ePub 版
[ocr errors]

"Surely," echoed Sister Ann; very much doubting, by the way, whether the devil really had been circumvented. Ha, Mistress Bowson, yes, indeed. And ho! what a joy to be the pastor of such a blessed flock-yea, and to be a sheep in such a flock. Would it not comfort you, sister, in your sorrows, to be one of us, and to go 'and in 'and with these dear lambkins through this valley? Yes, indeed, I am persuaded it would; as also it would be a comfort to them to 'ave you with them; yea, and a comfort to us all in Salem village. Which, in short, is what I mean to say; that is, come over to Salem village and settle, or at least attend lecture


The stupendous impudence of the man was certainly amusing; but Sister

Ann felt no disposition to laugh at it— felt rather like bursting out a-crying. It seemed as if there were some menace in his invitation-as if he relied upon those hostages in Salem jail to force her into his church. So she sat listening, submissive and silent, until he grew so famished that he could talk no longer, and left the house in search of some more abundant hospitality.

When he was well gone, she laughed hysterically, to think of his craving stomach; while Hannah, in an ecstasy of delight, lifted her skirts and danced round the room like a lunatic. And then, like a mistress and maid who had soft hearts and sympathized with each other, they fell a crying in company over the names of More, Rachel, the poor deacon, and even Teague Rooney.


FIVE years ago, Edmund About was

unknown, except to his old comrades of the Ecole Normal, of which he was one of the most promising pupils. Today he is among the most read and best paid French writers in light literature; and deservedly so. Then he was a fine type of the Parisian student. A mind not remarkably strong but very active; a ready faculty of learning from books and men; industrious, but not drudging; bold, quick-witted, and spirituel. He was called "a young Voltaire" by admiring professors, who regarded only his intellect, and was liked by his fellows for his social qualities. After passing a brilliant examination, he was sent by government to the school at Athens. His position there, which was in some sort official, gave him unusual facilities for entering into society and acquiring information, of which, as respects persons, he is accused of making an occasional indiscreet use, in a book published shortly after his return to Paris, three or four years ago: "La Grèce Contemporaine"-Greece as it is.* It is an eminently readable book of travel and observation; not lacking its graver value, but always fresh and lively. Though treating of Greece, its pages are not

strewn with classic fossil remains, dug out of Lemprière and scholia. If something of a scholar, M. About is nothing of a pedant. A man of taste and culture, he was not wanting in appreciative sentiments of love and admiration for the poetry and history of the land of lost gods and godlike men. But he remained unaffectedly modern and French. He carried his country with him under the Grecian sky. His country then was the Pays Latin, which is, all things considered in matters intellectual and even moral, perhaps the best quarter of the Parisian world. For, we may say in passing, it is not all Bohemia; nor has Henry Munger described the manners and customs of all its denizens. In this he did but as his countrymen--not to say travelers generally-do abroad. The French are little given to foreign travel, except in regiments; but, when they do pass the frontiers, hold to their native habit of thought and home standards of judgment as tenaciously, if not as offensively, as the-English. Only John clutches on to his awkwardly, protruding them like a portmanteau, with which, from time to time, he gores your sides, as if to let you know that he carries baggage; while Jean wears his grace

*This work has been translated under the title of Greece and the Greeks; published by Miller & Curtis.-ED.

fully like a garment, whose becoming cut and color he is confident have won your admiration.

M. About next appeared in print as the author of "Tolla." In fact he was not the author. 66 Tolla" is known in this country by translation and reprint. It is not so well known, perhaps, that the French original is in large part a translation from the Italian. It was first printed in that language, under another title, many years ago, and was, in the main, a narrative of facts, and a selection from a correspondence between real persons. It was suppressed very soon after publication, by the family, some of whose members found the greatest of libels in its truthful presentation of their conduct. From one of the rare copies spared from the general destruction, our author, adding, it must be confessed, coloring, shading, and new traits of his own invention, made up his interesting little novel. Of his obligations to his predecessor, he made slight, hardly noticeable acknowledgment. The wholesale plagiarism was much talked of at the time in Parisian literary circles, and finally charged and proved upon him in an article in the Revue des Deux Mondes. His defense, put forth simultaneously in the Revue de Paris, was a lame one, despite its ingenuity and astonishing impudence. To show that he was not a plagiary, or, if he were, that it was of no consequence (to him), he informed the world that "Tolla" sold well, and that a great publisher had already engaged his next book.

Accordingly, "Les Mariages de

Paris" was soon issued from Hachette's prolific press. Of its originality there is no doubt. Whatever we may think of the writer's code of conscience, we recognize its merits of style and invention, and are glad to know, for their sakes, that it counts its French readers by thousands.

In his two earlier works, M. About received the praise of competent critics for his truthful limning of Grecian and Italian manners. It is but fair to suppose that in the third, where the scenes are laid in his familiar Paris, the pictures have an equal degree of fidelity.

Now, it is a notion of rather general acceptance in England and with us, that French marriages in general, and Paris marriages in especial, are all mariages de convenance. But here are the histories of six couples with whom

sincere love was the sole motive to matrimony; and, as the love is pure, so, it is equally noteworthy, are the stories. Mr. Jenkins may read them aloud to his wife and daughters without raising a blush on their fair cheeks, unless the girls, having been finished at Madame Chegary's, should color at papa's pronunciation. Yet they are not lackadaisically sentimental. On the contrary, the lovers are good, cheery, sensible bodies. They and the other personages introduced, some of whom are choice originals, but not burlesques of humanity, are such as you meet any day in the streets of Paris: they are students, artists, professional men, manufacturers, etc. No moral is forced through these clever tales, protruding at either end like a skewer through a goose; but each one, giving a truthful glimpse of society, teaches its wholesome lesson.

Following them, at an intervél of a few months, came "Le Roi des Montagnes." Under the forms of fiction, and with such exaggeration of coloring as is pardonable with those forms, M. About claims to present a faithfully historical picture of robber life in modern Greece. The highly entertaining little volume forms a pendant to "La Grèce Contemporaine." Hadgi Stavros, chief of a large band of Klephts, rules over the highways and byways of the hills near Athens, with less disputed sway than his brother king, Otho, enjoys in the neighboring capital.

The regularly constituted authorities indeed, the police and many private citizens, not only wink at his proceedings, but sometimes look on them with open admiring eyes, and assistant hands outstretched to share the spoils. The contents of the book, except the prefatory chapter-a nice bit of humor that reminds one of Irving-purport to be taken down from the mouth of Mr. Hermann Schultz, as he sat smoking his long pipe in the winter garden, just returned from Greece. No longer ago than the third of last July, Herr Schultz had been sent out by an institution in Hamburg, on a minimum salary, to botanize in Greece. While herborizing, he falls into the hands of the Klephts, in company with two rich English women, a mother and daughter, with the latter of whom he falls in love. narrates his adventures and trials of body and affections, with a charming


naïveté, of which we are sore tempted to quote examples. But we must hurry on to About's last work-the third that he has put to press within the past twelvemonth.

"Germaine" is the most ambitious of his works of imagination. Its sub-title


is Deuxième Serie des Mariages de Paris." It is a novel nearly equal in volume to the six tales that composed the first series. The plot is more extended, the characters are more numerous and more fully drawn, and some of them belong to classes of society that he has not approached in the earlier dates. His qualities of style and manner remain the same-lightness, clearness, some wit and much vivacity, without impurity—although one of the personages on whose portraiture he bestows much pains, is to a Parisian novelist, one would say, peculiarly provocative of open or allusive indecency. marriage in Paris differs from the others, also, in being one of pure convenance at the outset-how it ends, will be seen presently. For we propose giving a brief, but connected abstract, of the leading incidents of the story, thinking by that means to do as much justice to the author, and procure, at least, as much entertainment for our readers as though we attempted a grave criticism. To those, however, who lack occupation for an idle hour, we commend perusal of the entire original, the pleasure of which we promise not to anticipate by a too complete analysis of its con


Germaine, the heroine, from whom the novel takes its title, is introduced to us on the first of January, 1853. She is a young girl of eighteen years, living, or rather dying-for she is in the last stages of consumption-in an apartment almost bare of furniture, on the entresol of the princely hotel at the corner of the Rue Bellechasse and Rue de l'Université, Faubourg St. Germain. The hotel belongs to the Baron de Sanglié, a scion of the old noblesse, who, partly from kindness of heart, partly from esprit de corps, has given the use of the apartment to the impoverished Duke de la Tour d'Embleuse. The duke's father emigrated in 1790. He was noted for his fidelity to the royal cause, and his enmity to France. He returned with the Bourbons, and had his share of the indemnity. In 1827, Charles X. appointed the present duke

(his son) governor of the western African colonies. At the end of two years he obtained leave of absence, and came to Paris, where he doubled his income by marriage. That event was speedily followed by the revolution of 1830, which threw him out of office. He refused, both from principle and indolence, to accept office under the new government. He spent the next ten years enjoying the pleasures of the capital, in the grand style of a grand seigneur of the ancien régime: that is, he never failed in the nicest observance of the conventional proprieties towards the world, and towards his beautiful wife. She bore him a daughter, Germaine, in 1835. He wasted her fortune and his own in splendid debaucheries, which, with extreme good taste and at enormous additional expense-for nothing costs dearer than discretion at Paris-he kept carefully concealed from the duchess, who adored him. Though profoundly selfish, he was neither mean nor cruel; though an utter rake, he was not gross nor a fool. Accordingly, he always preserved his polished elegance of manners, and was fully aware that he was verging to the brink of poverty. For a time the gaming-table was a fertile resource; and he counted with careless confidence on uninterrupted goodluck. The twenty-fourth of February, 1848, was fatal to him. 'My dear Marguerite," he then said with frank gayety to his wife, this villainous revolution has ruined us. I have not a thousand francs." The poor duchess, startled by the unexpected announcement, thought of their little daughter and burst into tears.

[ocr errors]


Never mind," said he lightly, and courteously kissing her hand, "the storm will blow over. Count on me. I count on luck. Fortune will come again." And so, disdaining to turn to productive account whatever small talent he was possessed of, he idly awaited the return of fortune in the entresol of the hotel de Sanglié. Soon poverty began to press hardly on the fallen family. Tradesmen would trust no longer. The blindly-loving wife sold and pawned one by one, laces, furs, jewels. new year's morning, 1853, she went out, clothed in an old faded gown and wornout shoes, to pawn her wedding ring. It was the only means of buying a breakfast for her husband. He always called for and expected a breakfast,


which he always eat with a good relish ; never troubling to ask how it was procured, or to doubt the appetite and satisfaction of his wife and daughter. When he had completed his repast, he would kiss the duchess, playfully reprimand Germaine for coughing so much and keeping papa awake at night, and then go out for walk-expecting cheerily that fortune might take a turn any day, and must some day.

Doctor Charles le Bris is young, welllooking, agreeable in his manners, skillful in his art-a favorite wherever known, and rapidly rising to a valuable practice in his profession. He is Germaine's attending physician. He has pronounced her case to be hopeless, and gives her not more than four months to live. He can only alleviate, not cure. A sincere regard for the duchess, whose health is giving away under the combined burdens of poverty and anxiety for her child, is an additional motive for continuing his daily unpaid visits. Then, it would be bad policy to desert a noble family in distress. The doctor is shrewd, though he passes for being only good-natured.

Doctor le Bris also sometimes visits Madame Chermidy, in the Rue du Cirque, Faubourg St. Honoré.

Madame Chermidy, née Lavenaze, had inherited the beauty of an Arlesian mother for her only fortune. Twenty years ago she sat at the counter of a tobacco shop in Toulon. It was a favorite place of resort for naval officers when in port. In 1838, Lieutenant Chermidy, coming in from a long cruise, went to buy a cigar there, and was enchanted with the unwonted sight of such charms. Like Saul, the son of Kish, who went out to seek his father's asses and found a kingdom, so the honest lieutenant in pursuit of a cigar found a wife. He offered himself, was accepted, and thought he had taken a prize. The prize took him for the convenience of a marital flag to cover contraband. Luckily for the worthy sailor, his life was mainly on the sea, where it proved less stormy than on shore.

Ten years later, with ripened beauty and two or three hundred thousand francs that she had received neither from her husband's wages nor by legacy, Madame Chermidy came to Paris. She took a grand apartment in the Faubourg St. Honoré, drove out two blood horses to the Bois du Boulogne, and was much

talked of, without furnishing any patent cause for scandal. When her husband came home in 1850, after a three years' absence, he was astounded by the magnificence of her apartment and the brave livery of her domestics; and when his dear Honorine presented herself in an elegant morning toilette that must have cost as much as two or three years of his pay, he forgot to clasp her in his arms or kiss her; sheered off without saying a word; ordered the hackman to drive to the Lyons Railroad dépôt, and embarked a month afterwards for a five years' cruise in the Indian Seas.

Some while before the arrival of her husband, Madame Chermidy had made the acquaintance of the Count Diego Gomez de Villanera. The count, you see it by the name, is Spanish. He is tall, dark complexioned, and rather harshfeatured; grave and dignified in his manners; ardent in his passions; the soul of honor-all as become a Spanish hidalgo, who traces the course of his unsullied blood through twenty generations.

The astute Arlesian studied through her lover at a glance. Her character remained to him a sealed book. Lost in fond contemplation of the beautiful cover, he never thought to pry into its mysteries, nor dreamed they differed from the promises of the fair title-page. She was so delicately sensitive that she would not accept a ring, a brooch-the merest trifle, from him. The first present she could be prevailed on to receive, after a year's intimacy, was an "inscription of rente" for forty thousand francs. The money she had brought to Paris was nearly exhausted. In November, 1850, she was delivered of a son, whom Doctor le Bris declared, at the Mairie of the Second Arrondissement, under the name of Gomez, born of unknown parents.

Don Diego would have recognized the child, but that it is not permitted by the French laws. He could not endure to think that the Marquis de los Montes de Hieros, the hereditary title of the eldest son of a Villanera, should one day sign himself Chermidy. In his distress, he revealed the whole case to his mother, and asked her advice.

The old dowager bears considerable resemblance to her son-ugly, tall, proud, and noble in all senses. Her thoughts are all employed on heaven,

her house, and its heir. She regrets his passion for the Chermidy, which she is too wise to reproach him with; for she knows well the world, though no longer of it. She takes the infant, to bring up in her hotel.

The Chermidy sees the new hold she has upon the count, and devises a bold plan for turning it to the account of her vaulting ambition. Marriage, during the lieutenant's life, is, of course, impossible; but the lieutenant, exposed to the perils of the sea and of battle, will not, it is hoped, live always. One day she said to Don Diego, "Marrytake a wife from among the first nobility of France, and condition that in the legal papers of arrangement for the marriage, she recognize your child as her own. By this means, little Gomez, who is now two years old, will become your legitimate son, noble on the father's and mother's side, and heir of your Spanish estates. As for me, I sacrifice myself to the interests of our boy. I will retire to a cottage, to live on memory and weep over past happiness." This grand act of renunciation augmented, if possible, the doting admiration of the chivalric Diego, who refuses to abandon this heroine of maternal love. To overcome his scruples, it was necessary that Madame Chermidy should disclose, as delicately as might be, other features of her scheme.


Marry, ," she whispered in his ear, "provisionally. The doctor will find you a wife among his patients."

Mademoiselle de la Tour d'Embleuse bears one of the first names of the old noblesse. She can live but a few months. Her father is penniless, and has all the tastes that wealth alone can gratify. For a sufficient sum of money he will consent to her marriage, with the proposed condition. When she is dead, the count will have a legitimate son, and be free to legitimate his mistress whenever the fates remove the impedimental lieutenant.

Don Diego's love for his son controls his better sentiments regarding the shameful bargain. The noble, religious old dowager's love for her son, and her conviction that he will alienate his estates and commit any other folly that the bad woman may urge, if this plan be not followed, do not overcome her disgust, but make her consent, as to the least of evils, to the shameful bargain. Withal, for she is a woman, she has

come to be strongly attached to the little Gomez: and he is a Villanera— her noble blood runs in his veins.

Doctor le Bris proposes the affair to the duke one morning, as that worthy gentleman lies in bed. And here follows one of the best scenes in the book, where the doctor's worldly shrewdness and coolness curiously but naturally mingled with his kindness of heart-the duke's selfishness and gentility, and conventional pride of class and levity-the duchess's regard for her husband's comfort, and her maternal love and womanly delicacy-Germaine's devotion to her father's comfort and to her dear mother's relief from the sufferings of poverty, and holy sacrifice of maidenly feelings to their interests— are depicted in their varied play, contrast and conflict with rare skill and (French) truthfulness. It is too long to translate in full. Abbreviation would destroy its nice shadings, and be a gross injustice to M. About.

We pass it over, then, as well as—and for similar reasons-other scenes in which, after the proposition is accepted, the members of the two families are introduced to each other. The count, who is punctiliously respectful, exchanges some needful formula of words with his affianced bride, who passively endures his presence, but hardly conceals her angry disgust for her purchaser. With the maternal instincts of her sex, however, she takes kindly to the little Gomez, and grows to love the old countess, who installs herself at once as nurse and mother, and between whom and the poor duchess, acquaintance fast ripens into mutual esteem.

Meantime, doubts and fears begin to arise in the calculating breast of Madame Chermidy. If this consumptive girl should not die presently?—if even she should get well with one lung, as the doctor confesses lies within natural possibilities?—if Villanera should, as sometimes has happened, the doctor says, contract her malady? She tries to break the match of her own invention, but in vain. Don Diego, having promised to marry Germaine, will keep his word as a man of honor; and as a man of honor will do all that he can to prolong her life, and so long as she lives, have no relations-not even by letter-with the Chermidy.

The marriage ceremony is performed, and the bride and groom, accompanied

« 上一頁繼續 »