Galipettes

F. GALIPAUX

GALIPETTES


DESSINS DE
P. BARON, E. BEJOT BETHUNE, COURCHET, DETOUCHE FRIM, GRAY, LHEUREUX,
L. LOIR, MERWART MESPLES, H. PILLE, RAY, TEYSSONNIERE VALTON


PARIS
JULES LEVY, LIBRAIRE-EDITEUR
2, RUE ANTOINE-DUBOIS, 2

1887




A MA MERE
MON MEILLEUR AMI




PREFACE

* * * * *

_Si tous ceux qui ont applaudi Galipaux, tous ceux qu'il a fait rire,
achetaient son livre, ce serait--comme le briquet de Fumade--le plus
grand succes qu'on puisse voir de nos jours!

Il est si gentil, ce petit Galipaux.

Il y a des jours ou on le prendrait pour Dejazet, et on se demande
pourquoi il ne joue pas les_ PREMIERES ARMES DE RICHELIEU _et le_
VICOMTE DE LETORIERES.

_Un comique qui n'a rien de grotesque, le cas est presque unique.
Hyacinthe avait son nez, Ravel avait sa tournure, Baron a un vice de
prononciation qui lui rapporte soixante mille francs par an.

De tous les comiques connus, l'un a la maigreur; l'autre l'obesite.
Galipaux n'a que la gaite, l'esprit, la finesse des nuances. Il voudrait
etre ridicule qu'il ne pourrait pas y arriver.

Il justifie le proverbe: Qui peut le plus peut le moins. Un premier prix
au Conservatoire lui donnait de droit son entree a la Comedie
Francaise; mais Galipaux mesura Coquelin qui signait de la rue
Lafayette des decrets de Moscou, et, prudemment, il prit l'autre cote du
Palais-Royal. Le premier prix du Conservatoire signa un engagement de
cinq ans avec le theatre ou triompherent Sainville, Arnal, Alcide
Tousez, Achard, Gil-Perez. Et la, meme la, on le tint trois ans sous le
boisseau. Les jeunes ont a lutter partout.

Il est cependant meridional, ce jeune comique arrive a la force du
poignet; mais le midi lui-meme est etouffe par les syndicats et les
coalitions.

C'est pourquoi Galipaux, desireux d'occuper ses loisirs, se mit a ecrire
de petites etudes, des esquisses, des monologues, des proverbes qui ont
prouve qu'il etait capable de debiter autre chose que l'esprit des
autres.

Apres les_ DEUX EPAVES, _saynete en vers, Galipaux se revela sous trois
formes differentes dans le_ VIOLON SEDUCTEUR: _auteur, comedien et
violoniste, il savoura trois succes en une seance.

Pourquoi du Palais-Royal est-il alle a la Renaissance? Et pourquoi de la
Renaissance ne va-t-il pas a la Comedie Francaise ou son debut serait
une veritable_ RENTREE? _Son professeur, son maitre, le grand Regnier,
ce comedien qui, sous l'Empire, etait plus venere qu'un senateur, n'est
plus la pour lui ouvrir la barriere. Et cependant quel Mascarille et
quel Scapin ferait ce Galipaux, ne pour les planches, qui a du renoncer
provisoirement a Moliere et a Regnard pour interpreter Blavet et
Bisson!--Il y a des degres, disait a Alexandre Dumas le president du
tribunal de Rouen. Galipaux les franchira. En attendant, l'excellent
comique, le comedien poete et auteur, offre au public les fleurs de son
imagination. La plupart des morceaux qui composent ce volume ont paru
dans les journaux de Paris, non point dans les feuilles volantes et
ephemeres, mais bien dans les journaux qui ont des abonnes--comme
l'Opera. Galipaux a ete imprime tout vif dans le_ FIGARO, _dans l'_ECHO DE
PARIS, _dans l'_OPINION, _dans l'_ESTAFETTE. _La Renaissance, l'Athenee les
Menus-Plaisirs, le theatre Dejazet ont donne de ses pieces. Il merite
d'etre lu, ayant merite d'etre ecoute. Et puisqu'il ne joue que le soir,
lisez-le le matin._


AURELIEN SCHOLL.




NOS ACTEURS EN TOURNEE

_A Alexandre BISSON._


Depuis quelques annees, lorsqu'une piece a du succes a Paris--comedie ou
operette--il se trouve toujours une dizaine d'impressarii _in partibus_
tout prets a l'exploiter en province.

Pour ce faire, ils racolent dans les agences et cafes du boulevard les
comediens inoccupes, montent rapidement l'ouvrage, et en route pour
l'exportation dramatique ou musicale!

Ces troupes formees de brio et de broc, et composees d'elements
heterogenes, offrent la plupart du temps a l'observateur d'innombrables
sujets d'etudes, et au caricaturiste quantite de modeles a croquer.

Si vous le voulez bien, nous allons examiner ensemble les types que nous
presente la tournee Saint-Albert.

* * * * *

Saint-Albert, grand premier role, aujourd'hui eloigne de la scene
(l'ingratitude des auteurs!), vient d'acheter le droit unique de
representer dans toute la France la nouvelle piece de Dubequet.

Il n'a pas eu la main heureuse, Saint-Albert, dans le recrutement de sa
troupe: elle est formee d'une jolie collection de types!

Aussi, ce malheureux directeur rentrera-t-il dans la capitale avec les
cheveux un tantinet blanchis.

Dam! qu'est-ce que vous voulez! quand on a affaire a des gens comme ce
Floridor, par exemple!...


LE GRINCHEUX


Floridor est comique au theatre ... parfois, mais grincheux a la ville ...
toujours.

Il a decroche avec peine et protection un second accessit au temple du
faubourg Poissonniere, ou il n'est cependant reste que six ans. Cela lui
suffit pour mettre sur ses cartes de visites "_laureat du
Conservatoire_" (laureat! comme c'est malin, c'est pour le bourgeois,
ca.)

Il n'a pas voulu entrer aux Francais, il n'y aurait rien fait avec
Machin qui est la et qui accapare tous les roles.

Entre nous, Floridor ne cache pas son jeu. Des qu'on l'ecoute dix
minutes, on donne raison a ceux qui disent de lui: sale caractere! Ce
n'est pas extraordinaire qu'il soit sans cesse sans engagement: a peine
dans un theatre, il debine tout et tous.

Depuis le directeur, "qui n'y connait rien", jusqu'aux artistes, "tous
mauvais" en passant par le regisseur, "une moule", tout le monde a son
paquet avec lui.

Je vous laisse a penser ce qu'il dit de l'artiste qui joue son emploi, a
lui, Floridor!

Enfin, il y a huit jours, il rencontre un camarade, boulevard
Saint-Martin, qui lui dit:

--Que fais-tu?

--Rien.

--Veux-tu venir jouer _le Nevrose_ avec nous?

--Qui, vous?

--Eh bien, Chose, Machin, Dazincourt....

--Ah! mossieu Dazincourt en est?

--Oui, qu'est-ce qu'il t'a encore fait, celui-la? Tu n'as pas l'air de
l'aimer beaucoup.

--Moi? je me fiche pas mal de lui! Ca m'embete seulement de jouer avec
un cabot.

--Allons, decidement, il t'a fait quelque chose.

--Mais non, je t'assure. Et ce serait pour jouer _le Nevrose_,
naturellement?

--Non, c'est Vilter qui le joue.

--Qui ca, Vilter?

--Vilter, du cafe de Suede.

--Ah! oui je sais ... un comique, plaisanterie a part ... ce sera gai ...
Je ne suis pas curieux, mais je voudrais le voir dans _le Nevrose_....

Enfin, l'affaire est signee, non sans peine, et grace au directeur qui a
fait toutes les concessions.

On a mis, entre le 2e et le 3e acte, un monologue comique dit par
Floridor, a la demande de l'artiste qui a reclame cette faveur "afin
d'avoir au moins quelque chose dans la soiree, son role etant _une
complaisance_. Qu'on ne l'oublie pas!"

La repetition generale vient d'avoir lieu, au premier etage d'un cafe du
faubourg du Temple. On s'est separe en se donnant rendez-vous pour le
lendemain, deux heures, a la gare Saint-Lazare: on joue le soir meme a
Versailles. Floridor fait remarquer qu'il est idiot de partir a deux
heures. On peut parfaitement ne partir qu'a cinq, on arrive suffisamment
tot pour diner et etre pret a l'heure. Au moins, on passerait sa journee
a Paris. Il faut etre fou pour n'avoir pas vu ca! Les indicateurs ne
sont pas faits pour les chiens. Ah! elle commence bien, cette tournee!

* * * * *

On part. Naturellement, Floridor, en parfait gentleman, s'est
immediatement empare du meilleur coin. La duegne qui, elle, n'a pas eu
cette chance, a vainement laisse tomber plusieurs fois cette phrase:

--Je sens que je vais etre malade ... chaque fois que je vais en
arriere....

Floridor n'a pas bronche. Il bourre silencieusement sa pipe sans tenir
compte de l'effroi visible de ses camarades du sexe faible.

--Oh! quelle tabagie! baissez au moins la vitre.

--Plus souvent! pour attraper un rhume; je joue ce soir, moi!

--Eh bien, et nous?

* * * * *

On arrive.

Floridor n'est pas content:

--Eh bien, l'omnibus? Ou est l'omnibus pour ma valise? On ne suppose pas
que je vais porter moi-meme ma valise a l'hotel?

Mais, en voila bien d'une autre!

Les yeux de Floridor tombent sur une affiche:

--Qu'est-ce que c'est que ca? dit-il ecumant.

On a mis Reguval avant moi? C'est trop fort! De quel droit?

--Mais, mon petit Floridor, lui dit-on pour le calmer, Reguval joue
Gaetan.

--Qu'est-ce que ca me fiche? Je suis quelqu'un, moi, on me connait ...
ma reputation n'est plus a faire. Dans les _Premieres pages d'une grande
histoire_, c'est moi qui ai cree Marceau.

--Comment, Marceau?

--Certainement, a Ruffec.

Bref, apres avoir longuement ronchonne et s'etre apercu qu'on ne pretait
qu'une oreille distraite a ses jeremiades, Floridor change tout a coup
de ton:

--Apres tout, etre le premier ou le dernier sur l'affiche, ca m'est bien
egal. La vedette, c'est le public qui vous la fait!

* * * * *

Floridor se precipite a l'hotel et se dispose a choisir la plus belle
chambre, mais le garcon l'arrete:

--Pardon, celle-ci est retenue pour votre camarade, M. Dazincourt.

--Ah! j'aurais ete bien etonne si ... Enfin! Eh bien! donnez-moi une
sale mansarde, alors.

On lui offre la chambre mitoyenne et identiquement semblable a celle
qu'il voulait prendre.

--Monsieur sera aussi bien ici.

--Oh! ca ne fait rien. Je sais parfaitement qu'a l'hotel on n'est pas
comme chez soi,

* * * * *

A table, on presente le plat a Floridor.

--Mais il ne reste que du maigre. Allez a la cuisine chercher du gras.

Le chef revient et avoue, la mine un peu confuse, _qu'il n'en reste
plus_.

--Voila ma veine! s'ecrie l'artiste, je meurs de faim!

Et comme ses camarades se tordent:

--Alors, vous trouvez ca drole, vous autres? Il vous en faut peu pour
rire!

* * * * *

Au theatre, le regisseur procede a la distribution des loges.

Floridor (que ses camarades appellent La Grinche) a deja mis sa valise
dans la premiere, celle qui est la plus pres de la scene.

On lui fait poliment comprendre que c'est l'Etoile qui s'habille la, et
qu'il est tout naturel qu'il cede cette loge a une femme.

--Oui, oui, moi, je m'habillerai dans les dessous, c'est assez bon.

--Floridor! on commence!

--Non, je ne suis pas pret ... il y a encore une minute!

Si par hasard notre comique a du succes, il repond a ceux qui le
complimentent:

--Oh! pour ce que ca m'avance d'etre applaudi a Versailles!

S'il remporte une "tape", et qu'on y fasse allusion, sa reponse est
prete:

--Dame! ce n'est pas a Versailles qu'il faut chercher les connaisseurs!

Le spectacle termine, le regisseur dit:

--Mes enfants, demain, depart a sept heures, nous allons a Orleans.

--Comment, sept heures! Quand voulez-vous qu'on dorme alors? Et puis,
cette idee d'aller de Versailles a Orleans quand on a Chartres a cote de
soi!

--Mais, mon ami, si on ne va pas a Chartres, c'est que le theatre est
pris, le soir.

--Eh bien, pourquoi pas en matinee?

* * * * *

Et pour finir par un mot typique, si pendant le voyage la temperature
n'est pas favorable a l'entreprise, Floridor ne cesse de repeter:

--Sale tournee ... il pleut tout le temps!


CELUI QUI SAIT VOYAGER


Parlez-moi au moins de Dazincourt, dit Saint-Albert, voila un
pensionnaire aimable, pas bruyant et qui sait voyager!

Ah! le fait est que Dazincourt a l'habitude des voyages. Depuis que les
tournees fonctionnent, il n'a pas passe un hiver a Paris. Toujours en
chemin de fer! Aussi, vous pouvez le questionner a propos d'un trajet
quelconque, vous etes certain qu'il vous repondra surement.
Interrogez-le sur l'heure du depart, celle de l'arrivee; demandez-lui le
nombre de kilometres, si l'on change de train en route, sur quel reseau
on voyage (Lyon, Orleans ou Etat), jamais vous ne le prendrez sans vert.

Il a tant voyage! Tellement que, maintes fois, lorsque le train
s'arrete, on l'apercoit serrant la main du chef de gare: une vieille
connaissance.

_Je sais voyager, moi!_ est sa phrase favorite, qu'il repete souvent,
d'ailleurs. Examinez-le des le depart, et dites-moi si vous n'avez pas
devant vous un homme qui connait son affaire.

En wagon, il choisit, lui aussi, le meilleur coin, celui qui tourne le
dos a la locomotive (afin d'eviter les morceaux de charbon), mais il
l'offre gracieusement aux dames, s'il s'en trouve dans le compartiment ...
il est vrai qu'il a toujours soin de monter ou elles ne sont pas.

Le train a peine ebranle, Dazincourt ouvre son petit sac de nuit--son
seul bagage de main et pas encombrant, oh! non--il en retire une
casquette legere ou epaisse, selon la saison, et lit le _Petit Journal_
(Dazincourt n'a pas d'opinions, mais raffole des faits divers); le
dernier crime lu, il le commente, jusqu'a la grande station ou l'on
dejeune.

Pendant que ses camarades s'engouffrent au buffet, Dazincourt se glisse
discretement a la _buvette_; c'est toujours la meme cuisine, et c'est
moins cher. Il remonte en wagon, fume onctueusement sa bouffarde et fait
un leger somme qui le rend frais et dispos a l'arrivee.

Il ne se presse pas, a l'arrivee: il sait voyager!

Tandis que les autres artistes perdent dix minutes pour le choix de
l'hotel, Dazincourt, qui a deja joue dans cette ville (ou n'a-t-il pas
joue?) sait, lui, ou est le bon hotel, l'hotel raisonnable. Il a ecrit
la veille pour retenir sa chambre. Et pour ne pas confondre de noms, car
il en a vu des _Hotel du Commerce_, des _Lion d'Or_, des _Cheval blanc!_
il a son petit repertoire, ce cahier cartonne que vous lui avez apercu
tout a l'heure dans les mains. Eh! bien, empruntez-le lui (il se fera
un veritable plaisir de vous le preter) et vous verrez:

_Versailles_. Tel hotel, dejeuner, diner et chambre: tant. V.C.
(ce qui veut dire: vin compris). On est bien. Prendre le cafe en
face. L'hotel n'est pas loin de la gare, on peut y aller a pied,
meme s'il pleut.

Tournez la page, et vous verrez au-dessous de la note qui regarde
Chartres une petite ligne ecrite au crayon:

Descendre a l'hotel.... Eviter le vin. Demander si la cuisiniere
Anna, une petite brune, est toujours la!

Et un point d'exclamation mysterieux termine cette phrase enigmatique!

Dazincourt s'est donc rendu a l'hotel que lui a recommande son petit
vade mecum, il donne un bonjour amical aux patrons de l'hotel, s'informe
de la sante des enfants, qu'il trouve grandis depuis _Michel
Strogoff_--la derniere tournee qui l'a amene ici,--monte au 17, sa
chambre habituelle, ouvre la fenetre pour changer l'air, eventre le lit,
tate les draps pour s'assurer de leur secheresse, souleve un coin du
matelas, a la tete du lit, pour se tranquilliser au sujet des ...
petites trotteuses anthropophages, reborde le drap et, cette derniere
inspection faite, consulte sa montre. Il n'est que cinq heures. Si la
ville dont Dazincourt foule le pave est une ville de garnison, notre
artiste se dirige au cafe des officiers: l'absinthe y est toujours de
premier choix.

Six heures. Dazincourt rentre diner: c'est l'heure de la table d'hote,
le meilleur repas, il ne faut pas le rater. Mon Dieu, oui, a six heures,
le service des tables d'hote est toujours si mortellement long, il faut
diner sans se presser.

Son dessert pris, le comedien descend a la cuisine, et, sachant que, le
lendemain, le depart a lieu dans la matinee, bien avant l'heure du repas
ordinaire, il offre _deux entrees_ au chef, afin que ce Vatel de
province, reconnaissant de la bonne soiree passee la veille, lui trousse
a son choix un petit dejeuner des plus congruents ... et au vin blanc
(le matin, c'est le meme prix, et ca change).

En suite, Dazincourt se dirige lentement vers le theatre, en fumant avec
onction sa vieille bouffarde, Josephine.

Il s'habille sans se presser et joue de meme, en pontifiant un brin. Le
rideau baisse sur le dernier acte, l'acteur se degrime et se rhabille
avec la meme regularite methodique.

Ici, un detail bien caracteristique:

Afin d'eviter l'odeur rance des fards qui empesteraient sa malle et ses
effets, Dazincourt se demaquille avec de petits frottoirs que sa femme
lui a fabriques avec de vieilles chemises en prevision de la tournee et
qu'il jette ensuite dans un coin de la loge abandonnee comme un souvenir
de son passage!

Et comme il est sain de prendre un peu l'air avant de se coucher,
surtout quand on a respire, pendant trois heures, l'atmosphere
surchauffee d'une loge d'artiste, Dazincourt va en griller une derniere
en se promenant sur le cours, et, toujours placide, rentre a l'hotel ou
il se fait mettre au reveil suffisamment tot pour ne pas avoir a se
bousculer. Monte dans sa chambre, notre acteur se couche, et s'endort
enfin avec la conscience d'un homme qui a fait son devoir ... et qui
sait voyager.


L'ACTEUR PRESSE


Cinguy, qu'on pourrait aussi bien appeler Electric ou Dynamite, est la
petulance et la vivacite memes. Quel brouillon!

Il court, va, vient, monte, descend. Vous le croyez ici, il est la, vous
y allez, il n'y est plus.

C'est tout essouffle, qu'il arrive a la gare ou ses camarades
l'attendent depuis longtemps.

--Ou montons-nous? ici ou la? Non, a cote! Je vais voir dans ce wagon,
si nous serons seuls? Oh! non, Floridor y est, allons ailleurs! Tiens,
Louisa, la-bas; grimpons dans son compartiment.

Ses camarades, lasses de zigzaguer sur la voie sont deja cases que
Cinguy cherche toujours ou il va monter. Saprelotte! le train siffle, on
a ferme les portieres, il va rater le depart! Enfin, il s'accroche a une
main, on le hisse, il y est, ca n'est pas malheureux!

Les copains installes depuis belle lurette ont place entre eux une
valise recouverte d'un plaid et s'appretent a faire un trente-et-un.

--En es-tu?

Cinguy adore le trente-et-un (quoiqu'il perde toujours, il est si
distrait.)

C'est toujours lui qui propose de jouer, mais il n'est jamais pret quand
on commence.

--Non, attendez, j'ai mes journaux a lire.

--Zut! fait le choeur.

Et Cinguy retire de sa poche, le _Figaro_, l'_Evenement_, le _Gaulois_.

Mais le demon du jeu l'empoigne, il lache carrement Prevel, Besson et
Nicollet pour regarder les cartes.

--Ah! non, pas de conseils, lui crie-t-on, ou bien joue.

--Tout a l'heure! Il faut que je lise.

Et il lit ou du moins, il essaye de lire, mais son esprit est tout au
brelan et au misti que ses voisins annoncent bruyamment.

C'est la vingtieme fois au moins que ses yeux fixent: _le programme de
la semaine dans nos theatres lyriques_; programme qui lui est du reste
profondement indifferent, aujourd'hui qu'il quitte Paris.

--Allons bon! en voila bien d'une autre a present.

Cinguy en se demenant,--hasard!--a fait tomber son ticket de chemin de
fer dans la rainure de la portiere.

--Quelle scie, cet animal-la!

--On n'est jamais tranquille une minute avec lui!

Cinguy derange tous les voyageurs. Tous ses voisins, y compris deux
etrangers, essayent d'attraper le billet, celui-ci avec une canne,
l'autre avec la courroie de la vitre, etc.

Comme toutes les tentatives restent infructueuses, Cinguy tres-embete,
dit:

--J'ai une idee.

--Nous sommes perdus, fait la soubrette.

--Non, ne craignez rien!

Et s'adressant a un gros homme qu'il ne connait pas:

--Pardon, Monsieur, voulez-vous avoir la bonte de me preter un instant
votre canif.

Et attachant le couteau a une longue ficelle, il le descend entre les
deux planches, mais a force de faire la marionnette, il lache la corde
et v'lan, le couteau va rejoindre le billet.

Tout le monde rit.

Tete du monsieur.

Enfin, un camarade plus heureux ou plus adroit que ses devanciers peche
les deux objets.

--Maintenant, j'en suis! dit Vif-Argent aux joueurs.

Mais le train s'arrete, on est arrive.

* * * * *

Cinguy, qui a rencontre quelqu'un avec qui il s'est attarde, sort le
dernier.

Les omnibus d'hotel viennent de partir.

--Eh bien, ou sont les autres? Oh! comme c'est bete de ne pas
m'attendre!

On lui dit:

--Les comediens sont descendus a la _Boule d'Or_.

C'est loin, la _Boule d'or_?

--Ce n'est pas ici, lui repond-on avec verite.

--Quels daims, ces provinciaux! murmure Cinguy vexe de prendre une
voiture tout seul et encore plus vexe quand il voit que la _Boule-d'Or_
est a dix pas de la gare et qu'il vient de se coller des frais
inutiles.

--Quel est le numero de ma chambre? demande-t-il a l'hotelier.

--Monsieur, il n'en reste plus, les voyageurs qui viennent d'arriver ont
tout pris.

--Comme c'est malin, dit Cinguy a ses amis qui redescendent de voir leur
chambre, de ne rien retenir pour moi.

--Allez a l'_Angleterre_, vous y serez tres bien.

--Oh! oui, tres bien, reprend Floridor avec un sourire machiavelique et
puis, ce n'est que seize francs par jour!

--C'est egal, vous me la paierez, celle-la, fait Cinguy en s'eloignant
furieux.

Enfin, il est installe. Ses amis lui ont dit:

--Nous allons au _Cafe du Commerce_, tu nous y trouveras, si tu ne
traines pas.

Ah! bien, ouiche, Cinguy qui a fait le tour de la ville pour trouver
l'_Hotel de l'Angleterre_, devant lequel il est passe deux fois en
courant, mais qu'il n'a pas vu, il est si distrait, arrive au _Cafe du
Commerce_, cinq minutes apres le depart de ses amis.

Son nez s'allonge.

Heureusement, il rencontre un ancien condisciple de Louis-le-Grand,
aujourd'hui sous-chef a la prefecture de la ville. Ce jeune provincial
savait par les affiches que Cinguy venait jouer ici; il serait bien alle
l'attendre a la gare, mais il ignorait l'heure de l'arrivee. N'importe,
le voila, il ne lache plus le comedien. D'ailleurs, ses parents sachant
_l'ami du fils_ bien eleve quoique artiste, ont charge leur rejeton de
l'inviter a diner. Oh! impossible de refuser. Tout est prevu. Sachant
que Cinguy avait besoin d'etre au theatre de bonne heure, on dinera a
six heures et quart. C'est en-ten-du.

* * * * *

Au theatre, tout le monde est agite: Cinguy n'est pas arrive et c'est
lui qui dit le premier mot.

--Me voila! Me voila!

En effet, on entend un tapage effroyable: c'est Cinguy qui monte quatre
a quatre l'escalier tout en criant: a moi!! je suis en retard!!!
coiffeur! habilleur!! vite!

Il se deshabille sur le palier, jette ses vetements a un machiniste
qu'il prend pour l'habilleur, se fait une tete de clown, tellement il se
presse et crie:

--On peut frapper!... Non, non, ne frappez pas! j'ai oublie la clef de
ma malle a l'hotel. Garcon de theatre! allez vite a l'_Angleterre_, (au
bout de la ville) chambre 2, vous trouverez a ma valise un trousseau que
vous m'apporterez. Allez vite!

L'employe revient, derate, et l'on commence.

Un peu avant la fin de la piece, Cinguy, croyant qu'on l'attend "a la
sortie" remonte dans sa loge avant sa derniere apparition pour mettre
ses souliers de ville, afin de gagner une minute, mais il ne gagne
qu'une amende parce que cette ascension lui a fait manquer son entree.
Le rideau baisse sur le dernier acte, son ami vient le feliciter de la
part de sa famille qui n'a pu l'attendre, vu l'heure tardive,--11 h. 35.

Pendant ce temps-la, tout le monde est parti, le theatre est vide, et le
gazier est la, ronchonnant apres l'acteur qui n'en finit pas et qu'il
attend pour eteindre le dernier papillon et s'en aller.

Cinq minutes apres, Cinguy se trouve encore seul dans les rues desertes
de cette sous-prefecture inanimee, qu'il fait retentir de son pas
d'acteur presse!


L'AMATEUR


L'amateur est ordinairement un gommeux qui n'a pas besoin de ca, mais
que le theatre amuse ou plutot que les artistes amusent, et qui, pour
rester davantage avec eux, s'est fait engager pour jouer des _utilites
habillees_.

Est-il heureux de faire partie de cette tournee!

Ah! rien ne lui manque, il a pris ses precautions, celui-la!

Voyez ses poches, elles sont bourrees de guides, elles regorgent
d'indicateurs, il en a! il en a!! de toutes les formes, de toutes les
nuances, le _Chaix_, le _Conty_, le _Noriac_....

Un enorme sac de nuit est a ses cotes--vrai cabinet de toilette ambulant
(jeu de brosses complet) avec toute une pharmacie portative.

Quelqu'un s'est-il blesse, vite, demandez a l'amateur du taffetas rose:
il va vous en decouper un morceau avec ses adorables ciseaux
lilliputiens.

L'amateur a trois malles.

Dame! on part pour un mois, et il n'est pas de bon gout de mettre plus
de huit jours de suite le meme vetement. Aussi l'amateur a-t-il emporte
quatre complets ... complets, chapeaux et pardessus assortis.

Quant a ses cravates et ses gants, on n'en sait plus le nombre.

Le soir, s'il y a une annonce a faire, c'est toujours lui qui est charge
de cette corvee: il a un si bel habit et il le porte si bien!

--C'est son seul talent! insinue cette bonne langue de Floridor.

L'amateur voyage pour s'amuser, voir du pays.

Et pour eviter le temps perdu, voici comment il procede:

Ses innombrables guides lui ayant appris les heures ou les musees sont
visibles, les jardins publics ouverts, des qu'il descend du train, il se
jette dans un fiacre et dit au cocher d'un air entendu:

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Falkland, Book 3

This eBook was produced by David Widger

FALKLAND

By Edward Bulwer-Lytton


BOOK III.

EXTRACTS FROM THE JOURNAL OF LADY EMILY MANDEVILLE.

Friday.--Julia is here, and so kind! She has not mentioned his name, but
she sighed so deeply when she saw my pale and sunken countenance, that I
threw myself into her arms and cried like a child. We had no need of
other explanation: those tears spoke at once my confession and my
repentance. No letter from him for several days! Surely he is not ill!
how miserable that thought makes me!

Saturday.--A note has just been brought me from him. He is come
back-here! Good heavens! how very imprudent! I am so agitated that I
can write no more.

Sunday.--I have seen him! Let me repeat that sentence--I have seen him.
Oh that moment! did it not atone for all that I have suffered? I dare
not write everything he said, but he wished me to fly with him--him--what
happiness, yet what guilt, in the very thought! Oh! this foolish heart
--would that it might break! I feel too well the sophistry of his
arguments, and yet I cannot resist them. He seems to have thrown a spell
over me, which precludes even the effort to escape.

Monday.--Mr. Mandeville has asked several people in the country to dine
here to-morrow, and there is to be a ball in the evening. Falkland is of
course invited. We shall meet then, and how? I have been so little
accustomed to disguise my feelings, that I quite tremble to meet him with
so many witnesses around. Mr. Mandeville has been so harsh to me to-day;
if Falkland ever looked at me so, or ever said one such word, my heart
would indeed break. What is it Alfieri says about the two demons to whom
he is for ever a prey? "_La mente e il cor in perpetua lite_." Alas!
at times I start from my reveries with such a keen sense of agony and
shame! How, how am I fallen!

Tuesday.--He is to come here to-day and I shall see him!

Wednesday morning.--The night is over, thank Heaven! Falkland came late
to dinner: every one else was assembled. How gracefully he entered! how
superior he seemed to all the crowd that stood around him! He appeared
as if he were resolved to exert powers which he had disdained before. He
entered into the conversation, not only with such brilliancy, but with
such a blandness and courtesy of manner! There was no scorn on his lip,
no haughtiness on his forehead--nothing which showed him for a moment
conscious of his immeasurable superiority over every one present. After
dinner, as we retired, I caught his eyes. What volumes they told! and
then I had to listen to his praises, and say nothing. I felt angry even
in my pleasure. Who but I had a right to speak of him so well!

The ball came on: I felt languid and dispirited. Falkland did not dance.
He sat: himself by me--he urged me to--O God! O God! would that I were
dead!



FROM ERASMUS FALKLAND, ESQ., TO LADY EMILY MANDEVILLE.

How are you this morning, my adored friend? You seemed pale and ill when
we parted last night, and I shall be so unhappy till I hear something of
you. Oh, Emily, when you listened to me with those tearful and downcast
looks; when I saw your bosom heave at every word which I whispered in
your ear; when, as I accidentally touched your hand, I felt it tremble
beneath my own; oh! was there nothing in those moments at your heart
which pleaded for me more eloquently than words? Pure and holy as you
are, you know not, it is true, the feelings which burn and madden in me.
When you are beside me, your hand, if it trembles, is not on fire, your
voice, if it is more subdued, does not falter with the emotions it dares
not express: your heart is not like mine, devoured by a parching and
wasting flame: your sleep is not turned by restless and turbulent dreams
from the healthful renewal, into the very consumer, of life. No, Emily!
God forbid that you should feel the guilt, the agony which preys upon me;
but, at least, in the fond and gentle tenderness of your heart, there
must be a voice you find it difficult to silence. Amidst all the
fictitious ties and fascinations of art, you cannot dismiss from your
bosom the unconquerable impulse of nature. What is it you fear?--you
will answer, disgrace! But can you feel it, Emily, when you share it
with me? Believe me that the love which is nursed through shame and
sorrow is of a deeper and holier nature than that which is reared in
pride, fostered in joy. But, if not shame, it is guilt, perhaps, which
you dread? Are you then so innocent now? The adultery of the heart is
no less a crime than that of the deed; and--yet I will not deceive you--
it is guilt to which I tempt you!--it is a fall from the proud eminence
you hold now. I grant this, and I offer you nothing in recompense but my
love. If you loved like me, you would feel that it was something of
pride--of triumph--to dare all things, even crime, for the one to whom
all things are as nought! As for me, I know that if a voice from Heaven
told me to desert you, I would only clasp you the closer to my heart!

I tell you, my own love, that when your hand is in mine, when your head
rests upon my bosom, when those soft and thrilling eyes shall be fixed
upon my own, when every sigh shall be mingled with my breath, and every
tear be kissed away at the very instant it rises from its source--I tell
you that then you shall only feel that every pang of the past, and every
fear for the future, shall be but a new link to bind us the firmer to
each other. Emily, my life, my love, you cannot, if you would, desert
me. Who can separate the waters which are once united, or divide the
hearts which have met and mingled into one?


Since they had once more met, it will be perceived that Falkland had
adopted a new tone in expressing his passion to Emily. In the book of
guilt another page, branded in a deeper and more burning character, had
been turned. He lost no opportunity of summoning the earthlier emotions
to the support of his cause. He wooed her fancy with the golden language
of poetry, and strove to arouse the latent feelings of her sex by the
soft magic of his voice, and the passionate meaning it conveyed. But at
times there came over him a deep and keen sentiment of remorse; and even,
as his experienced and practised eye saw the moment of his triumph
approach, he felt that the success he was hazarding his own soul and hers
to obtain, might bring him a momentary transport, but not a permanent
happiness. There is always this difference in the love of women and of
men; that in the former, when once admitted, it engrosses all the sources
of thought, and excludes every object but itself; but in the latter, it
is shared with all the former reflections and feelings which the past yet
bequeaths us, and can neither (however powerful be its nature) constitute
the whole of our happiness or woe. The love of man in his maturer years
is not indeed so much a new emotion, as a revival and concentration of
all his departed affections to others; and the deep and intense nature of
Falkland's passion for Emily was linked with the recollections of
whatever he had formerly cherished as tender or dear; it touched--
it awoke a long chain of young and enthusiastic feelings, which arose,
perhaps, the fresher from their slumber. Who, when he turns to recall
his first and fondest associations; when he throws off, one by one, the
layers of earth and stone which have grown and hardened over the records
of the past: who has not been surprised to discover how fresh and
unimpaired those buried treasures rise again upon his heart? They have
been laid up in the storehouse of Time; they have not perished; their
very concealment has preserved them! _We remove the lava, and the world
of a gone day is before us_!

The evening of the day on which Falkland had written the above letter was
rude and stormy. The various streams with which the country abounded
were swelled by late rains into an unwonted rapidity and breadth; and
their voices blended with the rushing sound of the winds, and the distant
roll of the thunder, which began at last sullenly to subside. The whole
of the scene around L------ was of that savage yet sublime character,
which suited well with the wrath of the aroused elements. Dark woods,
large tracts of unenclosed heath, abrupt variations of hill and vale, and
a dim and broken outline beyond of uninterrupted mountains, formed the
great features of that romantic country.

It was filled with the recollections of his youth, and of the wild
delight which he took then in the convulsions and varieties of nature,
that Falkland roamed abroad that evening. The dim shadows of years,
crowded with concealed events and corroding reflections, all gathered
around his mind, and the gloom and tempest of the night came over him
like the sympathy of a friend.

He passed a group of terrified peasants; they were cowering under a tree.
The oldest hid his head and shuddered; but the youngest looked steadily
at the lightning which played at fitful intervals over the mountain
stream that rushed rapidly by their feet. Falkland stood beside them
unnoticed and silent, with folded arms and a scornful lip. To him,
nature, heaven, earth had nothing for fear, and everything for
reflection. In youth, thought he (as he contrasted the fear felt at one
period of life with the indifference at another), there are so many
objects to divide and distract life, that we are scarcely sensible of the
collected conviction that we live. We lose the sense of what is by
thinking rather of what is to be. But the old, who have no future to
expect, are more vividly alive to the present, and they feel death more,
because they have a more settled and perfect impression of existence.

He left the group, and went on alone by the margin of the winding and
swelling stream. "It is (said a certain philosopher) in the conflicts of
Nature that man most feels his littleness." Like all general maxims,
this is only partially true. The mind, which takes its first ideas from
perception, must take also its tone from the character of the objects
perceived. In mingling our spirits with the great elements, we partake
of their sublimity; we awaken thought from the secret depths where it had
lain concealed; our feelings are too excited to remain riveted to
ourselves; they blend with the mighty powers which are abroad; and as, in
the agitations of men, the individual arouses from himself to become a
part of the crowd, so in the convulsions of nature we are equally
awakened from the littleness of self, to be lost in the grandeur of the
conflict by which we are surrounded.

Falkland still continued to track the stream: it wound its way through
Mandeville's grounds, and broadened at last into the lake which was so
consecrated to his recollections. He paused at that spot for some
moments, looking carelessly over the wide expanse of waters, now dark as
night, and now flashing into one mighty plain of fire beneath the
coruscations of the lightning. The clouds swept on in massy columns,
dark and aspiring-veiling, while they rolled up to, the great heavens,
like the shadows of human doubt. Oh! weak, weak was that dogma of the
philosopher! There is a pride in the storm which, according to his
doctrine, would debase us; a stirring music in its roar; even a savage
joy in its destruction: for we can exult in a defiance of its power, even
while we share in its triumphs, in a consciousness of a superior spirit
within us to that which is around. We can mock at the fury of the
elements, for they are less terrible than the passions of the heart; at
the devastations of the awful skies, for they are less desolating than
the wrath of man; at the convulsions of that surrounding nature which has
no peril, no terror to the soul, which is more indestructible and eternal
than itself. Falkland turned towards the house which contained his
world; and as the lightning revealed at intervals the white columns of
the porch, and wrapt in sheets of fire, like a spectral throng, the tall
and waving trees by which it was encircled, and then as suddenly ceased,
and "the jaws of darkness" devoured up the scene; he compared, with that
bitter alchymy of feeling which resolves all into one crucible of
thought, those alternations of sight and shadow to the history of his own
guilty love--that passion whose birth was the womb of Night; shrouded in
darkness, surrounded by storms, and receiving only from the angry heavens
a momentary brilliance, more terrible than its customary gloom.

As he entered the saloon, Lady Margaret advanced towards him. "My dear
Falkland," said she, "how good it is in you to come in such a night. We
have been watching the skies till Emily grew terrified at the lightning;
formerly it did not alarm her." And Lady Margaret turned, utterly
unconscious of the reproach she had conveyed, towards Emily.

Did not Falkland's look turn also to that spot? Lady Emily was sitting
by the harp which Mrs. St. John appeared to be most seriously employed
in tuning: her countenance was bent downwards, and burning beneath the
blushes called forth by the gaze which she felt was upon her.

There was in Falkland's character a peculiar dislike to all outward
display of less worldly emotions. He had none of the vanity most men
have in conquest; he would not have had any human being know that he was
loved. He was right! No altar should be so unseen and inviolable as the
human heart! He saw at once and relieved the embarrassment he had
caused. With the remarkable fascination and grace of manner so
peculiarly his own, he made his excuses to Lady Margaret of his
disordered dress; he charmed his uncle, Don Alphonso, with a quotation
from Lope de Vega; he inquired tenderly of Mrs. Dalton touching the
health of her Italian greyhound; and then, nor till then--he ventured to
approach Emily, and speak to her in that soft tone, which, like a fairy
language, is understood only by the person it addresses. Mrs. St. John
rose and left the harp; Falkland took her seat. He bent down to whisper
Emily. His long hair touched her cheek! it was still wet with the night
dew. She looked up as she felt it, and met his gaze: better had it been
to have lost earth than to have drunk the soul's poison from that eye
when it tempted to sin.

Mrs. St. John stood at some distance: Don Alphonso was speaking to her
of his nephew, and of his hopes of ultimately gaining him to the cause
of his mother's country. "See you not," said Mrs. St. John, and her
colour went and came, "that while he has such attractions to detain him,
your hopes are in vain?" "What mean you?" replied the Spaniard; but his
eye had followed the direction she had given it, and the question came
only from his lips. Mrs. St. John drew him to a still remoter corner of
the room, and it was in the conversation that then ensued between them,
that they agreed to unite for the purpose of separating Emily from her
lover--"I to save my friend," said Mrs. St. John, "and you your kinsman."
Thus is it with human virtue:--the fair show and the good deed
without--the one eternal motive of selfishness within. During the
Spaniard's visit at E------, he had seen enough of Falkland to perceive
the great consequence he might, from his perfect knowledge of the Spanish
language, from his singular powers, and, above all, from his command of
wealth, be to the cause of that party he himself had adopted. His aim,
therefore, was now no longer confined to procuring Falkland's goodwill
and aim at home: he hoped to secure his personal assistance in Spain: and
he willingly coincided with Mrs. St. John in detaching his nephew from a
tie so likely to detain him from that service to which Alphonso wished he
should be pledged.

Mandeville had left E------ that morning: he suspected nothing of Emily's
attachment. This, on his part, was Bulwer, less confidence than
indifference. He was one of those persons who have no existence separate
from their own: his senses all turned inwards; they reproduced
selfishness. Even the House of Commons was only an object of interest,
because he imagined it a part of him, not he of it. He said, with the
insect on the wheel, "Admire our rapidity." But did the defects of his
character remove Lady Emily's guilt? No! and this, at times, was her
bitterest conviction. Whoever turns to these pages for an apology for
sin will be mistaken. They contain the burning records of its
sufferings, its repentance, and its doom. If there be one crime in
the history of woman worse than another, it is adultery. It is, in fact,
the only crime to which, in ordinary life, she is exposed. Man has a
thousand temptations to sin--woman has but one; if she cannot resist it,
she has no claim upon our mercy. The heavens are just! Her own guilt is
her punishment! Should these pages, at this moment, meet the eyes of one
who has become the centre of a circle of disgrace--the contaminator of
her house--the dishonour of her children,--no matter what the excuse for
her crime--no matter what the exchange of her station--in the very arms
of her lover, in the very cincture of the new ties which she has chosen
--I call upon her to answer me if the fondest moments of rapture are free
from humiliation, though they have forgotten remorse; and if the passion
itself of her lover has not become no less the penalty than the
recompense of her guilt? But at that hour of which I now write, there
was neither in Emily's heart, nor in that of her seducer, any
recollection of their sin. Those hearts were too full for thought--they
had forgotten everything but each other. Their love was their creation:
beyond all was night--chaos--nothing!

Lady Margaret approached them. "You will sing to us, Emily, to-night?
it is so long since we have heard you!" It was in vain that Emily tried
--her voice failed. She looked at Falkland, and could scarcely restrain
her tears. She had not yet learned the latest art which sin teaches
us-its concealment! "I will supply Lady Emily's place," said Falkland.
His voice was calm, and his brow serene the world had left nothing for
him to learn. "Will you play the air," he said to Mrs. St. John, "that
you gave us some nights ago? I will furnish the words." Mrs. St. John's
hand trembled as she obeyed.


SONG.

1.
Ah, let us love while yet we may,
Our summer is decaying;
And woe to hearts which, in their gray
December, go a-maying.

2.
Ah, let us love, while of the fire
Time hath not yet bereft us
With years our warmer thoughts expire,
Till only ice is left us!

3.
We'll fly the bleak world's bitter air
A brighter home shall win us;
And if our hearts grow weary there,
We'll find a world within us.

4.
They preach that passion fades each hour,
That nought will pall like pleasure;
My bee, if Love's so frail a flower,
Oh, haste to hive its treasure.

5.
Wait not the hour, when all the mind
Shall to the crowd be given;
For links, which to the million bind,
Shall from the one be riven.

6.
But let us love while yet we may
Our summer is decaying;
And woe to hearts which, in their gray
December, go a-maying.


The next day Emily rose ill and feverish. In the absence of Falkland,
her mind always awoke to the full sense of the guilt she had incurred.
She had been brought up in the strictest, even the most fastidious,
principles; and her nature was so pure, that merely to err appeared like
a change in existence--like an entrance into some new and unknown world,
from which she shrank back, in terror, to herself.

Judge, then, if she easily habituated her mind to its present
degradation. She sat, that morning, pale and listless; her book lay
unopened before her; her eyes were fixed upon the ground, heavy with
suppressed tears. Mrs. St. John entered: no one else was in the room.
She sat by her, and took her hand. Her countenance was scarcely less
colourless than Emily's, but its expression was more calm and composed.
"It is not too late, Emily," she said; "you have done much that you
should repent--nothing to render repentance unavailing. Forgive me, if I
speak to you on this subject. It is time--in a few days your fate will
be decided. I have looked on, though hitherto I have been silent: I have
witnessed that eye when it dwelt upon you; I have heard that voice when
it spoke to your heart. None ever resisted their influence long: do you
imagine that you are the first who have found the power? Pardon me,
pardon me, I beseech you, my dearest friend, if I pain you. I have known
you from your childhood, and I only wish to preserve you spotless to your
old age."

Emily wept, without replying. Mrs. St. John continued to argue and
expostulate. What is so wavering as passion? When, at last, Mrs. St.
John ceased, and Emily shed upon her bosom the hot tears of her anguish
and repentance, she imagined that her resolution was taken, and that she
could almost have vowed an eternal separation from her lover; Falkland
came that evening, and she loved him more madly than before.

Mrs. St. John was not in the saloon when Falkland entered. Lady Margaret
was reading the well-known story of Lady T----- and the Duchess of ---,
in which an agreement had been made and kept, that the one who died first
should return once more to the survivor. As Lady Margaret spoke
laughingly of the anecdote, Emily, who was watching Falkland's
countenance, was struck with the dark and sudden shade which fell over
it. He moved in silence towards the window where Emily was sitting. "Do
you believe," she said, with a faint smile, "in the possibility of such
an event?" "I believe--though I reject--nothing!" replied Falkland, "but
I would give worlds for such a proof that death does not destroy."
"Surely," said Emily, "you do not deny that evidence of our immortality
which we gather from the Scriptures?--are they not all that a voice from
the dead could be?" Falkland was silent for a few moments: he did not
seem to hear the question; his eyes dwelt upon vacancy; and when he at
last spoke, it was rather in commune with himself than in answer to her.
"I have watched," said he, in a low internal tone, "over the tomb: I have
called, in the agony of my heart, unto her--who slept beneath; I would
have dissolved my very soul into a spell, could it have summoned before
me for one, one moment the being who had once been the spirit of my life!
I have been, as it were, entranced with the intensity of my own
adjuration; I have gazed upon the empty air, and worked upon my mind to
fill it with imaginings; I have called aloud unto the winds and tasked my
soul to waken their silence to reply. All was a waste--a stillness--an
infinity--without a wanderer or a voice! The dead answered me not, when
I invoked them; and in the vigils of the still night I looked from the
rank grass and the mouldering stones to the Eternal Heavens, as man looks
from decay to immortality! Oh! that awful magnificence of repose--that
living sleep--that breathing yet unrevealing divinity, spread over those
still worlds! To them also I poured my thoughts--but in a whisper. I
did not dare to breathe aloud the unhallowed anguish of my mind to the
majesty of the unsympathising stars! In the vast order of creation--in
the midst of the stupendous system of universal life, my doubt and
inquiry were murmured forth--a voice crying in the wilderness and
returning without an echo unanswered unto myself!"

The deep light of the summer moon shone over Falkland's countenance,
which Emily gazed on, as she listened, almost tremblingly, to his words.
His brow was knit and hueless, and the large drops gathered slowly over
it, as if wrung from the strained yet impotent tension of the thoughts
within. Emily drew nearer to him--she laid her hand upon his own.
"Listen to me," she said: "if a herald from the grave could satisfy your
doubt, I would gladly die that I might return to you!" "Beware," said
Falkland, with an agitated but solemn voice; "the words, now so lightly
spoken, may be registered on high." "Be it so!" replied Emily firmly,
and she felt what she said. Her love penetrated beyond the tomb, and she
would have forfeited all here for their union hereafter.

"In my earliest youth," said Falkland, more calmly than he had yet
spoken, "I found in the present and the past of this world enough to
direct my attention to the futurity of another: if I did not credit all
with the enthusiast, I had no sympathies with the scorner: I sat myself
down to examine and reflect: I pored alike over the pages of the
philosopher and the theologian; I was neither baffled by the subtleties
nor deterred by the contradictions of either. As men first ascertained
the geography of the earth by observing the signs of the heavens, I did
homage to the Unknown God, and sought from that worship to inquire into
the reasonings of mankind. I did not confine myself to books--all things
breathing or inanimate constituted my study. From death itself I
endeavoured to extract its secret; and whole nights I have sat in the
crowded asylums of the dying, watching the last spark flutter and decay.
Men die away as in sleep, without effort, or struggle, or emotion. I
have looked on their countenances a moment before death, and the serenity
of repose was upon them, waxing only more deep as it approached that
slumber which, is never broken: the breath grew gentler and gentler, till
the lips it came from fell from each other, and all was hushed; the light
had departed from the cloud, but the cloud itself, gray, cold, altered as
it seemed, was as before. They died and made no sign. They had left the
labyrinth without bequeathing us its clew. It is in vain that I have
sent my spirit into the land of shadows--it has borne back no witnesses
of its inquiry. As Newton said of himself, 'I picked up a few shells by
the seashore, but the great ocean of truth lay undiscovered before me.'"

There was a long pause. Lady Margaret had sat down to chess with the
Spaniard. No look was upon the lovers: their eyes met, and with that one
glance the whole current of their thoughts was changed. The blood, which
a moment before had left Falkland's cheek so colourless, rushed back to
it again. The love which had so penetrated and pervaded his whole
system, and which abstruser and colder reflection had just calmed,
thrilled through his frame with redoubled power. As if by an involuntary
and mutual impulse, their lips met: he threw his arm round her; he
strained her to his bosom. "Dark as my thoughts are," he whispered,
"evil as has been my life, will you not yet soothe the one, and guide the
other? My Emily! my love! the Heaven to the tumultuous ocean of my
heart--will you not be mine--mine only--wholly--and for ever?" She did
not answer--she did not turn from his embrace. Her cheek flushed as his
breath stole over it, and her bosom heaved beneath the arm which
encircled that empire so devoted to him. "Speak one word, only one
word," he continued to whisper: "will you not be mine? Are you not mine
at heart even at this moment?" Her head sank upon his bosom. Those deep
and eloquent eyes looked up to his through their dark lashes. "I will be
yours," she murmured: "I am at your mercy; I have no longer any
existence but in you. My only fear is, that I shall cease to be worthy
of your love!"

Falkland pressed his lips once more to her own: it was his only answer,
and the last seal to their compact. As they stood before the open
lattice, the still and unconscious moon looked down upon that record of
guilt. There was not a cloud in the heaven to dim her purity: the very
winds of night had hushed themselves to do her homage: all was silent but
their hearts. They stood beneath the calm and holy skies, a guilty and
devoted pair--a fearful contrast of the sin and turbulence of this
unquiet earth to the passionless serenity of the eternal heaven. The
same stars, that for thousands of unfathomed years had looked upon the
changes of this nether world, gleamed pale, and pure, and steadfast upon
their burning but transitory vow. In a few years what of the
condemnation or the recorders of that vow would remain? From other lips,
on that spot, other oaths might be plighted; new pledges of unchangeable
fidelity exchanged: and, year after year, in each succession of scene and
time, the same stars will look from the mystery of their untracked and
impenetrable home, to mock, as now, with their immutability, the
variations and shadows of mankind!



FROM ERASMUS FALKLAND, ESQ., TO LADY EMILY MANDEVILLE.

At length, then, you are to be mine--you have consented to fly with me.
In three days we shall leave this country, and have no home--no world but
in each other. We will go, my Emily, to those golden lands where Nature,
the only companion we will suffer, woos us, like a mother, to find our
asylum in her breast; where the breezes are languid beneath the passion
of the voluptuous skies; and where the purple light that invests all
things with its glory is only less tender and consecrating than the
spirit which we bring. Is there not, my Emily, in the external nature
which reigns over creation, and that human nature centred in ourselves,
some secret and undefinable intelligence and attraction? Are not the
impressions of the former as spells over the passions of the later? and
in gazing upon the loveliness around us, do we not gather, as it were,
and store within our hearts, an increase of the yearning and desire of
love? What can we demand from earth but its solitudes--what from heaven
but its unpolluted air? All that others would ask from either, we can
find in ourselves. Wealth--honour--happiness--every object of ambition
or desire, exist not for us without the circle of our arms! But the
bower that surrounds us shall not be unworthy of your beauty or our love.
Amidst the myrtle and the vine, and the valleys where the summer sleeps
and "the rivers that murmur the memories and the legends of old amidst
the hills and the glossy glades," and the silver fountains, still as
beautiful as if the Nymph and Spirit yet held and decorated an earthly
home; amidst these we will make the couch of our bridals, and the moon of
Italian skies shall keep watch on our repose.

Emily!--Emily!--how I love to repeat and to linger over that beautiful
name! If to see, to address, and, more than all, to touch you, has been
a rapture, what word can I find in the vocabulary of happiness to express
the realisation of that hope which now burns within me--to mingle our
youth together into one stream, wheresoever it flows; to respire the same
breath; to be almost blent in the same existence; to grow, as it were, on
one stem, and knit into a single life the feelings, the wishes, the being
of both!

To-night I shall see you again: let one day more intervene, and--I cannot
conclude the sentence. As I have written, the tumultuous happiness of
hope has come over me to confuse and overwhelm everything else. At this
moment my pulse riots with fever; the room swims before my eyes;
everything is indistinct and jarring--a chaos of emotions. Oh! that
happiness should ever have such excess!

When Emily received and laid this letter to her heart, she felt nothing
in common with the spirit which it breathed. With that quick transition
and inconstancy of feeling connmon in women, and which is as frequently
their safety as their peril, her mind had already repented of the
weakness of the last evening, and relapsed into the irresolution and
bitterness of her former remorse. Never had there been in the human
breast a stronger contest between conscience and passion;--if, indeed,
the extreme softness (notwithstanding its power) of Emily's attachment
could be called passion it was rather a love that had refined by the
increase of its own strength; it contained nothing but the primary guilt
of conceiving it, which that order of angels, whose nature is love, would
have sought to purify away. To see him, to live with him, to count the
variations of his countenance and voice, to touch his hand at moments
when waking, and watch over his slumbers when he slept--this was the
essence of her wishes, and constituted the limit to her desires. Against
the temptations of the present was opposed the whole history of the past.
Her mind wandered from each to each, wavering and wretched, as the
impulse of the moment impelled it. Hers was not, indeed, a strong
character; her education and habits had weakened, while they rendered
more feminine and delicate, a nature originally too soft. Every
recollection of former purity called to her with the loud voice of duty,
as a warning from the great guilt she was about to incur; and whenever
she thought of her child--that centre of fond and sinless sensations,
where once she had so wholly garnered up her heart--her feelings melted
at once from the object which had so wildly held them riveted as by a
spell, to dissolve and lose themselves in the great and sacred fountain
of a mother's love.

When Falkland came that evening, she was sitting at a corner of the
saloon, apparently occupied in reading, but her eyes were fixed upon her
boy, whom Mrs. St. John was endeavouring at the opposite end of the room
to amuse. The child, who was fond of Falkland, came up to him as he
entered: Falkland stooped to kiss him; and Mrs. St. John said, in a low
voice which just reached his ear, "Judas, too, kissed before he
betrayed." Falkland's colour changed: he felt the sting the words were
intended to convey. On that child, now so innocently caressing him, he
was indeed about to inflict a disgrace and injury the most sensible and
irremediable in his power. But who ever indulges reflection in passion?
He banished the remorse from his mind as instantaneously as it arose;
and, seating himself by Emily, endeavoured to inspire her with a portion
of the joy and hope which animated himself. Mrs. St. John watched them
with a jealous and anxious eye: she had already seen how useless had been
her former attempt to arm Emily's conscience effectually against her
lover; but she resolved at least to renew the impression she had then
made. The danger was imminent, and any remedy must be prompt; and it was
something to protract, even if she could not finally break off, an union
against which were arrayed all the angry feelings of jealousy, as well as
the better affections of the friend. Emily's eye was already brightening
beneath the words that Falkland whispered in her ear, when Mrs. St. John
approached her. She placed herself on a chair beside them, and unmindful
of Falkland's bent and angry brow, attempted to create a general and
commonplace conversation. Lady Margaret had invited two or three people
in the neighbourhood; and when these came in, music and cards were
resorted to immediately, with that English politesse, which takes the
earliest opportunity to show that the conversation of our friends is the
last thing for which we have invited them. But Mrs. St. John never left
the lovers; and at last, when Falkland, in despair at her obstinacy,
arose to join the card-table, she said, "Pray, Mr. Falkland, were you not
intimate at one time with * * * * , who eloped with Lady * * *?" "I knew
him but slightly," said Falkland; and then added, with a sneer, "the only
times I ever met him were at your house." Mrs. St. John, without
noticing the sarcasm, continued:--"What an unfortunate affair that
proved! They were very much attached to one another in early life--the
only excuse, perhaps for a woman's breaking her subsequent vows. They
eloped. The remainder of their history is briefly told: it is that of
all who forfeit everything for passion, and forget that of everything it
is the briefest in duration. He who had sacrificed his honour for her,
sacrificed her also as lightly for another. She could not bear his
infidelity; and how could she reproach him? In the very act of yielding
to, she had become unworthy of, his love. She did not reproach him--she
died of a broken heart! I saw her just before her death, for I was
distantly related to her, and I could not forsake her utterly even in her
sin. She then spoke to me only of the child by her former marriage, whom
she had left in the years when it most needed her care: she questioned me
of its health--its education--its very growth: the minutest thing was not
beneath her inquiry. His tidings were all that brought back to her mind
'the redolence of joy and spring.' I brought that child to her one day:
he at least had never forgotten her. How bitterly both wept when they
were separated! and she--poor, poor Ellen--an hour after their separation
was no more!" There was a pause for a few minutes. Emily was deeply
affected. Mrs. St. John had anticipated the effect she had produced, and
concerted the method to increase it. "It is singular," she resumed,
"that, the evening before her elopement, some verses were sent to her
anonymously--I do not think, Emily, that you have ever seen them. Shall
I sing them to you now?" and, without waiting for a reply, she placed
herself at the piano; and with a low but sweet voice, greatly aided in
effect by the extreme feeling of her manner, she sang the following
verses:

1.
And wilt thou leave that happy home,
Where once it was so sweet to live?
Ah! think, before thou seek'st to roam,
What safer shelter Guilt can give!

2.
The Bird may rove, and still regain
With spotless wings, her wonted rest,
But home, once lost, is ne'er again
Restored to Woman's erring breast!

3.
If wandering o'er a world of flowers,
The heart at times would ask repose;
But thou wouldst lose the only bowers
Of rest amid a world of woes.

4.
Recall thy youth's unsullied vow
The past which on thee smile so fair;
Then turn from thence to picture now
The frowns thy future fate must wear!

5.
No hour, no hope, can bring relief
To her who hides a blighted name;
For hearts unbow'd by stormiest _grief_
Will break beneath one breeze of _shame_!

6.
And when thy child's deserted years
Amid life's early woes are thrown,
Shall menial bosoms soothe the tears
That should be shed on thine alone?

7.
When on thy name his lips shall call,
(That tender name, the earliest taught!)
Thou wouldst not Shame and Sin were all
The memories link'd around its thought!

8.
If Sickness haunt his infant bed,
Ah! what could then replace thy care?
Could hireling steps as gently tread
As if a Mother's soul was there?

9.
Enough! 'tis not too late to shun
The bitter draught thyself wouldst fill;
The latest link is not undone
Thy bark is in the haven still.

10.
If doom'd to grief through life thou art,
'Tis thine at least unstain'd to die!
Oh! better break at once thy heart
Than rend it from its holiest tie!


It were vain to attempt describing Emily's feelings when the song ceased.
The scene floated before her eyes indistinct and dark. The violence of
the emotions she attempted to conceal pressed upon her almost to choking.
She rose, looked at Falkland with one look of such anguish and despair
that it froze his very heart, and left the room without uttering a word.
A moment more--they heard a noise--a fall. They rushed out--Emily was
stretched on the ground, apparently lifeless. She had broken a
blood-vessel .
Read More

THE MEMOIRS OF VICTOR HUGO

CONTENTS.

PREFACE

AT RHEIMS, 1825-1838

RECOUNTED BY EYE-WITNESSES:
I. The Execution of Louis XVI.
II. The Arrival of Napoleon I. in Paris in 1815.

VISIONS OF THE REAL:
I. The Hovel.
II. Pillage.
III. A Dream.
IV. The Panel with the Coat of Arms.
V. The Easter Daisy.

THEATRE:
I. Joanny.
II. Mademoiselle Mars.
III. Frédérick Lemaitre.
IV. The Comiques.
V. Mademoiselle Georges.
VI. Tableaux Vivants.

AT THE ACADEMY

LOVE IN PRISON

AT THE TUILERIES, 1844-1848:
I. The King.
II. The Duchess d'Orleans.
III. The Princes.

IN THE CHAMBER OF PEERS: Gen. Febvier

THE REVOLUTION OF 1848:
I. The Days of February.
II. Expulsions and Evasions.
III. Louis Philippe in Exile.
IV. King Jerome.
V. The Days of June.
VI. Chateaubriand.
VII. Debates on the Days of June.

1849:
I. The Jardin d'Hiver.
II. General Bréa's Murderers.
III. The Suicide of Antonin Moyne.
IV. A Visit to the Old Chamber of Peers.

SKETCHES MADE IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY:
I. Odilon Barrot.
II. Monsieur Thiers.
III. Dufaure.
IV. Changarnier.
V. Lagrange.
VI. Prudhon.
VII. Blanqui.
VIII. Larmartine.
IX. Boulay de la Meurthe.
X. Dupin.

LOUIS BONAPARTE:
I. His Debuts.
II. His Elevation to the Presidency.
III. His First Official Dinner.
IV. The First Month.
V. Feeling His Way.

THE SIEGE OF PARIS

THE ASSEMBLY AT BORDEAUX






PREFACE.



This volume of memoirs has a double character--historical and
intimate. The life of a period, the XIX Century, is bound up in
the life of a man, VICTOR HUGO. As we follow the events set
forth we get the impression they made upon the mind of the
extraordinary man who recounts them; and of all the personages
he brings before us he himself is assuredly not the least
interesting. In portraits from the brushes of Rembrandts there
are always two portraits, that of the model and that of the
painter.

This is not a diary of events arranged in chronological
order, nor is it a continuous autobiography. It is less and
it is more, or rather, it is better than these. It is a sort of
haphazard ~chronique~ in which only striking incidents and
occurrences are brought out, and lengthy and wearisome details
are avoided. VICTOR HUGO'S long and chequered life was filled
with experiences of the most diverse character--literature and
politics, the court and the street, parliament and the theatre,
labour, struggles, disappointments, exile and triumphs. Hence
we get a series of pictures of infinite variety.

Let us pass the gallery rapidly in review.

It opens in 1825, at Rheims, during the coronation of CHARLES X,
with an amusing ~causerie~ on the manners and customs of the
Restoration. The splendour of this coronation ceremony was
singularly spoiled by the pitiable taste of those who had
charge of it. These worthies took upon themselves to mutilate
the sculpture work on the marvellous façade and to "embellish"
the austere cathedral with Gothic decorations of cardboard.
The century, like the author, was young, and in some things
both were incredibly ignorant; the masterpieces of literature
were then unknown to the most learned ~littérateurs~: CHARLES
NODIER had never read the "Romancero", and VICTOR HUGO knew little
or nothing about Shakespeare.

At the outset the poet dominates in VICTOR HUGO; he belongs
wholly to his creative imagination and to his literary work.
It is the theatre; it is his "Cid", and "Hernani", with its stormy
performances; it is the group of his actors, Mlle. MARS, Mlle.
GEORGES, FREDERICK LEMAITRE, the French KEAN, with more genius;
it is the Academy, with its different kind of coteries.

About this time VICTOR HUGO questions, anxiously and not in
vain, a passer-by who witnessed the execution of LOUIS XVI, and
an officer who escorted Napoleon to Paris on his return from the
Island of Elba.

Next, under the title, "Visions of the Real", come some sketches
in the master's best style, of things seen "in the mind's eye,"
as Hamlet says. Among them "The Hovel" will attract attention.
This sketch resembles a page from EDGAR POE, although it was
written long before POE's works were introduced into France.

With "Love in Prison" VICTOR HUGO deals with social questions,
in which he was more interested than in political questions.
And yet, in entering the Chamber of Peers he enters public life.
His sphere is enlarged, he becomes one of the familiars of the
Tuileries. LOUIS PHILIPPE, verbose and full of recollections
that he is fond of imparting to others, seeks the company and
appreciation of this listener of note, and makes all sorts of
confidences to him. The King with his very haughty bonhomie
and his somewhat infatuated wisdom; the grave and sweet DUCHESS
D'ORLEANS, the boisterous and amiable princes--the whole
commonplace and home-like court--are depicted with kindliness
but sincerity.

The horizon, however, grows dark, and from 1846 the new peer of
France notes the gradual tottering of the edifice of royalty.
The revolution of 1848 bursts out. Nothing could be more
thrilling than the account, hour by hour, of the events of the
three days of February. VICTOR HUGO is not merely a spectator
of this great drama, he is an actor in it. He is in the
streets, he makes speeches to the people, he seeks to restrain
them; he believes, with too good reason, that the Republic is
premature, and, in the Place de la Bastille, before the
evolutionary Faubourg Saint Antoine, he dares to proclaim the
Regency.

Four months later distress provokes the formidable insurrection
of June, which is fatal to the Republic.

The year 1848 is the stormy year. The atmosphere is fiery, men
are violent, events are tragical. Battles in the streets are
followed by fierce debates in the Assembly. VICTOR HUGO takes
part in the mêlée. We witness the scenes with him; he points
out the chief actors to us. His "Sketches" made in the National
Assembly are "sketched from life" in the fullest acceptation of
the term. Twenty lines suffice. ODILON BARROT and CHANGARNIER,
PRUDHON and BLANQUI, LAMARTINE and "Monsieur THIERS" come, go,
speak--veritable living figures.

The most curious of the figures is LOUIS BONAPARTE when he
arrived in Paris and when he assumed the Presidency of the
Republic. He is gauche, affected, somewhat ridiculous,
distrusted by the Republicans, and scoffed at by the Royalists.
Nothing could be more suggestive or more piquant than the
inauguration dinner at the Elysee, at which VICTOR HUGO was one
of the guests, and the first and courteous relations between the
author of "Napoleon the Little" and the future Emperor who was
to inflict twenty years of exile upon him.

But now we come to the year which VICTOR HUGO has designated
"The Terrible Year," the war, and the siege of Paris. This part
of the volume is made up of extracts from note-books, private
and personal notes, dotted down from day to day. Which is to
say that they do not constitute an account of the oft-related
episodes of the siege, but tell something new, the little side
of great events, the little incidents of everyday life, the
number of shells fired into the city and what they cost, the
degrees of cold, the price of provisions, what is being said,
sung, and eaten, and at the same time give the psychology of the
great city, its illusions, revolts, wrath, anguish, and also its
gaiety; for during these long months Paris never gave up hope
and preserved an heroic cheerfulness.

On the other hand a painful note runs through the diary kept
during the meeting of the Assembly at Bordeaux. France is not
only vanquished, she is mutilated. The conqueror demands a
ransom of milliards--it is his right, the right of the
strongest; but he tears from her two provinces, with their
inhabitants devoted to France; it is a return towards barbarism.
VICTOR HUGO withdraws indignantly from the Assembly which has
agreed to endorse the Treaty of Frankfort. And three days after
his resignation he sees CHARLES HUGO, his eldest son, die a
victim to the privations of the siege. He is stricken at once
in his love of country and in his paternal love, and one can say
that in these painful pages, more than in any of the others, the
book is history that has been lived.

PAUL MAURICE.

Paris, Sept. 15, 1899.






AT RHEIMS.

1823-1838.




AT RHEIMS.

1823-1838.



It was at Rheims that I heard the name of Shakespeare for the
first time. It was pronounced by Charles Nodier. That was in
1825, during the coronation of Charles X.

No one at that time spoke of Shakespeare quite seriously.
Voltaire's ridicule of him was law. Mme. de Staël had adopted
Germany, the great land of Kant, of Schiller, and of Beethoven.
Ducis was at the height of his triumph; he and Delille were
seated side by side in academic glory, which is not unlike
theatrical glory. Ducis had succeeded in doing something with
Shakespeare; he had made him possible; he had extracted some
"tragedies" from him; Ducis impressed one as being a man who
could chisel an Apollo out of Moloch. It was the time when Iago
was called Pezare; Horatio, Norceste; and Desdemona, Hedelmone.
A charming and very witty woman, the Duchess de Duras, used to
say: "Desdemona, what an ugly name! Fie!" Talma, Prince of
Denmark, in a tunic of lilac satin trimmed with fur, used to
exclaim: "Avaunt! Dread spectre!" The poor spectre, in fact,
was only tolerated behind the scenes. If it had ventured to put
in the slightest appearance M. Evariste Dumoulin would have
given it a severe talking to. Some Génin or other would have
hurled at it the first cobble-stone he could lay his hand on--a
line from Boileau: ~L'esprit n'est point ému de ce qu'il ne croit
pas~. It was replaced on the stage by an "urn" that Talma
carried under his arm. A spectre is ridiculous; "ashes," that's
the style! Are not the "ashes" of Napoleon still spoken of? Is
not the translation of the coffin from St. Helena to the
Invalides alluded to as "the return of the ashes"? As to the
witches of Macbeth, they were rigorously barred. The
hall-porter of the Théâtre-Français had his orders. They would
have been received with their own brooms.

I am mistaken, however, in saying that I did not know
Shakespeare. I knew him as everybody else did, not having read
him, and having treated him with ridicule. My childhood began,
as everybody's childhood begins, with prejudices. Man finds
prejudices beside his cradle, puts them from him a little in the
course of his career, and often, alas! takes to them again in
his old age.

During this journey in 1825 Charles Nodier and I passed our time
recounting to each other the Gothic tales and romances that have
taken root in Rheims. Our memories and sometimes our
imaginations, clubbed together. Each of us furnished his
legend. Rheims is one of the most impossible towns in the
geography of story. Pagan lords have lived there, one of whom
gave as a dower to his daughter the strips of land in
Borysthenes called the "race-courses of Achilles." The Duke de
Guyenne, in the fabliaux, passes through Rheims on his way to
besiege Babylon; Babylon, moreover, which is very worthy of
Rheims, is the capital of the Admiral Gaudissius. It is at
Rheims that the deputation sent by the Locri Ozolae to
Apollonius of Tyana, "high priest of Bellona," "disembarks."
While discussing this disembarkation we argued concerning the
Locri Ozolae. These people, according to Nodier, were called
the Fetidae because they were half monkeys; according to myself,
because they inhabited the marshes of Phocis. We reconstructed
on the spot the tradition of St. Remigius and his adventures
with the fairy Mazelane. The Champagne country is rich in
tales. Nearly all the old Gaulish fables had their origin in
this province. Rheims is the land of chimeras. It is perhaps
for this reason that kings were crowned there.



Legends are so natural to this place, are in such good soil,
that they immediately began to germinate upon the coronation of
Charles X. itself. The Duke of Northumberland, the
representative of England at the coronation ceremonies, was
reputed fabulously wealthy. Wealthy and English, how could he
be otherwise than ~a la mode~? The English, at that period, were
very popular in French society, although not among the people.
They were liked in certain salons because of Waterloo, which was
still fairly recent, and to Anglicize the French language was a
recommendation in ultra-fashionable society. Lord
Northumberland, therefore, long before his arrival, was popular
and legendary in Rheims. A coronation was a godsend to Rheims.
A flood of opulent people inundated the city. It was the Nile
that was passing. Landlords rubbed their hands with glee.

There was in Rheims in those days, and there probably
is to-day, at the corner of a street giving on to the square,
a rather large house with a carriage-entrance and a balcony,
built of stone in the royal style of Louis XIV., and facing the
cathedral. About this house and Lord Northumberland the
following was related:

In January, 1825, the balcony of the house bore the notice:
"House for Sale." All at once the "Moniteur" announced that the
coronation of Charles X. would take place at Rheims in the
spring. There was great rejoicing in the city. Notices of
rooms to let were immediately hung out everywhere. The meanest
room was to bring in at least sixty francs a day. One morning a
man of irreproachable appearance, dressed in black, with a white
cravat, an Englishman who spoke broken French, presented himself
at the house in the square. He saw the proprietor, who eyed him
attentively.

"You wish to sell your house?" queried the Englishman.

"How much?"

"Ten thousand francs."

"But I don't want to buy it."

"What do you want, then?"

"Only to hire it."

"That's different. For a year?"

"For six months?"

"No. I want to hire it for three days."

"How much will you charge?"

"Thirty thousand francs."

The gentleman was Lord Northumberland's steward, who was looking
for a lodging for his master for the coronation ceremonies. The
proprietor had smelled the Englishman and guessed the steward.
The house was satisfactory, and the proprietor held out for his
price; the Englishman, being only a Norman, gave way to the
Champenois; the duke paid the 30,000 francs, and spent three
days in the house, at the rate of 400 francs an hour.



Nodier and I were two explorers. When we travelled together, as
we occasionally did, we went on voyages of discovery, he in
search of rare books, I in search of ruins. He would go into
ecstasies over a _Cymbalum Mound_ with margins, and I over a
defaced portal. We had given each other a devil. He said to
me: "You are possessed of the demon Ogive." "And you," I
answered, "of the demon Elzevir."

At Soissons, while I was exploring Saint Jean-des-Vignes, he had
discovered, in a suburb, a ragpicker. The ragpicker's basket is
the hyphen between rags and paper, and the ragpicker is the
hyphen between the beggar and the philosopher. Nodier who gave
to the poor, and sometimes to philosophers, had entered the
ragpicker's abode. The ragpicker turned out to be a book
dealer. Among the books Nodier noticed a rather thick volume
of six or eight hundred pages, printed in Spanish, two columns
to a page, badly damaged by worms, and the binding missing from
the back. The ragpicker, asked what he wanted for it, replied,
trembling lest the price should be refused: "Five francs," which
Nodier paid, also trembling, but with joy. This book was the
_Romancero_ complete. There are only three complete copies of
this edition now in existence. One of these a few years ago
sold for 7,500 francs. Moreover, worms are vying with each
other in eating up these three remaining copies. The peoples,
feeders of princes, have something else to do than spend their
money to preserve for new editions the legacies of human
intellect, and the _Romancero_, being merely an Iliad, has not
been reprinted.



During the three days of the coronation there were great
crowds in the streets of Rheims, at the Archbishop's palace,
and on the promenades along the Vesdre, eager to catch a glimpse
of Charles X. I said to Charles Nodier: "Let us go and see his
majesty the cathedral."

Rheims is a proverb in Gothic Christian art. One speaks of the
"nave of Amiens, the bell towers of Chartres, the façade of
Rheims." A month before the coronation of Charles X a swarm of
masons, perched on ladders and clinging to knotted ropes, spent
a week smashing with hammers every bit of jutting sculpture on
the façade, for fear a stone might become detached from one of
these reliefs and fall on the King's head. The debris littered
the pavement and was swept away. For a long time I had in my
possession a head of Christ that fell in this way. It was
stolen from me in 1851. This head was unfortunate; broken by a
king, it was lost by an exile.

Nodier was an admirable antiquary, and we explored the cathedral
from top to bottom, encumbered though it was with scaffolding,
painted scenery, and stage side lights. The nave being only of
stone, they had hidden it by an edifice of cardboard, doubtless
because the latter bore a greater resemblance to the monarchy of
that period. For the coronation of the King of France they had
transformed a church into a theatres and it has since been
related, with perfect accuracy, that on arriving at the entrance
I asked of the bodyguard on duty: "Where is my box?"

This cathedral of Rheims is beautiful above all cathedrals. On
the façade are kings; on the absis, people being put to the
torture by executioners. Coronation of kings with an
accompaniment of victims. The façade is one of the most
magnificent symphonies ever sung by that music, architecture.
One dreams for a long time before this oratorio. Looking up
from the square you see at a giddy height, at the base of the
two towers, a row of gigantic statues representing kings of
France. In their hands they hold the sceptre, the sword, the
hand of justice, and the globe, and on their heads are antique
open crowns with bulging gems. It is superb and grim. You push
open the bell-ringer's door, climb the winding staircase, "the
screw of St. Giles," to the towers, to the high regions of
prayer; you look down and the statues are below you. The row of
kings is plunging into the abysm. You hear the whispering of
the enormous bells, which vibrate at the kiss of vague zephyrs
from the sky.

One day I gazed down from the top of the tower through
an embrasure. The entire façade sheered straight below
me. I perceived in the depth, on top of a long stone
support that extended down the wall directly beneath me
to the escarpment, so that its form was lost, a sort of
round basin. Rain-water had collected there and formed
a narrow mirror at the bottom; there were also a tuft
of grass with flowers in it, and a swallow's nest. Thus
in a space only two feet in diameter were a lake, a
garden and a habitation--a birds' paradise. As I gazed
the swallow was giving water to her brood. Round the
upper edge of the basin were what looked like crenelles,
and between these the swallow had built her nest. I
examined these crenelles. They had the form of
fleurs-de-lys. The support was a statue. This happy little
world was the stone crown of an old king. And if God were asked:
"Of what use was this Lothario, this Philip, this Charles,
this Louis, this emperor, this king?" God peradventure
would reply: "He had this statue made and lodged a swallow."



The coronation occurred. This is not the place to describe
it. Besides my recollections of the ceremony of May
27, 1825, have been recounted elsewhere by another, more
ably than I could set them forth.

Suffice it to say that it was a radiant day. God seemed
to have given his assent to the fête. The long clear
windows--for there are no more stained-glass windows at
Rheims--let in bright daylight; all the light of May was
in the church. The Archbishop was covered with gilding
and the altar with rays. Marshal de Lauriston, Minister of
the King's Household, rejoiced at the sunshine. He came
and went, as busy as could be, and conversed in low tones
with Lecointe and Hittorf, the architects. The fine morning
afforded the occasion to say, "the sun of the coronation,"
as one used to say "the sun of Austerlitz." And in the
resplendent light a profusion of lamps and tapers found
means to beam.

At one moment Charles X., attired in a cherry-coloured
simar striped with gold, lay at full length at the
Archbishop's feet. The peers of France on the right,
embroidered with gold, beplumed in the Henri IV. style, and
wearing long mantles of velvet and ermine, and the Deputies
on the left, in dress-coats of blue cloth with silver
fleurs-de-lys on the collars, looked on.

About all the forms of chance were represented there:
the Papal benediction by the cardinals, some of whom had
witnessed the coronation of Napoleon; victory by the marshals;
heredity by the Duke d'Angoulême, dauphin; happiness
by M. de Talleyrand, lame but able to get about;
the rising and falling of stocks by M. de Villèle; joy by
the birds that were released and flew away, and the knaves
in a pack of playing-cards by the four heralds.

A vast carpet embroidered with fleurs-de-lys, made expressly
for the occasion, and called the "coronation carpet,"
covered the old flagstones from one end of the cathedral
to the other and concealed the tombstones in the pavement.
Thick, luminous smoke of incense filled the nave.
The birds that had been set at liberty flew wildly about in
this cloud.

The King changed his costume six or seven times. The
first prince of the blood, Louis Philippe, Duke d'Orleans,
aided him. The Duke de Bordeaux, who was five years
old, was in a gallery.



The pew in which Nodier and I were seated adjoined those
of the Deputies. In the middle of the
ceremony, just before the King prostrated himself at the
feet of the Archbishop, a Deputy for the Doubs department,
named M. Hémonin, turned towards Nodier, who was close to
him, and with his finger on his lips, as a sign that he
did not wish to disturb the Archbishop's orisons by
speaking, slipped something into my friend's hand. This
something was a book. Nodier took it and glanced over it.

"What is it?" I whispered.

"Nothing very precious," he replied. "An odd volume
of Shakespeare, Glasgow edition."

One of the tapestries from the treasure of the church
hanging exactly opposite to us represented a not very
historical interview between John Lackland and Philip
Augustus. Nodier turned over the leaves of the book for a
few minutes, then pointed to the tapestry.

"You see that tapestry?"

"Yes."

"Do you know what it represents?"

"No."

"John Lackland."

"Well, what of it?"

"John Lackland is also in this book."

The volume, which was in sheep binding and worn at
the corners, was indeed a copy of _King John_.

M. Hémonin turned to Nodier and said: "I paid six
sous for it."

In the evening the Duke of Northumberland gave a
ball. It was a magnificent, fairylike spectacle. This
Arabian Nights ambassador brought one of these nights
to Rheims. Every woman found a diamond in her bouquet.

I could not dance. Nodier had not danced since he was
sixteen years of age, when a great aunt went into ecstasies
over his terpsichorean efforts and congratulated him in the
following terms: "~Tu est charmant, tu danses comme rim
chou~!" We did not go to Lord Northumberland's ball.

"What shall we do tonight?" said I to Nodier.
He held up his odd volume and answered:

"Let us read this."

We read.

That is to say, Nodier read. He knew English (without
being able to speak it, I believe) enough to make it out.
He read aloud, and translated as he read. At intervals,
while he rested, I took the book bought from the ragpicker
of Soissons, and read passages from the _Romancero_. Like
Nodier, I translated as I read. We compared the English
with the Castilian book; we confronted the dramatic with
the epic. Nodier stood up for Shakespeare, whom he could
read in English, and I for the _Romancero_, which I could
read in Spanish. We brought face to face, he the bastard
Faulconbridge, I the bastard Mudarra. And little by little
in contradicting we convinced each other, and Nodier became
filled with enthusiasm for the _Romancero_, and I with
admiration for Shakespeare.

Listeners arrived. One passes the evening as best one
can in a provincial town on a coronation day when one
doesn't go to the ball. We formed quite a little club. There
was an academician, M. Roger; a man of letters, M. d'Eckstein;
M. de Marcellus, friend and country neighbour of
my father, who poked fun at his royalism and mine; good
old Marquis d'Herbouville, and M. Hémonin, donor of the
book that cost six sous.

"It isn't worth the money!" exclaimed M. Roger.

The conversation developed into a debate. Judgment
was passed upon _King John_. M. de Marcellus declared
that the assassination of Arthur was an improbable incident.
It was pointed out to him that it was a matter of history.
It was with difficulty that he became reconciled to it. For
kings to kill each other was impossible. To M. de
Marcellus's mind the murdering of kings began on January 21.
Regicide was synonymous with '93. To kill a king was
an unheard-of thing that the "populace" alone were capable
of doing. No king except Louis XVI. had ever been
violently put to death. He, however, reluctantly admitted
the case of Charles I. In his death also he saw the
hand of the populace. All the rest was demagogic lying
and calumny.


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