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saloon at the side of the bar. There which the croupier stands, a large vessel were a dozen such in the outskirts of with a slender neck before him, susthe town, Charley said, varying in pended on two uprights, so that he can character from respectable to rowdy, turn it over. At each revolution one ball supported mainly by Germans and comes out of the neck, marked with a numSwedes, but much frequented by all ber, which he calls out. Cards are disnations,
tributed to the players, on each of which From the beer garden we proceeded are printed several rows of numbers, to the principal gambling house, in the each row containing an equal number of middle of the town, through dark rough compartments. The player who has the streets, where huge stores and shanties number called out by the croupier, acalternated. Charley entertained us with knowledges it, and marks it off on his anecdotes of the ventures in cattle, card, and the first player who fills up minerals, and more questionable specu- one of his rows sweeps the board. The lations, by which the owners of the stake is the same for every player, but former editices had made their pile. I otherwise unlimited. After our lesson must own to considerable disappoint. we loitered for some time in hopes of ment in this Western experience. The seeing a table formed, but the players house which we entered was a roomy dropped in so slowly that we were dingy place, with a long bar on the obliged to leave before the game had ground floor, at which we drank sherry begun. On our way back to the Chamcobblers, savouring strongly of corn paign, our guide argued the question of whiskey, at the expense of our guide, the advantage of kino to the town. He who insisted on franking us everywhere. was decidedly in favour of it, on the Then we adjourned to the first floor, a ground that it was the means of retainlarge room, badly lighted, with a long ing in Sioux city considerable sums table at one end, and smaller ones which would otherwise pass through to scattered about. At one of the latter the east. As it was, United States' officers sat a party playing at poker, but as stationed to the west, and prosperous quiet as an afternoon whist party at the farmers, flocked in to Sioux city, and Āthenæum or Travellers'. If the players found so many facilities for getting rid had bowie knives down their backs, and of superfluous dollars that they had little revolvers in their pockets, no external inducement to press through to the older sign or gesture betrayed the fact ; and settlements. neither amongst the poker players, nor at We found a snug party on board when the bar, could I detect any specimen of we got back, enjoying the potentate's the border ruffian, or digger-not even hospitality, discoursing on the present a man who would pass muster as “ Ten- prospects of their town and neighbournessee's pardner.” Kino had not begun hood, and of the former wild times when yet, and we must have gone away dis- Judge Lynch had borne sway. A ghastly appointed but for the courtesy of the story of one of the last summary execumanager of the place, an intimate of tions must suffice as a specimen. A Charley's, who volunteered to show us notorious and desperate character had the game. He was a well-dressed, well- been taken red-handed, who confessed spoken German, perfectly self-possessed, to several murders, and any number of and without a trace, so far as I could minor offences, such as horse-stealing. see, of any lurking doubt as to his occu- When led out to be hung, with his arms pation. Certainly, for the croupier, kino pinioned to his sides, so that he could is the gambling game which must sit only just reach his mouth to remove least heavily on the conscience. The the cigar he was smoking with perfect table does not stake against the players, coolness, he was asked whether he had but simply takes a percentage on each any last wishes—if anything could be pool. It is also, apparently, a perfectly done for him ? He replied that the only fair game for the players. These sit thing they could do for him was to take round the long table, at the centre of off his boots. This was accordingly done, and having finished his cigar, be said: “ Thar, my old mother always told me I should die in my boots, and I wanted to show the old gal that she lied ;” and so went to his account. It was getting towards midnight, an unusually late hour for the West, before our last guest took his leave, and we turned in.
Charley could not have spent much time in bed after he left us, for, true to a voluntary promise on his part, just as our engine was getting up steam at day light, a boy came running down the line with a damp sheet of the Sioux City Times from the printing-press. The following paragraph occupied a prominent place in the first page :
“Distinguished Arrival.— Yesterday afternoon there arrived by special train a party consisting of the president, vicepresident, and New York manager of one of our largest Western lines; also of three English gentlemen who are on a mingled tour of pleasure and observation in our country. Several prominent citizens visited the distinguished excursionists last evening. The president and his associates are apparently pleased with the country between here and Fort Dodge, and speak unreservedly of future business and greatness that is prospectfully in store for us. The party leave (sic) at an early hour this A.m. for Council Bluffs and Omaha.” T. HUGHES.
I KNEW a maid ; her form and face
Were lily-slender, lily-fair;
A ruddy-golden crown of hair.
The happy thoughts transparent flew;
To gentler grey their Irish blue.
To look with wondering glance and gay
With Maia down the woodland way.
The golden touched the Olympian head,
That secret the immortals said.
She melted in her leafy screen;
dewdrop trembled on the green.
The girl has life and hope, and she
And roam herself in Arcady.
Her gaze upon the future bent-
Beloved, bewitching, innocent.
ALFRED DE MUSSET.1
On the 25th of September, in the year 1827, in a dismal French chateau, the gloom of which was increased by the presence of death—forlorn and haggard, listless and desponding, a young man of seventeen sat writing to a friend.
This young man, whose letter was the expression of piercing and bitter thought, had just achieved the highest honours attainable at the Collége d'Henri Quatre, and was supposed to have a brilliant future opening before him. It was the poet Alfred de Musset. His intellect was prematurely developed. It was easy to him to take the front place; he was already acknow ledged as a genius, and his published poetry had made a sensation. He was miserable—not with the sharp affliction of one who has lost what is dear to him, but with an oppressed sense of the narrow limits of humanity, of the pain ful details attending the end of life, of the pitiful conventions of mourning, and of the want of a real passionate emotion.
He had been summoned from his College in the hour of success, with a festive holiday in view, to the old chateau, where his grandmother had died suddenly. A fortnight before he had left her in health, and chatting, in her easy chair, with her French vivacity. Now a heap of earth covered her remains, and the contrast struck him with dismay. With the instinct of the poet, which assimilates all the phases of human experience, he saw himself dead and shrouded. His spirit rose against the assumed grief, the tragic mask which he saw put on before him. “ Voilà," he wrote, “le sort qui m'attend, qui nous attend tous ! Je ne veux point de ces regrets de commande, de cette douleur
que l'on quitte avec les habits de deuil. J'aime mieux que mes os soient jetés au vent: toutes ces larmes feintes ou trop promptement taries ne sont qu'une affreuse dérision." He was disgusted and weary; he thought life was worth nothing, and that he would gladly get out of it if there were not the process of dying to go through, and the idea of the subsequent ceremonials of ostensible affliction among his relations to confront. The companion of his gloom was an uncle who was remarkable for his good common sense, for his erudition, and for his general respectability. He could not be expected to form the faintest idea of his nephew's mental attributes : he wondered at his tastes, while he was gratified by his success. He was continually extinguishing his fires with wet blankets. When the young Alfred talked with enthusiasm of a drama which had struck his imagination, or of a verse which rang in his ear, he would reply—“Est-ce que tu n'aimes pas mieux lire tout cela dans quelque bon historien ? C'est toujours plus vrai et plus exact."- The poet felt himself another Hamlet with another Polonius, and longed for sympathetic intercourse with Hamlet's creator.
“Je donnerais vingt-cinq francs pour avoir une pièce de Shakespeare ici en anglais."
It was not to be had. The desire for the unattainable was the poet's habit of mind. If he could have called up Shakespeare from the dead, he would probably have turned away from him after the first greeting; or if his favourite tragedy in English had suddenly tumbled down from a bookshelf close at hand, he would most likely have fung it from him after the first hasty rush through its leaves. He had nothing that he cared to read, he thought he
i “Euvres Posthumes.” No. 149.- VOL. XXV.
should like to write, but the thought soon wearied him.
“Je me sens par moments une envie de prendre la plume et de salir une ou deux feuilles de papier, mais la première difficulté me rebute et un souverain dégoût me fait étendre les bras et fermer les yeux."
Other fancies came across him.
“ J'ai besoin de voir une femme, j'ai besoin d'aimer : j'aimerais ma cousine, qui est vieille et laide, si elle n'était pas économe et pédante."
The misery of Alfred de Musset's life was not wholly due to its outward circumstances, but to the peculiarities of his temperament and to his wayward disposition. He was not a hard, evil-minded man like Lord Byron, nor a wild theorist like Shelley; he knew how to love virtue and to hate iniquity, but he did not know how to conquer an impulse or to subdue a passion. He gave way to himself. After the wrong, came the repentance. He was unable to bear the suffering of that state, and flew to absinthe and dissipation to get rid of it.
He alternated between sublime aspiration and disappointment, disgust and debauch ; and, starting in life with every material advantage-good family, good prospects, and brilliant genius—he died a premature old man, broken down and miserable, at the age of forty-seven. The indications of such a development are strongly marked in the letter from which we have quoted. At the early age of seventeen the characteristics of the poet show themselves as he writes to his intimate friend : the unsatisfied desire and the fine perception, the despondency, the satire, the weakness, the despair.
“Tu es la seule chose,” he says to his friend,“ qui me réveille de mon néant et qui me reporte vers un idéal que j'ai oublié par impuissance. Je n'ai plus le courage de rien penser. Si je me trou vais dans ce moment-ci à Paris, j'éteindrais ce qui me reste d'un peu noble dans le punch et la bière, et je me sentirais soulagé. On endort bien un malade avec de l'opium ; quoiqu'on sache que le sommeil lui doive être mortel. J'en agirais de même avec mon âme.”
The regret which is felt in the contemplation of a bright genius degraded, leads us sometimes to wonder sadly whether a mother, strong enough to understand and tender enough to persuade such a nature, would have averted his fate, or whether, if he had met with a true friend capable of exercising a maternal influence, of appreciating the impulses of his genius and forgiving its eccentricities, he might not have relinquished much evil, and have assimilated much good, calmed and sustained by such a sympathy; but there is an obvious reply to the suggestion. The poet was not prompted to seek an affection of this nature, and the fatal passion which dominated his life was taken to his heart with a distinct foreshadowing of what its consequences might be: he was very young, only twenty-three, but he went to the banquet with the warning of poison in its fruits. Rapture and agony, convulsion and swoon, seemed the necessity of his life; and if the Cleopatra who enslaved him had not existed, some other shining and evil star would still have risen to shape his destiny. His intellectual force was not equal to his creative genius. His compositions were sudden impulses which forced themselves upon him, and he wrote some of his most beautiful poems in fits of anguish; his work was followed by long periods of prostration. He was incapable of a sustained effort ; but he was not easily satisfied with what he did, and reconsidered and finished his pieces with so much care, that they are justly esteemed as models of workmanship. The dialogue of his comedies is brilliant, and so delicate and subtle in its play, so piercing in its satire, that it is a matter of high ambition to the artists of the Comédie Française to deliver it with perfect precision, and to give full value to every syllable. None of De Musset's comedies are long, but all contain a great deal of matter; his wit is less obvious and more keen than Molière's ; he has less fun and sharper satire; he does not hit so hard, but he wounds more deeply. His types of character are original ; his perceptions
of the ridiculous are exquisite, and the sense of beauty is never absent from his style, even in his lightest touches. In all his prose there is poetry. To the student he is known as a poet; to the world at large, through the medium of the stage, as a dramatist.
Among his (Euvres Posthumes, which make a small volume, there is a dramatic fragment, called “Faustine," of great force and interest. The scene is laid at Venice, and the Venetian atmosphere surrounds the reader. The passion is worked up to a high pitch, when the drama suddenly stops. The same volume contains a complete comedy, called “L'Ane et le Ruisseau," which is clever and graceful, and some poems and letters, from the earliest of which we have already quoted. The letters are distinguished by grace and ease of language; they are sometimes epigrammatic, and sometimes playful; they are never artificial ; they are generally sad. The most humorous among them describes a singular supper at the house of the famous Malle. Rachel, a description which the poet valued, and which he requested his correspondent to keep, in order that the record of so strange an evening should some day be made known. The entertainment took place after a representation of “ Tancrède,” in the fifth act of which Rachel had obtained showers of tears from her audience, and had herself wept with such strong emotion as to make her doubt whether she could continue her performance. Afterwards, as she walked down the arcades of the Palais Royal, with a company of artists, actresses, and singers, she fell in with the young poet, and invited him to join them. They all adjourned to her house, where her mother and sister were established; and they looked forward to a festive supper. But Rachel discovered that she had left her bracelets and rings at the theatre; she sent her maid-servant, whom she called her bonne, to fetch them. This bonne being absent, there was no ser. vant left to prepare the supper. But presently Rachel left the room to change her dress, and in the space of a quarter
of an hour she reappeared in a dressinggown and night-cap, with a handkerchief over her ears, looking, according to Alfred de Musset, as beautiful as an angel (but the angels are not handsome if Rachel was a type of them), and carrying a dish which contained three beefsteaks, the cooking of which she had personally superintended. She set down this dish in the middle of the table, said, “Régalez-vous !” and returned to the kitchen, whence she again emerged with a soup-tureen full of hot soup, and a saucepan full of spinach. This constituted the supper. There were no plates and no spoons; the bonne having taken away the keys. Rachel opened the sideboard, and there finding a salad-bowl with a salad in it ready dressed, she took the wooden spoon that stood in the midst, and began to eat apart from the rest. “Oh, dear!” said her mother, who was hungry, “I know, my child, that there are some pewter plates in the kitchen !” Upon which Rachel again disappeared, and returned with the pewter plates, which she distributed to her guests.
“My dear,” said her mother, “these beefsteaks are overdone.”
“They are," replied Rachel. “In the days when I kept house for you I used to cook better; so you see I have lost one talent to gain another. But, Sarah," she continued, addressing her sister, “what is the matter-you are not eating?”
Sarah replied, “I don't choose to eat off pewter plates."
“That, I presume," replied Rachel, “is because I have bought out of my savings a dozen silver plates. Soon you will require one servant in front of your chair and another behind it." Then, addressing Alfred de Musset, she said, “Just fancy-when I was acting at the Théâtre Molière, I possessed only two pair of stockings, and every morning
Now Sarah interrupted her, and began to chatter German to put an end to her sister's confessions; but Rachel went on resolutely. “No German here! I am not ashamed of what I say. I