תמונות בעמוד

he and his immediate followers are blown some kilometres beyond the region of the moon. Well, here is something like poetical justice. The honest-minded general will now return, and walk over his estate for the first time, his penitent wife on his arm, swallowing her guilty tears, and doing all she can to recompense her worthy but ill-treated lord. Benjamine, after a decent shew of sorrow, will manage to satisfy her lover of her innocence, and a happy union will be the result. Nothing of the kind takes place.

On his return home everything is in a very ticklish state; but when he announces the death of his companion in arms, the wife's wild grief finds vent, and she reveals her guilt and shame-not that she considers herself very guilty, but to live with another is not to be thought of for a moment.

The mother and daughters will not now remain in the castle; but, as they are leaving the premises, a knock is heard at the gate, and the porter brings in a note to the colonel. Oh! wonderful wonder! Lothario has again found his way back to this nasty world, and is humbly requesting permission, before departing to voluntary exile among the Hottentots, or elsewhere, to embrace and bless his infant heir. A lucky thought strikes the generous Chatellan. He invites the prodigal son to enter, joins his hands to those of his self-divorced lady, utters a genuine stage blessing on their heads, and a long-concealed treasure is at the moment brought to day-light from a subterranean passage: so, if they become uncomfortable it will be their own faults, and if their lot turns out happy, all we say is, that it will give us no little surprise.

To convert this drama, vicious in spirit and form, into a circumstantial tale, fit for the perusal of a moral and religious though novel-reading public, seems to us rather more difficult than to construct a purely original work. If we have any subscribers, among the weekly purchasers of the Journal, whose acquirements embrace the art of writing, may some one of them favor us with an outline of the English garments thrown over the French model !

The success of Monte Cristo, and its fellow publications, beems to have turned poor Alexander's head. His dreams, even in the open sunshine, and when his bodily-eyes were wide open, were of caverns piled with gold and precious stones, and no thought of poverty ever passed his mind.

[ocr errors]



The Folly built by him at St. Germain, and which he was pleased to call Monte Cristo, was the natural result of this exalted state of his ideas.

• He summoned from Africa two Arabs, who decorated a chamber for him in the Algerian style, covering the walls with verses from the Koran ; and he engaged themselves in writing to execute no other similar piece of work in Europe. There were to be seen gothic pavi. lions, turrets with their belfries, gardens, an island, a torrent, and the celebrated kiosk, with its sky-blue ceiling besprinkled with stars, and which served for the study of the master.

“ There were at Monte Cristo an atelier for painters, twelve rooms devoted to visitors, a little palace set apart for inonkies, another for parrots, and a third for dogs, without mentioning a stable of regal proportions for the accommodation of eight superb steeds.

"The grand salon, hung with cloth of silk and gold, displayed wonders of artistic skill; and the private salon or boudoir was furnished with genuine cashmere for window curtains.

“ It was altogether a heap of pictures, statues, Buhl ornaments, bizarre curiosities scattered at random from kitchen to attics,profusion of sculptures, and casts beyond counting: good taste was banished, and ostentation reigned supreme.

"All these riches and splendors could not confer the much-desired stamp of aristocracy on this magnificent structure. In the midst of the luxury floated a vapour of literary vagabondage, and the etiquette of the chateau had its origin in the coulisses of the theatres.

On the façade stood out the escutcheon of the Marquis de la Pailleterie. Dumas inaugurated his palace with an entertainment given in honor of literature and art ; six hundred guests were galed, and a piece was presented after dinner, composed for the cir. cumstance, and having for title,. SHAKSPEARE ET Dumas.'"

To reign even for two years in such a palace, Dumas was obliged to keep his journeymen hard at work. So, from 1845 to 1846, inore than sixty volumes were written, printed, and published.

And here, by an accurate calculation, our critic, allowing his writer to sleep but few hours, to eat his meals in a hurry, and to be constantly under the inspiration of the muse of romance (an impossible conjunction), allows him power to produce fifteen volumes per annum, if he abstains from revising the style or correcting the proofs.

All his assistants, including his son, were trained to imitate his handwriting. *


In addition to the works quoted, Dumus published in Le Puys, Le Paseur d' Ashburn, copied literally from Mudame Montolieu's translation of the Village Pastur of Lafintaine, the German names

[ocr errors]

Being at last obliged to say something, by way of apology or defence, here is his most frank and courageous avowal.

" Inventions are made by men, not by any individual man. Every one, at proper time and place, appropriates the things known to his forefathers, arranges them in new forms, and dies, after adding a few facts or ideas to the heap as he found it. As to the pure creation of anything, mental or physical, it is out of the question.*

This is what caused Shakspeare to say, when a stupid critic once accused him of having taken an entire scene from a cotemporary writer, • It is a young girl whom I have withdrawn from evil society to establish her in that which is good.' This also made Moliere once exclaim, ' I seize my property wherever I find it.' And Shakspeare and Moliere were right; for the man of genius never steals-he seizes by right of conquest. I am obliged to say these things in my own defence, as, instead of being grateful to me for bringing before their eyes so many scenic beauties before unknown, they point them out as thefts-brand them as plagiarisms. However, I am consoled by my resemblance to Shakspeare and Moliere in this respect; those who attacked them were so obscure, that their very names have not been preserved.”

Mirecourt, lashed by the sense of his own individual wrongs, and the injury inflicted on literature and morals by the systeme Dumas, thus pours on him the vials of his wrath :

“ You have closed the avenues of literature against those young fresh writers who would use their talents, without providing for the public an unhealthy feast, and without committing the crime of lese. patrie in defiling the most noble pages of our history. Yes, Monsieur Dumas, you have murdered our literature ; you have assembled a host of nameless writers, who, protected by the darkness in which they move, cast into the mass of society a leaven of bad taste and of corrupting influcnee. With the succour of these concealed workmen you prepare a slow poison which penetrates into the veins of the social body. You mix history and fable, and distribute the indigestible morsels as intellectual nourishment. In presence of the rising genera. tion you remove from virtue her prestige ; you discard modesty as if

being merely changed to English ones. Le Collier de la Reine was written by Maquet, so was Lu Tulippe Noire-so was Auge Pitou. Le Trou de l'Enfer was contributed by Meurice, as well as Dieu Dispose. Hendrik Conscience, the Flemish writer, was plundered of Conscience l'Innocent.

Sir Godfrey Kneller was chagrined at not having been consulted at the creation, as he was conscious of being able to suggest some valuable hints. Dumas, in common with Sir Gudfrey and several Gallic writers, handles awful subjects in so familiar a style that he must be satisfied with seeing some of his flights left unrecorded.

she was a castaway. In your pages vice is endowed with amiable qualities, debauchery is not so bad as it seems, and crime excites pity instead of hate. You propagate this spasmodic and frantic species of literature, which excites the evil passions, sets the blood in a ferment, and reawakes the powers of old and used-up debauchees. Thanks to your catering, the public now refuses all healthy nourishment; it cannot relish anything but your highly-spiced ragouts... We are severe without doubt, but posterity will be much more so."

Against the calumniating of the memory of the characters of history, and the distorting or misrepresenting of established historical facts, we join our protest to that of our critic. With the exception of Le Chevalier d'Harmental, Sylvandire, and La Tulippe Noire, we can scarcely recollect one of these quasi-historical romances of Dumas and Co., which we would like to see in the hands of our young people. The perusal of some in particular, is only wading through a slough of depravity, cruelty, and craft. You are obliged to light a candle in the middle of the day, if you wish to find out an estimable character, and to look for repose in some scene hallowed by the domestic virtues is altogether useless. No one of royal rank is a good man or woman, or sincere Christian. If history has handed him down as jealous for religion at all, he is sure to be an intolerant zealot and persecutor. If the reader is interested for the success of true love, he is only left to wish that D'Artagnan may carry away his neighbour's wife. And are the firm above named the only culprits in this line? By no means; they are edilying moralists when set beside Bibliophile Jacob (Lacroix),* Foutras, Montepin, La Touche, and some others. But money was to be got to keep Dumas in state, on his high horse, riding to

To get this money, their feuilletons should be as necessary to the reading public as their café au lait. To infuse this quality into them, they must be piquant and terribly interesting, and leave their readers in a state of feverish suspense about the interesting but guilty lover, left outside on the windowsill, forty feet above ground, with a very slight defence against the temperature of a night twenty degrees below zero.

They know he will endure, rather than compromise the comfort of the tender female who is feigning sleep beside her clod of a husband in the warm bed-chamber within :

We except from the works of the Rabelaistic Lacroix, Les Cuta. combes de Rome and. Le fils du Notaire.

but whether will he freeze stark and stiff on his bad eminence, or make an involuntary descent,—that is the question that will keep several pairs of eyes unvisited by sleep. And won't there be a feverish welcome for the coarse damp paper next morning ! and still not the trace of an allusion to the difficulty for several numbers to come.

Dumas was obliged to defend an action for defamation of the character of a lady whose head has not ached since the days of Henri Quatre ; and, though he could not be touched by human law, it is no less certain that he sinned in the person of Auguste Maquet, against that divine statute which forbids us to bear false witness against our neighbour. It may be urged that the persons slandered are beyond the power of the poisoned tongue to wound them ; but it is no less certain that, as in the case of the descendants of La Dame de Montsoreau, many of the living are deeply interested in the good fame of the great departed, from ties of family, country, policy, or religion, and are deeply pained by finding their memory slandered or assailed.

We wish that we could vindicate all the writers in our own vernacular from such a reprehensible line of conduct, but that is not left in our power, since the days when halfa-dozen poor ecclesiastics were set to watch over the spiritual welfare of their thin flock, scattered through the fields and streets of Britain ; and when the same apparently inoffensive proceeding shook more terror through the land, than if Louis Napoleon, King Leopold, Pius IX., and the monarchs of all the “Heathens and Turks" throughout the world, were disembarking on all sides of the island at once, to put the inhabitants to sack or ransom.

In order to add fuel to the unholy flame that at the moment was consuming men's candour, love of their neighbour, and common justice, a lady takes at the end of her jeweltipped pen, the character of the earnest and fearless Archbishop of Canterbury, who braved the displeasure of his loved sovereign, and the terrors of martyrdom, rather than leave it in the power of selfish and unholy rulers to deprive the flock entrusted to his keeping of their spiritual nourishment. However historians may differ as to the less or more of spiritual pride or obstinacy, or pure devotion of this great man, no one has been found to breathe a suspicion against the purity of his life after he became a churchman. What is his conduct as discovered by his fair (?) historian

« הקודםהמשך »