RESTRICTED TO PROSE
HENRY CABOT LODGE
FRANCIS W. HALSEY
With an Introduction, Biographical
and Explanatory Notes, etc.
IN TEN VOLUMES
FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY
NEW YORK AND LONDON
COPYRIGHT, 1909, BY
FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY
* * * * *
The Best of the World's Classics
* * * * *
VOL. VIII—CONTINENTAL EUROPE—II
ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE—(Born in 1805, died in 1859.)
The Tyranny of the American Majority. (From Chapter XV of "Democracy in America." Translated by Henry Reeve)
ALFRED DE MUSSET—(Born in 1810, died in 1857.)
Titian's Son After a Night at Play. (From "Titian's Son." Translated by Erie Arthur Bell)
THEOPHILE GAUTIER—(Born in 1811, died in 1872.)
Pharaoh's Entry into Thebes. (From the "Romance of a Mummy." Translated by M. Young)
GUSTAVE FLAUBERT—(Born in 1821, died in 1880.)
Yonville and Its People. (From Part II of "Madame Bovary." Translated by Eleanor Marx-Aveling)
JOSEPH ERNEST RENAN—(Born in 1823, died in 1892.)
An Empire in Robust Youth. (From the "History of the Origins of Christianity.")
HIPPOLYTE ADOLPHE TAINE—(Born in 1828, died in 1893.)
I Thackeray as a Satirist. (From Book V, Chapter II, of the "History of English Literature." Translated by H. van Laun)
II When the King Got up for the Day. (From "The Ancient Regime." Translated by John Durand)
EMILE ZOLA—(Born in 1840, died in 1902.)
Glimpses of Napoleon III in Time of War. (From "La Debacle." Translated by E. P. Robins)
ALPHONSE DAUDET—(Born in 1840, died in 1897.)
I A Great Man's Widow. (From "Artists' Wives." Translated by Laura Ensor)
II My First Dress Coat. (From "Thirty Years of Paris." Translated by Laura Ensor)
GUY DE MAUPASSANT—(Born in 1850, died in 1893.)
Madame Jeanne's Last Days. (From the last chapter of "A Life." Translated by Eric Arthur Bell)
MARTIN LUTHER—(Born in 1483, died in 1546.)
Some of His Table Talk and Sayings. (From the "Table Talk.")
GOTTHOLD E. LESSING—(Born in 1729, died in 1781.)
I Poetry and Painting Compared. (From the preface to the "Laocoon." Translated by E. C. Beasley and Helen Zimmern)
II Of Suffering Held in Restraint. (From Chapter I of the "Laocoon." Translated by Beasley and Zimmern)
JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE—(Born in 1749, died in 1832.)
I On First Reading Shakespeare. (From "Wilhelm Meister." Translated by Thomas Carlyle)
II The Coronation of Joseph II. (From Book XII of the "Autobiography." Translated by John Oxenford)
FRIEDRICH VON SCHILLER—(Born in 1759, died in 1808.)
I The Battle of Lutzen. (From the "History of the Thirty Years' War." Translated by A. J. W. Morrison)
II Philip II and the Netherlands. (From the introduction to the "History of the Revolt of the Netherlands." Translated by Morrison)
WILHELM VON SCHLEGEL—(Born in 1767, died in 1845.)
Shakespeare's "Macbeth." (From the "Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature." Translated by John Black, revised by A. J. W. Morrison)
ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT—(Born in 1769, died in 1859.)
An Essay on Man. (From his "General Review of Natural Phenomena." in Volume I of "Cosmos." Translated by E. C. Otto and W. S. Dallas)
HEINRICH HEINE—(Born in 1799, died in 1856.)
Reminiscences of Napoleon. (From Chapters VII, VIII and IX of "Travel Pictures." Translated by Francis Storr)
MARCO POLO—(Born in 1254, died in 1324.)
A Description of Japan. (From the "Travels.")
DANTE ALIGHIERI—(Born in 1265, died in 1321.)
I That Long Descent Makes No Man Noble. (From Book IV, Chapter XIV of "The Banquet." Translated by Katharine Hillard)
II Of Beatrice and Her Death. (From "The New Life." Translated by Charles Eliot Norton)
FRANCESCO PETRARCH—(Born in 1304, died in 1374.)
Of Good and Evil Fortune. (From the "Treatise on the Remedies of Good and Bad Fortune.")
GIOVANNI BOCCACIO—(Born probably in 1313, died in 1375.)
The Patient Griselda. (From the "Decameron.")
NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI—(Born in 1469, died in 1527.)
Ought Princes to Keep Their Promises? (From Chapter XVIII of "The Prince.")
BENVENUTO CELLINI—(Born in 1500, died in 1571.)
The Casting of His "Perseus and Medusa." (From the "Autobiography." Translated by William Roscoe)
GIORGIO VASARI—(Born in 1511, died in 1574.)
Of Raphael and His Early Death. (From "The Lives of the Most Famous Painters, Sculptors and Architects." Translated by Mrs. Jonathan Foster)
CASANOVA DE SEINGALT—(Born in 1725, died probably in 1803.)
His Interview with Frederick the Great. (From the "Memoirs.")
DESIDERIUS ERASMUS—(Born in 1465, died in 1536.)
Specimens of His Wit and Wisdom. (From various books)
MIGUEL DE CERVANTES—(Born in 1547, died in 1616.)
I The Beginnings of Don Quixote's Career. (From "Don Quixote." Translated by John Jarvis)
II Of How Don Quixote Died. (From "Don Quixote." Translated by John Jarvis)
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN—(Born in 1805, died in 1875.)
The Emperor's New Clothes. (From the "Tales.")
IVAN SERGEYEVITCH TURGENEFF—(Born in 1818, died in 1883.)
Bazarov's Death. (From "Fathers and Children." Translated by Constance Garnett)
HENRIK IBSEN—(Born in 1828, died in 1906.)
The Thought Child. (From "The Pretenders." Translated by William Archer)
COUNT LEO TOLSTOY—(Born in 1828.)
Shakespeare Not a Great Genius. (From "A Critical Essay on Shakespeare." Translated by V. Tchertkoff and I. F. M.)
* * * * *
ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE
Born in Paris in 1805, died in 1859; studied law, taking his degree in 1826; traveled in Italy and Sicily; in 1831 visited the United States under a commission to study the penitentiary system; returning published a book on the subject which was crowned by the French Academy; from private notes taken in America then wrote his masterpiece, "Democracy in America," which secured his election to the Academy in 1841; spent some years in public life and then retired in order to travel and write.
THE TYRANNY OF THE AMERICAN MAJORITY
I hold it to be an impious and execrable maxim that, politically speaking, the people has a right to do whatever it pleases; and yet I have asserted that all authority originates in the will of the majority. Am I then in contradiction with myself?
[Footnote 1: From Chapter XV of "Democracy in America." Translated by Henry Reeve.]
A general law, which bears the name of justice, has been made and sanctioned not only by a majority of this or that people, but by a majority of mankind. The rights of every people are consequently confined within the limits of what is just. A nation may be considered in the light of a jury which is empowered to represent society at large and to apply the great and general law of justice. Ought such a jury, which represents society, to have more power than the society in which the law it applies originates?
When I refuse to obey an unjust law, I do not contest the right which the majority has of commanding, but I simply appeal from the sovereignty of the people to the sovereignty of mankind. It has been asserted that a people can never entirely outstep the boundaries of justice and of reason in those affairs which are more peculiarly its own; and that consequently, full power may fearlessly be given to the majority by which it is represented. But this language is that of a slave.
A majority, taken collectively, may be regarded as a being whose opinions, and most frequently whose interests are opposed to those of another being, which is styled a minority. If it be admitted that a man possessing absolute power may misuse that power by wronging his adversaries, why should a majority not be liable to the same reproach? Men are not apt to change their characters by agglomerating; nor does their patience in the presence of obstacles increase with the consciousness of their strength. And for these reasons I can never willingly invest any number of my fellow creatures with that unlimited authority which I should refuse to any one of them.
I do not think that it is possible to combine several principles in the same government so as at the same time to maintain freedom and really to oppose them to one another. The form of government which is usually termed mixt has always appeared to me to be a mere chimera. Accurately speaking, there is no such thing as a mixt government, with the meaning usually given to that word; because in all communities some one principle of action may be discovered which preponderates over the others. England in the last century—which has been more especially cited as an example of this form of government—was in point of fact an essentially aristocratic state, altho it comprized very powerful elements of democracy; for the laws and customs of the country were such that the aristocracy could not but preponderate in the end, and subject the direction of public affairs to its own will. The error arose from too much attention being paid to the actual struggle that was going on between the nobles and the people, without considering the probable issue of the contest, which was really the important point. When a community actually has a mixt government—that is to say, when it is equally divided between two adverse principles—it must either pass through a revolution or fall into complete dissolution.
I am therefore of opinion that some one social power must always be made to predominate over the others; but I think that liberty is endangered when this power finds no obstacle which can retard its course, and force it to moderate its own vehemence.
Unlimited power is in itself a bad and dangerous thing. Human beings are not competent to exercise it with discretion. God only can be omnipotent, because His wisdom and His justice are always equal to His power. But no power on earth is so worthy of honor for itself that I would consent to admit its uncontrolled and all-predominant authority. When I see that the right and the means of absolute command or of reverential obedience to the right which it represents are conferred on a people or upon a king, upon an aristocracy or a democracy, a monarchy or a republic, I recognize the germ of tyranny; and I journey onward to a land of more hopeful institutions.
In my opinion, the main evil of the present democratic institutions of the United States does not arise, as is often asserted in Europe, from their weakness, but from their irresistible strength. I am not so much alarmed at the excessive liberty which reigns in that country as at the very inadequate securities which exist against tyranny.
When an individual or a party is wronged in the United States, to whom can he apply for redress? If to public opinion, public opinion constitutes the majority; if to the legislature, it represents the majority, and implicitly obeys its instructions; if to the executive power, it is appointed by the majority, and is a passive tool in its hands. The public troops consist of the majority under arms; the jury is the majority invested with the right of hearing judicial cases; and in certain cases, even the judges are elected by the majority. However iniquitous or absurd the evil of which you complain may be, you must submit to it as well as you can.
If, on the other hand, a legislative power could be so constituted as to represent the majority without necessarily being the slave of its passions, an executive so as to retain a certain degree of uncontrolled authority, and a judiciary so as to remain independent of the other two powers, a government would be formed which would still be democratic, without incurring any risk of tyranny.
I do not say that there is a frequent use of tyranny in America at the present day; but I maintain that no sure barrier is established against it, and that the causes which mitigate the government are to be found in the circumstances and the manners of the country more than in its laws.
ALFRED DE MUSSET
Born in 1810, died in 1857; educated at the College of Henry II in Paris; published "Tales of Spain and Italy," a volume of verse, in 1829; followed by other collections of verse in 1831 and 1832; went to Italy in 1833 with George Sand, with whom he quarreled in Venice and returned to France; published "Confessions of a Child of the Century" in 1836; wrote stories and plays as well as poems; elected to the Academy in 1852.
TITIAN'S SON AFTER A NIGHT AT PLAY
In the month of February of the year 1580 a young man was crossing the Piazzeta at Venice at early dawn. His clothes were in disorder, his cap, from which hung a beautiful scarlet feather, was pulled down over his ears. He was walking with long strides toward the banks of the Schiavoni, and his sword and cloak were dragging behind him, while with a somewhat disdainful foot he picked his way among the fishermen lying asleep on the ground. Having arrived at the bridge of Paille, he stopt and looked around him. The moon was setting behind the Giudecca and the dawn was gilding the Ducal Palace. From time to time thick smoke or a brilliant light could be seen from some neighboring palace. Planks, stones, enormous blocks of marble, and debris of every kind obstructed the Canal of the Prisons. A recent fire had just destroyed the home of a patrician which lined its banks. A volley of sparks shot up from time to time, and by this sinister light an armed soldier could be seen keeping watch in the midst of the ruins.
[Footnote 2: From De Musset's story, "Titian's Son." Translated for this collection by Eric Arthur Bell. Titian's son, who was named Pomponio, had been destined for the Church, but proving wasteful and dissipated, his father caused the benefice intended for him to be transferred to a nephew. Through the death of Titian's other son Orazio, an artist of repute, who died soon after Titian and during the same plague, Pomponio inherited the handsome fortune his father had left and completely squandered it.]
Our young man, however, did not seem to be imprest either with this spectacle of destruction or with the beauty of the sky, tinged with the rosy colors of the dawning day. He looked for some time at the horizon, as if to ease his tired eyes; but the brightness of the dawn seemed to produce in him a disagreeable effect, for he wrapt himself in his cloak and pursued his way at a run. He soon stopt again at the door of a palace, where he knocked. A valet, holding a torch in his hand, admitted him immediately. As he entered he turned round, and casting one more glance at the sky, exclaimed, "By Bacchus! my carnival has cost me dear."
This young man was called Pomponio Filippo Vecellio. He was the second son of Titian, a youth full of spirit and imagination who had aroused in his father the most lofty expectations, but whose passion for cards kept him in continual dissipation. It was only four years before that the great painter and his eldest son, Orazio, had died almost at the same time, and young Pippo in those four years had already dissipated the best part of the immense fortune which the double heritage had given him. Instead of cultivating the talents which he possest by nature and sustaining the glory of his name, he passed his days in sleeping and his nights in playing at the house of a certain Countess Orsini, or at least so-called countess, who made a profession of ruining the gilded youth of Venice. Every night there assembled at her house a large company composed of nobles and courtezans; there one supped and played, and as one did not pay for one's supper, it goes without saying that the dice helped to indemnify the mistress of the house. Meanwhile, the sequins and the Cyprian wine began to flow freely, loving glances were exchanged, and the victims, drunk with love and wine, lost their money and their reason.
It is from this dangerous resort that we have seen the hero of this story emerge. He had met with more than one loss during the night. Besides having emptied his pockets at cards; the only picture he had ever finished, one that the connoisseurs had pronounced excellent, had just been destroyed in a fire in the Dolfino palace. It was an historical subject, treated with a spirit and a sureness of touch almost worthy of Titian himself. Sold to a rich Senator, this canvas had met with the same fate as a great number of other previous works of art; the carelessness of a valet had turned it to ashes. But this Pippo counted the least of his misfortunes; he was only thinking of the unlucky star that had lately been following him with unusual insistence and of the throws of dice it had made him lose.
On entering his house, he began by taking off the coverlet which lay on his table and counting the money left in his drawer; then, as he was of a nature naturally gay and optimistic, after he had undrest he sat at the window in his night robe. Seeing that it was almost daylight, he began to ponder whether he would close the shutters and get into bed, or get up like everybody else. It was a long time since he had seen the sun in the east, and he found the sky more beautiful than ever. Before deciding whether to wake up or go to sleep, he took his chocolate on the balcony, in an effort to fight off his drowsiness. The moment his eyes closed, he would see a table, many trembling hands and pale faces, and would hear again the sound of the cornets. "What fatal luck," he murmured. "Is it possible that one can lose with fifteen?" And he saw his habitual opponent, old Vespiano Memmo, throwing eighteen and taking up the money piled on the table.
He promptly opened his eyelids to get rid of the bad dream, and looked at the young girls passing on the quay. He seemed to see in the distance a masked woman; and was astonished, altho it was the time of carnival, for poor people do not go masked, and it was strange that at such an hour a Venetian lady should be out alone on foot. He perceived, however, that what he had taken for a mask was the face of a negress. On getting a nearer look at her, he saw she was not badly formed. She walked very quickly, and a puff of wind which forced her checkered skirt close to her limbs, showed her to have a graceful figure. Pippo leaned over the balcony and saw not without surprize that the negress knocked at his door.
The porter failed to open it.
"What do you want?" cried the young man. "Is it with me that your business lies, brunette? My name is Vecellio, and if they are going to keep you waiting, I will come and let you in myself."
The negress lifted her head.
"Your name is Pomponio Vecellio?"
"Yes, or Pippo, whichever you like."
"You are the son of Titian?"
"At your service. What can I do to please you?"
Having cast on Pippo a rapid and curious glance, the negress took a few steps backward, and skilfully threw up into the balcony a little box rolled in paper, and then promptly fled, turning round from time to time. Pippo picked up the box, opened it, and found a pretty purse wrapt in cotton. He rightly suspected that he might find under the cotton a note that would explain this adventure. The note was found indeed, but it was as mysterious as the rest, for it contained only these words: "Do not spend too readily what I enclose herein; when you leave home, charge me with one piece of gold. It is enough for one day; and if in the evening you have any of it left, however little, it may be you will find some poor person who will thank you for it."
The young man examined the box in a hundred different ways, scrutinized the purse, looked once more on to the quay, and at length realized that he had learned all he could. "Of a truth," thought he, "this is a strange present, but it comes at a cruelly awkward moment. The advice they give me is good, but it is too late to tell people to swim when they are already at the bottom of the Adriatic. Who the devil could have sent me this?"
Born in 1811, died in 1872; studied painting in Paris, but soon joined the romantic literary movement; his first book, "Poesies," published in 1830; an art and dramatic critic 1837-45; traveled in Spain, Holland, Italy, Greece and Russia in 1840-58, publishing books describing those countries and novels with them for scenes; many other novels followed, with occasional collections of verse and criticism.
PHARAOH'S ENTRY INTO THEBES
At length their chariot reached the maneuvering-ground, an immense enclosure, carefully leveled, used for splendid military displays. Terraces, one above the other, which must have employed for years the thirty nations led away into slavery, formed a frame en relief for the gigantic parallelogram; sloping walls built of crude bricks lined these terraces; their tops were covered, several rows deep, by hundreds of thousands of Egyptians, whose white or brightly colored costumes blazed in the sun with that perpetually restless movement which characterizes a multitude, even when it appears motionless; behind this line of spectators the cars, chariots, and litters, with their drivers, grooms, and slaves, looked like the encampment of an emigrating nation, such was their immense number; for Thebes, the marvel of the ancient world, counted more inhabitants than did some kingdoms.
[Footnote 3: From the "Romance of a Mummy." Translated by M. Young, as authorized by Gautier.]
The fine, even sand of the vast arena, bordered with a million heads, gleamed like mica dust beneath the light, falling from a sky as blue as the enamel on the statuettes of Osiris. On the south side of the field the terraces were broken, making way for a road which stretched toward Upper Ethiopia, the whole length of the Libyan chain. In the corresponding corner, the opening in the massive brick walls prolonged the roads to the Rhamses-Maiamoun palace....
A frightful uproar, rumbling, deep, and mighty as that of an approaching sea, arose in the distance, and drowned the thousand murmurs of the crowd, like the roar of the lion which hushes the barking of the jackals. Soon the noise of instruments of music could be distinguished amidst this terrestrial thunder, produced by the chariot wheels and the rhythmic pace of the foot-soldiers. A sort of reddening cloud, like that raised by the desert blasts, filled the sky in that direction, yet the wind had gone down; there was not a breath of air, and the smallest branches of the palm-trees hung motionless, as if they had been carved on a granite capital; not a hair moved on the women's moist foreheads, and the fluted streamers of their head-dresses hung loosely down their backs. This powdery fog was caused by the marching army, and hung over it like a fallow cloud.
The tumult increased; the whirlwinds of dust opened, and the first files of musicians entered the immense arena, to the great satisfaction of the multitude, who in spite of its respect for his Majesty were beginning to tire of waiting beneath a sun which would have melted any other skulls than those of the Egyptians. The advance guard of musicians halted for several instants; colleges of priests, deputations of the principal inhabitants of Thebes, crossed the maneuvering-ground to meet the Pharaoh, and arranged themselves in a row in postures of the most profound respect, in such manner as to give free passage to the procession. The band, which alone was a small army, consisted of drums, tabors, trumpets, and sistras.
The first squad passed, blowing a deafening blast upon their short clarions of polished brass which shone like gold. Each of these trumpeters carried a second horn under his arm, as if the instrument might grow weary sooner than the man. The costume of these men consisted of a short tunic, fastened by a sash with ends falling in front; a small band, in which were stuck two ostrich-feathers hanging over on either side, bound their thick hair. These plumes, so worn, recalled to mind the antennae of scarabaei, and gave the wearers an odd look of being insects.
The drummers, clothed in a simple gathered skirt, and naked to the waist, beat the onager-skin heads of their rounded drums with sycamore-wood drumsticks, their instruments suspended by leather shoulder-belts, and observed the time which a drum-major marked for them by repeatedly turning toward them and clapping his hands. After the drummers came the sistra-players, who shook their instruments by a quick, abrupt motion, and made at measured intervals the metal links ring on the four bronze bars. The tabor-players carried their oblong instruments crosswise, held up by a scarf passed around the neck, and struck the lightly stretched parchment with both hands.
Each company of musicians numbered at least two hundred men; but the hurricane of noise produced by trumpets, drums, tabors, and sistras, and which would have drawn blood from the ears inside a palace, was none too loud or too unbearable beneath the vast cupola of heaven, in the midst of this immense open space, amongst this buzzing crowd, at the head of this army which would baffle nomenclators, and which was now advancing with a roar as of great waters.
After the musicians came the barbarian captives, strangely formed, with brutish faces, black skins, woolly hair, resembling apes as much as men, and drest in the costume of their country, a short skirt above the hips, held by a single brace, embroidered in different colors. An ingenious and whimsical cruelty had suggested the way in which the prisoners were chained. Some were bound with their elbows drawn behind their backs; others with their hands lifted above their heads, in a still more painful position; one had his wrists fastened in wooden cangs (instruments of torture, still used in China); another was half-strangled in a sort of pillory; or a chain of them were linked together by the same rope, each victim having a knot round his neck. It seemed as if those who had bound these unfortunates had found a pleasure in forcing them into unnatural positions; and they advanced before their conqueror with awkward and tottering gait, rolling their large eyes and contorted with pain. Guards walked beside them, regulating their step by beating them with staves....
A wide gorget with seven rows of enamels, precious stones, and golden beads fell over the Pharaoh's chest and gleamed brightly in the sunlight. His upper garment was a sort of loose shirt, with pink and black squares; the ends, lengthening into narrow slips, were wound several times about his bust and bound it closely; the sleeves, cut short near the shoulder, and bordered with intersecting lines of gold, red, and blue, exposed his round, strong arms, the left furnished with a large metal wristband, meant to lessen the vibration of the string when he discharged an arrow from his triangular bow; and the right, ornamented by a bracelet in the form of a serpent in several coils, held a long gold scepter with a lotus bud at the end. The rest of his body was wrapt in drapery of the finest linen, minutely plaited, bound about the waist by a belt inlaid with small enamel and gold plates. Between the band and the belt his torso appeared, shining and polished like pink granite shaped by a cunning workman. Sandals with returned toes, like skates, shod his long narrow feet, placed together like those of the gods on the temple walls.
His smooth beardless face, with large clearly cut features, which it seemed beyond any human power to disturb, and which the blood of common life did not color, with its death-like pallor, sealed lips, enormous eyes enlarged with black lines, the lids no more lowered than those of the sacred hawk, inspired by its very immobility a feeling of respectful fear. One might have thought that these fixt eyes were searching for eternity and the Infinite; they never seemed to rest on surrounding objects. The satiety of pleasures, the surfeit of wishes satisfied as soon as exprest, the isolation of a demigod who has no equal among mortals, the disgust for perpetual adoration, and as it were weariness of continual triumph, had forever frozen this face, implacably gentle and of granite serenity. Osiris judging the souls could not have had a more majestic and calm expression. A large tame lion, lying by his side, stretched out its enormous paws like a sphinx on its pedestal, and blinked its yellow eyes.
A rope, attached to the litter, bound the war chariots of the vanquished chiefs to the Pharaoh. He dragged them behind him like animals in leash. These men, with fierce despairing faces, their elbows drawn together by a strap and forming an ungraceful angle, tottered awkwardly at every motion of the chariots, driven by Egyptians.
Next came the chariots of the young princes royal, drawn by thoroughbred horses, elegantly and nobly formed, with slender legs, sinewy houghs, their manes cut short like a brush, harnessed by twos, tossing their red-plumed heads, with metal-bossed headstalls and frontlets. A curved pole, upheld on their withers, covered with scarlet panels, two collars surmounted by balls of polished brass, bound together by a light yoke bent like a bow with upturned ends; a bellyband and breastband elaborately stitched and embroidered, and rich housings with red or blue stripes and fringed with tassels, completed this strong, graceful, and light harness....
In the wake of the princes followed the chariots, the Egyptian cavalry, twenty thousand in number, each drawn by two horses and holding three men. They advanced ten in a line, the axletrees perilously near together, but never coming in contact with each other, so great was the address of the drivers.
The stamping of the horses, held in with difficulty, the thundering of the bronze-covered wheels, the metallic clash of weapons, gave to this line something formidable and imposing enough to raise terror in the most intrepid bosoms. The helmets, plumes, and breastplates dotted with red, green, and yellow, the gilded bows and brass swords, glittered and blazed terribly in the light of the sun, open in the sky, above the Libyan chain, like a great Osirian eye; and it was felt that the onslaught of such an army must sweep away the nations like a whirlwind which drives a light straw before it.
Beneath these innumerable wheels the earth resounded and trembled, as if it had been moved by some convulsion of nature.
To the chariots succeeded the battalions of infantry, marching in order, their shields on the left arm; in the right hand the lance, curved club, bow, sling, or ax, according as they were armed; the heads of these soldiers were covered with helmets, adorned with two horsehair tails, their bodies girded with a cuirass belt of crocodile-skin. Their impassible look, the perfect regularity of their movements, their reddish copper complexions, deepened by a recent expedition to the burning regions of Upper Ethiopia, their clothing powdered with the desert sand, they awoke admiration by their discipline and courage. With soldiers like those Egypt could conquer the world. After them came the allied troops, recognizable from the outlandish form of their headpieces, which looked like truncated miters, or were surmounted by crescents spitted on sharp points. Their wide-bladed swords and jagged axes must have produced wounds which could not be healed.
Slaves carried on their shoulders or on barrows the spoils enumerated by the herald, and wild-beast tamers dragged behind them leashed panthers, cheetahs, crouching down as if trying to hide themselves, ostriches fluttering their wings, giraffes which overtopped the crowd by the entire length of their necks, and even brown bears—taken, they said, in the Mountains of the Moon.
The procession was still passing, long after the King had entered his palace.
Born in 1821, died in 1880; traveled in the East; published in 1857 his best-known work, "Madame Bovary," which led to litigation as to the morality of the story: ultimately acquitted; published "Salammbo" in 1858; author of other novels and plays.
YONGEVILLE AND ITS PEOPLE
Yonville-l'Abbaye—so called from an old Capuchin abbey of which not even the ruins remain—is a market-town twenty-four miles from Rouen, between the Abbeville and Beauvais roads, at the foot of a valley watered by the Rieule, a little river that runs into the Andelle after turning three water-mills near its mouth, where there are a few trout that the lads amuse themselves by fishing for on Sundays.
[Footnote 4: From Part II of "Madame Bovary." Translated by Eleanor Marx-Aveling. Copyright, 1901, by George Munro's Sons.]
We leave the highroad at a Boissiere and keep straight on to the top of Leux hill, whence the valley is seen. The river that runs through it makes of it, as it were, two regions with distinct physiognomies—all on the left is pasture land, all on the right arable. The meadow stretches under a bulge of low hills to join at the back with the pasture land of the Bray country, while on the eastern side the plain, gently rising, broadens out, showing as far as eye can follow its blonde corn-fields. The water, flowing by the grass, divides with a white line the color of the roads and of the plains, and the country is like a great unfolded mantle with a green velvet cape bordered with a fringe of silver.
Before us, on the verge of the horizon, lie the oaks of the forest of Argueil, with the steeps of St. Jean hills scarred from top to bottom with red irregular lines; they are rain-tracks, and these brick tones, standing out in narrow streaks against the gray color of the mountain, are due to the quantity of iron springs that flow beyond in the neighboring country.
Here we are on the confines of Normandy, Picardy, and the Ile-de-France, a bastard land, whose language is without accent as its landscape is without character. It is there that they make the worst Neuchatel cheeses of all the arrondissement; and, on the other hand, farming is costly because so much manure is needed to enrich this friable soil, full of sand and flints.
Up to 1835 there was no practicable road for getting to Yonville; but about this time a crossroad was made which joins that of Abbeville to that of Amiens, and is occasionally used by the Rouen wagoners on their way to Flanders. Yonville-l'Abbaye has remained stationary in spite of its "new outlet." Instead of improving the soil, they persist in keeping up the pasture-lands, however depreciated they may be in value, and the lazy borough, growing away from the plain, has naturally spread riverward. It is seen from afar sprawling along the banks like a cow-herd taking a siesta by the water-side.
At the foot of the hill beyond the bridge begins a roadway, planted with young aspens, that leads in a straight line to the first houses in the place. These, fenced in by hedges, are in the middle of courtyards full of straggling buildings, wine-presses, cart-sheds, and distilleries scattered under thick trees, with ladders, poles, or scythes hung on to the branches. The thatched roofs, like fur caps drawn over eyes, reach down over about a third of the low windows, whose coarse convex glasses have knots in the middle like the bottoms of bottles. Against the plaster wall, diagonally crossed by black joists, a meager pear-tree sometimes leans, and the ground floors have at their door a small swing-gate, to keep out the chicks that come pilfering crumbs of bread steeped in cider on the threshold. But the courtyards grow narrower, the houses closer together, and the fences disappear; a bundle of ferns swings under a window from the end of a broomstick; there is a blacksmith's forge and then a wheelwright's, with two or three new carts outside that partly block up the way. Then across an open space appears a white house beyond a grass mound ornamented by a cupid, his finger on his lips; two brass vases are at each end of a flight of steps; scutcheons blaze upon the door. It is the notary's house, and the finest in the place.
The church is on the other side of the street, twenty paces farther down, at the entrance of the square. The little cemetery that surrounds it, closed in by a wall breast-high, is so full of graves that the old stones, level with the ground, form a continuous pavement, on which the grass of itself has marked out regular green squares. The church was rebuilt during the last years of the reign of Charles X. The wooden roof is beginning to rot from the top, and here and there has black hollows in its blue color. Over the door, where the organ should be, is a loft for the men, with a spiral staircase that reverberates under their wooden shoes.
The daylight coming through the plain glass windows falls obliquely upon the pews ranged along the walls, which are adorned here and there with a straw mat bearing beneath it the words in large letters, "Mr. So-and-So's pew." Farther on, at the spot where the building narrows, the confessional forms a pendant to a statuette of the Virgin, clothed in a satin robe, coifed with a tulle veil sprinkled with silver stars, and with red cheeks, like an idol of the Sandwich Islands, and, finally, a copy of the "Holy Family, presented by the Minister of the Interior," overlooking the high altar, between four candlesticks, closes in the perspective. The choir stalls, of deal wood, have been left unpainted.
The market—that is to say, a tiled roof supported by some twenty posts—occupies of itself about half the public square of Yonville. The town-hall, constructed "from the designs of a Paris architect," is a sort of Greek temple that forms the corner next to the chemist's shop. On the ground floor are three Ionic columns, and on the first floor is a semicircular gallery, while the dome that crowns it is occupied by a Gallic cock, resting one foot upon the "Charte" and holding in the other the scales of Justice.
But that which most attracts the eye is, opposite the Lion d'Or inn, the chemist's shop of Monsieur Homais. In the evening especially its argand lamp is lighted up, and the red and green jars that embellish his shop-front throw far across the street their two streams of color; then across them, as if in Bengal lights, is seen the shadow of the chemist leaning over his desk. His house from top to bottom is placarded with inscriptions written in large hand, round hand, printed hand: "Vichy, Seltzer, Barege waters, blood purifiers, Raspail patent medicine, Arabian racahout, Darcet lozenges, Regnault paste, trusses, baths, hygienic chocolate," etc. And the signboard, which takes up all the breadth of the shop, bears, in gold letters, "Homais, Chemist." Then, at the back of the shop, behind the great scales fixt to the counter, the word "Laboratory" appears on a scroll above a glass door, which about half-way up once more repeats "Homais" in gold letters on a black ground.
Beyond this there is nothing to see at Yonville. The street—the only one—a gunshot in length, and flanked by a few shops on each side, stops short at the turn of the highroad. If it is left to the right hand and the foot of the St. Jean hills followed, the cemetery is soon reached.
At the time of the cholera, in order to enlarge this, a piece of wall was pulled down, and three acres of land by its side purchased; but all the new portion is almost tenantless; the tombs, as heretofore, continue to crowd together toward the gate. The keeper, who is at once grave-digger and church-beadle—thus making a double profit out of the parish corpses—has taken advantage of the unused plot of ground to plant potatoes there. From year to year, however, his small field grows smaller and when there is an epidemic, he does not know whether to rejoice at the deaths or regret the burials.
"You live on the dead, Lestiboudois!" the cure at last said to him one day. This grim remark made him reflect; it checked him for some time; but to this day he carries on the cultivation of his little tubers, and even maintains stoutly that they grow naturally.
Since the events about to be narrated, nothing in fact has changed at Yonville. The tin tricolor flag swings at the top of the church-steeple; the two chintz streamers still flutter in the wind from the linen-draper's; the chemist's fetuses, like lumps of white amadou, rot more and more in their turbid alcohol, and above the big door of the inn the old golden lion, faded by rain, still shows passers-by its poodle mane.
On the evening when the Bovarys were to arrive at Yonville, Widow Lefrancois, the landlady of this inn, was so very busy that she sweated great drops as she moved her saucepans. Tomorrow was market-day. The meat had to be cut beforehand, the fowls drawn, the soup and coffee made. Moreover, she had the boarders' meal to see to, and that of the doctor, his wife, and their servant; the billiard-room was echoing with bursts of laughter; three millers in the small parlor were calling for brandy; the wood was blazing, the brazen pan was hissing, and on the long kitchen-table, amid the quarters of raw mutton, rose piles of plates that rattled with the shaking of the block on which spinach was being chopped. From the poultry-yard was heard the screaming of the fowls whom the servant was chasing in order to wring their necks.
A man slightly marked with smallpox, in green leather slippers, and wearing a velvet cap with a gold tassel was warming his back at the chimney. His face exprest nothing but self-satisfaction, and he appeared to take life as calmly as the goldfinch suspended over his head in its wicker cage—this was the chemist.
"Artemise!" shouted the landlady, "chop some wood, fill the water-bottles, bring some brandy, look sharp! If only I knew what dessert to offer the guests you are expecting! Good heavens! Those furniture-movers are beginning their racket in the billiard-room again; and their van has been left before the front door! The Hirondelle might run into it when it draws up. Call Polyte and tell him to put it up. Only to think, Monsieur Homais, that since morning they have had about fifteen games and drunk eight jars of cider! Why, they'll tear my cloth for me," she went on, looking at them from a distance, her strainer in her hand.
"That wouldn't be much of a loss," replied Monsieur Homais. "You would buy another."
"Another billiard-table," exclaimed the widow.
"Since that one is coming to pieces, Madame Lefrancois. I tell you again you are doing yourself harm, much harm! And besides, players now want narrow pockets and heavy cues. Hazards aren't played now; everything is changed! One must keep pace with the times! Just look at Tellier!"
The hostess reddened with vexation. The chemist went on:
"You may say what you like; his table is better than yours; and if one were to think, for example, of getting up a patriotic pool for Poland or the sufferers from the Lyons floods—"
"It isn't beggars like him that'll frighten us," interrupted the landlady, shrugging her fat shoulders. "Come, come, Monsieur Homais; as long as the Lion d'Or exists people will come to it. We've feathered our nest; while one of these days you'll find the Cafe Francais closed with a big placard on the shutters. Change my billiard-table!" she went on, speaking to herself, "the table that comes in so handy for folding the washing, and on which, in the hunting season, I have slept six visitors! But that dawdler Hivert doesn't come!"
"Are you waiting for him for your gentlemen's dinner?"
"Wait for him! And what about Monsieur Binet? As the clock strikes six you'll see him come in, for he hasn't his equal under the sun for punctuality. He must always have his seat in the small parlor. He'd rather die than dine anywhere else. And so squeamish as he is, and so particular about the cider! Not like Monsieur Leon; he sometimes comes at seven, or even half-past, and he doesn't so much as look at what he eats. Such a nice young man! Never speaks a rough word!"
"Well, you see, there's a great difference between an educated man and an old carabineer who is now a tax-collector."
JOSEPH ERNEST RENAN
Born in 1823, died in 1892; a teacher and a student of comparative philology; began to publish in 1850 books which attracted attention for their excellence of style; traveled in the East in 1861; called to the chair of history in the College of France, but forced to resign because he denied the divinity of Christ; published his "Life of Jesus" in 1863, "The Apostles," in 1866, "St. Paul" in 1867, "L'Ante Christ" in 1873, "The Christian Church" in 1879, "Marcus Aurelius" in 1880, and "History of the People of Israel" in 1887-94; elected to the French Academy in 1878.
AN EMPIRE IN ROBUST YOUTH
The political condition of the world was most melancholy. All power was concentrated at Rome and in the legions. The most shameful and degrading scenes were daily enacted. The Roman aristocracy, which had conquered the world, and which alone of all the people had any voice in public business under the Caesars, had abandoned itself to a saturnalia of the most outrageous wickedness the human race ever witnessed. Caesar and Augustus, in establishing the imperial power, saw perfectly the necessities of the age. The world was so low in its political relations that no other form of government was possible. Now that Rome had conquered numberless provinces, the ancient constitution, which was based upon the existence of a privileged patrician class, a kind of obstinate and malevolent Tories, could not continue.
[Footnote 5: From the "History of the Origins of Christianity," the same being a series of which the first book was "The Life of Jesus." This passage is from the second volume which is entitled "The Apostles." From an anonymous translation, published in 1866 by Carleton, of New York.]
But Augustus had signally neglected every suggestion of true policy by leaving the future to chance. Destitute of any canon of hereditary succession, of any settled rules concerning adoption, and of any law regulating election, Caesarism was like an enormous load on the deck of a vessel without ballast. The most terrible shocks were inevitable. Three times in a century, under Caligula, Nero, and Domitian, the greatest power that was ever united in one person fell into the hands of most extravagant and execrable men. Horrors were enacted which have hardly been surpassed by the monsters of the Mongol dynasties. In that fatal list of monarchs one is reduced to apologizing for a Tiberius, who only attained thorough detestableness toward the close of his life; and for a Claudius, who was only eccentric, blundering, and badly advised.
Rome became a school of vice and cruelty. It should be added that the vice came, in a great degree, from the East, from those parasites of low rank and those infamous men whom Egypt and Syria sent to Rome, and who, profiting by the oppression of the true Romans, succeeded in attaining great influence over the wretches who governed. The most disgusting ignominies of the empire, such as the apotheosis of the emperors and their deification during life, came from the East, and particularly from Egypt, which was at that period one of the most corrupt countries on the face of the earth.
However, the veritable Roman nature still survived, and nobility of soul was far from extinct. The lofty traditions of pride and virtue, which were preserved in a few families, attained the imperial throne with Nerva, and gave its splendor to the age of the Antonines, of which Tacitus is the elegant historian. An age in which such, true and noble natures as those of Quintilian, Tacitus, and Pliny the Younger were produced need not be wholly despaired of. The corruption of the surface did not extend to the great mass of seriousness and honor which existed in the better Roman society, and many examples are yet preserved of devotion to order, duty, peace, and solid integrity. There were in the noble houses admirable wives and sisters. Was there ever a more touching fate than that of the young and chaste Octavia, the daughter of Claudius, and wife of Nero, remaining pure in the midst of infamy, and slain at twenty-two years of age, without having known a single joy? The epithets "castissimo," "univiro," are not at all rare in the inscriptions. Some wives accompanied their husbands into exile, and others shared their noble deaths. The ancient Roman simplicity was not lost. The children were soberly and carefully brought up. The most noble ladies worked with their own hands at woolen fabrics, and the excesses of the toilet were almost unknown in the higher families.
[Footnote 6: These epitaphs mean respectively "the most chaste" and "the wife of one husband."]
The excellent statesmen who, so to speak, sprang from the earth under Trajan, were not improvised. They had served in preceding reigns; but they had enjoyed but little influence, and had been cast into the shade by the freedmen and favorite slaves of the Emperor. Thus we find men of the first ability occupying high posts under Nero. The framework was good. The accession of bad emperors, disastrous as it was, could not change at once the general tendency of affairs, and the principles of the government. The empire, far from being in its decay, was in the full strength of vigorous youth. Decay will come, but two centuries later; and, strange to say, under much more worthy monarchs. In its political phase the situation was analogous to that of France, which, deprived by the revolution of any established rule for the succession, has yet passed through so many perilous changes without greatly injuring its internal organization or its national strength. In its moral aspect, the period under consideration may be compared to the eighteenth century, an epoch entirely corrupt, if we form our judgment from the memoirs, manuscripts, literature, and anecdotes of the time, but in which, nevertheless, some families maintained the greatest austerity of morals.
Philosophy joined hands with the better families of Rome, and resisted nobly. The stoic school produced the lofty characters of Cremutius Cordus, Thraseas, Arria, Helvidius Priscus, Annaeus Cornutus, and Musonius Rufus, admirable masters of aristocratic virtue. The rigidity and exaggeration of this school arose from the horrible cruelty of the Caesars. The continual thought of a good man was how to inure himself to suffering, and prepare himself for death. Lucian, in bad taste, and Persius with superior talent, but gave utterance to the loftiest sentiments of a great soul. Seneca the philosopher, Pliny the Elder, and Papirius Fabianus kept up a high standard of science and philosophy. Every one did not yield; there were a few wise men left. Too often, however, they had no resource but death. The ignoble portions of humanity at times got the upper hand. Then madness and cruelty ruled the hour, and made of Rome a veritable hell.
The government, altho so fearfully unstable at Rome, was much better in the provinces. At a distance the shocks which agitated the capital were hardly felt. In spite of its defects, the Roman administration was far superior to the kingdoms and commonwealths it had supplanted. The time for sovereign municipalities had long gone by. Those little states had destroyed themselves by their egotism, their jealousies, and their ignorance or neglect of individual freedom. The ancient life of Greece, all struggle, all external, no longer satisfied any one. It had been glorious in its day, but that brilliant democratic Olympus of demigods had lost its freshness, and become dry, cold, unmeaning, vain, superficial, and lacking in both head and heart. Hence the success of the Macedonian rule, and afterward of the Roman. The empire had not yet fallen into the error of excessive centralization. Until the time of Diocletian, the provinces and cities enjoyed much liberty. Kingdoms almost independent existed in Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, Lesser Armenia, and Thrace, under the protection of Rome. These kingdoms became factions after Caligula only because the profound policy of Augustus concerning them was diverged from in succeeding reigns.
The numerous free cities were governed according to their own laws, and had the legislative power and magistracy of autonomic states. Until the third century their municipal decree commenced with the formula, "The Senate and People of—". The theaters were not simply placed for scenic amusement, but were foci of opinion and discussion. Most of the towns were, in different ways, little commonwealths. The municipal spirit was very strong. They had lost only the power to declare war, a fatal power which made the world a field of carnage. "The benefits conferred by Rome upon mankind" were the theme of adulatory addresses everywhere, to which, however, it would be unjust to deny some sincerity. The doctrine of "the Peace of Rome," the idea of a vast democracy organized under Roman protection, lay at the bottom of all political speculations. A Greek rhetorician displays vast erudition in proving that Roman glory should be claimed by all the branches of the Hellenic race as a common patrimony. In regard to Syria, Asia Minor, and Egypt, we may say that the Roman conquest did not destroy any of their liberties. Those nations had either been already long dead to political life, or had never enjoyed it.
Finally, in spite of the extortions of governors and of the violence which is inseparable from despotic sway, the world had in many respects never been so well off. An administration coming from a remote center was so great an advantage, that even the rapacious praetors of the latter days of the republic had failed to render it unpopular. The Julian law had also narrowed down the scope of abuses and peculations. The follies or cruelties of the emperor, except under Nero, reached only the Roman aristocracy and the immediate followers of the prince. Never had men who did not care to busy themselves about politics been able to live more at ease. The ancient republics, in which every one was compelled to take part in the factions, were very uncomfortable places of residence. There was continually going on some disorganization or proscription. But under the empire the time seemed made expressly for great proselytism which should overrule both the quarrels of neighborhoods and the rivalry of dynasties. Attacks on liberty were much more frequently owing to the remnants of the provincial or communal authority than to the Roman administration. Of this truth we have had and shall have many occasions to take note.
For those of the conquered countries where political privileges had been unknown for ages, and which lost nothing but the right of destroying themselves by continual wars, the empire was such an era of prosperity and well-being as they had never before experienced; and we may add, without being paradoxical, that it was also for them an era of liberty. On the one hand, a freedom of commerce and industry, of which the Grecian state had no conception, became possible. On the other hand, the new regime could not but be favorable to freedom of thought. This freedom is always greater under a monarchy than under the rule of jealous and narrow-minded citizens, and it was unknown in the ancient republics. The Greeks accomplished great things without it, thanks to the incomparable force of their genius; but we must not forget that Athens had a complete inquisition....
There was, indeed, under the empire more than one arbitrary decree against the philosophers, but it was always called forth by their entering into political schemes. We may search in vain the Roman law before Constantine for a single passage against freedom of thought; and the history of the imperial government furnishes no instance of a prosecution for entertaining an abstract doctrine. No scientific man was molested. Men like Galen, Lucan, and Plotinus, who would have gone to the stake in the Middle Age, lived tranquilly under the protection of the law. The empire inaugurated liberty in this respect; it extinguished the despotic sovereignty of the family, the town, and the tribe, and replaced or tempered it by that of the state. But despotic power is the more vexatious the narrower its sphere of action. The old republics and the feudal system opprest individuals much more than did the state. The empire at times persecuted Christianity most severely, but at least it did not arrest its progress. Republics, however, would have overcome the new faith. Even Judaism would have smothered it but for the pressure of Roman authority. The Roman magistrates were all that hindered the Pharisees from destroying Christianity at the outset.
HIPPOLITE ADOLPHE TAINE
Born in 1828, died in 1893; studied medicine and in taking his degree produced as a dissertation his notable "Essai sur les Fables de La Fontaine"; published other essays on Livy, Carlyle, and Mill; professor of esthetics at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1864; published a book on the Pyrenees in 1855, one on Italy in 1866, and one on England 1872; his "History of English Literature," his masterpiece, published in 1864-65; "Les Origines de la France Contemporaine" 1875-90; elected to the French Academy in 1878.
THACKERAY AS A SATIRIST
The novel of manners in England multiplies, and for this there are several reasons: first, it is born there, and every plant thrives well in its own soil; secondly, it is a natural outlet: there is no music in England as in Germany, or conversation as in France; and men who must think and feel find in it a means of feeling and thinking. On the other hand, women take part in it with eagerness; amidst the stagnation of gallantry and the coldness of religion, it gives scope for imagination and dreams. Finally, by its minute details and practical counsels, it opens up a career to the precise and moral mind. The critic thus is, as it were, swamped in this copiousness; he must select in order to grasp the whole, and confine himself to a few in order to embrace all.
[Footnote 7: From Book V, Chapter II of "The History of English Literature." Translated by H. van Laun.]
In this crowd two men have appeared of superior talent, original and contrasted, popular on the same grounds, ministers to the same cause, moralists in comedy and drama, defenders of natural sentiments against social institutions; who, by the precision of their pictures, the depth of their observations, the succession and bitterness of their attacks, have renewed, with other views and in another style, the old combative spirit of Swift and Fielding.
One, more ardent, more expansive, wholly given up to rapture, an impassioned painter of crude and dazzling pictures, a lyric prose-writer, omnipotent in laughter and tears, plunged into fantastic invention, painful sensibility, vehement buffoonery; and by the boldness of his style, the excess of his emotions, the grotesque familiarity of his caricatures, he has displayed all the forces and weaknesses of an artist, all the audacities, all the successes, and all the oddities of the imagination.
The other, more contained, better informed and stronger, a lover of moral dissertations, a counselor of the public, a sort of lay preacher, less bent on defending the poor, more bent on censuring man, has brought to the aid of satire a sustained common sense, a great knowledge of the heart, consummate cleverness, powerful reasoning, a treasure of meditated hatred, and has persecuted vice with all the weapons of reflection. By this contrast the one completes the other; and we may form an exact idea of English taste, by placing the portrait of William Makepeace Thackeray by the side of that of Charles Dickens.
No wonder if in England a novelist writes satires. A gloomy and reflective man is impelled to it by his character; he is still further impelled by the surrounding manners. He is not permitted to contemplate passions as poetic powers; he is bidden to appreciate them as moral qualities. His pictures become sentences; he is a counselor rather than an observer, a judge rather than an artist. We see by what machinery Thackeray has changed novel into satire....
Who is he; and what is the value of this literature of which he is one of the princes? At bottom, like every literature, it is a definition of man; and to judge it, we must compare it with man. We can do so now; we have just studied a mind, Thackeray himself; we have considered his faculties, their connections, results, their different degrees; we have before our eyes a model of human nature. We have a right to judge of the copy by the model, and to control the definition which his novels lay down by the definition which his character furnishes.
The two definitions are contrary, and his portrait is a criticism on his talent. We have seen that in him the same faculties produce the beautiful and the ugly, force and weakness, success and failure; that moral reflection, after having provided him with every satirical power, debases him in art; that, after having spread over his contemporary novels a tone of vulgarity and falseness, it raises his historical novel to the level of the finest productions; that the same constitution of mind teaches him the sarcastic and violent, as well as the modulated and simple style, the bitterness and harshness of hate with the effusion and delicacy of love. The evil and the good, the beautiful and the ugly, the repulsive and the agreeable, are in him then but remoter effects, of slight importance, born of changing circumstances, acquired and fortuitous qualities, not essential and primitive, different forms which different streams present in the same current.
So it is with other men. Doubtless moral qualities are of the first rank; they are the motive power of civilization, and constitute the nobleness of the individual; society exists by them alone, and by them alone man is great. But if they are the finest fruit of the human plant, they are not its root; they give us our value, but do not constitute our elements. Neither the vices nor the virtues of man are his nature; to praise or to blame him is not to know him; approbation or disapprobation does not define him; the names of good or bad tell us nothing of what he is. Put the robber Cartouche in an Italian court of the fifteenth century; he would be a great statesman. Transport this nobleman, stingy and narrow-minded, into a shop; he will be an exemplary tradesman. This public man, of inflexible probity, is in his drawing-room an intolerable coxcomb. This father of a family, so humane, is an idiotic politician. Change a virtue in its circumstances, and it becomes a vice; change a vice in its circumstances, and it becomes a virtue. Regard the same quality from two sides; on one it is a fault, on the other a merit. The essential man is found concealed far below these moral badges; they only point out the useful or noxious effect of our inner constitution: they do not reveal our inner constitution. They are safety or advertising lights attached to our names, to warn the passer-by to avoid or approach us; they are not the explanatory chart of our being.
Our true essence consists in the causes of our good or bad qualities, and these causes are discovered in the temperament, the species and degree of imagination, the amount and velocity of attention, the magnitude and direction of primitive passions. A character is a force, like gravity, or steam, capable, as it may happen, of pernicious or profitable effects, and which must be defined otherwise than by the amount of the weight it can lift or the havoc it can cause. It is therefore to ignore man, to reduce him, as Thackeray and English literature generally do, to an aggregate of virtues and vices; it is to lose sight in him of all but the exterior and social side; it is to neglect the inner and natural element. We will find the same fault in English criticism, always moral, never psychological, bent on exactly measuring the degree of human honesty, ignorant of the mechanism of our sentiments and faculties; we will find the same fault in English religion, which is but an emotion or a discipline; in their philosophy, destitute of metaphysics; and if we ascend to the source, according to the rule which derives vices from virtues, and virtues from vices, we will see all these weaknesses derived from their native energy, their practical education, and that kind of severe and religious poetic instinct which has in time past made them Protestant and Puritan.
WHEN THE KING GOT UP FOR THE DAY
The king is expected to keep the entire aristocracy busy; consequently, to make a display of himself, to pay back with his own person, at all hours even the most private, even on getting out of bed, and even in his bed. In the morning, at the hour named by himself beforehand, the head valet awakens him; five series of persons enter in turn to perform their duty, and, "altho very large, there are days when the waiting-rooms can hardly contain the crowd of courtiers." The first one admitted is "l'entree familiere," consisting of the children of France, the prince and princesses of the blood, and besides these, the chief physician, the chief surgeon, and other serviceable persons. Next comes the "grande entree," which comprizes the grand chamberlain, the grand master and master of the wardrobe, the first gentlemen of the bed-chamber, the dukes of Orleans and Penthievre, some other highly favored seigniors, the ladies of honor and in waiting of the queen, mesdames, and other princesses, without enumerating barbers, tailors, and various descriptions of valets. Meanwhile spirits of wine are poured on the king's hands from a service of plate, and he is then handed the basin of holy-water; he crosses himself and repeats a prayer.
[Footnote 8: From "The Ancient Regime." Translated by John Durand. Copyright, 1876, by Henry Holt & Company.]
Then he gets out of bed before all these people, and puts on his slippers. The grand chamberlain and the first gentleman hand him his dressing-gown; he puts this on and seats himself in the chair in which he is to put on his clothes. At this moment the door opens, and a third group enters, which is the "entree des brevets"—the seigniors who compose this enjoy in addition the precious privilege of assisting at the "petit coucher"; while at the same moment there enters a detachment of attendants, consisting of the physicians and surgeons in ordinary, the intendants of the amusements, readers, and others, and among the latter those who preside over physical requirements. The publicity of a royal life is so great that none of its functions can be exercised without witnesses.
At the moment of the approach of the officers of the wardrobe to dress the king, the first gentleman, notified by an usher, advances to read him the names of the grandees who are waiting at the door: this is the fourth entry, called "la chambre," and larger than those preceding it; for, not to mention the cloak-bearers, gun-bearers, rug-bearers, and other valets, it comprizes most of the superior officials, the grand almoner, the almoners on duty, the chaplain, the master of the oratory, the captain and major of the bodyguard, the colonel-general and major of the French guards, the colonel of the king's regiment, the captain of the Cent Suisses, the grand huntsman, the grand wolf-huntsman, the grand provost, the grand master and master of ceremonies, the first butler, the grand master of the pantry, the foreign ambassadors, the ministers and secretaries of state, the marshals of France, and most of the seigniors and prelates of distinction. Ushers place the ranks in order, and if necessary, impose silence.
Meanwhile the king washes his hands and begins his toilet. Two pages remove his slippers; the grand master of the wardrobe draws off his night-shirt by the right arm, and the first valet of the wardrobe by the left arm, and both of them hand it to an officer of the wardrobe, while a valet of the wardrobe fetches the shirt, wrapt up in white taffeta. Things have now reached the solemn point, the culmination of the ceremony: the fifth entry has been introduced; and in a few moments, after the king has put his shirt on, all that is left of those who are known, with other household officers waiting in the gallery, complete the influx.
There is quite a formality in regard to this shirt. The honor of handing it is reserved to the sons and grandsons of France; in default of these, to the princes of the blood or those legitimated; in their default, to the grand chamberlain or to the first gentleman of the bed-chamber; the latter case, it must be observed, being very rare, the princes being obliged to be present at the king's lever as well as the princesses at that of the queen. At last the shirt is presented, and a valet carries off the old one; the first valet of the wardrobe and the first valet de chambre hold the fresh one, each by a right and left arm respectively; while two other valets, during this operation, extend his dressing-gown in front of him to serve as a screen. The shirt is now on his back, and the toilet commences.
A valet de chambre supports a mirror before the king, while two others on the two sides light it up, if occasion requires with flambeaux. Valets of the wardrobe fetch the rest of the attire; the grand master of the wardrobe puts the vest on and the doublet, attaches the blue ribbon, and clasps his sword around him; then a valet assigned to the cravats brings several of these in a basket, while the master of the wardrobe arranges around the king's neck that which the king selects. After this a valet assigned to the handkerchiefs brings three of these on a silver salver; while the grand master of the wardrobe offers the salver to the king, who chooses one. Finally the master of the wardrobe hands to the king his hat, his gloves, and his cane. The king then steps to the side of the bed, kneels on a cushion, and says his prayers; while an almoner in a low voice recites the orison Quaesumus, deus omnipotens. This done, the king announces the order of the day, and passes with the leading persons of his court into his cabinet, where he sometimes gives audience. Meanwhile the rest of the company await him in the gallery, in order to accompany him to mass when he comes out.
Such is the lever, a piece in five acts. Nothing could be contrived better calculated to fill up the void of an aristocratic life: a hundred or thereabouts of notable seigniors dispose of a couple of hours in coming, in waiting, in entering, in defiling, in taking positions, in standing on their feet, in maintaining an air of respect and of ease suitable to a superior class of walking gentlemen, while those best qualified are about to do the same thing over in the queen's apartment. The king, however, to offset this, suffers the same torture and the same inaction as he imposes. He also is playing a part: all his steps and all his gestures have been determined beforehand; he has been obliged to arrange his physiognomy and his voice, never to depart from an affable and dignified air, to award judiciously his glances and his nods, to keep silent or to speak only of the chase, and to suppress his own thoughts if he has any. One can not indulge in reverie, meditate, or be absent-minded when before the footlights: the part must have due attention.
Born in 1840, died in 1902; his father an Italian, his mother French; became a packing clerk in a bookstore in 1860; published his first book in 1864; "L'Assommoir" in 1877, "Nana" in 1880, "La Terre" in 1887, author of many other works; prominent in the Dreyfus case, being twice fined and imprisoned for libeling a court martial.
GLIMPSES OF NAPOLEON III IN TIME OF WAR
They had no more than sat down at table when Delaherche, burning to relieve himself of the subject that filled his mind, began to relate his experiences of the day before.
[Footnote 9: From "La Debacle." Translated by E. P. Robins. Copyright, 1892, by Cassell Publishing Company. Copyright, 1898, by the Macmillan Company.]
"You know I saw the Emperor at Baybel."
He was fairly started, and nothing could stop him. He began by describing the farmhouse; a large structure with an interior court, surrounded by an iron railing, and situated on a gentle eminence overlooking Mouzon, to the left of the Carignan road. Then he came back to the Twelfth Corps, whom he had visited in their camp among the vines on the hillsides; splendid troops they were, with their equipments brightly shining in the sunlight, and the sight of them had caused his heart to beat with patriotic ardor.
"And there I was, sir, when the Emperor, who had alighted to breakfast and rest himself a bit, came out of the farmhouse. He wore a general's uniform and carried an overcoat across his arm, altho the sun was very hot. He was followed by a servant bearing a camp-stool. He did not look to me like a well man; ah no, far from it: his stooping form, the sallowness of his complexion, the feebleness of his movements, all indicated him to be in a very bad way. I was not surprized; for the druggist at Mouzon, when he recommended me to drive on to Baybel, told me that an aide-de-camp had just been in his shop to get some medicine—you understand what I mean—medicine for—"
The presence of his wife and mother prevented him from alluding more explicitly to the nature of the Emperor's complaint, which was an obstinate diarrhea that he had contracted at Chene, and which compelled him to make those frequent halts at houses along the road.
"Well, then the attendant opened the camp-stool and placed it in the shade of a clump of trees at the edge of a field of wheat, and the Emperor sat down on it. Sitting there in a limp, dejected attitude, perfectly still, he looked for all the world like a small shopkeeper taking a sun-bath for his rheumatism. His dull eyes wandered over the wide horizon, the Meuse coursing through the valley at his feet, before him the range of wooded heights whose summits recede and are lost in the distance, on the left the waving tree-tops of Dieulet forest, on the right the verdure-clad eminence of Sommanthe. He was surrounded by his military family, aides and officers of rank; and a colonel of dragoons, who had already applied to me for information about the country, had just motioned me not to go away, when all at once—"
Delaherche rose from his chair, for he had reached the point where the dramatic interest of his story culminated, and it became necessary to reenforce words by gestures.
"All at once there was a succession of sharp reports; and right in front of us, over the wood of Dieulet, shells are seen circling through the air. It produced on me no more effect than a display of fireworks in broad daylight, sir, upon my word it didn't! The people about the Emperor, of course, showed a good deal of agitation and uneasiness. The colonel of dragoons comes running up again to ask if I can give them an idea whence the fire proceeds. I answer him offhand: 'It is at Beaumont; there is not the slightest doubt about it.' He returns to the Emperor, on whose knees an aide-de-camp was unfolding a map. The Emperor was evidently of opinion that the fighting was not at Beaumont, for he sent the colonel back to me a third time. But I couldn't well do otherwise than stick to what I had said before, could I, now?—the more that the shells kept flying through the air, nearer and nearer, following the line of the Mouzon road. And then, sir, as sure as I see you standing there, I saw the Emperor turn his pale face toward me. Yes, sir, he looked at me a moment with those dim eyes of his, that were filled with an expression of melancholy and distrust. And then his face declined upon his map again, and he made no further movement."
Delaherche, altho he was an ardent Bonapartist at the time of the plebiscite, had admitted after our early defeats that the government was responsible for some mistakes; but he stood up for the dynasty, compassionating and excusing Napoleon III, deceived and betrayed as he was by every one. It was his firm opinion that the men at whose door should be laid the responsibility for all our disasters were none other than those Republican deputies of the opposition who had stood in the way of voting the necessary men and money.
"And did the Emperor return to the farmhouse?" asked Captain Beaudoin.
"That's more than I can say, my dear sir: I left him sitting on his stool. It was midday, the battle was drawing nearer, and it occurred to me that it was time to be thinking of my own return. All that I can tell you besides is that a general to whom I pointed out the position of Carignan in the distance, in the plain to our rear, appeared greatly surprized to learn that the Belgian frontier lay in that direction, and was only a few miles away. Ah, that the poor Emperor should have to rely on such servants!"...
While Delaherche was raising himself on tiptoe, and trying to peer through the windows of the rez-de-chaussee, an old woman at his side, some poor day-worker of the neighborhood, with shapeless form, and hands calloused and distorted by many years of toil, was mumbling between her teeth:
"An emperor—I should like to see one once—just once—so I could say I had seen him."
Suddenly Delaherche exclaimed, seizing Maurice by the arm:
"See, there he is! at the window to the left. I had a good view of him yesterday; I can't be mistaken. There, he has just raised the curtain; see, that pale face, close to the glass."
The old woman had overheard him, and stood staring with wide-open mouth and eyes; for there, full in the window, was an apparition that resembled a corpse more than a living being: its eyes were lifeless, its features distorted; even the mustache had assumed a ghastly whiteness in the final agony. The old woman was dumbfounded; forthwith she turned her back and marched off with a look of supreme contempt.
"That thing an emperor! a likely story!"
A zouave was standing near—one of those fugitive soldiers who were in no haste to rejoin their commands. Brandishing his chassepot and expectorating threats and maledictions, he said to his companion:
"Wait! see me put a bullet in his head!"
Delaherche remonstrated angrily; but by that time the Emperor had disappeared. The hoarse murmur of the Meuse continued uninterruptedly; a wailing lament, inexpressibly mournful, seemed to pass above them through the air, where the darkness was gathering intensity. Other sounds rose in the distance, like the hollow muttering of the rising storm: were they the "March! march!"—that terrible order from Paris which had driven that ill-starred man onward day by day, dragging behind him along the roads of his defeat the irony of his imperial escort, until now he was brought face to face with the ruin he had foreseen and come forth to meet? What multitudes of brave men were to lay down their lives for his mistakes; and how complete the wreck, in all his being, of that sick man—that sentimental dreamer, awaiting in gloomy silence the fulfilment of his destiny!...
"O M. Delaherche! isn't this dreadful! Here, quick! this way, if you would like to see the Emperor."
On the left of the corridor a door stood ajar; and through the narrow opening a glimpse could be had of the sovereign, who had resumed his weary, anguished tramp between the fireplace and the window. Back and forth he shuffled with heavy, dragging steps, and ceased not, despite his unendurable suffering. An aide-de-camp had just entered the room—it was he who had failed to close the door behind him—and Delaherche heard the Emperor ask him in a sorrowfully reproachful voice:
"What is the reason of this continued firing, sir, after I gave orders to hoist the white flag?"
The torture to him had become greater than he could bear—this never-ceasing cannonade that seemed to grow more furious with every minute. Every time he approached the window it pierced him to the heart. More spilling of blood, more useless squandering of human life! At every moment the piles of corpses were rising higher on the battle-field, and his was the responsibility. The compassionate instincts that entered so largely into his nature revolted at it, and more than ten times already he had asked that question of those who approached him.
"I gave orders to raise the white flag: tell me, why do they continue firing?"
The aide-de-camp made answer in a voice so low that Delaherche failed to catch its purport. The Emperor, moreover, seemed not to pause to listen, drawn by some irresistible attraction to that window; at which, each time he approached it, he was greeted by that terrible salvo of artillery that rent and tore his being. His pallor was greater even than it had been before; his poor, pinched, wan face, on which were still visible traces of the rouge which had been applied that morning, bore witness to his anguish.
At that moment a short, quick-motioned man in dust-soiled uniform, whom Delaherche recognized as General Lebrun, hurriedly crossed the corridor and pushed open the door, without waiting to be announced. And scarcely was he in the room when again was heard the Emperor's so oft-repeated question.
"Why do they continue to fire, General, when I have given orders to hoist the white flag?"
The aide-de-camp left the apartment, shutting the door behind him, and Delaherche never knew what was the General's answer. The vision had faded from his sight.
Born in 1840, died in 1897; educated at Lyons; settled in Paris in 1857 and began to write poems and sketches for newspapers and periodicals; his "Fromont Jeune et Risler Aine" published in 1874, "Jack" in 1876, "Numa Roumestan" in 1881, "Tartarin sur les Alps" in 1885; author of many other works of fiction.
A GREAT MAN'S WIDOW
No one was astonished at hearing she was going to marry again. Notwithstanding all his genius, perhaps even on account of his genius, the great man had for fifteen years led her a hard life, full of caprices and mad freaks that had attracted the attention of all Paris. On the highroad to fame, over which he had so triumphantly and hurriedly traveled, like those who are to die young, she had sat behind him, humbly and timidly, in a corner of the chariot, ever fearful of collisions. Whenever she complained, relatives, friends, every one was against her: "Respect his weaknesses," they would say to her, "they are the weaknesses of a god. Do not disturb him, do not worry him. Remember that your husband does not belong exclusively to you. He belongs much more to art, to his country, than to his family. And who knows if each of the faults you reproach him with has not given us some sublime creation?" At last, however, her patience was worn out, she rebelled, became indignant and even unjust, so much, indeed, that at the moment of the great man's death, they were on the point of demanding a judicial separation and ready to see their great and celebrated name dragged into the columns of a society paper.
[Footnote 10: From "Artists' Wives." Translated by Laura Enser.]
After the agitation of this unhappy match, the anxieties of the last illness, and the sudden death which for a moment revived her former affection, the first months of her widowhood acted on the young woman like a healthy calming water-cure. The enforced retirement, the quiet charm of mitigated sorrow lent to her thirty-five years a second youth almost as attractive as the first.
Moreover, black suited her, and then she had the responsible and rather proud look of a woman left alone in life, with all the weight of a great name to carry honorably. Mindful of the fame of the departed one, that wretched fame that had cost her so many tears, and now grew day by day, like a magnificent flower nourished by the black earth of the tomb, she was to be seen draped in her long somber veils holding interviews with theatrical managers and publishers, busying herself in getting her husband's operas put again on the stage, superintending the printing of his posthumous works and unfinished manuscripts, bestowing on all these details a kind of solemn care and, as it were, the respect for a shrine.
It was at this moment that her second husband met her. He, too, was a musician, almost unknown, it is true, the author of a few waltzes and songs, and of two little operas, of which the scores, charmingly printed, were scarcely more played than sold. With a pleasant countenance, a handsome fortune that he owed to his exceedingly bourgeois family, he had above all an infinite respect for genius, a curiosity about famous men, and the ingenuous enthusiasm of a still youthful artist. Thus when he met the wife of the great man, he was dazzled and bewildered. It was as tho the image of the glorious muse herself had appeared to him. He at once fell in love, and as the widow was beginning to receive a few friends, he had himself presented to her. There his passion grew in the atmosphere of genius that still lingered in all the corners of the drawing-room. There was the bust of the master, the piano he composed on, his scores spread over all the furniture, melodious even to look at, as tho from between their half-opened pages the written phrases reechoed musically. The actual and very real charm of the widow, surrounded by those austere memories as by a frame that became her, brought his love to a climax.
After hesitating a long time, the poor fellow at last proposed, but in such humble and timid terms: "He knew how unworthy he was of her. He understood all the regret she would feel in exchanging her illustrious name for his, so unknown and insignificant." And a thousand other artless phrases in the same style. In reality, the lady was indeed very much flattered by her conquest; however, she played the comedy of a broken heart, and assumed the disdainful, wearied airs of a woman whose life is ended without hopes of renewal. She, who had never in her life been so quiet and comfortable as since the death of her great man, actually found tears with which to mourn for him, and an enthusiastic ardor in speaking of him. This, of course, only inflamed her youthful adorer the more and made him more eloquent and persuasive.
In short, this severe widowhood ended in a marriage; but the widow did not abdicate, and remained—altho married—more than ever the widow of a great man; well knowing that herein lay, in the eyes of her second husband, her real prestige. As she felt herself much older than he, to prevent his perceiving it, she overwhelmed him with her disdain, with a kind of vague pity, and unexprest and offensive regret at her condescending marriage. However, he was not wounded by it, quite the contrary. He was so convinced of his inferiority and thought it so natural that the memory of such a man should reign despotically in her heart! In order the better to maintain in him this humble attitude, she would at times read over with him the letters the great man had written to her when he was courting her. This return toward the past rejuvenated her some fifteen years, lent her the assurance of a handsome and beloved woman, seen through all the wild love and delightful exaggeration of written passion. That she since then had changed her young husband cared little, loving her on the faith of another, and drawing therefrom I know not what strange kind of vanity. It seemed to him that these passionate appeals added to his own, and that he inherited a whole past of love.