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all the charges on your estate into one on | democrats and foreigners, with artists lower rate of interest. Is it so?" and authors, and such creatures." "Is that the reason why you did not invite the Marquis?"
"I am so advised," said the Marquis. "And very rightly advised; come and talk with me about it some day next week. I hope to have a large sum of money set free in a few days. Of course, mortgages on land don't pay like speculations at the Bourse; but I am rich enough to please myself. We will see we will see."
Here Grandrin returned with the cigars; but Alain at that time never smoked, and Louvier excused himself, with a laugh and a sly wink, on the plea that he was going to pay his respects as doubtless that joli garçon was going to do, likewise to a belle dame who did not reckon the smell of tobacco among the perfumes of Houbigant or Arabia.
"Meanwhile," added Louvier, turning to Gandrin, "I have something to say to you on business about the contract for that new street of mine. No hurryafter our young friend has gone to his 'assignation.''
Alain could not misinterpret the hint; and in a few moments took leave of his host more surprised than disappointed that the financier had not invited him, as Graham had assumed he would, to his soirée the following evening.
When Alain was gone, Louvier's jovial manner disappeared also, and became bluffly rude rather than bluntly cordial.
"Gandrin, what did you mean by saying that that young man was no muscadin? Muscadin― aristocrat― offensive from top to toe."
"You amaze me to him so cordially."
you seemed to take
66 And pray, were you too blind to remark with what cold reserve he responded to my condescensions? How he winced when I called him Rochebriant! how he coloured when I called him dear boy'! These aristocrats think we ought to thank them on our knees when they take our money, and "- here Louvier's face darkened-"seduce our women."
"Monsieur Louvier, in all France I do not know a greater aristocrat than yourself."
I don't know whether M. Gandrin meant that speech as a compliment, but M. Louvier took it as such-laughed complacently and rubbed his hands. "Ay, ay, millionaires are the real aristocrats, for they have power, as my beau Marquis will soon find. I must bid you good-night. Of course I shall see Madame Gandrin and yourself to-morrow. Prepare for a motley gathering-lots of
"To be sure; I would not shock so pure a Legitimist by contact with the sons of the people, and make him still colder to myself. No; when he comes to my house he shall meet lions and viveurs of the haut ton, who will play into my hands by teaching him how to ruin himself in the quickest manner and in the genre Louis XV. Bon soir, mon vieux."
THE next night Graham in vain looked round for Alain in M. Louvier's salons, and missed his high-bred mien and melancholy countenance. M. Louvier had been for some four years a childless widower, but his receptions were not the less numerously attended, nor his establishment less magnificently monté for the absence of a presiding lady: very much the contrary; it was noticeable how much he had increased his status and prestige as a social personage since the death of his unlamented spouse.
To say truth, she had been rather a heavy drag on his triumphal car. She had been the heiress of a man who had amassed a great deal of money; not in the higher walks of commerce, but in a retail trade.
Louvier himself was the son of a rich money-lender; he had entered life with an ample fortune and an intense desire to be admitted into those more brilliant circles in which fortune can be dissipated with éclat. He might not have attained this object but for the friendly countenance of a young noble who was then The glass of fashion and the mould of form. But this young noble, of whom later we shall hear more, came suddenly to grief; and when the money-lender's son lost that potent protector, the dandies, previously so civil, showed him a very cold shoulder.
Louvier then became an ardent democrat, and recruiting the fortune he had impaired by the aforesaid marriage, launched into colossal speculations, and became enormously rich. His aspirations for social rank now revived, but his wife sadly interfered with them. She was thrifty by nature; sympathized little with her husband's genius for accumulation; always said he would end in a hospital; hated Republicans; despised authors and artists; and by the ladies of the beau
monde was pronounced common and vul- | have said, "according to French notions gar. of luxury." Enough of these details, which a writer cannot give without feeling himself somewhat vulgarized in doing so, but without a loose general idea of which a reader would not have an accurate conception of something not vulgar - of something grave, historical, possibly tragical, the existence of a Parisian millionaire at the date of this narrative.
So long as she lived, it was impossible for Louvier to realize his ambition of having one of the salons which at Paris establish celebrity and position. He could not then command those advantages of wealth which he especially coveted. He was eminently successful in doing this now. As soon as she was safe in Père la Chaise, he enlarged his hotel by the purchase and annexation of an adjoining house; redecorated and refurnished it, and in this task displayed, it must be said to his credit, or to that of the administrators he selected for the purpose, a nobleness of taste rarely exhibited nowadays. His collection of pictures was not large, and consisted exclusively of the French school, ancient and modern, for in all things Louvier affected the patriot. But each of those pictures was a gem; such Watteaus! such Greuzes! such landscapes by Panel! and, above all, such masterpieces by Ingrès, Horace Vernet, and Delaroche, were worth all the doubtful originals of Flemish and Italian art which make the ordinary boast of private collectors.
The evidence of wealth was everywhere manifest at M. Louvier's, but it was everywhere refined by an equal evidence of taste. The apartments devoted to hospitality ministered to the delighted study of artists, to whom free access was given, and of whom two or three might be seen daily in the "showrooms," copying pictures or taking sketches of rare articles of furniture or effects for palatian interiors.
Among the things which rich English visitors of Paris most coveted to see was M. Louvier's hotel; and few among the richest left it without a sigh of envy and despair. Only in such London houses as belong to a Sutherland or a Holford could our metropolis exhibit a splendour as opulent and a taste as refined.
M. Louvier had his set evenings for popular assemblies. At these were entertained the Liberals of every shade, from tricolor to rouge, with the artists and writers most in vogue, pêle-mêle with decorated diplomatists, ex-ministers, Orleanists, and Republicans, distinguished foreigners, plutocrats of the Bourse, and lions male and female from the arid nurse of that race, the Chaussée d'Antin. Of his more select reunions something will be said later.
These pictures occupied two rooms of moderate size, built for their reception, and lighted from above. The great salon to which they led contained treasures scarcely less precious; the walls were covered with the richest silks which the looms of Lyons could produce. Every piece of furniture here was a work of art in its way console-tables of Florentine mosaic, inlaid with pearl and lapis-lazuli; cabinets in which the exquisite designs of the renaissance were carved in ebony; colossal vases of Russian malachite, but wrought by French artists. The very nicknacks scattered carelessly about the room might have been admired in the cabinet of the Palazzo Pitti. Beyond this room lay the salle de danse, its ceiling painted by supported by white marble columns, the glazed balcony and the angles of the room filled with tiers of exotics. In the dining-room on the same floor, on the other side of the landingplace, were stored in glazed buffets, not only vessels and salvers of plate, silver and gold, but, more costly still, matchless specimens of Sevres and Limoges, and medieval varieties of Venetian glass. On the ground-floor, which opened on the lawn of a large garden, Louvier had his suite of private apartments, furnished, as more than once as his model for those he said, "simply, according to English brilliant young vauriens who figure in notions of comfort." Englishmen would the great novelist's comedy of "Human
This gentleman, the Vicomte de Brézé, was of good birth, and had a legitimate right to his title of Vicomte, which is more than can be said of many vicomtes one meets at Paris. He had no other property, however, than a principal share in an influential journal, to which he was a lively and sparkling contributor. In his youth, under the reign of Louis Philippe, he had been a chief among literary exquisites, and Balzac was said to have taken him
"And how does this poor Paris metamorphosed please Mons. Vane?" asked a Frenchman with a handsome intelligent countenance, very carefully dressed, though in a somewhat bygone fashion, and carrying off his tenth lustrum with an air too sprightly to evince any sense. of the weight.
Life." The Vicomte's fashion with the Orleanist dynasty.
"Is it possible, my dear Vicomte," answered Graham, "not to be pleased with a capital so marvellously embellished ?" "Embellished it may be to foreign eyes," said the Vicomte, sighing, "but not improved to the taste of a Parisian like me. I miss the dear Paris of old - the streets associated with my beaux jours are no more. Is there not something drearily monotonous in those interminable perspectives? How frightfully the way lengthens before one's eyes! In the twists and curves of the old Paris one was relieved from the pain of seeing how far one had to go from one spot to another — each tortuous street had a separate idiosyncrasy; what picturesque diversities, what interesting recollections all swept away! Mon Dieu! and what for? Miles of florid façades, staring and glaring at one with goggle-eyed pitiless windows. House-rents trebled; and the consciousness that, if you venture to grumble, underground railways, like concealed volcanoes, can burst forth on you at any moment with an eruption of bayonets and muskets. This maudit empire seeks to keep its hold on France much as a grand seigneur seeks to enchain a nymph of the ballet, tricks her out in finery and baubles, and insures her infidelity the moment he fails to satisfy her whims."
expired | dynasty; you, M. de Brézé, do but imitate your elders in seeking to destroy the dynasty under which you flourish; should you succeed, you hommes de plume will be the first sufferers and the loudest complainers.'"
"Vicomte," ," answered Graham, “I have had the honour to know you since I was a small boy at a preparatory school home for the holidays, and you were a guest at my father's country-house. You were then fêté as one of the most promising writers among the young men of the day, especially favoured by the princes of the reigning family. I shall never forget the impression made on me by your brilliant appearance and your no less brilliant
"Cher Monsieur Vane," said the Vicomte, smiling complacently, "your father did me great honour in classing me with Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Emile de Girardin, and the other stars of the Orleanist galaxy, including our friend here, M. Savarin. A very superior man was your father."
"Ánd," said Savarin, who, being an Orleanist, had listened to Graham's speech with an approving smile — “and if I remember right, my dear De Brézé, no one was more brilliantly severe than yourself on poor De Lamartine and the Republic that succeeded Louis Philippe ; no one more emphatically expressed the yearning desire for another Napoleon to restore order at home and renown abroad. Now you have got another Napoleon."
"And I want change for my Napoleon," said De Brézé, laughing.
"My dear Vicomte," said Graham, "one thing we may all grant, that in culture and intellect you are far superior to the mass of your fellow-Parisians; that you are therefore a favourable type of their political character."
"Ah, mon cher, vous êtes trop aimable." "And therefore I venture to say this, if the archangel Gabriel were permitted to descend to Paris and form the best government for France that the wisdom of seraph could devise, it would not be two years I doubt if it would be six months — before out of this Paris, which you call the Foyer des Idées, would emerge a powerful party, adorned by yourself and other hommes de plume, in favour of a revolution for the benefit of ce bon Satan and ce cher petit Beelzebub."
"What a pretty vein of satire you have, mon cher!" said the Vicomte, goodhumouredly; "there is a sting of truth in your witticism. Indeed, I must send you some articles of mine in which I have said much the same thing- les beaux esprits se rencontrent. The fault of us French is impatience - desire of change; but then it is that desire which keeps the world going and retains our place at the head of it. However, at this time we are all living too fast for our money to keep up with it, and too slow for our intellect not to flag. We vie with each other on the road to ruin, for in literature all the
"Ah! ces beaux jours! ce bon Louis Philippe, ce cher petit Joinville," sighed the Vicomte.
"But at that day you compared le bon Louis Philippe to Robert Macaire. You described all his sons, including, no doubt, ce cher petit Joinville, in terms of resentful contempt, as so many plausible gamins whom Robert Macaire was training to cheat the public in the interest of the family firm. I remember my father saying to you in answer, 'No royal house in Europe has more sought to develope the literature of an epoch, and to signalize its representatives by social respect and official honours, than that of the Orleans | old paths to fame are shut up."
Here a tall gentleman, with whom the Vicomte had been conversing before he accosted Vane, and who had remained beside De Brézé listening in silent attention to this colloquy, interposed, speaking in the slow voice of one accustomed to measure his words, and with a slight but unmistakable German accent "There is that, M. de Brézé, which makes one think gravely of what you say so lightly. Viewing things with the unprejudiced eyes of a foreigner, I recognize much for which France should be grateful to the Emperor. Under his sway her material resources have been marvellously augmented; her commerce has been placed by the treaty with England on sounder foundations, and is daily exhibiting richer life; her agriculture has made a prodigious advance wherever it has allowed room for capitalists, and escaped from the curse of petty allotments and peasantproprietors a curse which would have ruined any country less blessed by Nature; turbulent factions have been quelled; internal order maintained; the external prestige of France, up at least to the date of the Mexican war, increased to an extent that might satisfy even Frenchman's amour propre; and her advance in civilization has been manifested by the rapid creation of a naval power which should put even England on her mettle. But, on the other hand
"Ay, on the other hand," said the Vicomte.
"On the other hand there are in the imperial system two causes of decay and of rot silently at work. They may not be the faults of the Emperor, but they are such misfortunes as may cause the fall of the Empire. The first is an absolute divorce between the political system and the intellectual culture of the nation. The throne and the system rest on universal suffrage - on a suffrage which gives to classes the most ignorant a power that preponderates over all the healthful elements of knowledge. It is the tendency of all ignorant multitudes to personify themselves, as it were, in one individual. They cannot comprehend you when you argue for a principle; they do comprehend you when you talk of a name. The Emperor Napoleon is to them a name, and the prefects and officials who influence their votes are paid for incorporating all principles in the shibboleth of that single name. You have thus sought the wellspring of a political system in the deepest stratum of popular ignorance. To rid popular ignorance of
its normal revolutionary bias, the rural peasants are indoctrinated with the conservatism that comes from the fear which appertains to property. They have their roods of land or their shares in a national loan. Thus you estrange the crassitude of an ignorant democracy still more from the intelligence of the educated classes by combining it with the most selfish and abject of all the apprehensions that are ascribed to aristocracy and wealth. What is thus embedded in the depth of your society makes itself shown on the surface. Napoleon III. has been compared to Augustus; and there are many startling similitudes between them in character and in fate. Each succeeds to the heritage of a great name that had contrived to unite autocracy with the popular cause. Each subdued all rival competitors, and inaugurated despotic rule in the name of freedom. Each mingled enough of sternness with ambitious will to stain with bloodshed the commencement of his power; but it would be an absurd injustice to fix the same degree of condemnation on the coup d'état as humanity fixes on the earlier cruelties of Augustus. Each, once firm in his seat, became mild and clement: Augustus perhaps from policy, Napoleon III. from a native kindliness of disposition which no fair critic of character can fail to acknowledge. Enough of similitudes; now for one salient difference. Observe how earnestly Augustus strove, and how completely he succeeded in the task, to rally round him all the leading intellects in every grade and of every party- the followers of Antony, the friends of Brutus every great captain, every great statesman, every great writer, every man who could lend a ray of mind to his own Julian constellation, and make the age of Augustus an era in the annals of human intellect and genius. But this has not been the good fortune of your Emperor. The result of his system has been the suppression of intellect in every department. He has rallied round him not one great statesman; his praises are hymned by not one great poet. The célébrités of a former day stand aloof; or, preferring exile to constrained allegiance, assail him with unremitting missiles from their asylum in foreign shores. His reign is sterile of new célébrités. The few that arise enlist themselves against him. Whenever he shall venture to give full freedom to the press and to the legislature, the intellect thus suppressed or thus hostile will burst forth in collected vol
ume. His partisans have not been trained | them ample work and good wages indeand disciplined to meet such assailants. pendent of the natural laws that regulate They will be as weak as no doubt they the markets of labour. Accustomed thus will be violent. And the worst is, that to consider the State bound to maintain the intellect thus rising in mass against them, the moment the State fails in that him will be warped and distorted, like impossible task, they will accommodate captives who, being kept in chains, exer- their honesty to a rush upon property cise their limbs, on escaping, in vehement under the name of social reform. Have jumps without definite object. The di- you noticed how largely increased within rectors of emancipated opinion may thus the last few years is the number of those be terrible enemies to the Imperial Gov- who cry out, La Propriété, c'est le vol? ernment, but they will be very unsafe Have you considered the rapid growth of councillors to France. Concurrently with the International Association? I do not this divorce between the Imperial system say that for all these evils the Empire is and the national intellect a divorce so exclusively responsible. To a certain complete that even your salons have lost degree they are found in all rich commutheir wit, and even your caricatures their nities, especially where democracy is point a corruption of manners which more or less in the ascendant. To a certhe Empire, I own, did not originate, but tain extent they exist in the large towns inherit, has become SO common that of Germany; they are conspicuously inevery one owns and nobody blames it. creasing in England; they are acknowl The gorgeous ostentation of the Court edged to be dangerous in the United has perverted the habits of the people. States of America; they are, I am told The intelligence obstructed from other on good authority, making themselves vents betakes itself to speculating for a visible with the spread of civilization in fortune; and the greed of gain and the Russia. But under the French Empire passion for show are sapping the noblest they have become glaringly rampant, and elements of the old French manhood. I venture to predict that the day is not Public opinion stamps with no oppro- far off when the rot at work throughout brium a minister or favourite who profits all layers and strata of French society by a job; and I fear you will find that will insure a fall of the fabric at the sound jobbing pervades all your administrative of which the world will ring. departments."
"There is many a fair and stately tree which continues to throw out its leaves and rear its crest till suddenly the wind smites it, and then, and not till then, the trunk which seems so solid is found to be but the rind to a mass of crumbled powder."
"All very true," said De Brézé, with a shrug of the shoulders and in a tone of levity that seemed to ridicule the assertion he volunteered; "Virtue and Honour banished from courts and salons and the cabinets of authors, ascend to fairer heights in the attics of ouvriers."
The ouvriers, ouvriers of Paris!" cried this terrible German.
"Ah, Monsieur le Comte, what can you say against our ouvriers? A German count cannot condescend to learn anything about ces petits gens."
Monsieur," replied the German, "in the eyes of a statesman there are no petits gens, and in those of a philosopher no petites choses. We in Germany have too many difficult problems affecting our working classes to solve, not to have induced me to glean all the information I can as to the ouvriers of Paris. They have amongst them men of aspirations as noble as can animate the souls of philosophers and poets, perhaps not the less noble because common-sense and experience cannot follow their flight. But as a body, the ouvriers of Paris have not been elevated in political morality by the benevolent aim of the Emperor to find |
"Monsieur le Comte," said the Vicomte, "you are a severe critic and a lugubrious prophet. But a German is so safe from revolution that he takes alarm at the stir of movement which is the normal state of the French esprit."
"French esprit may soon evaporate into Parisian bêtise. As to Germany being safe from revolution, allow me to repeat a saying of Goethe's - but has M. le Comte ever heard of Goethe?"
Goethe, of course - très joli écrivain." "Goethe said to some one who was making much the same remark as yourself, We Germans are in a state of revolution now, but we do things so slowly that it will be a hundred years before we Germans shall find it out. But when completed, it will be the greatest revolution society has yet seen, and will last like the other revolutions that, beginning, scarce noticed, in Germany, have transformed the world.””