adultery is revealed to him; the second is where, learning that his
daughter is _enciente_, and not desiring to make the mother a widow
and the child an orphan, he makes excuses to his son-in-law. The drama
was begun and almost finished in three weeks or a month; but I made
the same condition with Anicet which I have always made when working
in collaboration, namely, that I alone should write the play. When the
drama was completed, Bocage took it, and we did not trouble our heads
further about it. For three weeks or a month I did not see Bocage
again. At the end of that time he came to me.

"Our business is settled," he said.

"Good! And how?"

"Your play is received in advance; you are to have a premium of a
thousand francs upon its reading, and it is to be played immediately."

"Where?"

"At the Opéra-Comique."

I thought I must have misunderstood. "What?" I said.

"At the Opéra-Comique," repeated Bocage.

"Oh! that's a fine tale! Who made that up?"

"They are engaging the actors."

"Who are they?"

"Myself, in the first place."

"You do not play the drama all alone?"

"Then there is Laferrière."

"You two will not play it by yourselves?"

"Then a talented young girl who is at Montmartre."

"What is her name?"

"Oh! you will not even know her name; she is called Ida; she is just
beginning."

"And then?"

"Then a young man recommended to me by your son."

"What! By my son? At six and a half years of age my son make
recommendations of that sort?"

"It is his tutor."

"I see; he wants to get rid of him. But if that one leaves he will have
another. Such is the simplicity of childhood! And what is the name of
my son's tutor?"

"Guyon. He is a tall fellow of five foot six, with dark hair and eyes,
and a magnificent head! He will make us a superb Paolo."

"So much for Paolo? Next?"

"Next we shall have the Opéra-Comique company, from which we can help
ourselves freely. They sing."

"They sing, you are pleased to say; but can they speak?"

"That is your affair."

"So, is it settled like that?"

"If you approve. Are you agreeable?"

"Perfectly."

"Then we are to read it to the actors to-morrow."

"Let us do so."

Next day I read it to the actors; two days later the play was put in
rehearsal. I knew Laferrière only slightly; but he had already at that
period, when less used to the stage, the elements of talent to which he
owed his reputation later as the first actor in love-scenes to be found
between the Porte-Saint-Denis and the Colonne de Juillet. Mademoiselle
Ida had a delicate, graceful, artless style, quite unaffected by any
theatrical convention. Bocage was the man we know, endowed with youth,
that excellent and precious fault, which is never injurious even in
playing the parts of old men. So we were in the full tide of rehearsal,
when the year 1832 began and the newspapers of I January announced a
fearful eruption of Vesuvius.

I was considerably surprised to receive a visit from Laferrière with a
newspaper in his hand, on the 7th or 8th. He was as much out of breath
as I was the day I went to Delacroix to buy his _Marino Faliero._

"Hullo!" I said to him, "is the Opéra-Comique burnt down?"

"No, but _Torre-del-Grèco_ is burning."

"It ought to be used to it by now, for, if I mistake not, it has been
rebuilt eleven times!"

"It must be a magnificent sight!"

"Do you happen to want to start for Naples?"

"No; but you might derive profit from it."

"How?"

"Read."

He handed me his newspaper, which contained a description of the latest
eruption of Vesuvius.

"Well?" I said to him when I had read it.

"Well, do you not think that superb?"

"Magnificent!"

"Put that in my part then. Run your show with Vesuvius; the play would
gain by it."

"And your rôle likewise."

"Of course!"

"You infernal mountebank; what an idea!"

Laferrière began to laugh.

There are two men who possess a great advantage for authors in two
very different functions, with two very different types of talent:
Laferrière is the one, and Mélingue the other. From the very hour
when they have first listened to the reading of a work, to the moment
when the curtain goes up, they have but one thought: to collect, weld
together and work in anything that might be useful to the work. Their
searching eyes are not distracted for one instant; not for a second do
their minds wander from the point. They think of their parts while they
are walking, eating and drinking; they dream of them while they sleep.
I shall return to Mélingue more than once in reference to this quality,
one of the most precious a great actor can possess.

Laferrière has plenty of pertinacity.

"Well," I said to him, "it is a good idea and I will adopt it."

"Will you really?"

"Yes."

"You promise me?"

"I promise you."

"Very well then.."

"What?"

"It is all the same to you..

"Say on."

"You will do it ..."

"Immediately?"

"Yes."

"Now, at once?"

"I beseech you."

"I have not time."

"Oh! mon petit Dumas! Do me my Vesuvius. I promise you, if you will do
it to-day I will know it by to-morrow."

"Once more I tell you I haven't time."

"How long would it take you to do it?"

"How long?"

"Ten minutes ... come, that is all.... I entreat you!"

"Go to the deuce with you!"

"Mon petit Dumas!..."

"All right, we will see."

"You are kind!"

"Give me a pen, ink and paper."

"Here they are!... No, do not get up: I will bring the table up to you
... Come, is it comfortable like that?"

"Splendid! Now, go away and come back in a quarter of an hour."

"Oh! what will you be up to when I am gone?"

"I cannot work when anybody is with me. Even my dog disturbs me."

"I will not stir, mon petit Dumas! I will not utter one word; I will
keep perfectly still."

"Then go and sit before the glass, button up your coat, put on a gloomy
look and pass your hand through your hair."

"Certainly."

"And I will do my part of the work."

A quarter of an hour later, Vesuvius was making an eruption in
Laferrière's part, and he took himself off in great glee and pride.

All things considered, the race of players are a good sort! A trifle
ungrateful, at times; but has not our friend Roqueplan proclaimed the
principle that "ingratitude is the independence of the heart?..."

At this time, people were tremendously taken up with a forthcoming
event, as they were with everything of an artistic nature. King
Louis-Philippe was giving a fancy-dress ball. Duponchel had been
ordered to design the historic costumes; and people begged, prayed and
implored for invitations. It was a splendid ball. All the political
celebrities were present; but, as always happens, all the artistic and
literary celebrities were absent.

"Will you do something which shall surpass the Tuileries ball?" said
Bocage to me.

"What is that?"

"Give one yourself!"

"I! Who would come to it?"

"First of all, those who did not go to King Louis-Philippe's, then
those who do not belong to the Académy. It seems to me that the guests
I offer you are quite distinguished enough."

"Thanks, Bocage, I will think about it."

I thought about it to some purpose, and the result of my reflections
will be seen in one of our forthcoming chapters.

On the 23rd of the month of January,--the next day but one after
the anniversary of the death of King Louis XVI.,--the usual place
for executions was changed from the place de Grève to the barrière
Saint-Jacques. This was one step in advance in civilisation: let us put
it down here, by quoting the edict of M. de Bondy.

    "We, a peer of France, Préfet de la Seine, etc.; In view of
    the letter addressed to us by M. le Procureur-général at the
    Royal Court of Paris:

    "Whereas the place de Grève can no longer be used as a
    place of execution, since the blood of devoted citizens
    was gloriously spilled there in the national cause:
    whereas it is important to choose, if possible, a place
    farther removed from the centre of Paris, yet which shall
    be easily accessible: whereas, for different reasons, the
    place situated at the extremity of the rue du faubourg
    Saint-Jacques seems to suit the requisite conditions; we
    have decided that--

    "Criminals under capital punishment shall in future
    be executed on the ground at the end of the faubourg
    Saint-Jacques.                            COMTE DE BONDY"

This is what we wrote on the subject on 26 November 1849, in an
epilogue to _Comte Hermann_,--one of our best dramas,--an epilogue
not written to be spoken, but to be read, after the fashion of German
plays--

    "The death penalty, as applied to-day, has already undergone
    a great modification, not with respect to its final issue,
    but with regard to the details which precede the last
    moments of the condemned.

    "Twenty years ago, executions still took place in the centre
    of Paris, at the most stirring hour of the day and before
    the greatest possible number of spectators. Thus an external
    means of support was provided for the doomed man against his
    own weakness. It did not make the sufferer into a repentant
    criminal, but a species of cynical victor, who, instead of
    confessing God upon the scaffold, bore testimony against the
    inadequacy of human justice, which could, indeed, kill the
    criminal, but was powerless to extinguish the crime.

    "Now, it is quite otherwise. A step has been taken towards
    the abolition of capital punishment, by transporting the
    instrument of execution almost outside the precincts of the
    town, choosing the hour when the majority of the inhabitants
    of Paris are still asleep, only allowing the criminal during
    his last moments the rare witnesses that chance or excessive
    curiosity may attract to the scaffold.

    "Nowadays, it is left to the priests who devote themselves
    to the salvation of the souls of the doomed to tell us if
    they find as much hardness of heart in the journey between
    Bicêtre and the barrière Saint-Jacques as they used to find
    in the journey from the Conciergerie to the place de Grève;
    and whether there are more tears shed at the foot of the
    crucifix now, at four o'clock in the morning, than formerly,
    at four in the afternoon. We firmly believe so. Yes, there
    are more repentances in the silence and solitude than there
    ever were in the tumult of the crowd. Now, let us consider
    that the act of execution, supported by the eager looks of
    the people, does not correct them or instruct them but only
    hardens their hearts; let us suppose that the execution
    takes place in the prison, with priest and executioner as
    sole witnesses; that, instead of the guillotine,--which,
    according to Dr. Guillotin, only occasions a feeling of a
    _slight chill_ on the neck, but which, according to Dr. Sue,
    causes terrible suffering,--the sole means of execution used
    is electricity, which kills like lightning, or even one of
    those stupefying poisons which act like sleep; will it not
    happen that the hearts of the doomed will soften still more
    in the night and silence and solitude, than in the open
    air, were it even at four o'clock in the morning, and in
    the presence of the few witnesses who are present at the
    execution, but who, few though they be, will none the less
    say to the criminal's companions, to his prison friends,
    '_un tel est bien mort!_' that is to say I such a one died
    without repenting, pushing the crucifix away from him?"

Since that time, the guillotine has come still nearer to the condemned
man: now, they execute in front of the gates of the prison de la
Roquette. It is but a few steps from that to executing inside the
prison itself. And to descend from the prison courtyard into the
dungeon itself is but a single step!



CHAPTER XIV


    The peregrinations of Casimir Delavigne--_Jeanne
    Vaubernier_--Rougemont--His translation of Cambronne's
    _mot_--First representation of _Teresa_--Long and short
    pieces--Cordelier Delanoue and his _Mathieu Luc_--Closing
    of the Taitbout Hall and arrest of the leaders of the
    Saint-Simonian cult


Whilst the Opéra-Comique was rehearsing _Teresa_, the Théâtre-Français
was preparing for a great occasion. Casimir Delavigne, the dramatic
Coriolanus, after having been rejected by the Volscians of the
boulevards, with _Marino Faliero_ in his hand, instead of falling
beneath the dagger of M. de Mongenet, had been received back
triumphantly into the Théâtre-Français. The flight, after all, had
been but a passing coolness after the immense success of the _École
des Vieillards._ Casimir had had a sort of decline; Mademoiselle
Mars had not been able to uphold the _Princesse Aurélié_, a kind of
Neapolitan imbroglio which everybody has forgotten to-day, happily for
the memory of its author. Then the presence of Victor Hugo and myself
at the Théâtre-Français annoyed Casimir Delavigne. He well understood
that his popularity was only a political one: he possessed neither the
lofty poetry of Victor, nor the movement and life of my ignorant and
incorrect prose; in a word, he was ill at ease when close to us. He
gave vent to a phrase concerning me which well summed up his thought--

"The work that deuced Dumas does is bad; but it prevents people from
seeing the goodness of mine."

So he had migrated to the Porte-Saint-Martin, because we were at the
Théâtre-Français, and now he returned to the Théâtre-Français because
we were at the Porte-Saint-Martin. He returned to it with one of his
mixed works, half classical and half romantic, which do not belong
to any sort of school; literary hermaphrodites, which bear the same
relation to intellectual productions as, in Natural History, do mules,
_i.e._ animals which cannot reproduce themselves, to the ordinary
productions of nature: they make a species, but not a race.

The work that Casimir Delavigne brought back to the Théâtre-Français
was _Louis XI._,--according to our opinion, one of his most mediocre
dramas, the least studied as history, and one which, engineered by a
clever artifice which we will shortly relate, through the frail sickly
period of its youth to its maturity, only owes its patent of longevity
to the rather egotistic favour accorded by a player who was crazy to
play this rôle because it was an unusual type which suited him. Do not
be deceived, it is not _Louis XI._ that lives to-day, but Ligier.[1] We
will refer again to Casimir Delavigne's drama on the occasion of its
first performance.

The first performance of _Teresa_ was announced for the 5th or 6th of
February. Meanwhile the Odéon gave _Jeanne Vaubernier._ It was thus
that certain authors conceived the idea of reviving the name of the
_Comtesse du Barry_, that poor woman who was neither worthy of her high
prosperity nor her deep misfortune, and who, according to Lamartine's
fine expression, dishonoured both the throne and the scaffold. MM.
de Rougemont, Laffitte and Lagrange were the authors of _Jeanne
Vaubernier._ Rougemont was a clever man who, towards the close of his
life, had a strange fate. The _Duchesse de la Vaubalière_ brought
him a septuagenarian reputation. It was Rougemont who translated the
military substantive flung by Cambronne in the face of the English,
on the terrible night of Waterloo, into the pompous, redundant and
pretentious phrase which has become of European and world-wide fame:
"The Guard dies, and does not return!" As far as I can remember, the
drama of _Jeanne Vaubernier_--such as it was, with six tableaux, its
Zamore, the ungrateful traitor, its prison and its executioner--was a
very poor concern. I have not seen it, and will not therefore discuss
it any further. But, from the ghost of this drama, from the fallen
statue, from the least broken fragments which could be made to do
duty, the authors composed a little comedy in which Madame Dorval's
wit was charmingly light. Dear Dorval! I can see her as she was that
successful night, a night which, thanks to her, was saved from being a
failure: she was enchanted, never suspecting that the comedy of _Jeanne
Vaubernier_ would be a chain she would have to wear for eighteen months
at the Porte-Saint-Martin, from six to eight o'clock in the evening,
before the benches which did not fill up until the beginning of the
great drama! To Georges--especially after her reconciliation with
Dorval--it was to be a matter of keen remorse, this punishment which
she inflicted on her rival in expiation of her triumphs, and which
compelled her to leave the Porte-Saint-Martin theatre to go and bury
herself in the Théâtre-Français.

The day of the first performance of _Teresa_ arrived. The confusion
of styles, the beginning of drama at the Opéra-Comique, had piqued
the curiosity of the public, and people clamoured to get in. I have
already said that the thing was not worth the trouble. Laferrière had
given me a good idea with his story of Vesuvius; the exhibition was
highly applauded. I recollect that when I entered the wings, after the
first act, that excellent fellow Nourrit, who had just been praising
the description of the town wherein he was to die, threw himself upon
my neck in his enthusiasm. The piece unfolded itself slowly, and with
a certain majestic dignity, before a select audience. The character of
Amélie, which was very well carried out, made a great hit, and did not
fail in any of its appearances. Madame Moreau-Sainti was ravishingly
beautiful, and as sympathetic as a bad part allowed. Laferrière came
and went, warming up the parts taken by others by his own enthusiastic
warmth. Bocage was superb. A misfortune happened to the actor
recommended by my son. Unfamiliarity with stage-craft had obliged Guyon
to give up the part of Paolo to go more deeply into dramatic studies.
Féréol had taken his place; they had added some barcarolle or other
for him to sing whilst he was acting, and he played the rest of his
rôle singing. Alexandre found himself with two tutors instead of one!

The curtain went up for the fourth act. From that moment the piece was
saved; in it are the letter scene between the father and the daughter,
and that of the quarrel between the father-in-law and son-in-law. These
two scenes are very fine, and produced a great sensation. This fourth
act had an amazing triumph. Usually, if the fourth act is a success,
it carries the fifth one with it. The first half of the fifth act of
_Teresa_ is, moreover, remarkable in itself; it is the scene of the
excuses between the old man and the young one. It does not become
really bad till _Teresa_ asks Paolo for poison. All this intriguing
between the adulterous woman and the amorous lackey is vulgar, and
has not the merit of being really terrible. But the impression of the
fourth act and of the first half of the fifth was so vivid that it
extended its influence over the imperfections of the _dėnoûment._ In
short, it was a success great enough to satisfy _amour-propre_, but not
to satisfy the claims of art. Bocage was really grand at times. I here
pay him my very sincere compliments for what he then performed. He had
improved as a comedian, and was then, I think, at the height of his
dramatic career. I think so, now I have somewhat outgrown my youthful
illusions; I will therefore tell him, in all frankness, at what moment,
according to my opinion, he took the wrong road and adopted the fatal
system of nervous excitement under the dominion of which he now is.

When the first rage for _Teresa_ had passed they made me a proposal
to change the play into one of three acts, so that it might become a
stock piece. I refused to do it; I did not wish to make a mutilated
play out of a defective one. Anicet, who had a half-share in the work,
urged me so pressingly that I suggested he should perform the operation
himself. He set to work bravely, pruned, cut, curtailed, and one day
I was invited by some player or other, whose name I forget, who was
coming out in the rôle of Arthur, to go and see the piece reduced to
three acts. I went, and I found it to be more detestable and, strange
to say, longer than at first! Lengthiness does not exist on the stage,
practically speaking. There are neither long plays nor short; only
amusing plays and wearisome ones. The _Marriage de Figaro_, which lasts
five hours, is not so long as the _Épreuve nouvelle_, which lasts one
hour. The developments of _Teresa_ taken away, the play had lost its
artistic interest, and, having become more boresome, seemed longer.

One day Cordelier Delanoue came to me looking depressed.

"What is the matter?" I asked him.

"I have just been reading to the Théâtre-Français."

"What!"

"A three-act drama in verse."

"Entitled?"

"_Mathieu Luc._"

"And they have refused it?"

"No, they have accepted it, subject to correction."

"Did they point out what corrections they wanted?"

"Yes; the piece is too long."

"And they demand curtailment?"

"Exactly! and I have come to read it to you."

"So that I may point them out to you?"

"Yes."

"Read it, then!"

Delanoue began to read his three acts. I followed the play with the
greatest attention. I found, whilst he was in the act of reading, a
pivot of interest on which the play could advantageously turn, and
which he had passed over unnoticed.

"Well?" said he when he had finished.

"They were right: it is too long by a third."

"Then it must be cut down."

"No, on the contrary."

"What do you mean by that?"

"You must turn the play into five acts."

"But when they already think it too long by a third?"

"That is neither here nor there.--Listen."

And I told him how I understood the play. Delanoue reconstructed his
_scenario_ under my direction, wrote out his play afresh, read it in
five acts to the committee, which had thought it too long in three, and
it was received with unanimity. The piece was played in five acts--not
at the Théâtre-Français, but, consequent on some revival or other, at
the Théâtre de Odéon, and it succeeded honourably without obtaining a
great success.

Some days before the performance of _Teresa_ an event had happened
which engrossed the attention of Paris. We will take the recital of it
from the _Globe_, which was in a perfect position for telling the truth
in this instance--

    "To-day, 22 January, at noon, MM. Enfantin and Olinde
    Rodrigues, leaders of the Saint-Simonian religion, laid
    their plans to go to the Taitbout Hall, where they were to
    preside over the preaching, when a Commissary of Police,
    escorted by a Municipal Guard, put in an appearance at No.
    6 Rue Monsigny, where they lived, to forbid them to go out,
    and prevented all communication between the house and the
    outside world, in virtue of the orders which they declared
    they possessed.

    "Meantime M. Desmortiers, _procureur du roi_, and M.
    Zangiacomi, Examining Magistrate, assisted by two
    Commissaries of Police and escorted by Municipal Guards
    and troops of the line, went to the Taitbout Hall. M.
    Desmortiers signified to M. Barrault, who was in the hall,
    that the preaching could not take place, and that he had
    come to enjoin the meeting to break up. The _procureur du
    roi_ immediately appeared in the hall with M. Barrault and
    there said: 'In the name of the Law and of Article 292 of
    the Penal Code I have come to close this hall and to seal
    up all the doors.' The assembly was immediately broken up,
    and seals were put to the doors of the Taitbout Hall. M.
    Zangiacomi and M. Desmortiers then repaired to No. 5 (6) Rue
    Monsigny, where they found MM. Enfantin and Rodrigues; they
    declared that they were the bearers of two search-warrants,
    one against M. Enfantin and the other against M. Rodrigues,
    and that they had come to search the house. They seized M.
    Enfantin's correspondence, all the account-books and the
    bills-due books."

Free to-day from the prosecution of MM. Zangiacomi and Desmortiers, the
Saint-Simonians are not at all rid of us, and we shall hunt them out
again in their retreat at Ménilmontant.


[1] See critical analysis of _Louis XI._ in _Études dramatiques._



CHAPTER XV


    Mély-Janin's _Louis XI._


Three days after _Térésa_ the _Louis XI._ of Casimir Delavigne was
played. I have spoken of Mély-Janin's drama entitled _Louis XI._,
which had deeply impressed Soulié and me in 1827. It had, no doubt,
also impressed Casimir Delavigne, who was most sensitive to such
impressions. Casimir seemed to have been created and brought into
this world to prove that the system of innate ideas is the falsest of
philosophical systems. We are about to devote a few lines to the study
of the _Louis XI._ of 1827 and that of 1832, Mély-Janin's drama and
that of Casimir Delavigne. We do not wish to say that these two men
were of the same substance; but, having Walter Scott ostensibly as
ally, the journalist found himself, one fine night, a match for the
dramatic author. We say _ostensibly_, because Casimir Delavigne did
not himself totally scorn alliance with the Scottish bard; only, as
Walter Scott was still unpopular in France with many people, because of
his _History of Napoléon_, Casimir, in his capacity of _National_ poet
(it was upon that nationality the fragile pyramid of his talent was
specially founded), did not want openly to confess that alliance.

Let us begin with Mély-Janin. At the rising of the curtain one sees a
landscape, representing the château of Plessis-les-Tours, a hostelry
and a _smiling countryside,_ after the fashion of the time. Wherever
anything is not copied from Walter Scott we find, as in that _smiling
countryside_, a specimen of the style of the Empire. Isabelle, the
rich heiress of Croy, is on the stage with her maid of honour, her
attendant, her confidential friend; a theatrical device invented
to enable one of the principal characters to confide in another a
secret which the teller has known for ten years, and with which the
general public now becomes acquainted. In ancient tragedy, when this
functionary is a man, he is called Euphorbus (?), Arcas or Corasmin;
when a woman, she is called Julia, Œnone or Fatima, and bears the
innocent title of confidant. Well, Isabelle confides to the woman who
accompanies her in her flight that she has come from the court of
Burgundy to the court of France because Duke Charles, fearing to see
her dispose of her immense wealth, wished to force her to marry either
the Comte de Crèvecœur or the Comte de la Marck, nicknamed the Boar of
the Ardennes. She informs her (this same Eléonore, who has not left
her side for one moment) that she has found protection, safe although
not particularly entertaining, in King Louis XI. The sole anxiety she
feels is to know if _he_, whom she has not had time to forewarn of her
flight, will have the perseverance to follow her, and the skill to
find her again. This is a point upon which Eléonore, well informed as
she is, cannot instruct her; but, as Éléonore has learnt nearly all
she knows and the public all it needs to know, one sees advancing from
the distance two men dressed like decent citizens, who come forward
in their turn and gossip quite naturally of their affairs in the very
place in all France least suitable for the conversation to be held.
Isabelle turns round, sees them and says--

"I see the king coming this way; he is accompanied by his crony
Martigny. The simplicity of his costume shows that he wishes to keep
his incognito. Here he is; let us withdraw."

And Isabelle de Croy and her confidant withdraw to the _garden side_,
having seen Louis XI. and his confidant, whom they must see in order
that the public may know that Louis XI. and his confidant are about to
take part in the scene, whilst Louis XI. and his confidant, who do not
need to see Isabelle and her confidant, and who indeed ought not to see
them, do not see them.

You may tell me this is not a very accurate reproduction of the habits
of Louis XI., who, after the nature of cats, foxes and wolves, can see
in the night on all sides of him and behind, too, and is represented
as not able to see things that are in front of him; but I can only
reply that this was how the thing was done on the French stage in the
year of grace 1827, even amongst poets who had the reputation of being
innovators. It will be seen that things had not changed much in 1832.
The hatred which was entertained against us can easily be imagined,
since we had undertaken to change customs as convenient as these. It
was enough to add in parentheses, and in another style of typography,
when speaking of those who come on--as Mély-Janin does, for instance,
when speaking of the king and his crony Martigny--(_They come on from
the back of the stage, and cannot perceive the comtesse and Éléonore
hidden by the trees._) The matter was no more difficult than that!
Do not forget, if I do, to remind me of the story of the monologue
of Tasso. Louis XI. is also with his confidant, only his confidant
is called _le compère_ Martigny. They come forward, chatting and
disputing; but do not be anxious, they have kept the most important
part of their conversation, that which it is urgent the public should
know, until their entrance upon the stage; so, after a few unimportant
words, exchanged between Louis XI. and his crony, the king says to
Martigny--

    "Let us return to the business we have in hand. What news
    have the secret emissaries you sent to the court of Burgundy
    brought you? Does Charles know that the Comtesse de Croy has
    withdrawn into my States? Does he know that I have given her
    shelter?"

You see that the old fox Louis XI. wants the emissaries of the crony
Martigny to have informed their master, in order that it may be
repeated to himself, that the Duc de Bourgogne knows that the Comtesse
de Croy has withdrawn to his States, and that he has given her shelter!
As if Louis XI. had need of the emissaries of others! As if he hadn't
his own secret spies, who, at all hours, made their way, under all
sorts of disguises, noiseless, into his private cabinet, where they
were accustomed to talk of his affairs! You must clearly understand
that the two interlocutors would not have come there if the secret
emissaries of the crony Martigny had not arrived. As a matter of fact,
they have returned, and this is the news they have brought: Charles the
Bold knows all; he flew into a violent passion when he learnt it; he
sent the Comte de Crèvecoeur immediately to fetch back Isabelle. They
have learnt, besides, that a young Scotsman, by name Quentin Durward,
has joined the two suitors who aspire to the hand of Isabelle, the
Comte de Crèvecoeur and the Boar of Ardennes, and has the advantage
over them by being loved in return.

    "But where, then, has he seen the countess?"

    Wait! Here is a clever rase, which prepares us for the
    _dénoûment_--

    "That is what I cannot find out," replies Martigny; "it is
    certain, however, that he has paid her frequent visits at
    Herbert's tower."

    "At Herbert's tower, sayest thou?"

    "Yes; you know that the countess, before surrendering
    herself to the protection of your court, had already made
    an attempt to escape. The duke, under the first impulse of
    anger, had her shut up in Herbert's tower; there she was
    strictly guarded, and yet they say that, by some secret
    passage, Quentin Durward found means to get to her."

Louis XI. does not know this; and, as he is no doubt ashamed of not
knowing it, instead of replying to Martigny's question, he says--

    "But hast thou not tried to attract this young man to my
    court?"

    "He had left that of the Duc de Bourgogne some time after
    the countess."

    "He will, no doubt, follow in her track."

As you see, Louis XI. is really much more subtle than he appears. He
continues--

    "Martigny, we must watch for his arrival. If he comes, my
    favour awaits him ... But what art thou looking at?"

You, I presume, who are not Louis XI., have no doubt what crony
Martigny is looking at? Why! he is looking towards the young man
for whom the king's favours are waiting. This is called _ad eventum
festinare_, moving towards the _dénoûment_; it is recommended in the
first place by Horace, and in the second by Boileau. Thanks to his
disguise, and to a breakfast which he offers to the traveller, Louis
XI. learns that he who has just come is, indeed, the man he is looking
for, that his name is Quentin Durward, that he is a Scot; that is to
say, as nobly born as a king, as poor as a Gascon, and proud, upon my
faith! as proud as himself. The old king, indeed, gets some wild cat
scratches from time to time; but he is used to that: these are the
perquisites of an incognito. Here is an instance. Martigny has gone to
order the breakfast.

    "Tell me, Maître Pierre," asks Quentin Durward of the king,
    "what is that château which I see in the distance?"

    "It is the royal residence."

    "The royal residence! Why, then, those battlements, those
    high walls, those large moats? Why so many sentinels posted
    at regular distances? Do you know, Maître Pierre, that it
    has rather the air of a fortress or of a prison than of the
    palace of a king?"

    "You think so?"

    "Why such great precautions?... Tell me, Maître Pierre, if
    you were king, would you take so much trouble to defend your
    dwelling?"

    "But it is as well to be on one's guard; one has seen places
    taken by surprise, and princes carried away just when they
    least expected such a thing. It seems to me, besides, that
    the king's safety demands ..."

    "Do you know a surer rampart for a king than the love of his
    subjects?"

    "No, of course ... yet ..."

    "If my lot had placed me on the throne I would rather be
    loved than feared; I would like the humblest of my subjects
    to have free access to my person; I should rule with so
    much wisdom that none would have approached me with evil
    intention."

That is not recommended either by Horace or by Boileau, but by the
leader of the _claque._[1] The fashion of giving advice to a king is
always creditable to an author: it is called doing the work of the
opposition; and such clap-trap methods appeal to the gallery.

In spite of the advice given by Mély-Janin to Charles X. which the
latter should have followed as coming from a friend, he appointed the
Polignac Ministry. We know the consequences of that nomination.

Martigny returns. The meal is ready; they sit down to the table. The
wine loosens their tongues, especially the small white wine which is
drunk on the banks of the Loire. Quentin Durward then informs the king
that he is not engaged in the service of any prince, that he is seeking
his fortune, and that he has some inclination to enlist in the Scots
Guards, where he has an uncle who is an officer.

Here, you see, the drama begins to run on all fours with the romance.
But what a difference between the handling of the romance-writer and
that of the dramatist, between the man called Walter Scott and the
man called Mély-Janin. Now, as the conversation begins to become
interesting, the king rises and goes away without giving any other
reason for his departure than that which I myself give you, and which I
am obliged to guess at. If you question it, here is his bit--

    "Adieu, Seigneur Quentin; we shall see each other again.
    Rely upon the friendliness of Maître Pierre. (_Aside to
    Martigny_) Be sure to tell him that which concerns him; I
    leave thee free to do what thou deemest fitting."

    "Be at ease, sire."

Left alone with Quentin Durward, Martigny at once informs him that the
Comtesse de Croy has taken refuge at the court of King Louis XI., and
lives in the ancient château which he points out to him. Then Quentin
Durward implores Martigny to go into the castle and give a letter to
Isabelle.

    "Ah! Sir Durward, what are you thinking about?" exclaimed
    Martigny, who in his capacity as a citizen of Tours does not
    know that the title of _Sir_ is only used before a baptismal
    name.

    "You must, it is absolutely imperative!" insists Quentin.

    "I beg you to believe that if the thing were possible.
    (_Aside_) I am more anxious to get in than he. (_Aloud_)
    Listen, I foresee a way."

You do not guess the way? It is, indeed, a strange one for a man who
does not dare to put a love-letter behind walls, doors, curtains,
tapestries and portières. You shall know the method employed before
long.

Quentin Durward, left alone, informs the audience that the Comte
de Crèvecoeur, who comes to claim Isabelle, shall only have her at
the expense of his own life. In short, he talks long enough to give
Martigny time to enter the château, to see Isabelle, and to put the
method in question into practice--

    "Well?" asks Quentin.

    "I have spoken to her."

    "What did she say?"

    "Nothing."

    "Nothing?"

    "Nothing at all; but she blushed, went pale and fainted."

    "She fainted? What happiness!"

    "When she regained consciousness she talked of taking the
    air. Look, look, turn your eyes in that quarter."

    "My God! It is she! (_To Martigny_) Go away, I implore you!"
    (_Martigny hides behind a mass of trees._)

The method employed by the man who did not dare to get a note conveyed
into a closed room guarded by a confidant was to make Isabelle come out
into the open air, in full view of the château de Plessis-les-Tours.
Not bad, was it? Isabelle is in a tremble. And with good reason! She
knows that Martigny is the King's confidant, and she has her doubts
about Martigny being at a safe distance, Martigny, a gallant naturally
full of cunning, since he has better emissaries than those of the king,
and tells Louis XI. things he does not know. So she only comes on to
say to Quentin: "Be off with you!" Only, she says it in nobler terms
and in language more befitting a princess--

    "Go away, I entreat you!"

    "One single word!"

    "I am spied upon, ... they might surprise us!"

    "But at least reassure my heart. What! go without seeing me!
    ... Ah! cruel one! You do not know how much absence ..."

    "I must be cautious for both of us, Seigneur Durward; they
    will explain everything to you. Go away!... Let it be
    enough for the present to know that you are loved more than
    ever. Go!"

    "But this silence ..."

    "Says more than any words ..."

    "Adieu, then!"

    [_He kisses the Countess's hand_.]

    "Come, depart!" says Eléonore.

    [_Quentin goes out at one side and the Countess at the
    other_.]

    "And we will go and inform the king of all that has
    happened," says Martigny, coming out from behind his thicket
    of trees.

    END OF ACT I

We clearly perceived that rascal Martigny hiding himself behind that
thicket; well, look what took place, notwithstanding: Isabelle and
Quentin Durward, who had greater interest in knowing it than we, had
no suspicion! Who says now that Youth is not confident? But now let us
pass on to the first act of _Louis XI._ by Casimir Delavigne