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monstrated the soundness of each judgment, and expressed herself in pure and correct language.
He next tried the province of literary criticism, a hundred times more slippery and steep than the other. This time again he was saluted master ; and the ignoble complaints of the envious were soon stifled in the universal applause that followed. Tbus Gustave Planche took possession of the entire domain of criticism ; and continued to pass under review, according to the chance of production or his own caprice, the works of artists, of poets, and of musicians. As he proceeded on his way, he acquired a greater solidity of judg. ment, a wonderful degree of sagacity, and an extreme acuteness of analysis.
The great merit of Planche consists in having comprehended and judged better than any other, geniuses the most opposite in character : to have scanned so justly, he must have looked from a point of view far above his subject. It is not the quality of an ordinary spirit to place itself so naturally at this exact point of view, and not be set wrong by the deceptive mirage of the prejudices and passions of the moment. The diapason of the instrument must be unerring and correct, when so few false notes have escaped, among the infernal charivari of the quarrels of the schools.
When Planche speaks of the beauties of music_beauties so vague, so fleeting, so difficult to be expressed in ordinary language, the neat, correct, and limpid turn of his sentences is wonderful in its way. In criticism, as well of art as of literature, Gustave Planche is master ; and all the Janins of the world do not reach his instep.
Still we protest formally against some of his decisions. When he exalts André Chénier, the Abbé Prévost, Merimée, Villemain, Jules Sandeau, we join in his enthusiasm ; but when he declares George Sand, the first moralist of the age, our conscience revolts against the blasphemy.
Gustave Planche, we repeat, is a true master in criticism, but he is the genuine child of the age, imbued with the grovelling instincts of materialism, the blind lover and idolator of plastic form and beauty. No spiritual idea ever issues from his judgment, otherwise so accurate and precise. Of what importance are God, the soul, eternity, to him ? fables and bagatelles. Such things are not to M. Planche's taste,"
Planche is accused of injustice towards Victor Hugo, the Magnus Apollo of Eugène de Mirecourt : he gives this specimen of bis bad feeling and warped judgment. In a critique of Planche's on Victor Hugo, were these words.
6. The life of this man is only a long series of obstinate errors. The worst informed on literary matters are aware, that the author of Notre Dame de Paris, considers himself exempt from study by the strength of his genius; but they are not at all disposed to accept this pretension. Science is unattainable, without study; and if Victor Hugo is determined to draw all from himself, he must make up his mind to meet the disdain of the public."
Mirecourt makes this reply :
“Never was venom more undeserved inflicted by a critic's sting: never did a blow fall so wide of its object. On the contrary, the least instructed know, that the erudition of the author of Notre Dame is most extensive and profound, far surpassing that of the most encyclo. pedic head of the age.
Some officious friends shewed Victor these articles in the Revue des Deux Mondes. • What can we do,' said the poet. Planche came to me one evening in a frightful pair of worn-out shoes : I gave him a pair of old boots. You always make an enemy of the man to whom you give your old boots.””
Hints are thrown out that St. Beuve and Planche had not advanced in the catechism as far as the decalogue, and that they were consequently not aware of the law respecting their neiglibour's wife, to wit, Madame Victor Hugo, or wilfully bruke through it in intention. The lady was so cruel as to despise their tender avowals, but she is accused of having asked Mr. Planche, how was he off for shirts ? a biting affront when his uncleanly habits were taken into account. Mirecourt defends her like a true knight. He asserts that she was incapable of using the words without great provocation, but considers the question as a fair reprisal for Planche's purposed breach of hospitality and the ninth commandment.
“Gustave's family and relatives completely threw him off, from the period of his entering the literary life. They could not even pro. nounce his name unless in a tone of reproach and hatred.
Either through a desire to annoy them, or to imitate in everything the philosopher of Sinope, Gustave wears abominable clothes, and never washes his hands. Those who knew him before this metamorphose, affirm him to have been a young man of distinguished appearance, enhancing by an aristocratic manner and perfect good taste in dress, the advantages of a fine shape and expressive countenance."
Our critic having praised Indiana to the skies, Mme, Sand would penetrate into his dirty den (even in his prosperous days he did not affect respectable lodgings), Hotel de Jean Jacques Rousseau, Rue des Cordiers. Being attired as a student, Mons. George was allowed to pass unmolested.
. Hear how she speaks of her partial critic.
“I am under particular obligations as artist, to M. Gustave Planche, a spirit essentially critical, but of the highest elevation of thought. He rendered me the greatest service, not only by obliging me by his friendly railleries, to study my own language, which I at
first wrote with extreme negligence, but also because I learned much from his conversation, which possessed indeed little variety, but was of a substantial character and of a remarkable lucidity, quaintance, however, surrounded me with enunities and bitter rancours.
All those whom Planche had wounded with tongue or pen, imputed to me as a crime, to receive him at my house when they were of the party; and I was threatened with a complete desertion of my friends of an older date, who insisted that they onght not to be sacrificed to a new acquaintance."
George Sand in her Mémoires de ma vie, and Balzac in one of his novels, have involved the intiinacy of the two literati in such a cloud of woven air, and enveloped it in such a net work of words, words, words, that to get a correct idea of the rise, and progress, and dissolution of the intimacy would be a task on a par with that in the household story, where the hero seeks his lost needle in a cock of hay.'
“ Through dint of reading volume after volume, correcting proofs, and essaying to cool with alcoholic beverages, his blood overheated with study, his sight was affected so far as to oblige the faculty to prescribe the most absolute repose. Repose, indeed!' cried he ;
what pleasant gentlemen are your physicians! Rest to a man who must labour, if he intends to live!'
He was absolutely in the same situation as the poor creatures, who avail themselves of the gratuitous consultations held at hospitals, and to whom the facetious doctors prescribe a generous diet washed down by wine of Bourdeaux.
Very opportunely for Gustave, he just then came by a legacy of from seventy-five to eighty thousand francs. Without delaying to entrust his money to a notary, or buy stock and live on the interest, he filled his pocket book with bank notes, and departed post-haste tor Italy, and there abode for seven delightful years.
He paid his respects to all the monuments, visited all the museums, never read a line, but noted down every evening the impressions of the day.
Under the lovely skies of Florence and Naples, he improved him. self in the science of doing nothing, ate and drank bis crowns in the guise of the finest viands and liquors, never gave himself the trouble of purchasing even the ghost of a body coat, and finally the last pieces in his purse were only waiting to be put in the melting pot. Some early religious impressions latterly awakened by the splendour and the poetry of worship in the Italian Churches, now resumed their ancient power, and he faithfully discharged his christian duties-for six weeks."
"I will become a religious," said he ; "I will court voluntary solitude; I will be free from the harassing task of toiling for mere subsistence, and I will have leisure for literary composition."
“What hindered the execution of this laudable design? Bacchus and a certain heathen goddess, both of whom were in his confidence, could alone reveal the secret. Our man •returned to Paris, and Buluz received him with open arms.
The first apparition of Ġustave at the Café Momus* in his indes. cribable costume, raised the enthusiasm of its frequenters even to a pitch of delirium. All its idlers and literary vagabonds, the very cream of Bohemia received him in triumph in the midst of a charivari, which waked up the echoes in the neighbouring old Basilic of Saint Germain-l'Auxerrois. A Bohemian poet seizing on Planche's venerable and greasy hat, then and there improvised a lofty ode on the subject of that famous head-covering. Planche looked on these outpourings of feeling with the greatest benignity, and drank like a hero of the Iliad. Next day he resumed the usual routine of former years.
When the celebrated Critic has money in his purse, hear how he spends his day. He engages a coach in the evening, and it is at his door punctually at six o'clock in the morning. At nine, he rises and pays a visit to his friends the painters or sculptors. At eleven, he is set down at a restaurant's in vogue, where he first orders seven or eight glasses of Absinth or Vermutht to give the satisfactory tone to his stomach. He then breakfasts in a style more than comfortable, and pays his bill amounting to twenty-five or thirty francs. He then gets into his voiture, and takes a turn among other artists of his acquaintance. At six o'clock be alights at the Café de Paris. Having made a preparation for the digestive organs, similar to that of the morning, he orders succulent viands, and wines of the best quality. The expense of the dinner varies from fifty to sixty francs. His coach then conveys him to the balcon of the opera or the orchestra of the Theatre Français. At midnight he hands forty francs to his driver, climbs to his garret, and goes to sleep with the contented feelings which Titus would experience on such an occasion, saying after his example, "Behold a day well spent. At the Exhibition he has been frequently seen, oily in face and figure, striving to walk in shoes down at heel, wearing an abominable shirt, a coat with greasy, collar, an impracticable hat, and a pantaloons torn and fringed at the bottom.
Being once invited to dine with a celebrated actress, Anais or Mme. Dorval, he arrived before the company. My goodness! Planche, cried the hostess, what a figure you cut! Go take a bath I beg ; here is a ticket.' He returned in an hour's time as clean as whən he set out. • You unhappy man, you have not taken the bath.' •By my faith, I have.' • Look at your hands.” “Ah
See our article on Murger's Vie de Buhème IRISH QUARTERLY REVIEW, No. xx. for scenes at the Café Momus. The author hiinself is typified by Rodolphe in that work.
† The translator humbly acknowledges his ignorance of the ingre. dients of these spirituous liquors, and of their English names, if they happen to have any other than Wormwood wine.
that is because I had a book while in the water.' This he looked on as a most valid excuse. Exteriorly and interiorly he holds water in the most profound detestation.
In times of scarcity he never approaches a café; he lives on bread and cheese, or resorts to a labourers' eating house. At this period he works with extreme ardor, and is to be found only at museums or at libraries. As soon as his diligence has put some money in his pocket, he selects a new café, and resumes his Gargantuan existence.
He keeps his address a secret from all his acquaintances, less through shame than a desire to enjoy solitude. If he is obliged to accept the arm of a friend when returning home at night, he always dismisses him before they arrive at the street where he lives. If he observes himself watched, he turns off in a contrary direction.
A facetious painter once amused himself making him pace the flags till 3 o'clock in the morning But Planche held out like a hero, walked his tormentor off his legs, and finally succeeded in gaining his dormitory unseen. It was a long time supposed that he slept in the open air at the crossings of the public promenades ; and himself rather encouraged the general impression. •Where do you lie at night ?' said some one. I do not lie down at all; I perch.' • And where, may I ask ?' Champs-Elysées, third tree on the right.'
When our hero changes his address, all bis moveables are conveyed away in his hat: this circumstance exempts him from employing commissionnaires, a race addicted to blabbing.
One of his new landlords of whom he had just rented a furnished room, lost all courage when he found his stock of linen représented by three collars. "Šir,' said he very naively, will you do me the pleasure of mentioning where are your shirts? Will you do me the pleasure,' answered Planche, of explaining for what object people wear shirts ? Is it not for the sole purpose of exhibiting their collars ? Behold three very neat ones, and be satisfied.'
The more he advances in years, the less he is disposed to endure the arbitrary will of Buloz. Sometimes he gets vexed and dismisses his employer : then such is his apathy that he makes no application elsewhere, and is dying of hunger by inches. The last time they fell out was in the midst of a rigorous winter; and Planche was often met in the streets with a torn grey hat, a strip of pocket handkerchief for a cravat, a paletot of very light stuff with vent holes innumerable, and his feet in shoes unprovided with soles. But Buloz always comes to the rescue.
He has need of Planche to keep in check, some high and mighty personages who patronise the shop, and whose pretensions wound his consequences at times. For these, Gustave is a genuine head of Medusa. So now and then he gives him leave to go and break windows.
Planche is afflicted with feeble sight. His health is failing day by day, and his wretchedness becomes more intense: he wears the same style of clothes as in days of yore.
A person was telling Charles Nodier how an enraged romanticist (Planche was a zealous classicist) fell on the critic of the Revue des Deur Mondes one evening at the corner of a street, and trashed hiin