Imágenes de páginas

says, “ The influence of the author of ready for him to enter, and suitable to his the 'Génie de Christianisme' has been dreams. And so existence became to him equally felt abroad; and it would, per- an abyss, which something was always haps, be but just to say that the bard of wanted to fill. The prophet of morbidness

Childe Harold' belongs to the family of and the apostle of ennui we have styled • Réné.'"

him. What name else can we give him, The next opinion in his favor which as the author of dreariness, like the sayings Chateaubriand brings before us is that of that follow: “At length my heart could a French critic, M. Villemain. The for- furnish no resources for my mind, and I mer note was said to be too flattering to was only sensible of existence by an opquote entire : for quoting this one Cha- pressive feeling of fatigue and uneasiness.” teaubriand craves forgiveness, begs the

“ It is much better that we should reader to excuse him, and to reckon for resemble, in a small degree, the generality nothing praise bestowed through the in- of mankind, in order that we may be a dulgence of talent. He then quotes from little less unhappy." Or this : “ When an article, on Lord Byron, as follows: really unhappy I had no longer any wish “Some incomparable pages of Réné,' for death. My grief was become a kind of had, it is true, exhausted his poetic char- occupation which took up every moment acter.” Upon which Chateaubriand, with of my time.” The pity of it is, that there shy air of patronage, comments thus: “I has grown up a sickly family with the know not whether Byron imitated or re- cowardly and mawkish ideas of René for newed them by his genius.”

philosophy. Here is another sample of We will leave Béranger, who looked Chateaubriand's helpless and woe-begone upon Chateaubriand with pity as a supe- creed: “ The many examples we have berior man who had lost his way. And let fore us, and the multitudes of books we us turn to “ Réné," perhaps the most fa- possess, give us knowledge without experimous work of its author. “Réné" has tak- ence; we are undeceived before we have en such hold of the French mind that the enjoyed; there still remain desires but no Parisian, ennuyé as that effervescent an- illusions. Our imagination is rich, abunimal so frequently is, calls his melancholy dant, and full of wonders; but our exdisorder “ maladie de Réné.” The “fam- istence is poor, insipid, and destitute of ily of Réné” comprises all those who charms. With a full heart we dwell in an indulge in morbid questionings of life, empty world, and scarcely have we advancwhose nerves are restless rather than ed a few steps when we have nothing to healthy, who find the great gift of exist- learn.” With all respect to Chateaubriand, ence "slow" rather than joyful.

Such a

we venture to contradict every separate asstate as this, the condition, as it were, of sertion of his maudlin creed. Life deceives those who have not strength to grasp the none but fools; if you pluck a cherry, it nettle of life, or health enough to gain a remains a cherry in your mouth, and does mastery of its meanings, we would rather not turn to bitter dust on the palate, as let France enjoy the credit of producing cheerless Chateaubriand would make bethan England. Let Chateaubriand be the lieve. “ Desires without illusions"—the parent of the moping element in Byron : very best thing possible. And no "full Byron has yet a glory and a strength heart," or rich imagination can see the which are not Chateaubriand.

world empty around it: 'tis a meagre René is weary of all things : of glory and heart and a barren imagination that cries out genius, of work and leisure, of prosperity the unsuggestiveness and desolation of the and misfortune alike. Every thing bores world. Matthew Arnold, and Tennyson, him: he drags along, as he constantly and William Morris, are all, more or less, tells us, his days chained to a burden of of the English “ family of Rene!" Let us ennui : his life is a yawn. The fact was turn for a moment to another poet, happiChateaubriand never found his place in ly an Englishman, who laughs at the querulife: he was always, as Béranger well put lous children of despair. Perhaps he is it, egaré. He had too much brain to be- thinking of Chateaubriand when he says in lieve in the old-fashioned monarchy, with the “Secret of Long Life:” “ To him" (the its inglorious caterpillar kings; he was too supreme poet) “ life is not by any means great a seigneur to identify himself with the a long unhappy dream, people; there was no patriciate in France idea worthy of a Frenchman or a fool.”



Again : “ The Greeks knew better. Their worth a perjury.” No wonder that Napopoet was Apollo, the divinity of sunshine leon had no love to spare for the most and strength, and youth and love. Fancy powerful man in France after himself, when Apollo in need of hourly varied anodynes,

' he spoke in this outspoken manner, and one day the melancholy verse threw the appointments offered him in the of Tennyson, and another, the distraught imperial teeth. When the crown fell that prose of Carlyle

one day, Hol- has been “ picked up” so often and fallen loway's pills, and another old Dr. Jacob so often, and the allied armies entered Townsend's sarsaparilla.

I say France in 1814, Chateaubriand's work, that, to the true poet and to the brave man, “ Bonaparte et les Bourbons," was worth this world is full to the brim of happiness, an army to Louis XVIII.: he was made and that the future is as certain as the Minister of the Interior and a member of truthfulness of God.”

the House of Peers. This peerage he reWe have said enough of Chateaubriand's linquished in 1830, after protesting against productions from a philosophical point of the casting out of the elder branch of the view: there is scarcely, however, any other Bourbon family in favor of Louis Philippe. view to be taken of his romances which Here again this singular Chateaubriand have scarcely any plot, but rely for their was dangerously isolated, being, as he charm upon their exquisite elegance of tells us, " a monarchist from conviction, a style, and the manner in which morbid Bourbonist from honor, and a Republican sadness is made beautiful by polish. by nature.” Pitt's saying: “My ambition

Chateaubriand returned to France when is character, not office,” has been applied Napoleon was Consul, and he soon rose to him, and is reasonably fitting. considerably above his position in London Now that we have considered Chateauas hack-translator. His mother died in briand in his literary and political capaci1798, with a prayer on her lips for the con- ties, we will look at him for a moment in version of her son, whose melancholy had his domestic relations. taken the form of skepticism. This longing Chateaubriand loved to patronize, and of hers, it is said, produced the “Genius of was one of the earliest admirers of Victor Christianity," which was published in 1802, Hugo. He sent for the poet while quite a a year after the appearance of “ Atala.” boy, to see him, and paid him a very high The “Genius of Christianity" was looked compliment on some passages of an ode upon as something that the weak faith of which he had written. The youth was Frenchmen might lean upon; and Cha- rather frightened by his pompous and teaubriand became looked up to as a haughty manner. However, on one visit power. Napoleon made him his minister, that M. Hugo paid him, this feeling was but the two never agreed very well. Cha- somewhat modified, for as they were sitting teaubriand had a high-handed way of say- together, a servant opened the door and ing what he thought, and found himself ill brought in an immense bucket of water. able to conform to the wishes of a superior. Chateaubriand loosened his cravat, and beThe Breton gentleman never relinquished gan taking off his green morocco slippers. his aristocratic dignity. When he was of- Young Hugo naturally rose to take his fered the “ Academy," his address was leave, probably deeming that no hint found to be a protest against revolution could be stronger than this. It was not, and despotism. It is said to have made however, meant as a hint at all, for the Napoleon ask bitterly : “Am I then noth- great man would not let him go, but went ing more than a usurper ?” He feared the on undressing as if no one were present. man who would never bend to bribe or He removed his gray swan-skin pantaflattery. Though brought up in royalist loons, his shirt, and his flannel waistcoatideas, and strongly impregnated with the (French descriptions, it will be observed, old aristocratic sentiment, Chateaubriand are partial to detail)—and got into the big preferred democracy to despotism. “Had tub where he was washed by his servant. France formed herself into a republic,” he After being dried and dressed, he cleaned says, “I would have gone with her, for his teeth, which were notably beautiful, and there would have been reason and consis- for the care of which he kept a whole case tency in the fact, but to exchange a crown of dentist's instruments. After this little preserved in the treasury of St. Denis for a episode was over, Chateaubriand, greatly crown that has been picked up—that is not revived by his splashing about in the water, began a most animated conversation, inter- was over, he had nothing left in his purse. rupting it occasionally to give his teeth an- Chateaubriand, too, was the reverse of other touch with the brush. After this, Vic- miserly with regard to money.

He was tor Hugo did not look upon Chateau- plunged in debt, but was always ready to briand's haughty dignity with so much be charitable. He kept a pile of five-franc fear.

pieces on the mantel-piece of his diningThe author of “ Réné" is described as room; and whenever his servant brought follows: “ M. de Chateaubriand affected a him a begging letter, which was not selmilitary style; the man of the pen could dom, he would approach the pile, grumble, not forget the man of the sword. His and wrap up a piece or two in a paper, neck was imprisoned in a black cravat which he would send out by the servant. which hid the collar of his shirt ; a black He was once visiting Charles X. while in greatcoat, buttoned all the way up, confin- exile at Prague, and the ex-king made ined his little stooping body. His head was quiries as to his fortune. “I am as poor the finest part of him ; it was dispropor- as a rat," answered Chateaubriand, “and tioned to his height, but it was a noble- hail-fellow-well-met with all Madame de looking, serious head. His nose was long Chateaubriand's protégés.” “Oh, that and straight, his eye keen, his smile be- won't do," replied the king. “Come, Chawitching, but it came and went with the teaubriand, how much would it take to rapidity of lightning, and his mouth would make you a rich man?” “'Twould be a quickly resume its haughty, severe expres- loss of time, Sire," replied the great author, sion.

who appeared to be quite resigned to a poMadame de Chateaubriand was very sition of impecuniosity; were you to give charitable, and maintained an infirmary for me four millions this morning, I should

not sick priests. As it cost her more than the have a sous left by to-night.” money she possessed to effect this, she had A moping philosopher, a powerful mina chocolate manufactory, and sold the pro- ister, a jealous poet, a dignified aristocrat, duce to her friends by the pound. The an honest politician, an easy-going spendprice was rather dear, we are told. Victor thrift, an upholder of Christianity, and a Hugo was once asked to purchase a pound popular novelist, all rolled into one; Chaof it, and, in his youthful enthusiasm, said teaubriand is a sort of human kaleidoscope, at once that he would take three. He did and somewhat interesting to look into. so, but when the operation of paying for it

[From London Society.




maids-of-all-work, but, on closer inspection, AMONG other introductions, we two their olive complexions and features beEnglishwomen had brought a letter to a trayed an Oriental nationality. They certain Turkish princess at Cairo, widow were, in fact, Circassian slaves. of a pasha, and reputed to be a beautiful, On the terrace sat a very ugly old duenamiable, and agreeable lady. The presen- na smoking a long pipe.' We bowed to tation of this missive required some little each other, and she rose, with some diffiformality, but after one or two interviews culty, to accompany us to the receptionbetween our dragoman and her royal high- room, a long apartment that made us fanness's chief of the household, all was ar- cy we were in a fashionable English lodgranged; and one sultry afternoon we found ing-house. Excepting a few knick-knacks, ourselves at the gate of the palace. Two all the furniture had come from Paris or very smart negroes, dressed in black frock London, and was in very bad taste indeed. coats and trousers, received us with state- The old lady motioned us to sit down; ly politeness. We were led through a pipes were presented to us, which we regarden to the front of the house, where fused with all the graciousness attainable ; several women-servants received us, and then followed a long pause, during which the men retired. These women at a first our companion continued to puff away glance, might have been taken for English and stare hard without a word.

She was

Then the princess entered.

and kindness work in our own conditions tall and slender and very handsome, with of society. With us a good mistress is a pearly skin, delicately cut features, and sure to have a smiling household. Here black hair and eyes. Her dress was sim- no one smiled. Every look and moveply perfect—ample, flowing, easy, of soft ment of the dozens of women we saw noiseless lustrous silk, the precise hue of about us, most of them young girls, was which it would be impossible to describe. joyless, mechanical, monotonous. They It was something between an asphodel were evidently neither starved nor beaten, blossom and the palest pink coral, and yet nor overworked, but the prevailing look of neither the one nor the other approach it apathetic helplessness and hopelessness was at all nearly. Around her head was wound very depressing to unaccustomed eyes. a little turban of delicate colored gauze, Meantime the musicians and dancers enfastened over the forehead with a jewel. tered, ten in number, all Circassians. The

Now I am sorry to confess that this latter wore Turkish trousers of white linen, graceful and imposing creature was such striped with gold, bright silk sashes, and an inveterate smoker that it seemed the flowers in their hair, which was long and sole business of two or three of her slave. flowing. The singing had something ingirls to supply her wants. During the expressibly savage about it, consisting for two hours that we were honored with her the most part of wild chants repeated again presence, one of these automaton-like fig- and again to monotonous accompaniment. ures would come in about every six or After the songs came the dancing—which seven minutes unsummoned, and hand lasted nearly an hour—if a series of'gymeach of the ladies a cigarette. Any thing nastic feats and exercises could indeed be more like machinery could not be con- called dancing. The woodcuts in Wilkinceived. There was no salutation on the son's Ancient Egyptians, representing wopart of the servant, no acknowledgment on men tumbling and performing feats of agilthe part of the mistress. The cigarrettes ity, would give a better idea of the entercame and went, and that was all.

tainment than any descriptions in writing. Meantime our hostess had sent for the The jumps, prostrations, rhythmic moveFrench governess of her little adopted ment of the arms, standing on the head, daughter Gilparé to act as interpreter, and and other ungraceful and laborious perforsoon the governess and her young pupil mances, displayed for our amusement, must appeared. Coffee was handed to us in be very like those of the dancing women little jeweled cups, the French lady made at the time of the Pharaohs. something like sociability possible, and we On the termination of the dance, we rose were asked if we should like some music to take leave. Gilparé, her governess, and and dancing

half-a-dozen maids—I mean slaves—acOf course the proposal was accepted companied us to the garden, where we joyfully. "You will be much amused,” were presented with roses; then they resaid the French governess to me; "the tired, and we drove away without the Turkish national airs are so naïve, and the slightest wish ever again to enter the preprincess has among


young slaves some cincts of a harem. The monotony, the really fine voices."

inanition, the dead-alive atmosphere, were “We do not realize at home, ” I said, unendurable. “that slavery still exists in the East.”

There are a hundred thousand slaves or “Oh, but what kind of slavery? These thereabouts still in Cairo; and we heard girls are happier than are cooks and house- some interesting stories of daring escapes maids at home. The princess is like a from the harem. The English consul is mother to them. Some she marries off and empowered to give civil manumission, but provides with a dowry; to all she is kind- of course has no authority to go farther, ness itself. They have no cares—think of and the religious ties can at any time step that!”

in between slavery and freedom. For exNot being able to argue the point from ample, a slave girl flies to the British Emher čvduša, I was silent. I could readily bassy, and protests against the cruelty of believe that our hostess would be good and her master, but if he demands her, declarkind to every body and every thing under ing that she is his wife, the end of the her care, but the thought was uppermost matter is that she must go with him. Then in my mind how differently such goodness there is the difficulty of providing for manumitted slaves. They are, for the most and they are evidently doomed to the part, incapable of shifting for themselves. same fate of ruin and neglect. The The Circassian women who have been Tombs of the Memlook kings are enbrought up from childhood in the care of cumbered with broken walls, filth, and the harem are extremely difficult to deal rubbish; whilst within nothing is done to with. Vain, ignorant, and self-conceited, hinder impending decay. It is heartthey look upon themselves as important breaking to see all this. We can ill afpersonages, and would turn up their noses ford to lose what little remains of Moorat the notion of marrying a man who could ish art, characterized as it is by such benot provide them with a slave! Thus af- witching qualities of grace and fancy as fairs are likely to remain much as they are, we shall vainly seek elsewhere. They and slavery promises to outlast Oriental were essentially an artistic people; and, costume, architecture, and other things like the Greeks, carried their love of art daily giving way to European civilization. into domestic life of every day. Dress,

Those who wish to see the Cairo of the dwelling, furniture, were all made choice past should not delay. The beautiful old and beautiful. They breathed an atmoshouses, with their polished and fantastic phere of beauty all their lives long. lattice-work; the narrow streets of such The glorious mosques of Cairo are not delicious coolness and play of light and easy to see. In the first place, strangers shadow, are fast disappearing. You hear have to obtain formal permission from the the remorseless chipping and hammering police, which involves delay, and, in the of the mason all day long, and soon de- second, if they are ladies, they are sure to molishers will be replaced by reconstruc- be objects of curiosity and observation. tors, and boulevards will be the prome- Memlook kings.

Memlook kings. The Memlook dynasty nades of the Cairenes. Of course, travel- lasted from 1250 to 1517 A.D., when El ers are compensated for much that is lost. Toman was defeated by the Turks near There are the roads, for example, which Heliopolis, and hanged at Cairo. enable you to drive to the Pyramids in an The Tombs are exquisitely beautiful, hour and a half, and to breathe the sweet with small minarets and cupolas, each air of the desert with as little fatigue as if slightly differing from the rest in size and you were driving in the Richmond road. design. A more graceful cluster can not Then there are the hotels, which, though be conceived—all, alas ! fast falling to expensive, are in other respects satisfacto- ruin. The minarets are of dark orange ry-clean, cool, and comfortable. It is color, and very dainty in shape. The cuall

very well to talk of the romance of polas have a rich pattern, and are designtravel ending where modernization begins. ed in the best Saracenic taste. Inside, A fine landscape is enjoyed none the less the wealth and elegance of decoration rebecause it is seen after a good breakfast, mind one of the Alhambra. There are floors and rapturous impressions do not wear off of inlaid marble, screens of elaboratelythe sooner because you sleep upon them carved wood, painted ceilings, tombs, pulin a good bed. If people travel for pleas- pits, and walls, as beautiful as any thing ure they must be comfortable. In scien- to be seen either at Granada or Cordova, tific explorations, of course, all minor After passing avenues of acacia, sycamore, points are left out. You make up your and tamarisk, we came upon a wide wonmind to hardships beforehand, and start drous prospect of waving sands, burnt to off with the smallest possible amount of a dark brown, purple hills, or what, for luggage, to which it is necessary to add want of the proper name, I call purplethe largest possible amount of endurance. there are so many new colors in Egypt !But holiday travel, like music, painting, here and there the white cupola of a and other recreations, should be perfect of mosque, and, over all, that pale mysteriits kind; and granted a capacious port- ous evening sky, never before seen or immanteau and a good supply of mo- agined, and, once seen, never more forney, where can not one find it in these gotten. days?

Some of the most beautiful monuments The drives around Cairo are delicious. in Cairo are on the borders of the desert, I think I liked the Abbasseah road best about half an hour's drive from the town. of all, where we met the sweet, fresh, in- These are the so-called Tombs of the Caexpressibly exhilarating air of the desert. liphs, but what are in reality tombs of the

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