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A BRETON MAN OF LETTERS.
Who could have possessed a more Mort,” he gives a most amusing etch attached or more gifted pupil and of the neighbouring picturesque old friend than Socrates did in that town, Vitré, amusing his readers with paragon of intellect and foresight, the idea of its having gone to sleep Plato of the broad shoulders ? Yet one evening in the middle ages,
and we know he made use of this
expres- woke up yesterday, We have given sion in reference to his Boswell, the passage in full in an article on “ What absurdities this young man “Souvestre and Brittany in this makes me utter ? So it may be Magazine. He was found by his imagined that the appearance of one early preceptor much more attached of these pestilent little 18mos in red to the exercises of L'Ecole Buiswrapper covers, marked “ Charles sonière* than those of L'Ecole d'EcriDickens,” or the “Hon. Benjamin ture, and was not much of a favourite Disraeli,” or “Thomas Carlyle," or with his superiors or fellows in the other often-heard name, is not always college. In several of his works he hailed with unmixed pleasure by the takes a comic revenge for some of his writer to whom it is devoted. But early wrongs. Professor Quandoquithere are no men with the circum- dem, his earliest tutor, has not esstances of whose lives the reading caped. Dr. Blimber, or Feeder, B.A., public desire more to be acquainted, was never so devoted to the old than with those of writers who have Romans. He gave his twelve small afforded interesting or amusing occu- children names from Latin families, pation for their leisure hours. Yet, and if he found it necessary to bid in general, biography of any other Paul kneel down, he could find no class affords more material in respect more simple instrument than the folto incident and interesting detail. Of lowing sentence to effect it, “Prostrate course there are exceptions. The life yourself in the attitude which alone of the author of " Pickwick,” by him- befits a delinquent;" and if the deself, would be, if he indulged exclu- linquent hesitated, he would add, “I sively in his good vein, more amusing shall invoke the assistance of a serand interesting than any work of vitor to expel you by main force, and fiction that has come from his “fine thus give you a practical knowledge golden pen.' There is some pictur- of the declension of the participle esque variety in the life of our Breton erpulsus.” novelist
. He has been long before At the breaking out of the July the French public, and the Duke's Revolution, professors and pupils did Motto” and “Bel Demonio” are in not lose much time about displaying the minds and mouths of British tricolor favours on their persons. playgoers, and are in request at Not so the hard-headed young BreBritish libraries. Besides, his works, ton, whose home was a nest of loyalty though marked occasionally by ab- to the institutions of old. Not being surdity and extravagance, are free able to conquer his strong and very from loose morality and irreligion, numerous opponents of the new reare picturesque in the descriptive gime by buffets of fist or ram-charges parts, possess a rough sort of humour, of head, he patiently took his beatand always present an interesting plot. ings, and would have died on the spot He is now forty-six years
and sooner than acknowledge the godless months old, having been born in the and selfish king of shopkeepers. ancient capital of Brittany on the His mother at this time retired to 28th of November, 1817. In one of an old manoir of hers at the bottom his wildest stories, “Le Jeu de la of Morbihan, and to this house re
*"School among the Bushes," where the sciences taught consisted of “Prisoners' Base,"
," " Fox and Hounds," &c.
paired many malcontents. Paul was and geese without allowing them to even promised a carbine when an cry. His unfortunate advocate made émeute in expectation should occur. signs to him in vain. Professional While his feelings were in a delight- pride carried him on, till the judge ful state of excitement, the rural ordered him to stop, and inflicted on police paid a visit to the mansion on him the maximum penalty of his ofsome indifferent business. The young fence. Paul left the court in fury, Cocles openly defied them, but the flung his cap (à la française) over chief taking him by the ear, led him the mills, and determined he would to his mother and requested her to try the life of a man of letters in Paris. give him a whipping if he did not He was not ill-provided for on behave better,
his entry into the modern Corinth, The novelist has produced several and began in his modest garret to do of the old Armorican legends, heard as all other prose humorists did beat the large fireplace of this old cha- fore him, viz., to write a tragedy. One teau, such as the “ White Lady,” of his college comrades, who had in "Goodman Poverty,” the “Fine Cha- school-days given him more than one teau of Cocquerel,” the “Night Beau- beating, dropped in when he was near ties," and the “Maréchal Gille de the end of his first act, and borrowed Raiz," the Armorican, perhaps the his ready money, promising payment original, Blue Beard.
next day. As he forgot the fulfilment When the young enthusiast climbed of his word, Paul called on him, but to his dormitory, with his imagination the fellow only laughed at his greeninflamed by fireside narratives of the ness. This was so little what the days of old, he would never willingly hasty-tempered lender expected, that let the candle be removed, for as soon he bestowed on his shameless jaws as the physical light was extinguished, a pair of first-rate buffets. A hostile in came funereal torches, and the De meeting, and a ball fixed in the rasProfundis began to be chanted. A cal's thigh, was the consequence. The cousin of his, à fair, young, and ami- money was not, however, recovered, able lady, who had occupied the same the wounded man unblushingly rechamber some time before, was sure, marking that he needed it to bring as soon as the candle was put out, to round his cure. see seven lamps arranged on the ceil- Having finished his tragedy, and ing in the form of a cross, and to be prepared several social sketches for aware of an interior voice recom- the papers, he sallied forth, but no mending the renunciation of earthly manager would read the drama, and enjoyments. The continuance of these the editors of the daily and weekly phenomena sent her to the cloister. journals vowed that their offices were
The honourable stock from which piled with copy. Paul traces his descent were distin- Examining the advertisements, he guished among the judicial dignitaries found an individual in want of an of Rennes. He received a legal edu- editor for a paper about to be started. cation, and even reached the privi- He was elected without a dissentient lege of partly pleading a cause. He voice, and did not think it too much was appointed to defend a stealer of to advance 400 francs by way of surety. fowl, and having given the subject He was appointed associate, editor, his entire attention, and divided his director, nay, cashier itself; but beoration into three parts, and got into fore the publication of the first numthe centre of the first, as he supposed ber, his patron walked off with the Cicero or Demosthenes would have caisse (cash box), so there were no done, he was gratified by a general duties left to discharge either as edibreaking out of laughter among the tor or cashier. court authorities, and hearing the He was next employed by a billjudge exclaim, “Enough, Mr. Paul, posting company to inspect the dead we have made up our minds." But walls of the city, and report on prothe lover of his neighbours' fowl was pitious vacancies. He was not obso excited by the defence only just liged to make any advance, and gave entered on, that he enthusiastically great satisfaction to his employers, proceeded to enlighten the judge, the till he requested his first instalment audience, and the gens-d'armes
on the of wages. The bureau d'affichage approved mode of carrying off ducks looked on this as such a shabby pro
cedure, that they dismissed him on entered Paul's apartment one eventhe spot.
ing, and this conference ensued : Ill-luck does not last for ever. He got office as clerk with the director Do you know London ?' 'Not a bit.' of a score of incorporated societies, Any thing of English literature ? A
"You are our man. great deal.
Begin with capitals varying from eight to this moment, and write the first four chapten, twenty, and thirty millions (of ters of " Les Mystères de Londres ” for the francs to wit). His patron kept in Courier Français.' 'Impossible!' 'Nothing his ante-chamber, ten negroes arrayed is impossible: begin at once. “But!' 'No in white, and passed for a nabob. buts-what is that you are scribbling?' 'A The clerk was to receive a large romance; "Les Compagnons du Silence.”' yearly salary, but he only touched Antenor took up a few pages of the freshly the quota for a month, his employer written work, read here and there, threw in that time, having spent (mangé) up his arms in ecstasy, and cried, 'Here is thirteen millions on negroes, oysters, instead of French names; substitute beer
the very thing we need. In with English horses, and parasites.
for wine, and we are in the heart of Grande Eugene Jacquot, styling himself “of Bretagne. The first feuilleton must appear Mirecourt,” his natal town in Loraine, to-morrow. Here is a refresher' (deposits a a decent writer, a royalist, and an old couple of bank notes on table). Sign yourChristian like Paul himself, must be self Sir Francis Trollopp. It will afford quoted at this point of our hero's local colour.' career,
The success of “Les Mystères de “A last attempt among the journalists Paris” had disturbed the repose of was as unsuccessful as the former one. the editor of the Courier Français so Yet he had in his portfolio at the moment, much, that he commissioned M. Joly a portion of those works which have since to cross the Channel, and secure sone obtained such success. Unfortunately the English writer to furnish him with Ethiopian, Dumas, had already seized on all the issues of the feuilleton by means of his
"London Mysteries," and thus abate numerous troop of collaborateurs, negroes
the prestige of his rival. The coming even as he, who hoed his phrases, ploughed man, however, produced such a heavy his chapters, and slavishly abandoned to mass of light reading that he would him their harvest of volumes and glory. not admit it. But the announcement Paul did not succeed even in getting a page of the speedy appearance of the proof his manuscripts read.”
mised work had already coloured all
the dead walls of the city, and so Being too proud to return to the Antenor Joly, stepping out of his protection of his family, and having machine like Horace's god, brought arrived at his last sou, and fasted for Paul to the rescue. It was not till two days, he was seen by his con- the first volume was nearly written, cierge ascending his stairs with a very that Feval visited London ; and then, tottering step. Next day no one as his biographer assures us, great saw him descend, and when they houses were thrown open to him, and mounted to his garret the day after, guides and policemen conducted him they found him lying insensible on in safety through casinos, cider-cellars. his mattress with the “Imitation of and the dens of thieves. He made Christ” by his side. All his other more discoveries in a month than books had been sold or pawned. Benjamin Bowbell would in a life
He was restored to the enjoyment time. of life, chiefly by the devotedness of A lord coveting his neighbour's a young woman who lodged in the wife, involves the injured husband so house, and obtained, in a few days, in money embarrassments, that he is the office of corrector of the press at obliged to bring her in a halter before one of the newspaper offices. He “Milord Maire," and sell her to the was here enabled to get possession of breaker of the commandment. A lady a feuilleton for one of his stories, and in love with a policeman, pays a visit his time was soon crowded with liter- to his mother's shop, in the hope of ary occupation.
seeing him. She is disappointed ; and There was at the time in Paris a leaving the house with a heavy heart, certain literary undertaker who pro- espies a beggar-woman sitting at the vided writers for editors and vice door. Love inducing sympathy, she versa. This man, Antenor Joly, drops a sovereign into her lap, whis
pering at the same time, “Priez pour turning the grous with the other. moi et pour lui.”
The visitors were, the neighbouring It must not be supposed from these miller, the thatcher, the shepherd, and specimens that Paul cannot sketch the lime-burner. pictures faithful in outline and colour, where he has had the advantage of excellent old woman, with three warts on
“At the moment of our entrance, Renotte personal inspection. He possesses a
her nose, two on her chin, five on her cheeks, lively and powerful imagination : his
and a nice gray moustache on each--had pieces are rich in colour, and he has just finished a history—the famous history all the parts of the machinery of his of the bottomless quarry-hole into which story under his eye, and at the com- Monseigneur the Bishop had fallen, with his mand of his fingers, during the entire coach and four. progress of the narrative, letting his " The company knew the history as well readers just know enough, and no
as Dame Renotte; but in Brittany, the better more, of the inter-relations of charac- you know a history, the more you love it.
6. And what will prove to you all,' added ters and events, so as to produce the greatest amount of eagerness for the the quarry-hole had no bottom, is, that they
the dame, as the moral of the story, 'that result, with the greatest amount of never found either the coach, or the horses, interest in the portion before him for or the Bishop.' the moment. He succeeds, to a cer- “Every one seemed deeply impressed by tain extent, in the delineation of deli- the lofty truth of this announcement. They cate, finely-strung characters, such as held their tongues, and listened to the rain the blind girl in "Le Jeu de la Mort.' falling • Good rain,' said Pierre the
Merieul and Fancin repeated But it is in stirring adventure, descrip- thatcher
. tions of grand and rugged scenery, and
Good rain.' "That is the good truth,' the evolving of rough and opposing is the good truth, all the same;' and those
added Mathurin Houin ; 'ah, faith! that characters, pushed occasionally to the
who had not yet spoken, repeated, as if reverge of the grotesque, that his ex- hearsing a part, "Good rain,' or perhaps, cellence is felt. He is completely at "Ah, that is the truth! Oh, faith, all the home in his Breton scenes ; sketching same; that is the real truth! We give the peasant character, the monotonous this as a carefully studied specimen of the and' inbecile fireside-chat, the cun
conversation of the Breton farmers; and, ning, the parsimony, the obstinacy, indeed, must add that, with the exception and also the good qualities of the pea
of the accent and the expressions, the caus
eries of some Paris salons do not arrive at santry, as no one but a man of talent, and familiar with country life could deductions much more transcendant.” do. Here is a touch at the charms
Then is mentioned the reason of of the food popular in the neighbour- the anthem sung in praise of the rain. hood of the town of the middle ages Loch Brehaim had been frozen for before referred to. He is describing some days, and the action of the sluices the grous (groats, Scottice), a stirabout suspended, and business stopped. of black wheat, made so thick that it The deliverance was brought by the may be cut like bread.
good rain;" hence the hymn. “ The grous are eaten hot, with melted butter, or skimmed milk. When used with " According to the strict current of extreme moderation by a person furnished thought paramount in the kitchen, it was with a stomach of bronze, the grous never
a thousand to one that the next enunciation cause an indigestion. A peasant of Ile and after the 'good rain' would be, as it really Vilaine, who sees before him a good piece was, "There will be apples this year,' to of grous two pounds weight, half of a which Merieul, Yvon, or Fancin would pressed sprat, and a pitcher of cider, holds add, Very likely, indeed; all the same,'in those poor devils in great pity who are re- order that Mathurin, Houin, and Mêchet duced to pâtés de foie gras, Venetian rolls, might wind up with, 'Ah, faith, yes to be and a long-corked bottle of Bourdeaux.”
The famous grous were being pre- If Nicholas Parker Willis, who pared in the kitchen of an old manoir never forgave Mrs. Trollope for saying belonging to the terrible “John of the he was an ugly man, had driven up Sea. There were assembled the do- the steep from Gravelle to Vitré in mestics and several neighbours, who the days of diligences, he would not occupied forms round the great have advanced Irish beggars to the hearth. The aged woman, Renotte, bad eminence they occupy in his was spinning with one hand, and magnificent thoughts.
“In the name of moral philosophy, what hands, still singing at the top of their voices, is to become of post horses? Their future Charitais,'&c. lot disturbs the slumbers of thinking people. “ And to such purpose did the lay and Will they succeed in securing a position the pantomime work, that the nurses in the among the omnibuses, or shall we find the rotonde, the cattle-dealers inside, the officers unemployed and malcontent animals abet- in the coupé, yea, the very bagmen of the ting some new revolution?. Already sus- imperiale, urged by a common rage, opened picion has fallen on them in reference to purse, and flung on the road a shower the injuries done to the rails after the famous
You would suppose that the February of 1818. For our part we lay young industriels would now stop. Ah, the blame on animals more ignoble. Let dear friends, little you know the Normands! the asses take no offence; the comparison They redoubled their contortions and does not apply to them.
clamours, convulsive bounds, ignoble la“ The ascent spoken of served during the ments, frightful miaulings--ay, to such a flourishing days of coach and diligence, as pitch that we have seen officers drop tears rendezvous to a troop of young Normand into their pocket-handkerchiefs. And still beggars, turning the wheel, and chanting their long, yellow hairs sweep the mud, their to some unknown air, and with an inde- greenish, yellow eyes laugh, and mock you, scribable Normand accent, this strange and their harsh voices act on your eardistich
drum like the teeth of a saw." • Charitais, si vous plait,
We cannot better conclude than by Pour l'amour du bon Diais.'
quoting the dedication of “Le Comte “They girated up along the steep incline,
Barbebleue." boys and girls, with no more idea of modesty “ They sometimes ask me, my dear good than if they were royal youths of the mother, why I am always speaking of Marquesas Islands. They bounded in the Brittany, and why the name of Rennes so mud with enthusiastic cries. The horses often escapes my pen.
It is because you strained, the travellers stopped their ears, are at Rennes, and with you all that I love. the conductor—this imposing personage I speak of Brittany and Rennes, because I whom the railway is about to extinguish- am always thinking of thee; because my borrowed the postilion's whip to frighten heart is with thee, and because, in talking the whirling and howling mob. All in of Rennes and Brittany, I seem talking of vain. Under the burning sun, in the rain, thee or to thee. I send thee this book, and in the snow, the young Normands, patient if it gives you some pleasant hours it will and courageous, climbed the hill on their be my greatest success."
“SAVE me from my friends !” is a of many-toned upbraiding would reprayer which many a man has per- veal the truth to our awakened senhaps been tempted to utter once at ses, and their voices would be heard least in his lifetime. The higher he imploring us to save them from their has stood among his fellows, the literary friends, the writers of their oftener will he have been driven thus lives, or the expounders of their mento vent his annoyance at the well- tal utterances. meant blundering of some over-zeal- He who of all the company would ous admirer. Even if a man of any have best reason for crying out loudmark escape receiving such proofs of est, would, in all likelihood, betray friendliness on this side the grave, the least concern. The greatest of his good luck will hardly follow him English poets has certainly been far into the land of shadows. If the handled by his friends with special ghosts of the great departed could cruelty. Correctors, editors, commenspeak out to living men, what a world- tators, have alike conspired to do him chorus of angry utterances would grievous wrong in the very effort to deafen our affrighted ears ! From set him right with the world. Few poets, statesmen, warriors, philoso- of his cotemporaries, if any, met from phers innumerable, one common burst the first with such scurvy treatment
"The Works of William Shakespeare,” edited by W. G. Clark, M.A., J. Glover, M.A., and W. A. Wright, M.A. Cambridge and London. Macmillan & Co., 1863. Vols. 1. and II.