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THE LAST FRENCH HERO :
BEING SOME CHAPTERS OF A VERY FRENCH NOVEL NOT YET PUBLISHED.
BY ALEXANDRE SUE-SAND, FILS.
I ASK you, my reader, to picture me “On perusing these sentiments, as a young man nineteen years of age, you will perhaps say that the tears I just entering Parisian life.
shed, the love I expressed for you at Imagine, also, that I am of a pas- our parting yesterday, were feigned sionately ardent temperament, under that I must even then have been the influence of which I persuaded, meditating disloyalty to our mutual two weeks ago, a young person, alsó passion. Not so, my dear Auguste of a passionately ardent temperament, --heaven and the Virgin, who have to run away with me from a convent witnessed my struggle and temptawhere she was being educated. tion, will witness also my truth.
Imagine, further, that while seated Yesterday I was as sincere in my after breakfast in my apartment professions as I now am in my resmoking my cigar, I receive the fol- cantation. Let us part, then, my lowing letter from her; and then friend, with mutual esteem, since the ask yourself what must be my feel- passion I felt for you is transferred ings at perusing it.
to another. Who that other is you “ANGÉLIQUE PAPILLON TO AUGUSTE
may not perhaps care to know; it is
sufficient to say that at first sight of GRENOUILLE.
hiin, my heart (which can never de“MY FRIEND,—You remember our ceive me) warned me of the presence compact. Actuated by the same im- of its master. For a time,- upwards pulse, perhaps by the sæme presenti- of an hour, - I refused to acknowledge ment, we took along with our vows the influence. Your last whispers of love this other vow, that directly still dwelt in my ears, the very wax either of us should perceive our fet. of your mustache still lingered on ters of silk becoming for one of us my cheek. I retired to my chamber fetters of lead, the change should be -my sufferings were horrible. I frankly avowed and the chain cast passed a dreadful night, distracted off. And we did right. To what end by thoughts of you and of your rival, should the mask of coustancy be of my old and of my new love. But maintained when the heart is no I prayed for guidance, and not in longer the same? Why continue to A celestial ray lit my soul walk hand in hand in the same linked and directed my choice. Yet still I intimacy as before, while the averted felt this morning a moment's hesiglance, fixed on another object, no tation ; but only a moment's— the longer guides in the former paths of sight of the beloved object fixed my love the devious and hesitating foot- fate, and I knew that hitherto I had steps? Why offer on the cold and been dwelling with you only in the barren shrine of fidelity the sacrifice antechamber of Love, whose gorgeous of reason and truth? In fine, why saloons I now enter under other at seventeen, with flowers springing auspices. Adieu, my friend ; yet, ere on all sides in the parterre of life, we part, let me recall once again the should I obstinately continue to press intoxicating hours that we have spent to my bosom the rose I have gathered, together. Let me remember for a when its thorns annoy and distract moment the gloomy conventual veil me? You, my friend, would not which was to have hidden me from thank me for a forced fidelity, nor the paradise of the outer world, and will you reproach me for an honest which you, with brave and devoted inconstancy. My heart, which can- hand, tore away. Let remembrance not deceive, tells me it is better to for a moment dwell fondly on the be faithfully fickle than falsely true. fortnight we have since so sweetly
passed in the repture of our first lique, except of two classes--those romance. Let those moments, hal- who are still votaries of love and lowed by youth and passion, be for pleasure, and those who, no longer ever sacred. Enough! they are past. capable of enjoyment, pass the remAdieu !
nant of their days in melancholy re“ANGELIQUE PAPILLON." membrance-a terrestrial purgatory
which serves to balance the account Again, I ask, what would you, my between youth and heaven? Some reader, have felt at receiving such a day, when fortune shall afford me the letter under the circumstances I have means of expressing the more eximagined? You doubtless answer- alted conceptions of my soul, I will the terrible recoil of impetuous pas- commission some great artist to sion, the turmoil of a heart whose condense these sentiments, now holiest aspirations and most sacred diffused over many pictures of difconfidences have been outraged. And ferent styles, into one triumphant you are, my reader, right in the gen- work, where a Magdalen, recumbent eral view, though not in the particu- in a charnel-house, shall seek to delar case. I read this letter, so well tach her reluctant thoughts from the calculated to raise the tornado of the still seductive pleasures of the world soul, with perfect calmness. The (on which, in the background, the artcambric on my bosom did not heave ist shall lavish all bis warm imagina-the glow of my cigar was not for tion), by pressing to her bosom the an instant brightened by the hastier skull of a former lover, out of which breath of anger, nor were the jets of worms shall be creeping. You, Angésmoke accelerated by the convulsions lique, when years shall have ripened of disappointment. I perused it with your beauties, will make a charming the same tranquillity as if it had been Magdalen. But this refined artistic a matter the most indifferent, and treat I shall reserve for my old age. the reason was, that at the same “Thus agreeably occupied, and hour when Angélique posted this predisposed for tender sentiment, I letter for me, I had despatched the sawenter atone door, passing through following one to her, so that the mis- to the other, a lady--in fact, there sives must have crossed on their were two, but of one only I would way :
speak, for one only engrossed my
thoughts. Her shape was perfectly “ AUGUSTE GRENOUILLE TO ANGÉLIQUE just; her dress was evidently a chefPAPILLON.
d'oeuvre of the most successful of
Parisian modistes; her bonnet, in "ANGÉLIQUE -- Heaven, that for particular, was an exquisite productwo rapturous weeks has smiled upon tion, trimmed with costly lace, and our passion, is now hostile. A vision furnished with a veil of the same, has appeared in my path forbidding through which bloomed a roseate the continuance of our felicity. Listen, complexion, which put to shame by my friend.
its delicacy the tints of Raphael and “Three days ago I was at the Corregio upon the walls around us. Louvre, filling my mind to overflow- Between her bonnet and her snowy ing with the ideas of the great peck had escaped a tress of flaxen painters, and, by a judicious selec- hair, such as might be expected to tion of subjects, gathering that accompany that delicate blonde skin mingled aroma so grateful to the with its vermilion tints. I need not taste of our age and country, which explain to one so sympathetic as arises from a due combination of yourself the power there is in consentimental religion with the volup- trast to stir afresh the emotions of tuousness of the heathen mythology, the heart, and in this instance it had What can be more striking, and at its full effect. My admiration, atthe same time more pleasing, than tracted before by your clear blive the contrast between the two oppo- skin and warm tints and dark hair, site aspects of life, asceticism and in- Angélique, now oscillated violently dulgence, placed' in juxtaposition in the opposite direction: I had For of what does life consist, Angé. never before experienced a feeling so sudden and so powerful as for this “On the following day we met fair stranger.
again. The same place witnessed “At the first glance which she cast our interview. in my direction, I saw that the at- “She was beautiful, bewitching, traction was mutua). It is unne- mysterious as ever-nay, even more cessary to recapitulate the steps by mysterious. which' kindred spirits, magnetically “Take care,' she said, as I urged attracted, approach each other in my suit with ardour ; 'do not be such circumstances : it is sufficient rash! It is not for nothing that I to say that I soon found myself seated am called Ninon!' at the side of this charming being, “ “You are called Ninon,' I said, exchanging with her those delicious fervently, because you are irresistnothings which at once veil and ex- ible, and because heaven will not press the emotions of the soul. suffer such beauty to fade !'
“Angélique, you know what a “An inexpressible melancholy stole charm mystery has for me, as for all over Ninon's countenance. The imaginative, poetic natures. There great Mirabeau,' said she, "told me was about this woman enough of the just the same.' mysterious to complete the spell to “Mirabeau !' I cried;' but he was which I was yielding:
dead before I was born. Surely you “In the first place, I observed that are jesting.' she never laughed, nor even smiled, “*I am serious, my friend,' said but received my gayest sallies with Ninon. perfect gravity, though her replies “Angélique, this woman, who is so showed that she possessed, like all beautiful, who never smiles, who calls superior souls, keen sympathy with herself Ninon, who talks of having wit.
conversed with Mirabeau, is an enig“Can it be, Angélique, that this ma the most enchanting. adorable being has some secret grief “Yesterday we met again and shadowing her spirit? Yet her con- again in the Louvre. Again I was versation was light and playful, and subdued by the intoxicating influence her speaking eye betokened no sor- of her presence-subdued, yet exrow.
alted : never had I been so brilliant "Before we parted I besought this -80 seductive. I urged my passion bright vision to say by what name I with fervour. I gazed into those should remember her.
charming eyes, whose azure depths “She thought for a moment, and were still hidden by that eternal then replied, as she pressed my hand, veil, which she never lifts. I was 'Call me Ninon, my friend.'
about to draw towards her more “Ninon! what pleasing emotions closely-to whisper yet more tendoes the name excite! recalling as it derly, when, casting my eyes around does Ninon de l'Enclos, the beauty to assure myself that there was no whose charms were not only unrival. spectator of our happiness, I beheld led amongst her contemporaries, but a well-known figure. who continued to enchant three gen. “ Heavens ! I said, starting, erations of lovers. On her my fancy and relinquishing her hand, 'my had always dwelt with peculiar in- father!' terest. The enterprising spirit of a “Ninon's eyes at the exclamation French lover finds its keenest zest in followed mine. Instantly she was what is removed from the common- violently agitated-she trembledplace and humdrum order of attach- her lips quivered, and I should cerments; and it has ever been a favourite tainly have thought she was about thought of mine, that Ninon in her to faint, but that her roseate comold age, as having something super-. plexion remained lovely as ever. natural in her charms, must have “What did you say, my friend ?' been a more lovable object than in she gasped. the freshest bloom of her youth. “'Yonder stands my father,' I re
“I accepted the name, then, as a plied. 'But calm yourself, Ninonhappy omen, and departed in a deli- he has not observed us—he is passing rium of joy.
into the next room.'
" In effect, my father disappeared agreement, I say to you, Adieu ! without appearing to notice us. Adieu, Angélique ! you must ever re
My friend,' murmured Ninon, main the most charming vision of faintly, we must part. Fate wills my life, with one exception. That that our brief dream of happiness exception is Ninon. should now end. Adieu, Auguste.
AUGUSTE GRENOUILLE." I will write this night to tell all. Do not attempt to follow me.' So say. The reader will now understand ing, she pressed my arm convulsively why I received my congé from Angéand disappeared.
lique with such perfect philosophy. “Angélique, this woman who never Some may ascribe our simultaneous smiles, who calls herself Ninon, who wish for the termination of our intitalks of having conversed with Mira- macy to chance, some to a magnetic beau, and who is violently agitated influence. But the heart is never so at sight of my father, is not only an alive to pious feeling as when sublienchanting enigma, butonethat it has mated by love; and in my present become a necessity of my life to solve. exalted mood 'I read with clearer
“To that solution I devote myself. vision in this strange concurrence It is therefore that, in virtue of our the will of heaven.
My father had married early infectionate nature, remained inconsollife a pretty “roturière against the able. I never remember him otherwill of his family, who wished him wise than despondent and depressed ; to wed a rich though deformed scion and though, being a handsome and of the noblesse. However, with the attractive man, he made many conardour of youth he listened only to quests, and indulged, for the beguilethe dictates of his heart, which, as he ment of his widowed loneliness, in a afterwards acknowledged, was highly great number of intimate female imprudent; for by taking the bride friendships, which his late wife's reselected for him, he would have se- lations viewed with pity and respect, cured her fortune without incurring yet I am convinced that his heart the necessity of submitting to her remained faithful to the memory of society; he would have kept on terms his departed saint, whose tomb he with his family; and, finally, he need constantly visited in company with not have debarred himself from the the different fair ones who desired to pleasure of my mother's company, console him for her loss. It was a merely because he had been induced sad pleasure to my father, and one from motives of convenance to marry indicative of his sentimental and another. Later in life he saw this imaginative nature, to cause each one but wisdom came too late. He chose of them to lay wreaths of immortelles otherwise, and from that moment on the tomb, in number proportioned separated from his family, dropping to her place in the order of succession even their name ; and, taking that of to his affections: thus the first my mother, was known simply as placed one, the twenty-fifth twentyM. Grenouille. He continued after five, and so on : and as he never his marriage to live on an estate permitted any of them to be removed, which my mother's father, a pawn. the monument was in course of time broker of the Mont-de-Piété, left to quite hidden by these garlands, the them in a distant province ; and as he testimonies of his unalterable concontinued to entertain feelings of jugal devotion. His enjoyments, rancour against his father, whom he however, were all tinged with this considered to have treated' him with melancholy hue ;- he never recovharshness, it happened that I grew ered his spirits, and remained alup in profound ignorance of my pe- ways a kind of gloomy Don Juan, digree.
My father, being in easy circumMy mother died early, and my stances—for the pawnbroker was rich father, who was of an extremely af- and generous-made me a handsome
allowance, and never demanded any returned the Comte de Chateau-Maraccount of its disposal. Accordingly, gaux. “She must have gone to sleep I was enabled to enjoy to the full in an enchanted palace for the last all the pleasures of Parisian society quarter of a century, and have woke immediately on entering it.
up to find her former admirers either On the night following the scene ghosts or greybeards.” in the Louvre, which has been nar- They say she has had no lover rated in my letter to Angélique, I since Mirabeau,” observed the Vifound myself at the Opera Comique comte; “she amuses herself with the before the rising of the curtain. No passions she continues to inspire, but man with a heart will need to ask favours none." what took me there, for his heart Heavens! what delightful exultawill sufficiently inform him—it is tion did this inspire in my breast ! unnecessary, therefore, to say that I I could have clasped the venerable expected to behold Ninon.
Vicomte de Clos-Vougeot to my Before she appeared I knew of her bosom. approach by an electric current which “A thought strikes me,” he repassed through me, causing my heart sumed presently; she must have to palpitate violently. A noble hu- had the Wandering Jew for a lover mility made me lower my eyes as in early life, and imbibed a portion she entered, and it was not till she of his perpetuity.” had taken her seat that I ventured “I wish I knew the secret by to glance towards her. She raised which she preserves so well,” said her lorgnette—a look and motion of the Comte de Chateau-Margaux. "I her fan made ine feel that I was re- would reveal it to the Comtesse de cognised. Othere was something Chateau - Margaux, who must be inexpressibly delicious in the thought about her age, and I would then perthat these rays of intelligence, like mit myself to enjoy that lady's 80the wires of the telegraph, passed ciety much oftener than I do at prethrough crowds without revealing sent.” the message they bore, except to him “One remarkable thing about her who was destined to profit by it. is, that she never smiles," remarked
I know not what passed on the the Vicomte. “Observe how stoically stage, for thither I never directed my she watches the performance, while eyes, but I suppose it was a perform- all around her are convulsed with ance of merit, since the applause was laughter.” frequent and the laughter loud. But This was true, and it confirmed my what did attract my attention even previous observation in my letter to from Ninon was a conversation that Angélique. But at that moment was passing between the occupants something especially ridiculous must of two stalls behind me.
have occurred on the stage; for Ninon Pardieu ! she is wonderful," said (or rather the Marquise de Toujoursthe old Vicomte de Clos-Vougeot, Vert), after an apparent struggle to whom I knew by sight, directing his resist joining in the mirth of the auopera-glass towards Ninon's box. dience, suddenly burst into uncon
“There is no change perceptible trollable laughter. She immediately since I first saw her in that very put her handkerchief to her face and box, with the great Mirabeau lean- left the house. ing over her, holding her fan," said It was very singular. Had she his companion, the venerable Comte made a vow against laughter? or de Chateau-Margaux.
was it in displeasure with herself at “I have not seen her until to-night yielding to so trivial an emotion, that since her marriage with the Marquis she quitted the scene? I knew not. de Toujours-Vert
. One might ima- But this I knew, that she was the gine that she had been buried for a Marquise de Toujours-Vert, and that generation or so, and been dug up she had not without reason called quite fresh," said the Vicomte. “She herself Ninon. Her beauty derived has been living abroad, I think.” for me tenfold piquancy from the
“ That makes her reappearance two circumstances of her great age seem all the more extraordinary," and her former intimacy with so emi, VOL. LXXXVII.-NO, DXXXI.