Library Of The World's Best Literature, Ancient And Modern, Vol 4
Charles Dudley Warner
Part 10 out of 11
placed it in the arms of one of those who had been reading the law; then
a procession was formed, and they walked, while the Choir sang one of
the Psalms of David--but not in the least like the same Psalm sung in
an English Cathedral--bearing the Roll of the Law to the Ark, that is to
say, to the cupboard, behind the railing and inclosure at the east end.
The Reader came back. Then with another chanted Prayer--it sounded like
a prolonged shout of continued Triumph--he ended his part of
And then the choir sang the last hymn--a lovely hymn, not in the least
like a Christian, or at least an English hymn--a psalm that breathed a
tranquil hope and a perfect faith. One needed no words to understand the
full meaning and beauty and depth of that hymn.
The service was finished. The men took off their white scarfs and folded
them up. They stood and talked in groups for a few minutes, gradually
melting away. As for the men under the gallery, who had been whispering
and laughing, they trooped out of the synagogue all together. Evidently,
to them the service was only a form. What is it, in any religion, but a
form, to the baser sort?
The Beadle put out the lights. Nelly led the way down the stairs.
Thinking of what the service had suggested to herself--- all those
wonderful things above enumerated--Francesca wondered what it meant to a
girl who heard it every Sabbath morning. But she refrained from asking.
Custom too often takes the symbolism out of the symbols and the poetry
out of the verse. Then the people begin to worship the symbols and make
a fetich of the words. We have seen this elsewhere--in other forms of
faith. Outside they found Emanuel. They had not seen him in the
congregation, probably because it is difficult to recognize a man merely
by the top of his hat.
"Come," he said, "let us look around the place. Afterwards, perhaps, we
will talk of our Service. This synagogue is built on the site of the one
erected by Manasseh and his friends when Oliver Cromwell permitted them
to return to London after four hundred years of exile. They were forced
to wear yellow hats at first, but that ordinance soon fell into disuse,
like many other abominable laws. When you read about mediaeval laws,
Francesca, remember that when they were cruel or stupid they were seldom
carried into effect, because the arm of the executive was weak. Who was
there to oblige the Jews to wear the yellow hat? The police? There were
no police. The people? What did the people care about the yellow hat?
When the Fire burned down London, sparing not even the great Cathedral,
to say nothing of the Synagogue, this second Temple arose, equal in
splendor to the first. At that time all the Jews in London were
Sephardim of Spain and Portugal and Italy. Even now there are many of
the people here who speak nothing among themselves but Spanish, just as
there are Askenazim who speak nothing among themselves but Yiddish. Come
with me; I will show you something that will please you."
He led the way into another flagged court, larger than the first. There
were stone staircases, mysterious doorways, paved passages, a suggestion
of a cloister, an open space or square, and buildings on all sides with
windows opening upon the court.
"It doesn't look English at all," said Francesca. "I have seen something
like it in a Spanish convent. With balconies and a few bright hangings
and a black-haired woman at the open windows, and perhaps a coat of arms
carved upon the wall, it would do for part of a Spanish street. It is a
strange place to find in the heart of London."
"You see the memory of the Peninsula. What were we saying yesterday?
Spain places her own seal upon everything that belongs to her--people,
buildings, all. What you see here is the central Institute of our
People, the Sephardim--the Spanish part of our People. Here is our
synagogue, here are schools, alms-houses, residence of the Rabbi, and
all sorts of things. You can come here sometimes and think of Spain,
where your ancestors lived. Many generations in Spain have made you--as
they have made me--a Spaniard."
They went back to the first court. On their way out, as they passed the
synagogue, there came running across the court a girl of fifteen or so.
She was bareheaded; a mass of thick black hair was curled round her
shapely head; her figure was that of an English girl of twenty; her eyes
showed black and large and bright as she glanced at the group standing
in the court; her skin was dark; she was oddly and picturesquely dressed
in a grayish-blue skirt, with a bright crimson open jacket. The color
seemed literally to strike the eye. The girl disappeared under a
doorway, leaving a picture of herself in Francesca's mind--a picture to
"A Spanish Jewess," said Emanuel. "An Oriental. She chooses by instinct
the colors that her great-grandmother might have worn to grace the
triumph of David the King."
BESTIARIES AND LAPIDARIES
BY L. OSCAR KUHNS
One of the marked features of literary investigation during the present
century is the interest which it has manifested in the Middle Ages. Not
only have specialists devoted themselves to the detailed study of the
Sagas of the North and the great cycles of Romance in France and
England, but the stories of the Edda, of the Nibelungen, and of
Charlemagne and King Arthur have become popularized, so that to-day they
are familiar to the general reader. There is one class of literature,
however, which was widespread and popular during the Middle Ages, but
which is to-day known only to the student,--that is, the so-called
Bestiaries and Lapidaries, or collections of stories and superstitions
concerning the marvelous attributes of animals and of precious stones.
The basis of all Bestiaries is the Greek Physiologus, the origin of
which can be traced back to the second century before Christ. It was
undoubtedly largely influenced by the zooelogy of the Bible; and in the
references to the Ibex, the Phoenix, and the tree Paradixion, traces of
Oriental and old Greek superstitions can be seen. It was from the Latin
versions of the Greek original that translations were made into nearly
all European languages. There are extant to-day, whole or in fragments,
Bestiaries in German, Old English, Old French, Provencal, Icelandic,
Italian, Bohemian, and even Armenian, Ethiopic, and Syriac. These
various versions differ more or less in the arrangement and number of
the animals described, but all point back to the same ultimate source.
The main object of the Bestiaries was not so much to impart scientific
knowledge, as by means of symbols and allegories to teach the doctrines
and mysteries of the Church: At first this symbolical application was
short and concise, but later became more and more expanded, until it
often occupied more space than the description of the animal which
served as a text.
Some of these animals are entirely fabulous, such as the siren, the
phoenix, the unicorn; others are well known, but possess certain
fabulous attributes. The descriptions of them are not the result of
personal observation, but are derived from stories told by travelers or
read in books, or are merely due to the imagination of the author; these
stories, passing down from hand to hand, gradually became
These books were enormously popular during the Middle Ages, a fact which
is proved by the large number of manuscripts still extant. Their
influence on literature was likewise very great. To say nothing of the
encyclopaedic works,--such as 'Li Tresors' of Brunetto Latini, the
'Image du Monde,' the 'Roman de la Rose,'--which contain extracts from
the Bestiaries,--there are many references to them in the great writers,
even down to the present day. There are certain passages in Dante,
Chaucer, and Shakespeare, that would be unintelligible without some
knowledge of these mediaeval books of zooelogy.
Hence, besides the interest inherent in these quaint and childish
stories, besides their value in revealing the scientific spirit and
attainments of the times, some knowledge of the Bestiaries is of
undoubted value and interest to the student of literature.
Closely allied to the Bestiaries (and indeed often contained in the same
manuscript) are the Lapidaries, in which are discussed the various kinds
of precious stones, with their physical characteristics,--shape, size,
color, their use in medicine, and their marvelous talismanic properties.
In spite of the fact that they contain the most absurd fables and
superstitions, they were actually used as text-books in the schools, and
published in medical treatises. The most famous of them was written in
Latin by Marbode, Bishop of Rennes (died in 1123), and translated many
times into Old French and other languages.
The following extracts from the Bestiaries are translated from 'Le
Bestiaire' of Guillaume Le Clerc, composed in the year 1210 (edited by
Dr. Robert Reinsch, Leipzig, 1890). While endeavoring to retain somewhat
of the quaintness and naivete of the original, I have omitted those
repetitions and tautological expressions which are so characteristic of
mediaeval literature. The religious application of the various animals
is usually very long, and often is the mere repetition of the same idea.
The symbolical meaning of the lion here given may be taken as a type of
all the rest.
[Illustration: Signature: L. OSCAR KUHNS]
It is proper that we should first speak of the nature of the lion, which
is a fierce and proud beast and very bold. It has three especially
peculiar characteristics. In the first place it always dwells upon a
high mountain. From afar off it can scent the hunter who is pursuing it.
And in order that the latter may not follow it to its lair it covers
over its tracks by means of its tail. Another wonderful peculiarity of
the lion is that when it sleeps its eyes are wide open, and clear and
bright. The third characteristic is likewise very strange. For when the
lioness brings forth her young, it falls to the ground, and gives no
sign of life until the third day, when the lion breathes upon it and in
this way brings it back to life again.
The meaning of all this is very clear. When God, our Sovereign father,
who is the Spiritual lion, came for our salvation here upon earth, so
skillfully did he cover his tracks that never did the hunter know that
this was our Savior, and nature marveled how he came among us. By the
hunter you must understand him who made man to go astray and seeks after
him to devour him. This is the Devil, who desires only evil.
When this lion was laid upon the Cross by the Jews, his enemies, who
judged him wrongfully, his human nature suffered death. When he gave up
the spirit from his body, he fell asleep upon the holy cross. Then his
divine nature awoke. This must you believe if you wish to live again.
When God was placed in the tomb, he was there only three days, and on
the third day the Father breathed upon him and brought him to life
again, just as the lion did to its young.
The pelican is a wonderful bird which dwells in the region about the
river Nile. The written history tells us that there are two
kinds,--those which dwell in the river and eat nothing but fish, and
those which dwell in the desert and eat only insects and worms. There is
a wonderful thing about the pelican, for never did mother-sheep love her
lamb as the pelican loves its young. When the young are born, the
parent bird devotes all his care and thought to nourishing them. But the
young birds are ungrateful, and when they have grown strong and
self-reliant they peck at their father's face, and he, enraged at their
wickedness, kills them all.
[Footnote 4: The reference here is probably to the 'Liber de Bestiis et
Aliis Rebus' of Hugo de St. Victor.]
On the third day the father comes to them, deeply moved with pity and
sorrow. With his beak he pierces his own side, until the blood flows
forth. With the blood he brings back life into the body of his young.
[Footnote 5: There are many allusions in literature to this story. Cf.
"Like the kind life-rendering pelican,
Repast them with my blood."--'Hamlet,' iv. 5.
"Those pelican daughters."--Lear, iii. 4. Cf. also the beautiful metaphor
of Alfred de Musset, in his 'Nuit de Mai.']
The eagle is the king of birds. When it is old it becomes young again in
a very strange manner. When its eyes are darkened and its wings are
heavy with age, it seeks out a fountain clear and pure, where the water
bubbles up and shines in the clear sunlight. Above this fountain it
rises high up into the air, and fixes its eyes upon the light of the sun
and gazes upon it until the heat thereof sets on fire its eyes and
wings. Then it descends down into the fountain where the water is
clearest and brightest, and plunges and bathes three times, until it is
fresh and renewed and healed of its old age.
[Footnote 6: "Bated like eagles having lately bathed."--'I Henry IV.,'
The eagle has such keen vision, that if it is high up among the clouds,
soaring through the air, it sees the fish swimming beneath it, in river
or sea; then down it shoots upon the fish and seizes and drags it to the
shore. Again, if unknown to the eagle its eggs should be changed and
others put into its nest,--when the young are grown, before they fly
away, it carries them up into the air when the sun is shining its
brightest. Those which can look at the rays of the sun, without
blinking, it loves and holds dear; those which cannot stand to look at
the light, it abandons, as base-born, nor troubles itself henceforth
"Nay, if thou be that princely eagle's bird,
Show thy descent by gazing 'gainst the sun."--'3 Henry VI.,' ii. I.]
There is a bird named the phoenix, which dwells in India and is never
found elsewhere. This bird is always alone and without companion, for
its like cannot be found, and there is no other bird which resembles it
in habits or appearance. At the end of five hundred years it feels
that it has grown old, and loads itself with many rare and precious
spices, and flies from the desert away to the city of Leopolis. There,
by some sign or other, the coming of the bird is announced to a priest
of that city, who causes fagots to be gathered and placed upon a
beautiful altar, erected for the bird. And so, as I have said, the bird,
laden with spices, comes to the altar, and smiting upon the hard stone
with its beak, it causes the flame to leap forth and set fire to the
wood and the spices. When the fire is burning brightly, the phoenix lays
itself upon the altar and is burned to dust and ashes.
[Footnote 8: "Were man as rare as phoenix."--'As You Like It,' iv. 3.]
Then comes the priest and finds the ashes piled up, and separating them
softly he finds within a little worm, which gives forth an odor sweeter
than that of roses or of any other flower. The next day and the next the
priest comes again, and on the third day he finds that the worm has
become a full-grown and full-fledged bird, which bows low before him and
flies away, glad and joyous, nor returns again before five
"But as when
The Bird of Wonder dies, the maiden phoenix,
Her ashes new create another heir."--'Henry VIII.,' v. 5.]
There is another kind of ant up in Ethiopia, which is of the shape and
size of dogs. They have strange habits, for they scratch into the ground
and extract therefrom great quantities of fine gold. If any one wishes
to take this gold from them, he soon repents of his undertaking; for the
ants run upon him, and if they catch him they devour him instantly. The
people who live near them know that they are fierce and savage, and that
they possess a great quantity of gold, and so they have invented a
cunning trick. They take mares which have unweaned foals, and give them
no food for three days. On the fourth the mares are saddled, and to the
saddles are fastened boxes that shine like gold. Between these people
and the ants flows a very swift river. The famished mares are driven
across this river, while the foals are kept on the hither side. On the
other side of the river the grass is rich and thick. Here the mares
graze, and the ants seeing the shining boxes think they have found a
good place to hide their gold, and so all day long they fill and load
the boxes with their precious gold, till night comes on and the mares
have eaten their fill. When they hear the neighing of their foals they
hasten to return to the other side of the river. There their masters
take the gold from the boxes and become rich and powerful, but the ants
grieve over their loss.
The siren is a monster of strange fashion, for from the waist up it is
the most beautiful thing in the world, formed in the shape of a woman.
The rest of the body is like a fish or a bird. So sweetly and
beautifully does she sing that they who go sailing over the sea, as soon
as they hear the song, cannot keep from going towards her. Entranced by
the music, they fall asleep in their boat, and are killed by the siren
before they can utter a cry.
[Footnote 10: References to the siren are innumerable; the most famous
perhaps is Heine's 'Lorelei.' Cf. also Dante, 'Purgatorio,' xix. 19-20.]
In the sea, which is mighty and vast, are many kinds of fish, such as
the turbot, the sturgeon, and the porpoise. But there is one monster,
very treacherous and dangerous. In Latin its name is Cetus. It is a bad
neighbor for sailors. The upper part of its back looks like sand, and
when it rises from the sea, the mariners think it is an island. Deceived
by its size they sail toward it for refuge, when the storm comes upon
them. They cast anchor, disembark upon the back of the whale, cook their
food, build a fire, and in order to fasten their boat they drive great
stakes into what seems to them to be sand. When the monster feels the
heat of the fire which burns upon its back, it plunges down into the
depths of the sea, and drags the ship and all the people after it.
When the fish is hungry it opens its mouth very wide, and breathes forth
an exceedingly sweet odor. Then all the little fish stream thither, and,
allured by the sweet smell, crowd into its throat. Then the whale closes
its jaws and swallows them into its stomach, which is as wide as a
[Footnote 11: "Who is a whale to virginity and devours up all the fry it
finds."--'All's Well that Ends Well,' iv. 3.]
The crocodile is a fierce beast that lives always beside the river Nile.
In shape it is somewhat like an ox; it is full twenty ells long, and as
big around as the trunk of a tree. It has four feet, large claws, and
very sharp teeth; by means of these it is well armed. So hard and tough
is its skin, that it minds not in the least hard blows made by sharp
stones. Never was seen another such a beast, for it lives on land and in
water. At night it is submerged in water, and during the day it reposes
upon the land. If it meets and overcomes a man, it swallows him entire,
so that nothing remains. But ever after it laments him as long as it
lives. The upper jaw of this beast is immovable when it eats, and
the lower one alone moves. No other living creature has this
peculiarity. The other beast of which I have told you (the
water-serpent), which always lives in the water, hates the crocodile
with a mortal hatred. When it sees the crocodile sleeping on the ground
with its mouth wide open, it rolls itself in the slime and mud in order
to become more slippery. Then it leaps into the throat of the crocodile
and is swallowed down into its stomach. Here it bites and tears its way
out again, but the crocodile dies on account of its wounds.
[Footnote 12: "Crocodile tears" are proverbial. Cf:
"As the mournful crocodile
With sorrow snares relenting passengers."--'2 Henry VI.,' iii. 1.
"Each drop she falls would prove a crocodile."--'Othello' iv. 1.]
Now I must tell you of another bird which is courteous and beautiful,
and which loves much and is much loved. This is the turtle-dove. The
male and the female are always together in mountain or in desert, and if
perchance the female loses her companion never more will she cease to
mourn for him, never more will she sit upon green branch or leaf.
Nothing in the world can induce her to take another mate, but she ever
remains loyal to her husband. When I consider the faithfulness of this
bird, I wonder at the fickleness of man and woman. Many husbands and
wives there are who do not love as the turtle-dove; but if the man bury
his wife, before he has eaten two meals he desires to have another woman
in his arms. The turtle-dove does not so, but remains patient and
faithful to her companion, waiting if haply he might return.
"Like to a pair of loving turtle-doves,
That could not live asunder day or night."--'I Henry VI.,' ii. 2.]
The mandragora is a wild plant, the like of which does not exist. Many
kinds of medicine can be made of its root; this root, if you look at it
closely, will be seen to have the form of a man. The bark is very
useful; when well boiled in water it helps many diseases. The skillful
physicians gather this plant when it is old, and they say that when it
is plucked it weeps and cries, and if any one hears the cry he will
die. But those who gather it do this so carefully that they receive
no evil from it. If a man has a pain in his head or in his body, or in
his hand or foot, it can be cured by this herb. If you take this plant
and beat it and let the man drink of it, he will fall asleep very
softly, and no more will he feel pain. There are two kinds of this
plant,--male and female. The leaves of both are beautiful. The leaf of
the female is thick like that of the wild lettuce.
[Footnote 14: "Would curses kill as doth the mandrake's groan."--'2
Henry VI.,' iii. 2. ]
"Not poppy, nor mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world."--'Othello,' iii. 3.]
The following two extracts are translated from 'Les Lapidaires Francais
du Moyen Age,' by Leopold Pannier, Paris, 1882.
The sapphire is beautiful, and worthy to shine on the fingers of a king.
In color it resembles the sky when it is pure and free from clouds.
No precious stone has greater virtue or beauty. One kind of sapphire is
found among the pebbles in the country of Libya; but that which comes
from the land of the Turk is more precious. It is called the gem of
gems, and is of great value to men and women. It gives comfort to the
heart and renders the limbs strong and sound. It takes away envy and
perfidy and can set the prisoner at liberty. He who carries it about him
will never have fear. It pacifies those who are angry, and by means of
it one can see into the unknown.
[Footnote 16: Cf. the exquisite line of Dante, 'Purgatorio,' i. 13:--
'Dolce color d'oriental zaffiro.']
It is very valuable in medicine. It cools those who are feverish and who
on account of pain are covered with perspiration. When powdered and
dissolved in milk it is good for ulcers. It cures headache and diseases
of the eyes and tongue. He who wears it must live chastely and
honorably; so shall he never feel the distress of poverty.
Coral grows like a tree in the sea, and at first its color is green.
When it reaches the air it becomes hard and red. It is half a foot in
length. He who carries it will never be afraid of lightning or tempest.
The field in which it is placed will be very fertile, and rendered safe
from hail or any other kind of storm. It drives away evil spirits, and
gives a good beginning to all undertakings and brings them to a
MARIE-HENRI BEYLE (STENDHAL)
BY FREDERIC TABER COOPER
Marie-Henri Beyle, French novelist and man of letters, who is better
known under his bizarre pseudonym of Stendhal, is a somewhat unusual
figure among French writers. He was curiously misappreciated by his own
generation, whose literary movements he in turn confessedly ignored. He
is recognized to-day as an important link in the development of modern
fiction, and is even discussed concurrently with Balzac, in the same way
that we speak of Dickens and Thackeray, Emerson and Lowell.
[Illustration: HENRI BEYLE]
There is nothing dramatic in Stendhal's life, which, viewed impartially,
is a simple and somewhat pathetic record of failure and disillusion. He
was six years older than Balzac, having been born January 23d, 1783, in
the small town of Grenoble, in Dauphine, which, with its narrow
prejudices and petty formalism, seemed to him in after years "the
souvenir of an abominable indigestion." He early developed an abnormal
sensibility, which would have met with ready response had his mother
lived, but which a keen dread of ridicule taught him to hide from an
unsympathetic father and a still more unkind aunt,--later his
step-mother, Seraphie Gagnon. He seemed predestined to be
misunderstood--even his school companions finding him odd, and often
amusing themselves at his expense. Thus he grew up with a sense of
isolation in his own home, and when, in 1800, he had the opportunity of
going to some distant relatives in Paris, the Daru family, he seized it
eagerly. The following year he accompanied the younger Darus to Italy,
and was present at the battle of Marengo. This was the turning-point of
Stendhal's career. He was dazzled by Napoleon's successes, and
fascinated with the beauty and gayety of Milan, where he found himself
for the first time in a congenial atmosphere, and among companions
animated by a common cause. His consequent sense of freedom and
exaltation knew no bounds. Henceforth Napoleon was to be his hero, and
Italy the land of his election; two lifelong passions which furnish the
clew to much that is enigmatic in his character.
During the ensuing years, while he followed the fortunes of Napoleon
throughout the Prussian campaign and until after the retreat from
Moscow, Italy was always present in his thoughts, and when Waterloo
ended his political and military aspirations he hastened back to Milan,
declaring that he "had ceased to be a Frenchman," and settled down to a
life of tranquil Bohemianism, too absorbed in the paintings of Correggio
and in the operas of Rossini to be provident of the future. The
following years, the happiest of his life, were also the period of
Stendhal's chief intellectual growth,--due quite as much to the
influence exerted on him by Italian art and music as by his contact with
men like Manzoni, Monti, and Silvio Pellico. Unfortunately, his
relations with certain Italian patriots aroused the suspicions of the
Austrian police, and he was abruptly banished. He returned to Paris,
where to his surprise life proved more than tolerable, and where he made
many valuable acquaintances, such as Benjamin Constant, Destutt de
Tracy, and Prosper Merimee. The revolution of July brought him a change
of fortune; for he was in sympathy with Louis Philippe, and did not
scruple to accept the consulship offered him at Civita Vecchia. He soon
found, however, that a small Mediterranean seaport was a poor substitute
for his beloved Milan, while its trying climate undoubtedly shortened
his life. In 1841 failing health forced him to abandon his duties and
return to Paris, where he died of apoplexy on March 23d, 1842.
So much at least of Stendhal's life must be known in order to understand
his writings; all of which, not excepting the novels, belong to what
Ferdinand Brunetiere stigmatizes as "personal literature." Indeed, the
chief interest of many of his books lies in the side-lights they throw
upon his curious personality. He was a man of violent contrasts, a
puzzle to his best friends; one day making the retreat from Moscow with
undaunted zeal, the next settling down contentedly in Milan, to the very
_vie de cafe_ he affected to despise. He was a strange combination of
restless energy and philosophic contemplation; hampered by a morbid
sensibility which tended to increase, but which he flattered himself
that he "had learned to hide under an irony imperceptible to the
vulgar," yet continually giving offense to others by his caustic tongue.
He seemed to need the tonic of strong emotions, and was happiest when
devoting himself heart and soul to some person or cause, whether a
Napoleon, a mistress, or a question of philosophy. His great
preoccupation was the analysis of the human mind, an employment which in
later years became a positive detriment. He was often led to attribute
ulterior motives to his friends, a course which only served to render
him morbid and unjust; while his equally pitiless dissection of his own
sensations often robbed them of half their charm. Even love and war, his
favorite emotions, left him disillusioned, asking "Is that all it
amounts to?" He always had a profound respect for force of character,
regarding even lawlessness as preferable to apathy; but he was
implacable towards baseness or vulgarity. Herein lies, perhaps, the
chief reason for Stendhal's ill success in life; he would never stoop to
obsequiousness or flattery, and in avoiding even the semblance of
self-interest, allowed his fairest chances to pass him by. "I have
little regret for my lost opportunities," he wrote in 1835. "In place of
ten thousand, I might be getting twenty; in place of Chevalier, I might
be Officer of the Legion of Honor: but I should have had to think three
or four hours a day of those platitudes of ambition which are dignified
by the name of politics; I should have had to commit many base acts:" a
brief but admirable epitome of Stendhal's whole life and character.
Aside from his works of fiction, Stendhal's works may be conveniently
grouped under biographies,--'Vie de Haydn, de Mozart, et de Metastase,'
'Vie de Napoleon,' 'Vie de Rossini'; literary and artistic
criticism,--'Histoire de la Peinture en Italie,' 'Racine et
Shakespeare,' 'Melanges d'Art et de Litterature'; travels,--'Rome,
Naples, et Florence,' 'Promenades dans Rome,' 'Memoires d'un Touriste';
and one volume of sentimental psychology, his 'Essai sur l'Amour,' to
which Bourget owes the suggestion of his 'Physiologie de l'Amour
Moderne.' Many of these works merit greater popularity, being written in
an easy, fluent style, and relieved by his inexhaustible fund of
anecdote and personal reminiscence. His books of travel, especially, are
charming _causeries_, full of a sympathetic spontaneity which more than
atones for their lack of method; his 'Walks in Rome' is more readable
than two-thirds of the books since written on that subject.
Stendhal's present vogue, however, is due primarily to his novels, to
which he owes the almost literal fulfillment of his prophecy that he
would not be appreciated until 1880. Before that date they had been
comparatively neglected, in spite of Balzac's spontaneous and
enthusiastic tribute to the 'Chartreuse de Parme,' and the appreciative
criticisms of Taine and Prosper Merimee. The truth is that Stendhal was
in some ways a generation behind his time, and often has an odd,
old-fashioned flavor suggestive of Marivaux and Crebillon _fils_. On the
other hand, his psychologic tendency is distinctly modern, and not at
all to the taste of an age which found Chateaubriand or Madame de Stael
eminently satisfactory. But he appeals strongly to the speculating,
self-questioning spirit of the present day, and Zola and Bourget in turn
have been glad to claim kinship with him.
Stendhal, however, cannot be summarily labeled and dismissed as a
realist or psychologue in the modern acceptation of the term, although
he was a pioneer in both fields. He had a sovereign contempt for
literary style or method, and little dreamed that he would one day be
regarded as the founder of a school. It must be remembered that he was a
soldier before he was a man of letters, and his love of adventure
occasionally got the better of his love of logic, making his novels a
curious mixture of convincing truth and wild romanticism. His heroes are
singularly like himself, a mixture of morbid introspection and restless
energy: he seems to have taken special pleasure in making them succeed
where he had failed in life, and when the spirit of the story-teller
gets the better of the psychologist, he sends them on a career of
adventure which puts to shame Dumas _pere_ or Walter Scott. And yet
Stendhal was a born analyst, a self-styled "observer of the human
heart"; and the real merit of his novels lies in the marvelous fidelity
with which he interprets the emotions, showing the inner workings of his
hero's mind from day to day, and multiplying petty details with
convincing logic. But in his preoccupation for mental conditions he is
apt to lose sight of the material side of life, and the symmetry of his
novels is marred by a meagreness of physical detail and a lack of
atmosphere. Zola has laid his finger upon Stendhal's real weakness when
he points out that "the landscape, the climate, the time of day, the
weather,.--Nature herself, in other words,--never seems to intervene and
exert an influence on his characters"; and he cites a passage which in
point of fact admirably illustrates his meaning, the scene from the
'Rouge et Noir', where Julien endeavors to take the hand of Mme. de
Renal, which he characterizes as "a little mute drama of great power,"
adding in conclusion:--"Give that episode to an author for whom the
_milieu_ exists, and he will make the night, with its odors, its voices,
its soft voluptuousness, play a part in the defeat of the woman. And
that author will be in the right; his picture will be more complete." It
is this tendency to leave nature out of consideration which gives
Stendhal's characters a flavor of abstraction, and caused Sainte-Beuve
to declare in disgust that they were "not human beings, but ingeniously
constructed automatons." Yet it is unfair to conclude with Zola, that
Stendhal was a man for whom the outside world did not exist; he was not
insensible to the beauties of nature, only he looked upon them as a
secondary consideration. After a sympathetic description of the Rhone
valley, he had to add, "But the interest of a landscape is insufficient;
in the long run, some moral or historical interest is indispensable."
Yet he recognized explicitly the influence of climate and environment
upon character, and seems to have been sensible of his own shortcomings
as an author. "I abhor material descriptions," he confesses in
'Souvenirs d'Egotisme': "the _ennui_ of making them deters me from
Nevertheless, aside from his short 'Chroniques' and 'Nouvelles,' and
the posthumous 'Lamiel' which he probably intended to destroy, Stendhal
has left four stories which deserve detailed consideration: 'Armance,'
'Le Rouge et Le Noir,' 'La Chartreuse de Parme,' and the fragmentary
novel 'Lucien Leuwen.'
As has been justly pointed out by Stendhal's sympathetic biographer,
Edouard Rod, the heroes of the four books are essentially of one type,
and all more or less faithful copies of himself; having in common a need
of activity, a thirst for love, a keen sensibility, and an unbounded
admiration for Napoleon--and differing only by reason of the several
_milieus_ in which he has placed them. The first of these, 'Armance,'
appeared in 1827. The hero, Octave, is an aristocrat, son of the Marquis
de Malivert, who "was very rich before the Revolution, and when he
returned to Paris in 1814, thought himself beggared on an income of
twenty or thirty thousand." Octave is the most exaggerated of all
Stendhal's heroes; a mysterious, sombre being, "a misanthrope before his
time"; coupling with his pride of birth a consciousness of its
vanity:--"Had heaven made me the son of a manufacturer of cloth, I
should have worked at my desk from the age of sixteen, while now my sole
occupation has been luxury. I should have had less pride and more
happiness. Ah, how I despise myself!" Yet it is part of Octave's
pretensions to regard himself as superior to love. When he discovers his
passion for his cousin Armance, he is overwhelmed with despair: "I am in
love," he said in a choked voice. "I, in love! Great God!" The object of
this reluctant passion, Armance de Zohiloff, is a poor orphan, dependent
upon a rich relative. Like Octave, she struggles against her affection,
but for better reasons: "The world will look upon me as a lady's-maid
who has entrapped the son of the family." The history of their long and
secret struggle against this growing passion, complicated by outside
incidents and intrigues, forms the bulk of the volume. At last Octave is
wounded in a duel, and moved by the belief that he is dying, they
mutually confess their affection. Octave unexpectedly recovers, and as
Armance about this time receives an inheritance from a distant relative,
the story promises to end happily; but at the last moment he is induced
to credit a calumny against her, and commits suicide, when Armance
retires to a convent. The book is distinctly inferior to his later
efforts, and M. Rod is the first to find hidden beauties in it.
Very different was his next book, 'Le Rouge et Le Noir,' the Army and
the Priesthood, which appeared in 1830, and is now recognized as
Stendhal's masterpiece. As its singular name is intended to imply, it
deals with the changed social conditions which confronted the young men
of France after the downfall of Napoleon,--the reaction against war and
military glory in favor of the Church; a topic which greatly occupied
Stendhal, and which is well summed up in the words of his hero
Julien:--"When Bonaparte made himself talked about, France was afraid of
invasion; military merit was necessary and fashionable. Today one sees
priests of forty with appointments of a hundred thousand francs, three
times that of Napoleon's famous generals;" and he concludes, "The thing
to do is to be a priest."
This Julien Sorel is the son of a shrewd but ignorant peasant, owner of
a prosperous saw-mill in the small town of Verrieres, in Franche-Comte.
"He was a small young man, of feeble appearance, with irregular but
delicate features, and an aquiline nose; ... who could have divined that
that girlish face, so pale, and gentle, hid an indomitable resolution to
expose himself to a thousand deaths sooner than not make his fortune?"
His only schooling is gained from a cousin, an old army surgeon, who
taught him Latin and inflamed his fancy with stories of Napoleon, and
from the aged Abbe Chelan who grounds him in theology,--for Julien had
proclaimed his intention of studying for the priesthood. By unexpected
good luck, his Latin earned him an appointment as tutor to the children
of M. de Renal, the pompous and purse-proud Mayor of Verrieres. Julien
is haunted by his peculiar notions of duties which he owes it to himself
to perform as steps towards his worldly advancement; for circumstances
have made him a consummate hypocrite. One of these duties is to make
love to Mme. de Renal: "Why should he not be loved as Bonaparte, while
still poor, had been loved by the brilliant Mme. de Beauharnais?" His
pursuit of the Mayor's gentle and inexperienced wife proves only too
successful, but at last reaches the ears of the Abbe Chelan, whose
influence compels Julien to leave Verrieres and go to the Seminary at
Besancon, to finish his theological studies. His stay at the Seminary
was full of disappointment, for "it was in vain that he made himself
small and insignificant, he could not please: he was too different." At
last he has a chance to go to Paris, as secretary to the influential
Marquis de La Mole, who interests himself in Julien and endeavors to
advance him socially. The Marquis has a daughter, Mathilde, a female
counterpart of Stendhal's heroes; with exalted ideas of duty, and a
profound reverence for Marguerite of Navarre, who dared to ask the
executioner for the head of her lover, Boniface de La Mole, executed
April 30th, 1574. Mathilde always assumed mourning on April 30th. "I
know of nothing," she declared, "except condemnation to death, which
distinguishes a man: it is the only thing which cannot be bought."
Julien soon conceives it his duty to win Mathilde's affections, and the
love passages which ensue between these two "esprits superieurs" are
singular in the extreme: they arrive at love only through a complicated
intellectual process, in which the question of duty, either to
themselves or to each other, is always paramount. At last it becomes
necessary to confess their affection to the Marquis, who is naturally
furious. "For the first time in his life this nobleman forgot his
manners: he overwhelmed him with atrocious insults, worthy of a
cab-driver. Perhaps the novelty of these oaths was a distraction." What
hurts him most is that Mathilde will be plain Mme. Sorel and not a
duchess. But at this juncture the father receives a letter from Mme. de
Renal, telling of her relations with Julien, and accusing him of having
deliberately won Mathilde in order to possess her wealth. Such baseness
the Marquis cannot pardon, and at any cost he forbids the marriage.
Julien returns immediately to Verrieres, and finding Mme. de Renal in
church, deliberately shoots her. She ultimately recovers from her wound,
but Julien is nevertheless condemned and guillotined. Mme. de Renal dies
of remorse, while Mathilde, emulating Marguerite de Navarre, buries
Julien's head with her own hands.
The 'Chartreuse de Parme,' although written the same year as the 'Rouge
et Noir', was not published until 1839, two years before his death, and
was judged his best effort. "He has written 'The Modern Prince,'"
declared Balzac, "the book which Macchiavelli would have written if he
had been living exiled from Italy in the nineteenth century." The action
takes place at Parma; and as a picture of court life in a small Italian
principality, with all its jealousies and intrigues, the book is
certainly a masterpiece. But it is marred by the extravagance of its
plot. The hero, Fabrice, is the younger son of a proud and bigoted
Milanese nobleman, the Marquis del Dongo, who "joined a sordid avarice
to a host of other fine qualities," and in his devotion to the House of
Austria was implacable towards Napoleon. Fabrice, however, was "a young
man susceptible of enthusiasm," and on learning of Napoleon's return
from Elba, hastened secretly to join him, and participated in the battle
of Waterloo. This escapade is denounced by his father to the Austrian
police, and on his return Fabrice is forced to take refuge in Swiss
territory. About this time his aunt Gina, the beautiful Countess
Pietranera, goes to live at Parma; and to conceal a love affair with the
prime minister Mosca marries the old Duke of Sanseverina-Taxis, who
obligingly leaves on his wedding-day for a distant embassy. Gina has
always felt a strong interest for Fabrice, which later ripens into a
passion. It is agreed that Fabrice shall study for the priesthood, and
that Count Mosca will use his influence to have him made Archbishop of
Parma, an office frequently held in the past by Del Dongos.
Unfortunately Fabrice is drawn into a quarrel with a certain Giletti, a
low comedy actor, whom he kills in self-defense. Ordinarily the killing
of a fellow of Giletti's stamp by a Del Dongo would have been
considered a trifling matter; but this offense assumes importance
through the efforts of a certain political faction to discredit the
minister through his protege. The situation is further complicated by
the Prince, Ernest IV., who has come under the spell of Gina's beauty,
and furious at finding her obdurate, is glad of an opportunity to
humiliate her. Fabrice is condemned to ten years' imprisonment in the
Farnese tower, the Prince treacherously disregarding his promise of
pardon. From this point the plot becomes fantastic. From his window in
the tower, Fabrice overlooks that of Clelia, daughter of General Fabio
Conti, governor of the prison. It is a case of mutual love at first
sight, and for months the two hold communication by signs above the
heads of the passing sentries. After his fabulous escape, effected by
the help of his aunt, Fabrice is inconsolable, and at length returns
voluntarily to the tower in order to be near Clelia. It is not until
after the death of the Prince that the Duchess obtains Fabrice's pardon
from his son and successor. At last Clelia dies, and Fabrice enters the
neighboring monastery, the Chartreuse of Parma.
Fabrice's experiences on the battle-field of Waterloo, where as a raw
youth he first "smelled powder," are recounted with a good deal of
realistic detail. They suggest a comparison with a book of more recent
date devoted to a similar subject, Stephen Crane's 'Red Badge of
Courage,' though of course the latter does not approach Stendhal in
artistic self-restraint and mastery over form.
The remaining novel, 'Lucien Leuwen,' was left in an unfinished state,
and thus published after the author's death, under the title of 'Le
Chasseur Vert.' Recently they have been republished, under the name of
'Lucien Leuwen,' with additional material which the editor, M. Jean de
Mitty, claims to have deciphered from almost illegible manuscripts found
in the library at Grenoble. But even without these additions there is
enough to show that 'Lucien Leuwen' would have been one of his best
efforts, second only, perhaps, to the 'Rouge et Noir.' The hero, Lucien,
is the son of a rich financier, who "was never out of temper and never
took a serious tone with his son," but cheerfully paid his debts, saying
"A son is a creditor provided by nature." Out of mere _ennui_ from lack
of serious employment, Lucien enters as sub-lieutenant a regiment of
Lancers in garrison at Nancy. He has no illusions about military life in
times of peace:--"I shall wage war only upon cigars; I shall become the
pillager of a military cafe in the gloomy garrison of an ill-paved
little town.... What glory! My soul will be well caught when I present
myself to Napoleon in the next world. 'No doubt,' he will say, 'you were
dying of hunger when you took up this life?' 'No, General,' I shall
reply, 'I thought I was imitating you.'" His early experiences at
Nancy, his subsequent meeting with and love for Mme. de Chasteller, are
admirable equally for their moderation and their fidelity.
Since Stendhalism has become a cult, so much has been written on the
subject that a complete bibliography of Stendhaliana would occupy
several pages. Aside from the well-known criticisms of Balzac, Taine,
and Sainte-Beuve, the most important contributions to the subject are
the article by Zola in 'Romanciers Naturalistes,' that by Bourget in
'Essais de Psychologie Contemporaine,' and the biography by Edouard Rod
in the 'Grands Ecrivains Francais' (Great French Writers) Series. Thanks
to the zeal of M. Casimir Stryienski, a considerable amount of
autobiographical material has lately been brought to light: 'Journal de
Stendhal' 'Vie de Henri Broulard,' and 'Souvenirs d'Egotisme,' which,
together with his 'Correspondence,' are indispensable for a true
knowledge of the man.
[Illustration: Signature: FREDERIC TABER COOPER]
PRINCESS SANSEVERINA'S INTERVIEW
From 'La Chartreuse de Parme'
While Fabrice was gone a-hunting after love adventures in a small
village close by Parma, the Fiscal General, Rassi, unaware that he was
so near, continued to treat his case as though he had been a Liberal.
The witnesses for the defense he pretended that he could not find, or
rather that he had frightened them off; and finally, after nearly a year
of such sharp practice, and about two months after Fabrice's last return
to Bologna, on a certain Friday, the Marquise Raversi, intoxicated with
joy, stated publicly in her salon that on the following day "the
sentence which had just been passed upon that little Del Dongo would be
presented to the Prince for signature, and would be approved by him."
Shortly afterwards the Duchess learned these remarks of her enemy.
"The Count must be very poorly served by his agents," she said to
herself: "only this morning he was sure that sentence could not be
passed inside of a week: perhaps he would not be sorry to have my young
Grand Vicar removed from Parma some day. But," she added, "we shall see
him come back, and he shall be our Archbishop." The Duchess rang.
"Summon all the servants to the waiting-room," she said to her
valet-de-chambre, "even the cooks; go and obtain from the officer in
command the requisite permit for four post-horses; and see that in less
than half an hour these horses are attached to my landau." All her women
were soon busied in packing the trunks: the Duchess hastily donned a
traveling dress, without once sending word to the Count; the idea of
amusing herself at his expense filled her with joy.
"My friend," she said to the assembled servants, "is about to suffer
condemnation by default for having had the audacity to defend his life
against a madman; it was Giletti who meant to kill him. You have all
been able to see how gentle and inoffensive Fabrice's character is.
Justly incensed at this atrocious injury, I am starting for Florence. I
shall leave ten years' wages for each of you; if you are unhappy, write
to me; and so long as I have a sequin, there shall be something
The Duchess felt exactly as she spoke, and at her last words the
servants burst into tears; she herself had moist eyes. She added in a
voice of emotion:--"Pray to God for me and for Monsigneur Fabrice del
Dongo, first Grand Vicar of this Diocese, who will be condemned
to-morrow morning to the galleys, or what would be less stupid, to the
penalty of death."
The tears of the servants redoubled, and little by little changed into
cries which were very nearly seditious. The Duchess entered her carriage
and drove directly to the palace of the Prince. In spite of the untimely
hour, she solicited an audience, through General Fontana, acting
aide-de-camp. She was nowise in full court toilette, a fact which threw
that aide-de-camp into a profound stupor.
The Prince, for his part, was by no means surprised, still less annoyed,
at this request for an audience. "We are going to see tears shed by
lovely eyes," said he, rubbing his hands; "she is coming to ask for
grace; at last that proud beauty has to humble herself! Really she has
been too insupportable with her little independent airs! Those eloquent
eyes always seemed to be saying to me, at the least thing which annoyed
her, 'Naples or Milan would be an abode offering very different
attractions from those of your small town of Parma.' True enough, I do
not reign over Naples or Milan; but all the same, this fine lady has
come to ask me something which depends exclusively upon me, and which
she is burning to obtain. I always thought the coming of that nephew
would give me some hold upon her."
While the Prince was smiling over his thoughts, and giving himself up to
all these agreeable anticipations, he was striding up and down his
cabinet, at the door of which General Fontana still remained standing,
erect and stiff as a soldier at carry-arms. Seeing the Prince's flashing
eye and recalling the Duchess's traveling dress, he prepared for a
dissolution of the monarchy. His confusion knew no bounds when he heard
the Prince's order: "Beg Madame the Duchess to wait a small quarter of
an hour." The general-aide-de-camp executed a right-about-face, like a
soldier on parade; the Prince still smiled. "Fontana is not accustomed,"
he said to himself, "to see our proud Duchess kept waiting. The
astonished face with which he has gone to tell her 'to wait that small
quarter of an hour' will pave the way for those touching tears which
this cabinet is about to witness." This small quarter of an hour was
delicious to the Prince; he paced the floor with a firm and measured
step, he _reigned_. "The important thing now is to say nothing which is
not perfectly in keeping. It will not do to forget that she is one of
the highest ladies of my court. How would Louis XIV. have spoken to the
princesses his daughters when he had occasion to be displeased with
them?" and his eyes sought the portrait of the great king.
The amusing part of the matter was that the Prince did not even think of
asking himself whether he would show clemency to Fabrice, and how far
such clemency would go. Finally, at the end of twenty minutes, the
faithful Fontana presented himself anew at the door, but without
uttering a word. "The Duchess Sanseverina may enter," cried the Prince
with a theatrical air. "The tears are about to commence," he told
himself, and as if to be prepared for such a spectacle, he drew out his
Never had the Duchess appeared so gay and charming; she did not look
twenty-five. The poor aide-de-camp, seeing that her light and rapid
footstep barely seemed to skim the carpet, was on the point of losing
his reason once for all.
"I must crave many pardons of your Most Serene Highness," said the
Duchess in her soft tones of careless gayety: "I have taken the liberty
of presenting myself in a toilette which is not altogether appropriate;
but your Highness has so accustomed me to his favors that I have
ventured to hope that he would accord me this additional grace."
The Duchess spoke quite slowly, so as to give herself time to enjoy the
expression of the Prince. It was delicious, on account of his profound
astonishment, and that remnant of grand airs which the pose of his head
and arms still betrayed. The Prince had remained as if struck by a
thunderbolt; from time to time, he exclaimed, in his high-pitched voice,
shrill and perturbed, as though articulating with difficulty: _"How is
this? how is this?"_ After concluding her compliment, the Duchess, as
though from respect, afforded him ample time to reply; then she added:--
"I venture to hope that your Most Serene Highness will deign to pardon
the incongruity of my costume:" but as she spoke, her mocking eyes
flashed with so bright a gleam that the Prince could not meet them. He
looked at the ceiling, a sign with him of the most extreme
"How is this? how is this?" he said to himself again; then by good luck,
he found a phrase: "Madame la Duchesse, pray be seated," and he himself
pushed forward a chair, with fairly good grace. The Duchess was by no
means insensible to this attention, and she moderated the petulance of
"How is this? how is this?" still repeated the Prince inwardly, shifting
so uneasily in his chair that one would have said that he could not find
a secure position.
"I am going to take advantage of the freshness of the night to travel
post," resumed the Duchess, "and as my absence may be of some duration,
I was unwilling to leave the territory of your Most Serene Highness
without expressing my thanks for all the favors which for five years
your Highness has deigned to show me." At these words the Prince at last
understood; he turned pale. It was as man of the world that he felt it
most keenly, on finding himself mistaken in his predictions. Then he
assumed a grand air, in every way worthy of the portrait of Louis XIV.,
which was before his eyes. "Admirable," said the Duchess to herself,
"there is a man."
"And what is the motive of this sudden departure?" asked the Prince, in
a fairly firm tone.
"I have contemplated leaving, for some time," replied the Duchess, "and
a slight insult which has been shown to _Monsignor_ del Dongo, who is to
be condemned to-morrow to death or to the galleys makes me hasten my
"And to what city are you going?"
"To Naples, I think." As she arose, she added, "It only remains for me
to take leave of your Most Serene Highness, and to thank him very humbly
for all his _earlier_ kindnesses." She, on her part, spoke with so firm
an air that the Prince saw clearly that in a few seconds all would be
finished. He knew that if a triumphant departure was once effected, all
compromise would be impossible. She was not the woman to retrace her
steps. He hastened after her.
"But you know very well, Madame la Duchesse," he said, taking her hand,
"that I have always regarded you with a friendship to which it needed
only a word from you to give another name. But a murder has been
committed; there is no way of denying that. I have intrusted the conduct
of the case to my best judges ..."
At these words the Duchess drew herself up to her full height: All
semblance of respect, or even of urbanity, disappeared in a flash. The
outraged woman was clearly revealed, the outraged woman addressing
herself to the one whom she knows to be of bad faith. It was with an
expression of keenest anger and even of contempt that she said to the
Prince, dwelling upon every word:--
"I am leaving forever the States of your Most Serene Highness, in order
that I shall never again hear mentioned the Fiscal Rassi, or the other
infamous assassins who have condemned my nephew and so many others to
death. If your Most Serene Highness does not wish to mingle a tinge of
bitterness with the last moments which I am to pass with a prince who is
both polite and entertaining when he is not misled, I beg him very
humbly not to recall the thought of those infamous judges who sell
themselves for a thousand crowns or a decoration."
The admirable accent, and above all the tone of sincerity, with which
these words were uttered, made the Prince tremble; for an instant he
feared to see his dignity compromised by a still more direct accusation.
On the whole, however, his sensations quickly culminated in one of
pleasure. He admired the Duchess, and at this moment her entire person
attained a sublime beauty.
"Heavens! how beautiful she is," the Prince said to himself: "one may
well overlook something in so unique a woman, one whose like perhaps is
not to be found in all Italy.--Well, with a little diplomacy it might
not be altogether impossible to make her mine.--There is a wide
difference between such a being and that doll of a Marquise Balbi;
besides, the latter steals at least three hundred thousand francs a year
from my poor subjects.--But did I understand her aright?" he thought all
of a sudden: "she said, 'condemned my nephew and so many others.'" His
anger came to the surface, and it was with a haughtiness worthy of
supreme rank that the Prince said, "And what must be done to keep Madame
"Something of which you are not capable," replied the Duchess, with an
accent of the bitterest irony and the most thinly disguised contempt.
The Prince was beside himself, but thanks to his long practice of the
profession of absolute sovereign, he found the strength to resist his
first impulse. "That woman must be mine," he said to himself. "I owe
myself at least that; then I must let her perish under my contempt. If
she leaves this room, I shall never see her again." But, intoxicated as
he was at this moment with wrath and hatred, how was he to find words
which would at once satisfy what was due to himself and induce the
Duchess not to desert his court on the instant? "A gesture," he thought,
"is something which can neither be repeated nor turned into ridicule,"
and he went and placed himself between the Duchess and the door of his
cabinet. Just then he heard a slight tapping at this door.
"Who is this jackanapes?" he cried, at the top of his lungs, "who is
this jackanapes who comes here, thrusting his idiotic presence upon me?"
Poor General Fontana showed his face, pale and in evident discomfiture,
and with the air of a man at his last gasp, indistinctly pronounced
these words:--"His Excellency Count Mosca solicits the honor of being
"Let him enter," said the Prince in a loud voice; and as Mosca made his
salutation, greeted him with:--
"Well, sir, here is Madame the Duchess Sanseverina, who declares that
she is on the point of leaving Parma to go and settle at Naples, and has
made me saucy speeches into the bargain."
"How is this?" said Mosca, turning pale.
"What, then you knew nothing of this project of departure?"
"Not the first word. At six o'clock I left Madame joyous and contented."
This speech produced an incredible effect upon the Prince. First he
glanced at Mosca, whose growing pallor proved that he spoke the truth
and was in no way the accomplice of the Duchess's sudden freak. "In that
case," he said to himself, "I am losing her forever. Pleasure and
vengeance, everything is escaping me at once. At Naples she will make
epigrams with her nephew Fabrice, about the great wrath of the little
Prince of Parma." He looked at the Duchess; anger and the most violent
contempt were struggling in her heart; her eyes were fixed at that
moment upon Count Mosca, and the fine lines of that lovely mouth
expressed the most bitter disdain. The entire expression of her face
seemed to say, "Vile courtier!" "So," thought the Prince, after having
examined her, "I have lost even this means of calling her back to our
country. If she leaves the room at this moment, she is lost to me. And
the Lord only knows what she will say in Naples of my judges, and with
that wit and divine power of persuasion with which heaven has endowed
her, she will make the whole world believe her. I shall owe her the
reputation of being a ridiculous tyrant, who gets up in the middle of
the night to look under his bed!"
Then, by an adroit movement, and as if striving to work off his
agitation by striding up and down, the Prince placed himself anew before
the door of his cabinet. The count was on his right, pale, unnerved, and
trembling so that he had to lean for support upon the back of the chair
which the Duchess had occupied at the beginning of the audience, and
which the Prince, in a moment of wrath, had hurled to a distance. The
Count was really in love. "If the Duchess goes away, I shall follow
her," he told himself; "but will she tolerate my company? that is the
On the left of the Prince stood the Duchess, her arms crossed and
pressed against her breast, looking at him with superb intolerance; a
complete and profound pallor had succeeded the glowing colors which just
before had animated those exquisite features.
The Prince, in contrast with both the others, had a high color and an
uneasy air; his left hand played in a nervous fashion with the cross
attached to the grand cordon of his order, which he wore beneath his
coat; with his right hand he caressed his chin.
"What is to be done?" he said to the Count, not altogether realizing
what he was doing himself, but yielding to his habit of consulting the
latter about everything.
"Indeed, Most Serene Highness, I know nothing about it," answered the
Count, with the air of a man who is rendering up his final sigh; he
could hardly utter the words of his response. His tone of voice gave the
Prince the first consolation which his wounded pride had found during
the interview, and this slight satisfaction helped him to a phrase which
was comforting to his self-esteem:--
"Well," said he, "I am the most reasonable of all three; I am quite
ready to leave my position in the world entirely out of consideration.
_I am going to speak as a friend_," and he added with a charming smile
of condescension, a fine imitation of the happy times of Louis XIV, "_as
a friend speaking to friends:_ Madame la Duchesse," he continued, "what
are we to do to make you forget your untimely resolution?"
"Really, I am at a loss to say," replied the Duchess, with a deep sigh,
"really, I am at a loss to say: I have such a horror of Parma!" There
was no attempt at epigram in this speech; one could see that she spoke
in all sincerity.
The Count turned sharply away from her; his courtier's soul was
scandalized. Then he cast a supplicating glance at the Prince. With much
dignity and self-possession the latter allowed a moment to pass; then,
addressing himself to the Count, "I see," said he, "that your charming
friend is altogether beside herself. It is perfectly simple, she
_adores_ her nephew;" and turning towards the Duchess, he added with the
most gallant glance, and at the same time with the air which one assumes
in borrowing a phrase from a comedy: _"What must we do to find favor in
these lovely eyes?"_
The Duchess had had time to reflect: She answered in a firm, slow tone,
as if she were dictating her ultimatum:--
"His Highness might write me a gracious letter, such as he knows so well
how to write: he might say to me, that being by no means convinced of
the guilt of Fabrice del Dongo, First Grand Vicar of the Archbishop, he
will refuse to sign the sentence when they come to present it to him,
and that this unjust procedure shall have no consequence in the future."
"How is that? Unjust!" cried the Prince, coloring to the whites of his
eyes, and with renewed anger.
"That is not all," replied the Duchess with truly Roman pride, "_this
very evening_--and," she interposed, glancing at the clock, "it is
already a quarter past eleven--this very evening, his Most Serene
Highness will send word to the Marquise Raversi that he advises her to
go into the country to recuperate from the fatigues which she must have
suffered from a certain trial which she was discussing in her salon
early in the evening." The Prince strode up and down his cabinet, like a
madman. "Did one ever see such a woman?" he exclaimed. "She is lacking
in respect for me."
The Duchess replied with perfect grace:--
"I have never in my life dreamed of lacking respect for his Most Serene
Highness; His Highness has had the extreme condescension to say that he
was speaking _as a friend to friends_. What is more, I have not the
smallest desire to remain in Parma," she added, glancing at the Count
with the last degree of contempt. This glance decided the Prince, who up
to that moment had been quite uncertain, notwithstanding that his words
had seemed to imply a promise; he had a fine contempt for words.
There were still a few more words exchanged; but at last Count Mosca
received the order to write the gracious note solicited by the Duchess.
He omitted the phrase "this unjust procedure shall have no consequence
in the future." "It is sufficient," said the Count to himself, "if the
Prince promises not to sign the sentence which is to be presented to
him." The Prince thanked him by a glance, as he signed.
The Count made a great mistake; the Prince was wearied and would have
signed the whole. He thought that he was getting out of the scene well,
and the whole affair was dominated, in his eyes, by the thought--"If the
Duchess leaves, I shall find my court a bore inside of a week." The
Count observed that his master corrected the date, and substituted that
of the next day. He looked at the clock; it indicated almost midnight.
The minister saw, in this altered date, nothing more than a pedantic
desire to afford proof of exactitude and good government. As to the
exile of the Marquise Raversi, the Prince did not even frown; the Prince
had a special weakness for exiling people.
"General Fontana!" he cried, half opening the door.
The General appeared, with such an astonished and curious a face that a
glance of amusement passed between the Duchess and the Count, and this
glance established peace.
"General Fontana," said the Prince, "you are to take my carriage, which
is waiting under the colonnade; you will go to the house of Mme.
Raversi, and have yourself announced: if she is in bed, you will add
that you are my representative, and when admitted to her chamber, you
will say precisely these words, and no others:--'Mme. la Marquise
Raversi, his Most Serene Highness requires that you shall depart before
eight o'clock to-morrow morning, for your chateau of Valleja. His
Highness will notify you when you may return to Parma.'"
The Prince's eyes sought those of the Duchess, but the latter, omitting
the thanks which he had expected, made him an extremely respectful
reverence, and rapidly left the room.
"What a woman!" said the Prince, turning towards Count Mosca.
Copyrighted by George H. Richmond and Company.
CLELIA AIDS FABRICE TO ESCAPE
From "La Chartreuse de Parme"
One day--Fabrice had been a captive nearly three months, had had
absolutely no communication with the outside world, and yet was not
unhappy--Grillo had remained hanging about the cell until a late hour of
the morning. Fabrice could think of no way of getting rid of him, and
was on pins and needles; half-past twelve had struck when at last he was
enabled to open the little trap in the hateful shutter.
Clelia was standing at the window of the aviary in an expectant
attitude, an expression of profound despair on her contracted features.
As soon as she saw Fabrice she signaled to him that all was lost; then,
hurrying to her piano, and adapting her words to the accompaniment of a
recitative from a favorite opera, in accents tremulous with her emotion
and the fear of being overheard by the sentry beneath, she sang:--
"Ah, do I see you still alive? Praise God for his infinite mercy!
Barbone, the wretch whose insolence you chastised the day of your
arrival here, disappeared some time ago and for a few days was not seen
about the citadel. He returned day before yesterday, and since then I
have reason to fear he has a design of poisoning you. He has been seen
prowling about the kitchen of the palace where your meals are prepared.
I can assert nothing positively, but it is my maid's belief that his
skulking there bodes you no good. I was frightened this morning, not
seeing you at the usual time; I thought you must be dead. Until you hear
more from me, do not touch the food they give you; I will try to manage
to convey a little chocolate to you. In any case, if you have a cord, or
can make one from your linen, let it down from your window among the
orange-trees this evening at nine o'clock. I will attach a stronger cord
to it, and with its aid you can draw up the bread and chocolate I will
have in readiness."
Fabrice had carefully preserved the bit of charcoal he had found in the
stove; taking advantage of Clelia's more softened mood, he formed on the
palm of his hand a number of letters in succession, which taken together
made up these words:--
"I love you, and life is dear to me only when I can see you. Above all
else, send me paper and a pencil."
As Fabrice had hoped and expected, the extreme terror visible in the
young girl's face operated to prevent her from terminating the interview
on receipt of this audacious message; she only testified her displeasure
by her looks. Fabrice had the prudence to add:--"The wind blows so hard
to-day that I couldn't catch quite all you said; and then, too, the
sound of the piano drowns your voice. You were saying something about
poison, weren't you--what was it?"
At these words the young girl's terror returned in all its violence; she
hurriedly set to work to describe with ink a number of large capital
letters on the leaves she tore from one of her books, and Fabrice was
delighted to see her at last adopt the method of correspondence that he
had been vainly advocating for the last three months. But this system,
although an improvement on the signals, was less desirable than a
regular exchange of letters, so Fabrice constantly feigned to be unable
to decipher the words of which she exhibited the component letters.
A summons from her father obliged her to leave the aviary. She was in
great alarm lest he might come to look for her there; his suspicious
nature would have been likely to scent danger in the proximity of his
daughter's window to the prisoner's. It had occurred to Clelia a short
time before, while so anxiously awaiting Fabrice's appearance, that
pebbles might be made factors in their correspondence, by wrapping the
paper on which the message was written round them and throwing them up
so they should fall within the open upper portion of the screen. The
device would have worked well unless Fabrice's keeper chanced to be in
the room at the time.
Our prisoner proceeded to tear one of his shirts into narrow strips,
forming a sort of ribbon. Shortly after nine o'clock that evening he
heard a tapping on the boxes of the orange-trees under his window; he
cautiously lowered his ribbon, and on drawing it up again found attached
to its free end a long cord by means of which he hauled up a supply of
chocolate, and, to his inexpressible satisfaction, a package of
note-paper and a pencil. He dropped the cord again, but to no purpose;
perhaps the sentries on their rounds had approached the orange-trees.
But his delight was sufficient for one evening. He sat down and wrote a
long letter to Clelia; scarcely was it ended when he fastened it to the
cord and let it down. For more than three hours he waited in vain for
some one to come and take it; two or three times he drew it up and made
alterations in it. "If Clelia does not get my letter to-night," he said
to himself, "while those ideas of poison are troubling her brain, it is
more than likely that to-morrow she will refuse to receive it."
The fact was that Clelia had been obliged to drive to the city with her
father. Fabrice knew how matters stood when he heard the General's
carriage enter the court about half-past twelve; he knew it was the
General's carriage by the horses' step. What was his delight when,
shortly after hearing the jingle of the General's spurs as he crossed
the esplanade, and the rattle of muskets as the sentries presented arms,
he felt a gentle tug at the cord, the end of which he had kept wrapped
around his wrist! Something heavy was made fast to the cord; two little
jerks notified him to haul up. He had some difficulty in landing the
object over a cornice that projected under his window.
The article that he had secured at expense of so much trouble proved to
be a carafe of water wrapped in a shawl. The poor young man, who had
been living for so long a time in such complete solitude, covered the
shawl with rapturous kisses. But words are inadequate to express his
emotion when, after so many days of vain waiting, he discovered a scrap
of paper pinned to the shawl.
"Drink no water but this; satisfy your hunger with chocolate," said this
precious missive. "To-morrow I will try to get some bread to you; I will
mark the crust at top and bottom with little crosses made with ink. It
is a frightful thing to say, but you must know it:--I believe others are
implicated in Barbone's design to poison you. Could you not have
understood that the subject you spoke of in your letter in pencil is
displeasing to me? I should not think of writing to you were it not for
the great peril that is hanging over us. I have seen the Duchess; she is
well, as is the Count, but she is very thin. Write no more on that
subject which you know of: would you wish to make me angry?"
It cost Clelia an effort to write the last sentence but one of the above
note. It was in everybody's mouth in court circles that Mme. Sanseverina
was manifesting a great deal of friendly interest in Count Baldi, that
extremely handsome man and quondam friend of the Marquise Raversi. The
one thing certain was that he and the Marquise had separated, and he was
alleged to have behaved most shamefully toward the lady who for six
years had been to him a mother and given him his standing in society.
The next morning, long before the sun was up, Grillo entered Fabrice's
cell, laid down what seemed to be a pretty heavy package, and vanished
without saying a word. The package contained a good-sized loaf of bread,
plentifully ornamented with, little crosses made with a pen. Fabrice
covered them with kisses. Why? Because he was in love. Beside the loaf
lay a rouleau incased in many thicknesses of paper; it contained six
thousand francs in sequins. Finally, Fabrice discovered a handsome
brand-new prayer-book: these words, in a writing he was beginning to be
acquainted with, were written on the fly-leaf:--
"_Poison!_ Beware the water, the wine, everything; confine yourself to
chocolate. Give the untasted dinner to the dog; it will not do to show
distrust; the enemy would have recourse to other methods. For God's
sake, be cautious! no rashness!"
Fabrice made haste to remove the telltale writing which might have
compromised Clelia, and to tear out a number of leaves from the
prayer-book, with which he made several alphabets; each letter was
neatly formed with powdered charcoal moistened with wine. The alphabets
were quite dry when at a quarter to twelve Clelia appeared at the window
of the aviary. "The main thing now is to persuade her to use them," said
Fabrice to himself. But as it happened, fortunately, she had much to say
to the young prisoner in regard to the plan to poison him (a dog
belonging to one of the kitchen-maids had died after eating a dish
cooked for Fabrice), so that Clelia not only made no objection to the
use of the alphabets, but had herself prepared one in the highest style
of art with ink. Under this method, which did not work altogether
smoothly at the beginning, the conversation lasted an hour and a half,
which was as long as Clelia dared remain in the aviary. Two or three
times, when Fabrice trespassed on forbidden ground and alluded to
matters that were taboo, she made no answer and walked away to feed
Fabrice requested that when she sent him his supply of water at evening
she would accompany it with one of her alphabets, which, being traced in
ink, were legible at a greater distance. He did not fail to write her a
good long letter, and was careful to put in it no soft nonsense--at
least, of a nature to offend.
The next day, in their alphabetical conversation, Clelia had no reproach
to make him. She informed him that there was less to be apprehended from
the poisoners. Barbone had been waylaid and nearly murdered by the
lovers of the Governor's scullery-maids; he would scarcely venture to
show his face in the kitchens again. She owned up to stealing a
counter-poison from her father; she sent it to him with directions how
to use it, but the main thing was to reject at once all food that seemed
to have an unnatural taste.
Clelia had subjected Don Cesare to a rigorous examination, without
succeeding in discovering whence came the six thousand francs received
by Fabrice. In any case, it was a good sign: it showed that the severity
of his confinement was relaxing.
The poison episode had a very favorable effect on our hero's amatory
enterprise: still, he could never extort anything at all resembling a
confession of love; but he had the felicity of living on terms of
intimacy with Clelia. Every morning, and often at evening also, there
was a long conversation with the alphabets; every evening at nine
o'clock Clelia received a lengthy letter, and sometimes accorded it a
few brief words of answer; she sent him the daily paper and an
occasional new book; finally, the rugged Grillo had been so far tamed as
to keep Fabrice supplied with bread and wine, which were handed him
daily by Clelia's maid. This led honest Grillo to conclude that the
Governor was not of the same mind as those who had engaged Barbone to
poison the young Monsignor; at which he rejoiced exceedingly, as did his
comrades, for there was a saying current in the prison--"You have only
to look Monsignor del Dongo in the face; he is certain to give
Fabrice was very pale; lack of exercise was injuring his health: but for
all that he had never been so happy. The tone of the conversation
between Clelia and him was familiar and often gay. The only moments of
the girl's life not beset with dark forebodings and remorse were those
spent in conversing with him. She was so thoughtless as to remark
"I admire your delicacy: because I am the Governor's daughter you have
nothing to say to me of the pleasures of freedom!"
"That's because I am not so absurd as to have aspirations in that
direction," replied Fabrice. "How often could I hope to see you if I
were living in Parma, a free man again? And life would not be worth
living if I could not tell you all my thoughts--no, not that exactly:
you take precious good care I don't tell you _all_ my thoughts! But in
spite of your cruel tyranny, to live without seeing you daily would be a
far worse punishment than captivity; in all my life I was never so
happy! Isn't it strange to think happiness was awaiting me in a prison?"
"There is a good deal to be said on that point," rejoined Clelia, with
an air that all at once became very serious, almost threatening.
"What!" exclaimed Fabrice, in alarm, "am I in danger of losing the small
place I have won in your heart, my sole joy in this world?"
"Yes," she replied. "Although your reputation in society is that of a
gentleman and gallant man, I have reason to believe you are not acting
ingenuously toward me. But I don't wish to discuss this matter to-day."
This strange exordium cast an element of embarrassment into the
conversation, and tears were often in the eyes of both.
Copyrighted by George H. Richmond and Company.
Willem Bilderdijk's personality, even more than his genius, exerted so
powerful an influence over his time that it has been said that to think
of a Dutchman of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century was to
think of Bilderdijk. He stands as the representative of the great
literary and intellectual awakening which took place in Holland
immediately after that country became part of the French empire. The
history of literature has many examples of how, under political
disturbances, the agitated mind has sought refuge in literary and
scientific pursuits, and it seemed at that time as if Dutch literature
was entering a new Golden Age. The country had never known better poets;
but it was the poetry of the eighteenth century, to quote Ten Brink,
"ceremonious and stagy."
In 'Herinnering van mijne Kindheit' (Reminiscences of My Childhood), a
book which is not altogether to be relied upon, Bilderdijk gives a
charming picture of his father, a physician in Amsterdam, but speaks of
his mother in less flattering terms. He was born in Amsterdam in 1756.
At an early age he suffered an injury to his foot, a peasant boy having
carelessly stepped on it; attempts were made to cure him by continued
bleedings, and the result was that he was confined to his bed for twelve
years. These years laid the foundation of a character lacking in power
to love and to call forth love, and developing into an almost fierce
hypochondria, full of complaints and fears of death. In these years,
however, he acquired the information and the wonderful power of language
which appear in his sinewy verse.
One of his poems, dated 1770, has been preserved, but is principally
interesting as a first attempt. Others, written in his twentieth year,
were prize poems, and are sufficiently characterized by their
titles:--'Kunst wordt door Arbeid verkregen' (Art came through Toil),
and 'Inloed der Dichthunst op het Staets bestuur' (Influence of Poetry
on Statesmanship). When he went to Leyden in 1780 to study law, he was
already famous. His examinations passed, he settled at the Hague to
practice, and in 1785 married Katharina Rebekka Woesthoven. The
following year he published his romance, 'Elius,' in seven songs. The
romance ultimately became his favorite form of verse; but this was not
the form now called romance. It was the rhymed narrative of the
eighteenth century, written with endless care and reflection, and in
his case with so superior a treatment of language that no Dutch poet
since Huygens had approached it.
The year 1795 was the turning-point in Bilderdijk's life. He had been
brought up in unswerving faith in the cause of the house of Orange, was
a fanatic monarchist and Calvinist, "anti-revolutionary,
anti-Barneveldtian, anti-Loevesteinisch, anti-liberal" (thus Da Costa),
a warm supporter of William the Fifth, and at the entrance of the French
in 1795 he refused to give his oath of allegiance to the cause of the
citizens and the sovereignty of the people. He was exiled, left the
Hague, and went to London, and later to Brunswick. This was not
altogether a misfortune for him, nor an unrelieved sorrow. He had been
more successful as poet than as husband or financier, and by his
compulsory banishment escaped his financial difficulties and what he
considered the chains of his married life. In London Bilderdijk met his
countryman the painter Schweikhardt; and with this meeting begins a
period of his life over which his admirers would fain draw a veil. With
Schweikhardt were his two daughters, of whom the younger, Katherina
Wilhelmina, became Bilderdijk's first pupil, and, excepting his
"intellectual son," Isaak da Costa, probably his only one. Besides her
great poetic gifts she possessed beauty and charm. She fell in love with
her teacher and followed him to Brunswick, where she lived in his house
under the name of Frau van Heusden. In spite of this arrangement, the
poet seems to have considered himself a most faithful husband; and he
did his best to persuade his wife to join him with their children, but
naturally without success. In 1802 the marriage was legally annulled,
and Frau van Heusden took his name. She did her best to atone for the
blot on her repute by a self-sacrificing lovableness, and was in close
sympathy with Bilderdijk on the intellectual side. Like him she was
familiar with all the resources of the art of poetry. Most famous of her
poems are the long one 'Rodrigo de Goth,' and her touching, graceful
'Gedichten voor Kinderen' (Poems for Children). Bilderdijk's verses show
what she was to him:--
In the shadow of my verdure, firmly on my trunk depending,
Grew the tender branch of cedar, never longing once to leave me;
Faithfully through rain and tempest, modest at my side it rested,
Bearing to my honor solely the first twig it might its own call;
Fair the wreath thy flowers made me for my knotted trunk fast withering,
And my soul with pride was swelling at the crown of thy young blossoms;
Straight and strong and firmly rooted, tall and green thy head arises,
Bright the glory of its freshness; never yet by aught bedimmed.
Lo! my crown to thine now bending, only thine the radiant freshness,
And my soul finds rest and comfort in thy sheltering foliage.
Meanwhile he was no better off materially. The Duke of Brunswick, who
had known him previously, received the famous Dutch exile with open
arms, and granted him a pension; but it never sufficed. Many efforts
were made to have his decree of exile annulled; but they failed through
his own peevish insolence and his boundless ingratitude. King Louis
(Bonaparte) of Holland extended his protection to the dissatisfied old
poet; and all these royal gentlemen were most generous. When the house
of Orange returned to Holland, William I. continued the favor already
shown him, obtained a high pension for him, and when it proved
insufficient, supplemented it with gifts. In this way Bilderdijk's
income in the year 1816 amounted to twenty thousand gold pieces. That
this should be sufficient to keep the wolf from the door in a city like
Amsterdam, Bilderdijk thought too much to expect, and consequently left
in great indignation and went to Leyden in 1817.
But these personal troubles in no way interfered with his talent. On the
contrary, the history of literature has seldom known so great an
activity and productiveness; all in all, his works amounted to almost a
hundred volumes. What he accomplished during his stay in Germany was
almost incredible. He gave lessons to exiled Dutch in a great variety of
branches, he saw volume upon volume through print; he wrote his famous
'Het Buitenleven' (Country Life) after Delille, he translated Fingal
after Ossian, he wrote 'Vaderlandsche Orangezucht' (Patriotic Love for
Orange). After his return to Holland he wrote 'De Ziekte der Geleerden'
(The Disease of Genius: 1817), 'Leyden's Kamp' (Leyden's Battle: 1808),
and the first five songs of 'De Ondergang der eerste Wereld'
(Destruction of the First World: 1809), probably his masterpiece;
moreover, the dramas 'Floris V.,' 'Willem van Holland,' and 'Kounak.'
The volumes published between 1815 and 1819 bore the double signature
Willem and Wilhelmina Katherina Bilderdijk.
But it was as though time had left him behind. The younger Holland shook
its head over the old gentleman of the past century, with his antagonism
for the poetry of the day and his rage against Shakespeare and the
latter's "puerile" 'King Lear.' For to Bilderdijk even more than to
Voltaire, Shakespeare was an abomination. Then in 1830 he received the
severest blow of his life: Katherina Wilhelmina died. This happened in
Haarlem, whither he had gone in 1827. With this calamity his strength
was broken and his life at an end. He followed her in 1831.
He was in every way a son of the eighteenth century; he began as a
didactic and patriotic poet, and might at first be considered a follower
of Jakob Cats. He became principally a lyric poet, but his lyric knew no
deep sentiment, no suppressed feeling; its greatness lay in its
rhetorical power. His ode to Napoleon may therefore be one of the best
to characterize his genius. When he returned to his native country after
eleven years' exile, with heart and mind full of Holland, it was old
Holland he sought and did not find. He did not understand young Holland.
In spite of this, his fame and powerful personality had an attraction
for the young; but it was the attraction of a past time, the fascination
of the glorious ruin. Young Holland wanted freedom, individual
independence, and this Bilderdijk considered a misfortune. "One should
not let children, women, and nations know that they possess other rights
than those naturally theirs. This matter must be a secret between the
prince and his heart and reason,--to the masses it ought always to be
kept as hidden as possible." The new age which had made its entry with
the cry of Liberty would not tolerate such sentiments, and he stood
alone, a powerful, demonic, but incomprehensible spirit.
Aside from his fame as a poet, he deserves to be mentioned as Jacob
Grimm's correspondent, as philologist, philosopher, and theologian.
ODE TO BEAUTY
Child of the Unborn! dost thou bend
From Him we in the day-beams see,
Whose music with the breeze doth blend?--
To feel thy presence is to be.
Thou, our soul's brightest effluence--thou
Who in heaven's light to earth dost bow,
A Spirit 'midst unspiritual clods--
Beauty! who bear'st the stamp profound
Of Him with all perfection crowned,
Thine image--thine alone--is God's....
How shall I catch a single ray
Thy glowing hand from nature wakes--
Steal from the ether-waves of day
One of the notes thy world-harp shakes--
Escape that miserable joy,
Which dust and self with darkness cloy,
Fleeting and false--and, like a bird,
Cleave the air-path, and follow thee
Through thine own vast infinity,
Where rolls the Almighty's thunder-word?
Perfect thy brightness in heaven's sphere,
Where thou dost vibrate in the bliss
Of anthems ever echoing there!
That, that is life--not this--not this:
There in the holy, holy row--
And not on earth, so deep below--
Thy music unrepressed may speak;
Stay, shrouded, in that holy place;--
Enough that we have seen thy face,
And kissed the smiles upon thy cheek.
We stretch our eager hands to thee,
And for thine influence pray in vain;
The burden of mortality
Hath bent us 'neath its heavy chain;--
And there are fetters forged by art,
And science cold hath chilled the heart,
And wrapped thy god-like crown in night;
On waxen wings they soar on high,
And when most distant deem, thee nigh--
They quench thy torch, and dream of light.
Child of the Unborn! joy! for thou
Shinest in every heavenly flame,
Breathest in all the winds that blow,
While self-conviction speaks thy name:
Oh, let one glance of thine illume
The longing soul that bids thee come,
And make me feel of heaven, like thee!
Shake from thy torch one blazing drop,
And to my soul all heaven shall ope,
And I--dissolve in melody!
Translated in Westminster Review.
FROM THE 'ODE TO NAPOLEON'
Poesy, nay! Too long art silent!
Seize now the lute! Why dost thou tarry?
Let sword the Universe inherit,
Noblest as prize of war be glory.
Let thousand mouths sing hero-actions:
E'en so, the glory is not uttered.
Earth-gods--an endless life, ambrosial,
Find they alone in song enchanting.
Watch thou with care thy heedless fingers
Striking upon the lyre so godlike;
Hold thou in check thy lightning-flashes,
That where they chance to fall are blighting.
He who on eagle's wing soars skyward
Must at the sun's bright barrier tremble.
Frederic, though great in royal throning,
Well may amaze the earth, and heaven,
When clothed by thunder and the levin
Swerves he before the hero's fanfare.
* * * * *
Pause then, Imagination! Portals
Hiding the Future, ope your doorways!
Earth, the blood-drenched, yields palms and olives.
Sword that hath cleft on bone and muscle,
Spear that hath drunk the hero's lifeblood,
Furrow the soil, as spade and ploughshare.
Blasts that alarm from blaring trumpets
Laws of fair Peace anon shall herald:
Heaven's shame, at last, its end attaining.
Earth, see, O see your sceptres bowing.
Gone is the eagle once majestic;
On us a cycle new is dawning;
Look, from the skies it hath descended.
O potent princes, ye the throne-born!
See what Almighty will hath destined.
Quit ye your seats, in low adoring,
Set all the earth, with you, a-kneeling;
Or--as the free-born men should perish--
Sink in grave with crown and kingdom.
Glorious in lucent rays, already
Brighter than gold a sceptre shineth;
No warring realm shall dim its lustre,
No earth-storm veil its blaze to dimness.
Can it be true that, centuries ended,
God's endless realm, the Hebrew, quickens
Lifting its horns--though not for always?
Shines in the East the sun, like noonday?
Shall Hagar's wandering sons be heartened
After the Moslem's haughty baiting?
Speed toward us, speed, O days so joyous!
Even if blood your cost be reckoned;
Speed as in Heaven's gracious favor,
Bringing again Heaven's earthly kingdom.
Yea, though through waters deep we struggle,
Joining in fight with seas of troubles.
Suffer we, bear we--hope--be silent!
On us shall dawn a coming daybreak--
With it, the world of men be happy!
Translated in the metre of the original, by E. Irenaeus Stevenson, for
the (World's Best Literature)
AN ORIENTAL ROMANCE
Splendid rose the star of evening, and the gray dusk was
O'er it with a hand of mildness, now the Night her veil was
Abensaid, valiant soldier, from Medina's ancient gateway,
To the meadows, rich with blossoms, walked in darkest mood of
Where the Guadalete's wild waves foaming wander through the
Where, within the harbor's safety, loves to wait the weary seaman.
Neither hero's mood nor birth-pride eased his spirit of its suffering
For his youth's betrothed, Zobeide; she it was who caused him
Faithless had she him forsaken, she sometime his best-beloved,
Left him, though already parted by strange fate, from realm and
Oh, that destiny he girds not--strength it gave him, hero-courage,
Added to his lofty spirit, touches of nobler feeling--
'Tis that she, ill-starred one, leaves him! takes the hand so
Of that old man, Seville's conqueror!
Into the night, along the river, Abensaid now forth rushes:
Loudly to the rocky limits, Echo bears his lamentations.
"Faithless maid, more faithless art thou than the sullen water!
Harder thou than even the hardened bosom of yon rigid rockwall!
Ah, bethinkest thou, Zobeide, still upon our solemn love-oath?
How thy heart, this hour so faithless, once belonged to me, me only?
Canst thou yield thy heart, thy beauty, to that old man, dead to
Wilt thou try to love the tyrant lacking love despite his treasure?
Dost thou deem the sands of desert higher than are virtue--
Allah grant, then, that he hate thee! That thou lovest yet
That thou soon thyself surrender to the scorned one's bitter feeling.
Rest may night itself deny thee, and may day to thee be terror!
Be thy face before thy husband as a thing of nameless loathing!
May his eye avoid thee ever, flee the splendor of thy beauty!
May he ne'er, in gladsome gathering, stretch his hand to thee for
Never gird himself with girdle which for him thy hand embroidered!
Let his heart, thy love forsaking, in another love be fettered;
The love-tokens of another may his scutcheon flame in battle,
While behind thy grated windows year by year, away thou
To thy rival may he offer prisoners that his hand has taken!
May the trophies of his victory on his knees to _her_ be proffered!
May he hate thee! and thy heart's faith to him be but thing
These things, aye and more still! be thy cure for all my sting
Silent now goes Abensaid, unto Xeres, in the midnight;
Dazzling shone the palace, lighted, festal for the loathsome marriage,
Richly-robed Moors were standing 'neath the shimmer of the
On the jubilant procession of the marriage-part proceeded.
In the path stands Abensaid, frowning, as the bridegroom nears
Strikes the lance into his bosom, with the rage of sharpest
'Gainst the heaven rings a loud cry, those at hand their swords
But he rushes through the weapons, and in safety gains his own
Translation through the German, in the metre of the original, by E.
THE VILLAGE SCHOOLMASTER
From "Country Life"
There he sits; his figure and his rigid bearing
Let us know most clearly what is his ideal:--
Confidence in self, in his lofty standing;
Thereto add conceit in his own great value.
Certain, he can read--yes, and write and cipher;
In the almanac no star-group's a stranger.
In the church he, faithful, leads the pious chorus;
Drums the catechism into young ones' noddles.
Disputation to him's half the joy of living;
Even though he's beaten, he will not give over.
Watch him, when he talks, in how learned fashion!
Drags on every word, spares no play of muscle.
Ah, what pains he takes to forget no syllable--
Consonants and vowels rightly weighed and measured.
Often is he, too, of this and that a poet!
Every case declines with precisest conscience;
Knows the history of Church and State, together--
Every Churchly light,--of pedant-deeds the record.
All the village world speechless stands before him.
Asking "How can _one_ brain be so ruled by Wisdom?"
Sharply, too, he looks down on one's transgressions.
'Gainst his judgment stern, tears and prayers avail not.
He appears--one glance (from a god that glance comes!)
At a flash decides what the youngster's fate is.
At his will a crowd runs, at his beck it parteth.
Doth he smile? all frolic; doth he frown--all cower.
By a tone he threatens, gives rewards, metes justice.
Absent though he be, every pupil dreads him,
For he sees, hears, knows, everything that's doing.
On the urchin's forehead he can see it written.
He divines who laughs, idles, yawns, or chatters,
Who plays tricks on others, or in prayer-time's lazy.
With its shoots, the birch-rod lying there beside him
Knows how all misdeeds in a trice are settled.
Surely by these traits you've our dorf-Dionysius!
[Footnote 17: Compare Goldsmith's famous portrait in
"The Deserted Village".]
Translation through the German, in the meter of the original, by E.
Irenaetis Stevenson, for the "World's Best Literature".
Of Bion, the second of the Sicilian idyllists, of whom Theocritus was
the first and Moschus the third and last, but little knowledge and few
remains exist. He was born near Smyrna, says Suidas; and from the elegy
on his death, attributed to his pupil Moschus, we infer that he lived in
Sicily and died there of poison. "Say that Bion the herdsman is dead,"
says the threnody, appealing to the Sicilian muses, "and that song has
died with Bion, and the Dorian minstrelsy hath perished.... Poison came,
Bion, to thy mouth. What mortal so cruel as to mix poison for thee!" As
Theocritus is also mentioned in the idyl, Bion is supposed to have been
his contemporary, and to have flourished about 275 B. C.
Compared with Theocritus, his poetry is inferior in simplicity and
naivete, and declines from the type which Theocritus had established for
the out-door, open-field idyl. With Bion, bucolics first took on the air
of the study. Although at first this art and affectation were rarely
discernible, they finally led to the mold of brass in which for
centuries Italian and English pastorals were cast, and later to the
complete devitalizing which marks English pastoral poetry in the
eighteenth century, with the one exception of Allan Ramsay's "Gentle
Shepherd". Theocritus had sung with genuine feeling of trees and
wandering winds, of flowers and the swift mountain stream. His poetry
has atmosphere; it is vital with sunlight, color, and the beauty which
is cool and calm and true. Although Bion's poems possess elegance and
sweetness, and abound in pleasing imagery, they lack the naturalness of
the idyls of Theocritus. Reflection has crept into them; they are in
fact love-songs, with here and there a tinge of philosophy,
The most famous as well as the most powerful and original of Bion's
poems remaining to us is the threnody upon Adonis. It was doubtless
composed in honor of the rites with which Greek women celebrated certain
Eastern festivals; for the worship of Adonis still lingered among them,
mixed with certain Syrian customs.
"Thammuz came next behind,
Whose annual wound in Lebanon allured
The Syrian damsels to lament his fate
In amorous ditties all a summer's day,
While smooth Adonis from his native rock
Ran purple to the sea, supposed with blood
Of Thammuz yearly wounded."
Thammuz is identified with Adonis. "We came to a fair large river,"
writes an old English traveler, "doubtless the ancient river Adonis,
which at certain seasons of the year, especially about the feast of
Adonis, is of a bloody color, which the heathens looked upon as
proceeding from a kind of sympathy in the river for the death of Adonis,
who was killed by a wild boar in the mountains out of which the stream
issues. Something like this we saw actually come to pass; for the water
was stained to a surprising redness, and, as we observed in traveling,
had discolored the sea a great way into a reddish hue, occasioned
doubtless by a sort of minium, or red earth, washed into the river by
the violence of the rain."
The poem is colored by the Eastern nature of its subject, and its
rapidity, vehemence, warmth, and unrestraint are greater than the strict
canon of Greek art allows. It is noteworthy, aside from its varied
beauties, because of its fine abandonment to grief and its appeal for
recognition of the merits of the dead youth it celebrates. Bion's
threnody has undoubtedly become a criterion and given the form to some
of the more famous "songs of tears". The laudatory clegy of Moschus for
his master--we say of Moschus, although Ahrens, in his recension,
includes the lament under 'Incertorum Idyllia' at the end of 'Moschi
Reliquiae'--follows it faithfully. Milton in his great ode of 'Lycidas'
does not depart from the Greek lines; and Shelley, lamenting Keats in
his 'Adonais,' reverts still more closely to the first master, adding
perhaps an element of artificiality one does not find in other
threnodies. The broken and extended form of Tennyson's celebration of
Arthur Hallam takes it out of a comparison with the Greek; but the
monody of 'Thyrsis', Matthew Arnold's commemoration of Clough,
approaches nearer the Greek. Yet no other lament has the energy and
rapidity of Bion's; the refrain, the insistent repetition of the words
"I wail for Adonis",--"Alas for Cypris!" full of pathos and unspoken
irrepressible woe, is used only by his pupil Moschus, though hinted at
The peculiar rhythm, the passion and delicate finish of the song, have
attracted a number of translators, among whose versions Mrs. Browning's
'The Lament for Adonis' is considered the best. The subjoined version in
the Spenserian stanza, by Anna C. Brackett, follows its model closely in
its directness and fervor of expression, and has moreover in itself
genuine poetic merit. The translation of a fragment of 'Hesperos' is
that of J.A. Symonds. Bion's fluent and elegant versification invites
study, and his few idyls and fragments have at various times been turned
into English by Fawkes (to be found in Chalmers's 'Works of English
Poets'), Polwhele, Banks, Chapman, and others.
I weep for Adonais--he is dead!
Dead Adonais lies, and mourning all,
The Loves wail round his fair, low-lying head.
O Cypris, sleep no more! Let from thee fall
Thy purple vestments--hear'st thou not the call?
Let fall thy purple vestments! Lay them by!
Ah, smite thy bosom, and in sable pall
Send shivering through the air thy bitter cry
For Adonais dead, while all the Loves reply.
I weep for Adonais--weep the Loves.
Low on the mountains beauteous lies he there,
And languid through his lips the faint breath moves,
And black the blood creeps o'er his smooth thigh, where
The boar's white tooth the whiter flesh must tear.
Glazed grow his eyes beneath the eyelids wide;
Fades from his lips the rose, and dies--Despair!
The clinging kiss of Cypris at his side--
Alas, he knew not that she kissed him as he died!
I wail--responsive wail the Loves with me.
Ah, cruel, cruel is that wound of thine,
But Cypris' heart-wound aches more bitterly.
The Oreads weep; thy faithful hounds low whine;
But Cytherea's unbound tresses fine
Float on the wind; where thorns her white feet wound,
Along the oaken glades drops blood divine.
She calls her lover; he, all crimsoned round
His fair white breast with blood, hears not the piteous sound.
Alas! for Cytherea wail the Loves,
With the beloved dies her beauty too.
O fair was she, the goddess borne of doves,
While Adonais lived; but now, so true
Her love, no time her beauty can renew.
Deep-voiced the mountains mourn; the oaks reply;
And springs and rivers murmur sorrow through
The passes where she goes, the cities high;
And blossoms flush with grief as she goes desolate by.
Alas for Cytherea! he hath died--
The beauteous Adonais, he is dead!
And Echo sadly back "_is dead_" replied.
Alas for Cypris! Stooping low her head,
And opening wide her arms, she piteous said,
"O stay a little, Adonais mine!
Of all the kisses ours since we were wed,
But one last kiss, oh, give me now, and twine
Thine arms close, till I drink the latest breath of thine!
"So will I keep the kiss thou givest me
E'en as it were thyself, thou only best!
Since thou, O Adonais, far dost flee--
Oh, stay a little--leave a little rest!--
And thou wilt leave me, and wilt be the guest
Of proud Persephone, more strong than I?
All beautiful obeys her dread behest--
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