תמונות בעמוד

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 scenc 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 It is a young girl whom I have withdrawn from evil society to establish her in that which is good.'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 bim the vials of bis wrath :

“ You have closed the avenues of literature against those young fresh writers who would use their talents, without providing for the public an unbealthy feast, and without committing the crime of lesepatrie 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 generation 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 ),* Foudras, 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 Cutacombes 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 un visited 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 hig 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

through those peculiar telescopes through which novelists look over the dim landscape of the past? He is in love with Fair Rosamond Clifford; she is insensible to his suit, but he is determined that she shall be his mistress sooner or later, and takes this nefarious plan to succeed. He bringe her under the notice of the unprincipled young king, judging that when she has surrendered all right to female honor, his own vile object will be easily attained.

Now, if the authoress of the Lady and the Priest had taken ordinary care to prepare for her self-imposed and ungracious task, by consulting the authentic histories of that reign, she would have found that her narrative was as irreconcilable with fact, from the well-established purity of the Archbishop's life, as from the circumstances of time and place through which the characters of her story moved. Poisoned springs and poisoned weapons, and the stiletto of the paid murderer, are never thought of when Christian powers are at war with each other; and shall such false and poisonous arms as these be used by parties who merely differ in their modes of Christian worship, and are all loyal subjects of the same sovereign?

În the month of February of the present year Maquet had his unkind patron doing penance in the courts of law. He lost the cause. It is probable that Auguste deserved to lose it; but quere did Alexander deserve to gain it ?

We proceed to touch on another duel of the great man, and have done with our critic's personalities, as his store are inexhaustible where his swarthy foeman is the subject.

“He entered one evening the office of the Figaro, whence two bostile articles had been launched at him: Who is the author of these infamous productions ? his name-be quick. I know not, said Maurice Alboy, chief editor of the paper.. •You must know; I will not wait a minute ; I must kill some one. My good friend, said Maurice, you have exhausted my patience. I will be responsible for the articles; name your seconds.' Mutual friends interposed, and Dumas condescended to spare Alhoy's life; but he, as the offended, should keep his honor intact. They should repair to the Bois de Bou. logne next morning, but no blood was to be drawn. The seconds were, however, entirely ignorant of this implied arrangement.

“ Alexander looked sublime ; courage was visible in every feature; he was insensible to fear; pallor sat not on his manly face. They produced the swords. What's here,' cried he, blue weapons! I never used a blue-colored blade. Pierre,' continued he, turning with the gesture of a hern to his Negro, ‘produce the dark-dyed swords.'

They were brought, and the weapons crossed.

Maurice Alhoy being somewhat nervous, and a little overawed by the truly intrepid mien of his adversary, lost command of hand altogether, when Dumas began

• Defend yourself, corbleau ! wrist firmer : a victory over an opponent of your force would not be worth gaining-oh!' cried he in affright, letting fall his sword.

In order to punish his vain boasting, Alhoy had slightly wounded him in the shoulder.

What's that for?' added he, forgetting himself for the moment, *it was not mentioned in the programme.'

Mirecourt, feeling a sort of remorse at last for his merciless treatment of his foe, relents, and tells something to his credit:

“Our hero, notwithstanding his faults, has sincere admirers and enthusiastic friends. M. Porcher, the illustrious director of the claque, is of the number. One day he gave a splendid dinner to the great Mousquetaire. The wine sparkled, and the most delightful gaiety reigned from one end of the table to the other. Porcher alone kept looking at his glass without approaching it to his lips. It must be acknowledged, however, that he had already emptied it very often, and had now reached the maudlin stage. "What is the matter with you, my dear friend ?' said Alexander. "Am I really among the number of your dear friends ?' sighed the renowned dispenser of venal applause. “How can you doubt it?' Well, I don't, but still there is one thing that gives me great trouble.' "Ah! what is it?" "My heavy sorrow is this, you never say thou to me: just thou me once. My poor Porcher! with the greatest pleasure ! Shake hands, dear friend, and lend me a thousand crowns.

With some degree of inconsistency, Mirecourt seems disposed to enhance the merit of Dumas Fils in the proportion of the disparagement of Dumas Pere. Besides his qualities of a writer of genius and talents, he represents him as a sincere, honorable young man, living within his income, keeping his father within some bounds, and helping him out of his difficulties. In the Cure for the Heartache, Hodge, after relating to his sister the misdeeds of their extravagant father, and mentioning how his own good example was entirely lost on hiin, gravely asks her, as a case of conscience, whether he would be justified in giving the immoral old boy a licking. Dumas Fils supports sister and mother, and gives what he can to charitable purposes,

• For closer acquaintance with this great practitioner see our review of the Memoirs of Dumas,

« הקודםהמשך »