[ocr errors]

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." “I am so advised,” said the Marquis. “ Is that the reason why you did not

And very rightly advised ; come and invite the Marquis ?” talk with me about it some day next week. “To be sure ; I would not shock so I hope to have a large sum of money set pure a Legitimist by contact with the free in a few days. Of course, mortgages sons of the people, and make him still on land don't pay like speculations at the colder to myself. No; when he comes Bourse ; but I am rich enough to please to my house he shall meet lions and myself. We will see — we will see.” viveurs of the haut ton, who will play into

Here Grandrin returned with the ci- my hands by teaching him how to ruin gars; but Alain at that time never himself in the quickest manner and in the smoked, and Louvier excused himself, genre Louis XV. Bon soir, mon vieux." with a laugh and a sly wink, on the plea that he was going to pay his respects

CHAPTER VI. as doubtless that joli garçon was going to The next night Graham in vain looked do, likewise — to a belle dame who did round for Alain in M. Louvier's salons, not reckon the smell of tobacco among and missed his high-bred mien and melthe perfumes of Houbigant or Arabia. ancholy countenance. M. Louvier had

Meanwhile," added Louvier, turning been for some four years a childless widto Gandrin, “ I have something to say to ower, but his receptions were not the less you on business about the contract for numerously attended, nor his establishthat new street of mine. No hurry ment less magnificently monté for the after our young friend has gone to his absence of a presiding lady: very much 'assignation.'

the contrary; it was noticeable how much Alain could not misinterpret the hint; he had increased his status and prestige and in a few moments took leave of his as a social personage since the death of host more surprised than disappointed his unlamented spouse. that the financier had not invited him, as To say truth, she had been rather a Graham had assumed he would, to his heavy drag on his triumphal car. She soirée the following evening.

had been the heiress of a man who had When Alain was gone, Louvier's jovial amassed a great deal of money; not in manner disappeared also, and became the higher walks of commerce, but in a bluffly rude rather than bluntly cordial. retail trade.

Gandrin, what did you mean by saying Louvier himself was the son of a rich that that young man was no miscadin? money-lender; he had entered life with Muscadin - aristocrat — offensive from an ample fortune and an intense desire to top to toe.'

be admitted into those more brilliant “ You amaze me — you seemed to take circles in which fortune can be dissipated to him so cordially.”

with éclat. He might not have attained “And pray, were you too blind to re- this object but for the friendly countemark with what cold reserve he respond- nance of a young noble who was then ed to my condescensions ? How he winced when I called him Rochebriant !

The glass of fashion and the mould of form. how he coloured when I called him dear But this young noble, of whom later we boy'! These aristocrats think we ought shall hear more, came suddenly to grief ; to thank them on our knees when they and when the money-lender's son lost take our money, and ” — here Louvier's that potent protector, the dandies, preface darkened — “seduce our women." viously so civil, showed him a very cold

“ Monsieur Louvier, in all France I do shoulder. not know a greater aristocrat than your- Louvier then became an ardent demoself.”

crat, and recruiting the fortune he had I don't know whether M. Gandrin impaired by the aforesaid marriage, meant that speech as a compliment, but launched into colossal speculations, and M. Louvier took it as such - laughed became enormously rich. His aspirations complacently and rubbed his hands. for social rank now revived, but his wife “Ay, ay, millionaires are the real aristo- sadly interfered with them. She was crats, for they have power, as my beau thrifty by nature ; sympathized little with Marquis will soon find. I must bid you her husband's genius for accumulation ; good-night. Of course I shall see Ma- always said he would end in a hospital; dame Gandrin and yourself to-morrow. hated Republicans ; despised authors and Prepare for a motley gathering - lots of 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, So long as she lived, it was impossible which a writer cannot give without feeling for Louvier to realize his ambition of hav- himself somewhat vulgarized in doing so, ing one of the salons which at Paris es- but without a loose general idea of which tablish celebrity and position. He could a reader would not have an accurate connot then command those advantages of ception of something not vulgar — of wealth which he especially coveted. He something grave, historical, possibly tragwas eminently successful in doing this ical, the existence of a Parisian millioAs soon

as she was safe in naire at the date of this narrative. Père la Chaise, he enlarged his hotel The evidence of wealth was everywhere by the purchase and annexation of manifest at M. Louvier's, but it was everyan adjoining house ; redecorated and re- where refined by an equal evidence of furnished it, and in this task displayed, taste. The apartments devoted to hosit must be said to his credit, or to that of pitality ministered to the delighted study the administrators he selected for the pur- of artists, to whom free access was given, pose, a nobleness of taste rarely exhibited and of whom two or three might be seen nowadays. His collection of pictures daily in the “showrooms,” copying picwas not large, and consisted exclusively tures or taking sketches of rare articles of the French school, ancient and mod- of furniture or effects for palatian interiors. ern, for in all things Louvier affected the Among the things which rich English patriot. But each of those pictures was a visitors of Paris most coveted to see was gem; such Watteaus! such Greuzes ! M. Louvier's hotel ; and few among the such landscapes by Panel ! and, above all, richest left it without a sigh of envy and such masterpieces by Ingrès, Horace Ver- despair. Only in such London houses as net, and Delaroche, were worth all the belong to a Sutherland or a Holford could doubtful originals of Flemish and Italian our metropolis exhibit a splendour as art which make the ordinary boast of pri- opulent and a taste as refined. vate collectors.

M. Louvier had his set evenings for These pictures occupied two rooms of popular assemblies. At these were entermoderate size, built for their reception, tained the Liberals of every shade, from and lighted from above. The great salon tricolor to rouge, with the artists and to which they led contained treasures writers most in vogue, pêle-mêle with decscarcely less precious; the walls were orated diplomatists, ex-ministers, Orleancovered with the richest silks which the ists, and Republicans, distinguished forlooms of Lyons could produce. Every eigners, plutocrats of the Bourse, and lions piece of furniture here was a work of art male and female from the arid nurse of in its way: console-tables of Florentine that race, the Chaussée d'Antin. Of his mosaic, inlaid with pearl and lapis-lazuli; more select reunions something will be cabinets in which the exquisite designs said later. of the renaissance were carved in ebony ; “And how does this poor Paris metacolossal vases of Russian malachite, but morphosed please Mons. Vane?" asked a wrought by French artists. The very Frenchman with a handsome intelligent nicknacks scattered carelessly about the countenance, very carefully dressed, room might have been admired in the though in a somewhat bygone fashion, and cabinet of the Palazzo Pitti. Beyond carrying off his tenth lustrum with an air this room lay the salle de danse, its ceil- too sprightly to evince any sense.of the ing painted by supported by white weight. marble columns, the glazed balcony and This gentleman, the Vicomte de Brézé, the angles of the room filled with tiers of was of good birth, and had a legitimate exotics. In the dining-room on the same right to his title of Vicomte, which is more floor, on the other side of the landing- than can be said of many vicomtes one place, were stored in glazed buffets, not meets at Paris. He had no other proponly vessels and salvers of plate, silver erty, however, than a principal share in an and gold, but, more costly still, matchless influential journal, to which he was a lively specimens of Sēvres and Limôges, and and sparkling contributor. In his youth, medieval varieties of Venetian glass. On under the reign of Louis Philippe, he had the ground-floor, which opened on the been a chief among literary exquisites, lawn of a large garden, Louvier had his and Balzac was said to have taken him 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 Life.” The Vicomte's fashion expired | dynasty; you, M. de Brézé, do but imiwith the Orleanist dynasty.

tate your elders in seeking to destroy the “ Is it possible, my dear Vicomte,” an-dynasty under which you flourish ; should swered Graham, “not to be pleased with you succeed, you hommes de plume will a capital so marvellously embellished ?" be the first sufferers and the loudest

“Embellished it may be to foreign eyes,” complainers.'' said the Vicomte, sighing, " but not im- “ Cher Monsieur Vane," said the Viproved to the taste of a Parisian like me. comte, smiling complacently, your father I miss the dear Paris of old the streets did me great honour in ciassing me with associated with my beaux jours are no Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Emile more. Is there not something drearily mo- de Girardin, and the other stars of the notonous in those interminable perspec- Orleanist galaxy, including our friend tives ? How frightfully the way lengthens here, M. Savarin. A very superior man before one's eyes ! In the twists and curves was your father." of the old Paris one was relieved from the “ And,” said Savarin, who, being an pain of seeing how far one had to go from Orleanist, had listened to Graham's one spot to another - each tortuous street speech with an approving smile — " and had a separate idiosyncrasy; what pic- if I remember right, my dear De Brézé, turesque diversities, what interesting rec- no one was more brilliantly severe than ollections – all swept away! Mon Dieu ! yourself on poor De Lamartine and the and what for ? Miles of fiorid façades, Republic that succeeded Louis Philippe; staring and glaring at one with goggle-eyed no one more emphatically expressed the pitiless windows. House-rents trebled; yearning desire for another Napoleon to and the consciousness that, if you venture restore order at home and renown abroad. to grumble, underground railways, like Now you have got another Napoleon." concealed volcanoes, can burst forth on “And I want change for my Napoleon,” you at any moment with an eruption of said De Brézé, laughing. bayonets and muskets. This maudit em- My dear Vicomte," said Graham, pire seeks to keep its hold on France “ one thing we may all grant, that in culmuch as a grand seigneur seeks to enchain ture and intellect you are far superior to a nymph of the ballet, tricks her out in the mass of your fellow-Parisians ; that finery and baubles, and insures her infi- you are therefore a favourable type of delity the moment he fails to satisfy her their political character." whims."

Ah, mon cher, vous êtes trop aimable." “ Vicomte," answered Graham,“ I have “And therefore I venture to say this, had the honour to know you since I was if the archangel Gabriel were permitted a small boy at a preparatory school home to descend to Paris and form the best for the holidays, and you were a guest at government for France that the wisdom my father's country-house. You were of seraph could devise, it would not be then fêté as one of the most promising two years I doubt if it would be six writers among the young men of the day, months - before out of this Paris, which especially favoured by the princes of the you call the Foyer des Idées, would emerge reigning family. I shall never forget the a powerful party, adorned by yourself and impression made on me by your brilliant other hommes de plume, in favour of a appearance and your nó less brilliant revolution for the benefit of ce bon Satan talk."

and ce cher petit Beelzebub." Ah! ces beaux jours ! ce bon Louis “What a pretty vein of satire you have, Philippe, ce cher petit Joinville,” sighed mon cher !" said the Vicomte, goodthe Vicomte.

humouredly; "there is a sting of truth “ But at that day you compared le bon in your witticism. Indeed, I must send Louis Philippe to Robert Macaire. You you some articles of mine in which I have described all his sons, including, no said much the same thing — les beaux doubt, ce cher petit Joinville, in terms of esprits se rencontrent. The fault of us resentful contempt, as so many plausible French is impatience - desire of change ; gamins whom Robert Macaire was train- but then it is that desire which keeps the ing to cheat the public in the interest of world going and retains our place at the the family firm. I remember my father head of it. However, at this time we are saying to you in answer, “ No royal house all living too fast for our money to keep in Europe has more sought to develope up with it, and too slow for our intellect the literature of an epoch, and to signalize not to flag. We vie with each other on its representatives by social respect and the road to ruin, for in literature all the official honours, than that of the Orleans | old paths to fame are shut up."

Here a tall gentleman, with whom the lits normal revolutionary bias, the rural Vicomte had been conversing before he peasants are indoctrinated with the conaccosted Vane, and who had remained servatism that comes from the fear which beside De Brézé listening in silent atten- appertains to property. They have their tion to this colloquy, interposed, speaking roods of land or their shares in a nain the slow voice of one accustomed to tional loan. Thus you estrange the crasmeasure his words, and with a slight but situde of an ignorant democracy still unmistakable German accent “There more from the intelligence of the eduis that, M. de Brézé, which makes one cated classes by combining it with the think gravely of what you say so lightly: most selfish and abject of all the appreViewing things with the unprejudiced hensions that are ascribed to aristocracy eyes of a foreigner, I recognize much for and wealth. What is thus embedded in which France should be grateful to the the depth of your society makes itself Emperor. Under his sway her material shown on the surface. Napoleon III. resources have been marvellously aug- has been compared to Augustus ; and mented ; her commerce has been placed there are many startling similitudes beby the treaty with England on soundertween them in character and in fate. foundations, and is daily exhibiting richer Each succeeds to the heritage of a great life; her agriculture has made a prodi- name that had contrived to unite autocragious advance wherever it has allowed cy with the popular cause. Each subroom for capitalists, and escaped from the dued all rival competitors, and inaugurcurse of petty allotments and peasant-ated despotic rule in the name of freeproprietors - a curse which would have dom. Each mingled enough of sternness ruined any country less blessed by Na- with ambitious will to stain with bloodture; turbulent factions have been shed the commencement of his power ; quelled ; internal order maintained; the but it would be an absurd injustice to fix external prestige of France, up at least to the same degree of condemnation on the the date of the Mexican war, increased to coup d état as humanity fixes on the an extent that might satisfy even a earlier cruelties of Augustus. Each, once Frenchman's amour propre; and her ad- firm in his seat, became mild and clement: vance in civilization has been manifested Augustus perhaps from policy, Napoleon by the rapid creation of a naval power III. from a native kindliness of disposiwhich should put even England on her tion which no fair critic of character can mettle. But, on the other hand

fail to acknowledge. Enough of simili“Ay, on the other hand,” said the tudes; now for one salient difference. Vicomte.

Observe how earnestly Augustus strove, “On the other hand there are in the and how completely he succeeded in the imperial system two causes of decay and task, to rally round him all the leading of rot silently at work. They may not be intellects in every grade and of every the faults of the Emperor, but they are party — the followers of Antony, the such misfortunes as may cause the fall friends of Brutus – every great captain, of the Empire. The first is an absolute every great statesman, every great writer, divorce between the political system and every man who could lend a ray of mind the intellectual culture of the nation. to his own Julian constellation, and make The throne and the system rest on uni- the age of Augustus an era in the annals versal suffrage - on a suffrage which of human intellect and genius. But this gives to classes the most ignorant a has not been the good fortune of your power that preponderates over all the Emperor. The result of his system has healthful elements of knowledge. It is been the suppression of intellect in every the tendency of all ignorant multitudes to department. He has rallied round him personify themselves, as it were, in one not one great statesman ; his praises are individual. They cannot comprehend you hymned by not one great poet. The when you argue for a principle ; they do célébrités of a former day stand aloof; or, comprehend you when you talk of a name. preferring exile to constrained allegiance, The Emperor Napoleon is to them a assail him with unremitting missiles from name, and the prefects and officials who their asylum in foreign shores. His reign influence their votes are paid for incor- is sterile of new célébrités. The few that porating all principles in the shibboleth arise enlist themselves against him. of thať single name. You have thus Whenever he shall venture to give full sought the wellspring of a political sys- freedom to the press and to the legislatem in the deepest stratum of popular ture, the intellect thus suppressed or thus ignorance. To rid popular ignorance of 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 wiil 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 common that of Germany; they are conspicuously inevery one

owns and nobody blames it. creasing in England ; they are acknowlThe 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 vill 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 *All very true,” said De Brézé, with a which continues to throw out its leaves shrug of the shoulders and in a tone of and rear its crest till suddenly the wind levity that seemed to ridicule the asser- smites it, and then, and not till then, the tion he volunteered ; “ Virtue and Hon- trunk which seems so solid is found to our banished from courts and salons and be but the rind to a mass of crumbled the cabinets of authors, ascend to fairer powder." heights in the attics of ouvriers.

“ Monsieur le Comte,” said the Vi* The ouvriers, ouvriers of Paris !” comte, "you are a severe critic and a cried this terrible German.

lugubrious prophet. But German is so * Ah, Monsieur le Comte, what can you safe from revolution that he takes alarm say against our ouvriers ? A German at the stir of movement which is the norcount cannot condescend to learn any- mal state of the French esprit.thing about ces petits gens.

“French esprit may soon evaporate Monsieur,” replied the German, “in into Parisian bêtise. As to Germany bethe eyes of a statesman there are no petits ing safe from revolution, allow me to regens, and in those of a philosopher no peat a saying of Goethe's — but has M. petites choses. We in Germany have too le Comte ever heard of Goethe ?" many difficult problems affecting our “Goethe, of course — très joli écrivain." working classes to solve, not to have in- " Goethe said to some one who was duced me to glean all the information I making much the same remark as yourcan as to the ouvriers of Paris. They self, · We Germans are in a state of rehave amongst them men of aspirations as volution now, but we do things so slowly noble as can animate the souls of philos- that it will be a hundred years before we ophers and poets, perhaps not the less Germans shall find it out. But when noble because common-sense and expe- completed, it will be the greatest revolurience cannot follow their flight. But as tion society has yet seen, and will last a body, the ouvriers of Paris have not like the other revolutions that, beginning, been elevated in political morality by the scarce noticed, in Germany, have transbenevolent aim of the Emperor' to find formed the world.?”

« VorigeDoorgaan »