« הקודםהמשך »
To command with humility, to obey with pride, himself to be a king, a despot. But let's drop that's the whole secret. Ah, power! To pos- politics." sess power is the only real happiness on earth.” “Would you rather talk about philosophy?"
I had begun to be accustomed to the eccen- He spat at long range, in the American style. tric turns in our conversation, and merely took “Ah," said he, "you're ironical! Well, I don't pains to keep up with my singular companion. mind talking about philosophy, especially as my Whatever came into his mind he uttered, with a philosophy is peculiar. It has no resemblance to cool, calm manner, as if all those axioms which the German philosophy, which, it is true, I know he stated with such perfect confidence had fol- very little about, but which I detest, as I do lowed each other in a thoroughly natural se- everything German." His eyes flashed as he quence. At the same time, one saw clearly that spoke. “ Yes, I detest the Germans, because it was an indifferent matter to him whether any I'm patriotic. And you, too, as a Russian, ought one agreed with him or not.
to hate them.” “ If you love power so," I observed, “and if “Allow me,” you have such respect for the clerical profession, “If you don't hate them, so much the worse why didn't you become a clergyman ?”
for you. They'll give you Russians something “ Your remark is just, my good sir. But I to attend to, some day—just wait a while! I aimed at something higher. I intended to found hate them, and I fear them,” he continued, in a a religion of my own. I tried the experiment in lower tone. “One of my favorite recollections America. But I wasn't alone in making the is, that I once had the pleasure of firing a couple attempt. Pretty much everybody over there is of shots at the Germans.” occupied with such matters."
“Where was that?". “ You've been in America, too, then?"
“Well-in Italy. I took part- But let's come "I passed two years there. You have noticed back to philosophy. I have the honor to inform that I've brought back with me the bad habit of you, sir, that my whole system of philosophy may chewing tobacco. I don't smoke, or use snuff, be stated as follows: There are two great misforbut I chew. Excuse me!” He turned away to tunes in human life-birth and death. The secspit. “To return to our subject, I had an idea ond is the lesser of the two, for it may be volunof founding a religion. I had invented a very tary.” pretty little legend, and, to get people to accept “And life itself ? " it, I only needed to become a martyr. When “Well, that's not so easy to describe. Obthat sort of cement is wanting, the foundations serve, though, that there are only two good things are not lasting. It's not like war, where it's much in life, namely, taking part in birth or in death; more advantageous to pour out the blood of oth- that is, in one of the two misfortunes I meners. But, to make an offering of my own blood tioned." -thank you, no! I gave it up. Just now," he “Yes, war, the chase, and love, as the Spancontinued, after a moment of silence, “you iards say. But, it's true, they add, - for one pleaquizzed me about my love of power. It's true, sure a thousand pains.'"* and I'm convinced I shall yet be a king."
“Bravo! They have good thoughts, some“A king!”
times, those infernal Spaniards. And there you “Yes, a king of some uninhabited island.” have testimony to the correctness of my philoso“A king without subjects, then!”
“Subjects will soon come. You have a prov “But,” he exclaimed, springing up, “ we have erb in Russia which says, in effect, “Wherever talked long enough. Au revoir !" there's a trough there'll be hogs.' It's born in “Wait !" I cried. “We've been talking for men to place themselves in subjection to some more than an hour, and I don't know yet with one. They'll be sure to cross the ocean, land on whom I have the honor" my island, and there find a master. What I shall “You want to know my name? Why? I say to them is clear.”
haven't asked yours. Neither have I inquired “He is really insane," I thought.—“Is it for where you live, so I don't think it necessary to the same reason that you believe the French will tell you in what hole I lodge. We shall meet subject themselves to a Bonaparte?" I asked here again ; that's enough. My talk amuses you." “Certainly, just for that reason, sir."
He winked, with a malicious expression. “I “ Pardon me! The French already have a amuse you, eh?" master. So, in their case, this need of being in I felt not a little insulted. Decidedly, this subjection, of which you speak, ought to be satis- man was too free.
He shook his head. “That's just it,” he said. “Our present king, Louis Philippe, doesn't feel
* "Guerra, caza, y amores,
Por un placer mil dolores."
“ You excite my interest,” I said. “But you “What !" cried I. “Why, his rôle has harddon't please me at all.”
ly been begun. Think of the speeches he makes “And you interest and please me too. That's in the Chambers !” enough, I think, for such interviews as our. If “Other men will come," he murmured, “ and you choose, call me Monsieur François; and if all these speeches are nothing but sound-noit suits you I shall call you Monsieur Ivan. Near- thing more. He is like a man in a boat addressing ly all Russians are Ivans. I had a chance to find a cataract. In a moment the flood will destroy that out for myself once, for I was unfortunate the boat and him with it. However, you don't enough to be a tutor in the family of one of your believe me. I know it, and I'll say no more." generals, and to live in one of your provinces. “Do you think, then," I continued, “that What an ass that general was! And what a Odilon Barrot would be—” poverty-stricken province it was! I wish you a Here Monsieur François opened his eyes wide, very good day, Monsieur Ivan.”
laughed aloud, and shook his head. “Bum, bum, He turned on his heel and went away. bum,” he said, imitating the waiter who brought
“What a strange creature!” I thought, as I the coffee. “That's all there is of Odilon Barwalked homeward. “Is he making fun of me? rot.” Does he really believe what he professes ? What “Then,” I returned, a little indignant, "acis he? A reduced author ? An old student ? cording to your opinion we are really on the eve A ruined tradesman ? A poor countryman ? of the republic. And I suppose the other men An actor without engagements ? And what im- of whom you spoke just now are the socialists." pels him to make disclosures to me?" I asked Monsieur François assumed a somewhat more myself these questions, but could arrive at no con- earnest aspect. “Socialism was born among us, clusion about him. My curiosity was excited, and in France," he said, “and in France it will die, if it was with a good deal of interest that I looked it is not dead already; or rather, it will be killed. for him, the next day, at the Palais Royal. I There are two ways in which it can be killed : waited for my original in vain. But on the day either by ridicule (for Monsieur Considérant will after that he appeared again, under the portico of not always be able to state with impunity that the café.
men can grow tails, with an eye on the tip); or “Ah, Monsieur Ivan,” he cried, as soon as he else in this way." He raised both hands, as saw me, “good day! Fate brings us together though taking aim with a gun. “Voltaire said again. How do you do?"
Frenchmen have no head for epic poetry. I ven“Very well; and you, Monsieur François ?” ture to say Frenchmen have no head for social
“So-so. But yesterday I was very near giv- ism." ing up the ghost. Heart-disease. It's very much “People don't think so outside of France." like death-infernally like it! That's nothing, “Then foreigners show for the hundredth though. Let's sit in the garden. It's too crowd- time that they don't understand us. Socialism ed here. I can't bear to have any one looking at to-day needs a creative power. It will seek it me from one side, or leaning on my back. Be- among the Italians, the Germans, perhaps among sides, it's fine weather."
you. As for the French, they are discoverers. We seated ourselves in the garden. In pay- They have found out almost everything, but they ing his two sous for the chair he drew out an old, don't originate. Frenchmen are sharp and narflat pocket-book in which he searched for a long row, like a sword. They penetrate the hearts time before finding the two sous which were its of things. They discover, they explore. But to sole contents. I expected a new course of his originate one must be broad and round." paradoxes, but he began questioning me about “ Like the English, or like your friends the certain important Russian personages of that era. Germans," I said, not without some intention of I answered him, but he wanted more details, bantering him. But he did not notice my jest. more biographical anecdotes. He knew many “Socialism!” he continued. “That's not a things which I had not suspected that he could French principle. Our principles are very differknow. His fund of knowledge was certainly re- ent. We have two of them, two corner-stones. markable. By degrees we approached the sub- They are revolution and routine. Robespierre ject of politics. It was hard to avoid it in that and Monsieur Prudhomme-they are our hetime of public excitement. Carelessly, as though roes.” he attached little importance to them, he men- “Indeed? And how about the military eletioned Guizot and Thiers. Speaking of the first, ment?” he said France was certainly in bad luck. “She “We are not a military people. Does that has only one public man with a will, and he's the surprise you? We are a brave people, very very one who is standing in her way. As for brave; warlike, but not military. Thank God, Thiers," he added, “ his role was played long ago." we are better than that!” He bit the end of
his cane. “Yes, and yet, if it were not for the “Really?” French, there would be no Europe."
“I've never understood it, I tell you. You “There'd be an America, then.”
look at me and seem to think: ‘You prophesy “No, for America is Europe too, only changed. that there'll be catastrophes in France very soon; The Americans have none of those fundamental then this is the moment for you to fish in troubled elements on which the European fabric is based, waters.' But the pike doesn't catch fish when and yet the result is the same. You remember the water is troubled, and I've not yet been a what the sergeant said to the recruits : ‘The left- pike." He turned around and struck the back turn is exactly like the right-turn, except that it's of his chair with his clinched hand. “No, I've just the opposite.' Well, America is the left-turn not known how to take advantage of anything. of Europe. If France were Rome,” he continued, If I had, should I have presented myself before after a short pause, “this would be the time for a you in such a condition as this? I should probCatiline to appear. For in a little while-you'll ably not have made your acquaintance, which I see it" (here he raised his voice)—“the stones would have regretted.” He said this with a of our streets, perhaps here, just by us, will again forced smile. “I shouldn't have lived in the drink blood. We shall have no Catiline, but we miserable garret I now inhabit. Neither should shall have a Cæsar. By the way, don't you think I have occasion, every morning when I leave my it a pity that Shakespeare never wrote a ‘Cati- wretched bed and cast a glance over the sea of line '}"
houses in Paris, to repeat Jugurtha's words, "Then you have a high opinion of Shake- • Urbs venalis !' And yet, if I'd been like this speare, although he was only a poet?"
city, I shouldn't be in this poor and miserable “Yes; he was a man born under favorable state to-day.” circumstances, and not without talent. He could “Now he's going to ask me for money," I see black and white at the same time, which was thought. remarkable, and he didn't advocate either of them, He remained silent for a little while, with his which was still more remarkable. He wrote one chin resting on his breast, and stirred the sand very good thing—Coriolanus.' That's his best with his cane. Then he sighed again, took off piece."
his spectacles, drew out an old, tattered handThe notion that Monsieur François belonged kerchief, and rubbed his forehead with it, raising to the aristocracy came into my mind again. his elbow quite high. “Yes,” he went on, in a “ You probably like Coriolanus because in it peculiar tone,“ life is a sad thing, sir-a sad Shakespeare speaks without respect, even with thing! I have one consolation. It is that I contempt, of the common people," I said shall soon die, and, no doubt, by violence.”
"No," he replied, “I don't despise the com- “You'll never be a king, then?” I felt like mon people—I don't despise people at all. Be- asking him, but restrained myself. fore a man despises others he ought to begin by “Yes, by violence,” he continued. “Look at despising himself. I only do that now and then this !" He held out his left hand toward me,
-especially when I'm hungry," he added with a with the palm upward, and laid the index-finger gloomy look. “Despise the people? Why? of his right hand in it. Neither of them was The people are like the ground. If I choose I very clean. “Do you see this line, intersecting cultivate it, and it supports me. If I don't choose the line of life?”. I let it lie idle, and tread it under my feet. Some “You believe in palmistry, then?" times, it's true, it takes a notion to shake itself, “Do you see this line ?” he repeated, perlike a wet poodle. Then it throws down every- sistently. “Well, look at it carefully. If you thing we have built-all our pretty little houses. ever notice it again when there's nothing around But they're rare, those earthquakes. Oh, I know to remind you of me, and yet think of me sudvery well they'll destroy the earth some day, and denly, you may be sure I shall then be dead." that the people will destroy me, too. But there's “You believe in fate, too?" no help for it. Despise the people? We only He moved his shoulders slightly. “Well, despise what we should, under other circum- sir," he said, “I'm like Socrates, who knew many stances, be forced to respect highly. In their things and professed to know nothing. I believe case there's no occasion for either contempt or nothing, and I believe a great deal. My luck is respect. With regard to them one need only the only thing I don't believe in." know his own advantage and be able to make He bowed his head again, letting one hand, use of cat's-paws."
which still held his handkerchief, fall on his knee, “Allow me to ask whether you have ever while the other, with his spectacles, hung loosely understood that?”
by his side. I took this opportunity to observe Monsieur François heaved a sigh. “No," he him more closely than I had before done. He said, “ I've never understood it.”
seemed to me very old and broken. A great weariness showed itself in his drooping shoulders remove the impression Herzen's remark had proand even in the position of his large flat feet. duced. There was something indescribably pitiable in His face brightened; he smiled, and then his compressed lips, in the bending of his long, tapped me on the knee as if to show that he unthin neck, in his ill-shaven face, and in the un- derstood and thanked me. He replaced his speckempt gray hair falling over his furrowed fore- tacles and took up his cane, which had fallen to head. “Poor, unhappy man!" I thought. “You the ground. “ No," he replied, " I learned your have been unfortunate in everything—in your language before that, while I was in Siberia, after family and in your undertakings. If you are leaving America. For I've been in your Siberia, married, your wife has deceived and deserted and experienced there everything you can think of.” you. If you have children, you don't know them. “For instance?" You are all alone in the world.”
“No, I shall not say anything to you about A loud call in the Russian language inter- Siberia, for several reasons. The principal one is rupted my reflections. Somebody pronounced that I'm afraid of offending you. Pamalchime my name. I turned, and saw a few steps away loutchi," * he added, in bad Russian, with his Alexander Herzen, the well-known Russian au- sardonic smile. “Let me tell you, instead, what thor, who then lived in Paris. I went toward happened to me in Texas." him.
Then, in a very circumstantial manner, quite “Who is that you were sitting with?” he unusual to him, he related to me how, during his asked in Russian, without lowering his high, clear winter wanderings in Texas, he had been forced voice. “What sort of object is that?"
to seek shelter in the adobe hut of a Mexican “ That man?”
vaquero. He awoke in the night, and found his “My dear fellow, he's a spy.”
host sitting on the bed with a huge knife in his “Do you know him?"
hand; and this man, who was of immense size “Not at all. It's only necessary to look at and as strong as an ox, told him he was going to him. That's the style of them all. What brought cut his throat because he looked like his deadliest you into his company? Take care of your- enemy. self!”
““Tell me, now,' said the Mexican, 'whether As I knew that Herzen possessed no great I'm not right to rip you open like a hog! Noinsight into character, especially at first sight, body will ever know anything about it, and, even and as I remembered that one often saw at his if it should be found out, nobody cares enough table men of very suspicious' aspect who had about you to do anything to me for it. So begin won his confidence by a few pretentious words, now and confess your sins; for, thank God, we and who afterward developed into government have time to talk !' spies, as he has confessed in his memoirs, I at- "And so,” continued Monsieur François, “I tached very little importance to his warning. I was forced to confess to this drunken brute all merely thanked him for his friendly interest, and night. Sometimes I would follow the words of returned to Monsieur François. The latter still the Bible, for he was a Roman Catholic, and I sat in the same place and in the same position. thought that might make an impression on him.
“I must tell you," he said, when I had re- Then I would assure him, by every means in my sumed my place at his side, “ that you Russian power, that the satisfaction he would get out of gentlemen have a bad habit. On the street, be- my death wouldn't pay for soiling his hands; fore friends or Frenchmen, you say anything in that he would be obliged to bury me if only for Russian, as if no one could possibly understand sanitary reasons; that it would put him to a you. That is, at least, impolitic. I, for exam- great deal of inconvenience, etc. Then I was ple, understood all your friend said just now." obliged to tell him stories and sing songs. “Sing
I colored involuntarily. “I beg you to think with me!' he yelled. “Sing La Muchacha!' nothing of it,” I said. “My friend certainly—" So I sang second while the edge of his infernal
"I know him,” he interrupted. “He is a navaja was within an inch of my throat. At talented man. But errare humanum est " (he last he fell asleep, with his cursed long-haired was particularly fond of parading his Latin). head on my breast.” " However, I don't blame him. Judging from my Monsieur François told me the whole of this exterior one might take me for anything. But, story in a slow, sleepy way, without the least exif I were really what he supposes, what interest citement. As he stopped suddenly he opened should I have in pumping you ?".
his eyes wide. “You are certainly right."
“And what did you do with this Mexican?" He gave me a gloomy look.
I asked. “You probably learned Russian when you were a tutor at the General's,” I said, anxious to
* " Least said, soonest mended."
“Well, I deprived him of the means of play- This is not the place to tell what I saw, heard, ing any more such silly jokes upon me.”
and experienced during that journey. But I re“ What do you mean?”.
member that at one station a locomotive with a He drew his hand along under his chin. single car attached to it rushed by with a vast
“ I took his knife away from him,” he said. deal of noise. It was an express-train, carrying “You would have done so, too-wouldn't you?" Citizen Antoine Thouret, the commissioner of “ And then ?"
the republic, to the north. Those who accom“ And then after that matter was attended panied him were waving tricolored flags and to-I went to California. There I had a great shouting wildly, while the railroad officials gazed many other adventures, and all on account of in silence at the huge figure of the commissioner, those detestable things.” He pointed to a woman who leaned out of the window and raised his of a certain age, who, attired very modestly, was arm with a gesture of authority. And I remempassing by.
ber that the famous Madame Gordon was once “On account of what?"
in the same car with me, and that she suddenly “Of the petticoats. Oh, the women !-the began holding forth about the necessity of seekwomen !—those wing-breakers, those poisoners ing safety by applying to "the Prince.” The of our blood! But, good-by, sir. It seems to Prince alone was able to save the country; the me that I'm beginning to bore you, and I don't Prince was the man chosen by Fate. At first like to bore people, particularly when I'm not nobody understood her. But, when she at last trying to get anything from them."
mentioned the name of Louis Napoleon, everyHe stood up, gave me a slight nod, and went body turned away from her as if she were mad. away, carelessly swinging his cane.
Then I thought of what Monsieur François had I confess that I had very little faith in this said about the Bonapartes. His first prophecy Mexican story. It injured Monsieur François in had been fulfilled. I remember, also, that before my eyes, and I began thinking again that he we reached Pontoise our train came in contact might be trying to humbug me. But why? with another train, going in the opposite direc“ He is an original," I said to myself. And I tion. Some passengers were hurt, but no one could not consider him a spy, in spite of my seemed to care anything about that. The only friend Herzen's opinion. It surprised me very question asked was, “Shall we be able to reach much that none of the hosts of visitors to the Paris?” As soon as the train went on, everyPalais Royal seemed to know him. It was true body began talking again with animation-everyI had sometimes thought I saw him wink to body, that is, except one little old white-haired some of the passers-by, but I might have been man, who, ever since we had left Douai, had mistaken.
cowered in a corner, repeating in a low voice, I forgot to say that he never seemed to me to “All is lost all is lost!” have been drinking. Perhaps he had no money N either will I try to describe my sensations to buy liquor. But at any rate he always gave on entering Paris, seeing the tricolored cockades me the impression that he was a temperate man. on hats, caps, and even on signs, and watching
He was not at our place of meeting either on the men in blouses, with guns strapped to their the next day or the day afterward, and I gradu- shoulders, who were singing “La Marseillaise" ally ceased to think of him.
as they removed the barricades from the streets. A short time before the 24th of February, I passed the whole of the first day in turmoil and 1848, I went to Brussels, and there heard of the confusion. The next day I went, according to new French Revolution. During a whole day my custom, to the Palais Royal to take breakfast. nobody received letters or papers from Paris. I did not see Monsieur François there, but it was Crowds filled the streets and squares, full of ex- evident that his prediction about blood flowing citement and expectation. On the 26th of Feb- in that place had been verified. The only seriruary, about six o'clock in the morning, I was ous conflict during the February days took place lying in bed at my hotel. Suddenly the door was within the Palais Royal. I did not meet him on thrown open, and some one shouted, “ France is the succeeding day either, but saw him first on a republic !" A waiter was running through the the 17th of March-the day on which a vast corridor, opening the doors and announcing the crowd of workmen betook themselves to the news at the top of his voice. Half an hour after- Hôtel de Ville, to protest against the edict which ward the cars were carrying me toward Paris. is known as that of the bonnets à poils. SwingThe rails were torn up at the frontier, but my ing his arms, and taking huge strides, he marched traveling companions and I managed to reach swiftly in the midst of the crowd, a red scarf Douai in a hired conveyance. Toward evening around his waist and a large red cockade on his we arrived at Pontoise, but we could go no far- hat. Our looks met, but he did not seem to ther, for the rails were torn up around Paris too want to recognize me, although he stared at me