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be gave full permission to Racine senior and Racine junior to go about their business.
One fine night be conducted his pupils up a sombre defile, till they came in presence of the Alps and Mont Blanc. All was calculated for their arrival at the moment when the rays of the early morning were glancing over the vapours arising from the lakes. They threw themselves at once on their knees, the morning prayers were repeat. ed aloud, and the good professor entertained them with an appro. priate discourse.
As soon as the near arrival of the inspectors was announced, the Abbé went through his classes, remiuded his pupils of all his efforts to make them happy, and insisted in return on two or three weeks of earnest study to save the honor of the school. The gratitude of the young folk wrought wonders.
After seven or eight years of this species of education, our student considered his labors at an end, for he could rob the eagle's nest, box like an Englishman, empty a bottle at one breath, and build a wall like a regularly taught mason.”
He will not take to the paternal waste-books or legers, and departs for the capital, where he acquires a taste for close attendance on the Italian opera ; but even at twenty years of age, he has no notion of literature as a profession.
"Classing a taste for composition among the lost traditions of the Ancient Regime, and the noble employments of a vanished race, he was acquainted only with past literature. He had never heard of Victor Hugo, and considered Charles Nodier as a State-Councillor. But in despite of his ignorance, he took to writing at last, as trees throw out leaves, and flowers when the sun flings his rays on them, and the sap begins to ascend."
He takes his first literary attempt to Achille Ricourt, the editor of the Artiste, whom he finds with his hair dressed a-laJack-Sheppard, Buridan's casquet settled jauutily thereon, a cotton velvet jerkin girding his body, and a host of young writers forining his court.
"Come boy, speak out ; what is your business with me?” demanded he of Wey, who stood abashed to find himself all at once in what appeared a group of literati of the middle ages. It came out that a wish for insertion was the motive of the visit. Mecenas settled the joung aspirant on a lofty stool, took the manuscript, began to read with burlesque gravity, and the mystification commenced. Poor Francis was on thorns, and every one cast his shaft at the victim in the form of an extravagant eulogium. One of the great men in particular, adorned with a face redolent of fat and fun, tormented him without mercy or respite. ** Janin," said Ricourt, “ does not this savour marvellously of
“ Balzac' my friend : Ah! much worse than Balzac." "You have Nodier's accent,” said he to Wey; "you should be
from Besançon. Do you know Charles Fourrier ? “His Grandmother and one of my aunts were cousins," answered our hero with the most unspeakable candor, and Janin began to recite,
“ Monsieur, Je suis bâtard de votre apothicaire!" Francis was about taking the road in his hand, when he was stopped by these words of Ricourt. “ Your machine is execrable, and we must lose a night's rest to put it straight on its limbs. No matter, it shall appear ;" and two days after, the machine appeared, without the alteration of a single word.”
For two years he led a life of privation, studying and writing in bed, to save firewood, and seldom venturing abroad for fear of “meeting his appetite in the street.” At last, he procured a post in the department of the archives, for which he was eminently qualified. He paid his respects in due course to Nodier, at the library of the Arsenal. We refer to our paper on Les Memoires de Alea. Dumas, Irish QUARTERLY REVIEW, No. 10, for a picture of an evening re-union with the author of La Fée aux Miettes.
Victor Hugo was a constant frequenter of these evening parties. He was at this time young, and blessed with a good appetite. The first time he dined there, he so distinguished himself at bis knife and fork, that Madame Nodier could not help complimenting him on his prowess. “Oh! Madam,” said he, “ I was a little shy to-day, but when I come to feel more at ease, I will be found much worthier of your enconiums.
“At the Arsenal they chatted—they read original poems--they danced and sung to the piano But whether they were under the influence of music, or in the quadrille, or at play, or unreservedly talking scandal, as soon as Nodier approached a group and took the word, all was interrupted. Every one gathered round the story-teller and profound silence fell on the group. Every one held his breath, in order to lose nothing of the exquisite harmony of the discourse ; and hours glided by without notice, 'till a warming pan, attached at one end to a servant maid, traversed the salon, and Madame Nodier, armed with a chamber candlestick, was heard pronouncing with domestic authority, . Come, Titi; your bed is warmed; the conclu. sion on next Sunday.'
Sarcastic but docile, Titi arose, cast his eyes round on the circle of listeners, spoke some cordial words, gave his limp and lean hand to every one within reach, and disappeared."
• This great pontiff of the Phalansterians, was a native of Franche Comte, as well as Nodier and Wey.
The school of Fourrier, to which we directed our readers in the article on Texier, having founded the Phalange under the direction of Victor Considerant, Wey and Raymond Brucker contributed articles; but our hero, being a Christian at heart, brought ridicule on the Phalansterians by some of his grave pleasantries.
Fourrier prophecied that when the system would be well established, five hundred persons should assemble in a large meadow, and try who could dress the finest omelette ; the successful candidate being thenceforward to enjoy the style and privileges of Grand Omelettier.
"So, Francis being of a very compassionate disposition, affected great pity for the gastric labours of the poor examiner, who woulu be obliged, er-professo, to swallow five hundred mouthfuls of omelette, to enable him to form an impartial judgment. He calculated how many hundred eggs he would be forced to eat, and made euquiries as to the distribution of the residue, and the number of hens put in requisition."
After composing feuilletons numberless, some critic insinuated that he did :ot understand French grammatical composition. The consequence was that he ceased to write, studied some years, rejected the authority of the established grammars, and finally brought out his Remarques sur la langue française, sur le style et la composition littéraire.
This is considered a wonderful work for research into the structure and genius of the language from the time of the earliest known works to the present, and for the soundness and justice of the writer's views.
Our author is presented as the reverse of Dumas and Janin, where quietness and modesty are in question ; Gerard de Nerval once said that at his death his skin would furnish materials for three academicians.
Beside bis Les Anglais chez Eux he wrote a descriptive story of English society and manners in the days of Hogarth.
Allusion was made, in our former article on this subject, to the bad grace with which George Sand welcomed her biography at the hands of Mirecourt. Before taking up his brochure we will call on M. de Loménie (Un llomme de Rien) for a few illustrations relative to this too celebrated writer. They are taken from the Galerie des Contemporains Illustres, 1842. With less sparkle and movement, he exceeds our biographer in coolness and solidity of judgment, and freedom from preju
dice. We do not warrant the literal truth of his introduction. He says he was under the influence of nightmare, induced by solicitude concerning his coming article, when he was suddenly aroused from his uneasy condition by having a note to the following effect tbrust into his hand :"Madame Dudevant requests Mr. .
to call on her concerning a small command which she wishes to entrust to him.' (Then followed address and date).
I rubbed my eyes : it was certain that I was not sleeping. Still the contents of the note completely puzzled me. I knew, indeed, several eccentric celebrities who would very willingly give me a command for a biography; but besides my not consenting to under. take such a commission, the present did not seem to imply any order of this kind.
I was lost in conjecture when it came into my head to cast my eve on the envelope ; I must have been stupid or half asleep not to have thought of it before. The address was M. , Chimney Doctor, and the mystery was at once explained. Deceived by a resemblance in the names, George Sand's Mercury, a sharp boy from La Creuse, and my porter, a lively Auvergnat, to match, had adopted the same notion on the subject. They had probably read somewhere those charming verses of Voltaire on glory and smoke, and had come to the just conclusion that between a smoke doctor and an historian of illustrious cotemporaries the difference is rather less than the diameter of the earth. So, thanks to the similarity of the professions, I was now possessed of an autograph destined for my quasi colleague.
“Oh! happy sweep,” I exclaimed, while I still retained so much honesty of purpose as to intend to restore the precious document to the rightful owner, “you are about seeing genius in dishabille. No one thinks of making a pose before a professor of your rank, while there is always arrangement of drapery more or less before a biographer. Ah! why can I not be smoke curer and historian at the same time! But what is to prevent me from becoming a pro. fessor of the Black Art? I have known advocates develope into ininisters of state between evening and morning.
I have some knowledge of physics : I will commence this moment to study the Article "Smoke' in the Cyclopedia, and I will soon know the truth or falsehood of all the reports current on the subject of Lelia. I am told of her fierce and fascinating looks, and of her deep and terrible accents. They say that like St. Simon Stylites she inhabits a perch accessible only' by ladders, and I read in the Petersburgh Gazette, that she is five 'feet six in height; that she wears a frock made out of her own bair; that she sticks moustaches on her lip, and has spurs on ber boots. These reports require confirmation; and all that can be depended on is, that she is a great poet, and her chimnies encuinbered with soot. What better occasion can I find to verify the rest ?
The contents of the note seeming to imply no personal knowledge of the professor, 1 arose, dressed inyself in haste, and was glad ou
looking into a mirror, to perceive in my appearance, just the requisite measure of distinction and elegance befitting a sweep. I perused the article on smoke, clapped a superb two-foot ruler in my pocket, and departed, determined to encounter any function whatever, rather than miss any of those little personal and private, details, for which the good public has such a voracious appetite.
I found myself in a small ante chamber very like all other ante-cham bers. They demanded my name: 1 hesitated, but summoning up all the zeal of a biographer, I boldly told the lie, and assumed the style and title of the honest tradesman, who I ain sure, little dreamed of the fraud at that moment. I was told to wait a little, and I was not sorry for the suspense, which was barely necessary for conning over my part previous to representation.
Meanwhile the delay was long, and I had time to study the matter ou its disagreeable side. A charming little girl with fine curling hair, passed and repassed, and her espiègle and inquisitive glances did not contribute to put me at my ease. It was, no doubt, the little Solange the beautiful child of the illustrious writer. I began to think that if the theft came to be discovered I would cut a sorry figure: in fine the prospect of a chimney to be swept caused me no little uneasiness, taking my want of skill into account. However there was no room for retreat.*
And now, trembling, I awaited the approach of the great, the terrible Lelia, recommending my scattering senses to some heathen goddess, and reciting by way of invocation, the faming dithyrambus of an eloquent professor. • Lo! here comes the true priestess, the veritable victim of the god; the ground shakes under the impetuous tread of belia, &c. &c. I had some just cause for my awe, for a great clattering of chairs, and an energetic exclamation of the priestess op the awkwardness of the servants reached my ear, the door suddenly opened, and I shut my eyes in an access of fright.
When I opened them I found before me a lady of moderate height, of an embonpoint conformable, and not at all Dantesque. She wore a morning gown somewhat similar to those, we simple mortals of the male sex wear. Hair fine and perfectly black, whatever evil tongues may say, and separated over a forehead large and smooth as a mirror, fell on her cheeks as in the portraits of Raphael. A handkerchief was thrown neligently round her neck. Her look, which some painters persist in investing with force, had on the contrary a remarkable expression of mild melancholy. The sound of her voice was sweet and low; her mouth particularly expressed benevolence and kindDess; and there was in her whole appearance and attitude, a striking character of simplicity, of nobleness, of calmness. Gall would have seen genius in the breadth of the temples, in the rich development of the forehead; and in the frank look, the oval visage, and the fine but fatigued looking features, Lavater would have read a sorrow ful past, a comfortless present, an extreme bias to enthusiasm, and conse. quently to discouragement. Lavater would have read many other things; but he certainly would not have discovered deceit, nor bitter.
• Lerminier, be yond the Rhine, vol. 2, page 271.