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found shelter in her old house at Theil, though it was never formally restored to her.
Again she took up her life with Joubert. It was like him that he should live in a place which, as he said, had escaped all the horrors of the Revolution. Pauline regained peace, excepting when it was destroyed by the reappearance of Madame de Staël --the inroads of the 'Whirlwind,' as they called her. Joubert, until Corinne was published, admired her, so he said, more than any woman in print except Madame de Sévigné, but he highly disapproved of the friendship. 'Enthusiasm, not explosion,' was what he wanted, and Corinne was explosion. Pauline herself refused to have her in the green room. She said that the * Whirlwind' would devastate its quiet; she preferred to meet her at Sens, where, of course, the lady did not turn up. She had all the peculiarities of genius : she never kept appointments; at least she kept them-in a different place at a different time; she was never tired, she never knew when other people were. She was gloriously full of life and light and fire, also of loveaffairs and wounded sensibilities. She came, she talked, she conquered. Sometimes she brought her rather fatigued lover, Benjamin Constant, in her wake, sometimes she did not. Pauline could not bear him, and he even caused an estrangement between them, which was a relief to Joubert. But it was not for long; Corinne really cared for Pauline : ‘All my roots are bound up in her,' she said. She returned, and the front of her offending was the manner in which she carried Pauline off to Paris. Joubert thought that it demoralised his friend--as it did. 'I have resumed my solitude in a temper,' she wrote to him, when she came back from one such journey, 'I occupy myself with disgust, I walk without pleasure, I dream without charm, and I cannot find one comforting idea. I know this state cannot last long, but youth passes ... Of course you will accuse me of reading Young's Night Thoughts at the least. Not a bit of it, I am reading Tristram Shandy. Behold the fruits.'
Perhaps it was his dread of the Whirlwind's power which made Joubert renounce all his cherished habits and with his family migrate for part of every year to Paris. He took a house in the Rue St. Honoré, near that already taken by Pauline in the Rue Neuve du Luxembourg. From 1799 onwards, there gathered round her here, in the shabbily-furnished, dimly lighted little apartment, the rarest minds of the day. There were other and more brilliant salons to outshine it; Madame Joseph Bonaparte and Madame Tallien were reigning, and so was Madame Récamier; the Princess de Poix, and Madame d'Houdetot represented the old world of letters. But the little salon of Madame de Beaumont, by no means celebrated, only haunted by a handful of the faithful
who met there every night, meant youth, liberty, movement, the new spirit, including the past, reconciling it with the future,' I quote these last words from Sainte-Beuve. For myself, I own that this little band of people, so secluded and distinguished and disinterested and warm, has a peculiar charm. I feel as if I knew them-as if I had a right to know them. Some of them had a
— touch of genius; all were serious, as befitted men who were recreating society out of death and ruin. And nearly all were witty. 'Simple they were too,' says Chateaubriand, 'not from poverty but from choice.' Their very names bring a touch of intimacy. There was Fontanes, the crusty conservative, the fierce classic, the critic and the poet; and Matthieu Molé, the Cato of twenty; and the brilliant ultramontane, Bonald ; and the handsome dilettante, Guéncau de Mussy; and the rich old banker, Julien, who fussed over Pauline's comforts; and Pasquier, later Chancellor, the Pasquier of the memoirs. And then there was Joseph Chénedollé. It may be said that in most social circles there is a familiar figure, dowdily dressed, a person devoted to the interests of the others, who is loved by everybody and by whom nobody is excited. Such was Chénedollé, the kindly laborious poet, the unflagging hero-worshipper. He gave a lifelong loveunreturned-to Chateaubriand's sister, Lucile. Pale, sensitive, exotic, unhinged by the prisons of the Terror, finally doomed to a madhouse, she strays in her ghostly beauty in and out of Pauline's salon. And there were other ladies : Madame de Vintimille, to whom Joubert always gave tube roses on her birthday; and Madame Pastoret; and Madame de Staël; and Madame Krüdner, the précieuse among the mystics ; and the Duchesse de Duras, the fashionable novelist. They all had nicknames. Pauline, we know, was the Swallow; Fontanes, the Wild Boar of Erymanthus ; Chénedollé, the Raven of Vire; Mussy, the Little Raven; while the gracious gossip, Madame de Vintimille, was Madame Bad Heart; and Madame de Staël was Leviathan. They met every day, these friends-indeed, Chénedollé was not satisfied, in later days, unless he was saw Chateaubriand twice a day. The worst of them was that they could not exist without each other; they found the country unbearable. “Deplorable Zion, where is thy glory?'-50 Pauline, quoting, Racine, apostrophised Paris when they were absent.
The footlights were lighted—the audience was there-all waited for the hero. He appeared in 1800, and his name was François René de Chateaubriand.
Some men are born histrionic. René, from his babyhood till his death, played a drama. The hero was himself—the villain was himself—the stage wa's his heart, or his soul. The hero and the villain acted their parts brilliantly, sincerely, and they were con
stantly rolled into one. As for the heroines, they were numberless. The first act of this wonderful play should be read in the fascinating first volume of the Mémoires d'Outre-tombe, which tells of his dreamy, sensational childhood and youth by the sea-shore of St. Malo. When the Revolution broke out he was just twenty-one, beautiful to look at, an Apollo of the Weltschmerz period : almost too beautiful—the brow a thought too noble, the eye and the mouth rather too eloquent.
He did not wait to be arrested. He resolved to depart. He was full of large aims and aspirations, and so he started for the New World, in order to discover the North-West Passage. When he landed he made a few rapid inquiries as to his way there, but finding the answers unsatisfactory, he changed the object of his quest and went off to find la Muse in South America. Here he saw Red Indians, and chasms, and precipices, and solitude. I deliberately say he saw solitude, because he made it into a solid fact; and though Rousseau had discovered it before him, it was Chateaubriand who first arranged a marriage between Solitude and Religion. In 1791, choke-full of ideas, he returned to his sisters at St. Malo. Unfortunately they were bent upon his marriage with a friend of theirs. One day he saw a young lady in a pink pelisse walking by the sea, her fair hair blown by the wind. The hair and the pelisse raised a storm of emotion ; he married her out of hand. He never had cause to regret it. She had many causes, in pelisses of many colours. No sooner had he married her than he left her to join the Army of the Rhine. Thence he travelled to Jersey, and from there, rather later, to England, where he stayed till the Revolution was over. In London, in a Soho garret, he starved and scribbled, picking up a living as he could-by teaching and writing, chiefly by working as a journalist for a French editor, Lepelletier. It was Lepelletier who introduced him to Fontanes, then also in England. It was Fontanes, the Wild Boar of Erymanthus, who sighted his genius; who, thrilled by him, went home unable to talk of anybody else; who finally introduced him to the expectant world of Pauline de Beaumont's salon. It adopted him at once; he became its idol, its ‘ Big Raven,’ its ‘Young Savage'; Joubert adored him, the rest hung upon his lips. With each, magnet that he was, he formed a personal relation. As for Pauline de Beaumont, as soon as she saw him she loved him with a passion that gave her back her youth. And he needed her so much that he loved her also. He needed her glow, her admiration, her judgment, her power of criticism ; just as she needed his fire, his energy, his flashing, colorous egoism to fill the void that she felt-the longings that Joubert could only assuage. The swallow flew by instinct to the South.
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And whatever we feel about Chateaubriand, we must allow him the saving grace of expansiveness. He was now thirty-one, and in the prime of his genius : gifted with an eloquence which set him apart, even in that eloquent age. His tongue enchanted, and both he and his audience often confused his tongue with his soul. Yet his soul was enchanting too, and with reason, for his aspirations were noble. At the time that he arrived in Paris be wa's about to publish Atala, the work inspired by his travels in South America. It came out in 1801. Like Byron, he awoke one fine morning to find himself famous. Paris could talk of nothing but the sentimental savage maiden whose soul he had depicted. Savages became the fashion ; dressed in cock's feathers they raved to one another on the stage about solitude; country inns were adorned with coloured prints of aborigines. And the aborigines were no more than eighteenth-century ladies and gentlemen without their finery, playing at simplicity in tropical scenery. No one rejoiced in his success as did Pauline de Beaumont. They talked of it—they talked of many other things. Every night they met in the Rue Neuve du Luxembourg ; soon they could do with no less than three meetings a day. They went to the theatre together; they saw Talma, 'whose grace seized you like a grief.' Their bond of companionship became closer. We cannot but imagine, in spite of 'the velvet inside him,' that Joubert must have felt rather ruffled, a little out in the cold. But, true friend as he was, he showed nothing but pleasure in her happiness. Chateaubriand did not rest upon his laurels. He grew new ones. Directly after the appearance of Atala he absorbed himself in his magnum opus. Magnum, indeed, for its aim was nothing less than to recreate the Christian religion in France; to send forth his glowing word and kindle the grey ashes of unbelief and rationalism, strewn on the cold hearth of the eighteenth century ; to blow with his breath till the flame of faith leaped up once more to light his country. The result was Le Génie du Christianisme.
His eloquence thrilled Pauline. 'He plays on all my fibres as if I were a harpsichord,' she said. It was not long before he found that Paris disturbed his power of writing ; he must have solitude -that shibboleth of his preaching-but he must not be alone. Pauline must come with him, to soothe, to listen, to criticise. She took a little cottage at Savigny, not very far from the capital, and here she and René were to live and work in seclusion. The Jouberts were to come and stay, but society was not to approach them. The plan was romantic, unconventional, but Joubert approved. Madame Joubert chose their pots and pans, Joubert lent, begged, borrowed the books that were needful for René's work, and in the May of 1801, accompanied by cartloads of heavy tomes, they installed themselves in the country. That summer was the
summer a brief one-of Pauline de Beaumont's life. 'I shall hear the sound of his voice every morning,' she said. The two were like children in the enjoyment of their new possessions.
We have hardly been here twenty-four hours, and I am already impatient to send you news of us... . . Everything has given us pleasure, even M. Pigeau. . . . When he came to make me sign his inventory of the house, with the supplement of twelve hens and two cocks, we were seized with a mad fit of laughter, which is still going on. ... This morning the Savage read me the first part of the first volume. To say the truth, I should wish him a colder and more enlightened critic than myself, for I have not come out of my enchantment.
Every day they found new walks, in the woods, to their beloved Fontaine de Jouvisy. In the evening she taught him the names of the stars. In between, he worked with a zest that was amazing and, with heroic zeal, she ploughed through thick volumes of ecclesiastical history, and all the works of the Abbé Fleury. Joubert writes counsels and criticisms-excellent criticisms. He is their confident, he sees the MSS.
Now Pauline is in despair; now she is in raptures. “The secret of the enchanter,' she says, “is that he enchants himself.' But she could be severe—she thought it was 'detestable' to be indulgent. Sometimes their tête-à-tête is broken. The Jouberts come to stay, or Lucile, or Fontanes; sometimes Madame de Staël rushes in. René and she did not get on. It was a case of when egoist meets egoist. 'She talks of love like a Bacchante, of
. God like a Quaker, of death like a Grenadier, and of morals like a Sophist,' so said Fontanes, who frankly detested her. Pauline defended her friend, but a coldness again grew between them and the old intimacy was not resumed. Meanwhile the great book grew to completion. It is part of the luck of those who have a genius for stage effect that they are always followed by the right mise en scène. Not only had Chateaubriand, with the true dramatic instinct, dedicated his work to Napoleon Bonaparte, but he had timed that work, unknowingly, with the Concordat, the statesman's attempt to effect by decree what the man of letters had tried to do by art. Napoleon knew how to praise : he ordered that the book should appear on the same day on which the great Te Deum was to be sung in honour of the Concordat with state in Notre-Dame. The two great men became partners in a firm for the manufacture of religion. France responded to the appeal-she wept, she applauded. René's success was phenomenal. He was fêted, almost canonised ; ladies picked up scraps of paper on which he had written, they hid them in their high-piled hair ; when he went on a journey and stopped to breakfast at an inn, a family of peasants ran in to bless him and assure him that he had completely restored their belief. Arcadia and