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The author's object in Chillingly' being to illustrate the effect of “modern ideas " upon an individual character, he has confined his narrative to the biography of that one character. Hence the simplicity of plot and small number of dramatis personce ; whereby the work gains in height and depth what it loses in breadth of surface. "The Parisians,' on the contrary, is designed to illustrate the effect of "modern ideas ” upon a whole community. This novel is therefore panoramic in the profusion and variety of figures presented by it to the reader's imagination. No exclusive prominence is vouchsafed to any of these figures. All of them are drawn and coloured with an equal care, but by means of the bold broad touches necessary for their effective presentation on a canvas so large and so crowded. Such figures are, indeed, but the component features of one great Form, and their actions only so many modes of one collective impersonal character—that of the Parisian Society of Imperial and Democratic France ;-a character everywhere present and busy throughout the story, of which it is the real bero or heroine. This society was doubtless selected for characteristic illustration as being the most advanced in the progress of “modern ideas." Thus, for a complete perception of its writer's fundamental purpose, The Parisians' should be read in connection with “Chillingly, and these two books in connection with The Coming Race.' It will then be perceived that, through the medium of alternate fancy, sentiment, and observation, assisted by humour and passion, these three books (in all other respects so different from each other) complete the presentation of the same purpose under different aspects; and thereby constitute a group of fictions which claims a separate place of its own in any thoughtful classification of their author's works.
One last word to those who will miss from these pages the connecting and completing touches of the master's hand.* It may be hoped that such a disadvantage, though irreparable, is somewhat mitigated by the essential character of the work itself. The æsthetic merit of this kind of novel is in the vivacity of a general effect produced by large swift strokes of character; and in such strokes, if they be by a great artist, force and freedom of style must still be apparent, even when they are left rough and unfinished. Nor can any lack of final verbal correction much diminish the intellectual value which many of the more thoughtful passages of the present work derive from a long, keen, and practical study of political phenomena, guided by personal experience of public life, and enlightened by a large, instinctive knowledge of the human heart.
Such a belief is, at least, encouraged by the private communications spontaneously made, to him who expresses it, by persons of political experience and social position in France; who have acknowledged the general accuracy of the author's descriptions, and noticed the suggestive sagacity and penetration of his occasional comments on the circumstances and sentiments he describes.
It only remains to discharge a debt of gratitude to Messrs Blackwood by thus publicly acknowledging the careful and scrupulous attention they have given to the printing of this book, and the efforts made by them, under exceptionally difficult conditions, to present to their readers
* See also Note by the Author's Son, p. 27.
in the best possible form, this, the last of that long list of well-known fictions, which throughout every region of Europe and America have now for so many years associated their name with that of its author.
The time now came when all impossibility of continuing the aid provision of food or of fuel failed to their support which their son the modest household of Isaura ; and had neglected to contribute ; and there was not only herself and the still more from the comment which Venosta to feed and warm—there she knew they would make on his were the servants whom they had conduct, in absenting himself so brought from Italy, and had not wholly of late, and in the time of the heart now to dismiss to the such trial and pressure, both from certainty of famine. True, one of them and from herself. Truly, she the three, the man, had returned rejoiced at that absence so far as it to his native land before the com- affected herself. Every hour of the mencement of the siege ; but the day she silently asked her conscience two women had remained. They whether she were not now absolved supported themselves now as they from a promise won from her only could on the meagre rations ac- by an assurance that she had power corded by the Government. Still to influence for good the life that Isaura attended the ambulance to now voluntarily separated itself from which she was attached. From her own. As she had never loved the ladies associated with her she Gustave, so she felt no resentment could readily have obtained ample at the indifference his conduct supplies : but they had no concep- manifested. On the contrary, she tion of her real state of destitution; hailed it as a sign that the annul. and there was a false pride gene- ment of their betrothal would be as rally prevalent among the respect- welcome to him as to herself. And able classes, which Isaura shared, if so, she could restore to him the that concealed distress lest alms sort of compassionate friendship she should be proffered.
had learned to cherish in the hour The destitution of the household of his illness and repentance. She had been carefully concealed from had resolved to seize the first opporthe parents of Gustave Rameau tunity he afforded to her of speakuntil, one day, Madame Rameau, ing to him with frank and truthful entering at the hour at which she plainness. But, meanwhile, her generally, and her husband some- gentle nature recoiled from the contimes, came for a place by the fire- fession of her resolve to appeal to side and a seat at the board, found Gustave himself for the rupture of on the one only ashes, on the other their engagement. a ration of the black nauseous com- Thus the Venosta alone received pound which had become the sub- Madame Rameau ; and while that stitute for bread.
lady was still gazing round her with Isaura was absent on her duties an emotion too deep for immediate at the ambulance hospital, - pur- utterance, her husband entered with posely absent, for she shrank from an expression of face new to him— the bitter task of making clear to the look of a man who has been the friends of her betrothed the stung to anger, and who has braced his mind to some stern determina- and my son. I felt sore with thee tion. This altered countenance of for it-a mother is so selfish when the good-tempered bourgeois was she puts herself in the place of her not, however, noticed by the two child. I thought that only through women. The Venosta did not even marriage with one so pure, so noble, raise her eyes to it, as with hum- so holy, Gustave could be saved bled accents she said, “Pardon, from sin and evil. I am deceived. dear Monsieur, pardon, Madame, A man so heartless to his parents, our want of hospitality ; it is not so neglectful of his affianced, is not our hearts that fail. We kept our to be redeemed. I brought about state from you as long as we could. this betrothal : tell Isaura that I Now it speaks for itself: "la fame release her from it. I have watched è una bratta festin.'"
her closely since she was entrapped “Oh, Madame ! and oh, my poor into it. I know how miserable the Isaura ?” cried Madame Rameau, thought of it has made her, though, bursting into tears. “So we have in her sublime devotion to her been all this time a burden on you, plighted word, she sought to con
-aided to bring such want on ceal from me the real state of her you! How can we ever be for- heart. If the betrothal bring such given? And my son,—to leave us sorrow, what would the union do! thus,—not even to tell us where to Tell her this from me. Come, find him!”
Jacques, come away !" “Do not degrade us, my wife,” “Stay, Madame !"exclaimed the said M. Rameau, with unexpected Venosta, her excitable nature much dignity, “ by a word to imply that affected by this honest outburst of we would stoop to sue for sup- feeling. “It is true that I did port to our ungrateful child. No, oppose, so far as I could, my poor we will not starve ! I am strong Piccola's engagement with M. Gusenough still to find food for you. tave. But I dare not do your bidI will apply for restoration to the ding. Isaura would not listen to National Guard. They have aug- me. And let us be just; M. Gusmented the pay to married men; it tave may be able satisfactorily to is now nearly two francs and a half explain his seeming indifference a-day to a père de famille, and on and neglect. His health is always that pay we all can at least live. very delicate; perhaps he may be Courage, my wife! I will go at again dangerously ill. He serves once for employment. Many men in the National Guard ; perhaps," older than I am are at watch on the —she paused, but the mother conramtparts, and will march to the jectured the word left unsaid, and, battle on the next sortie.”
clasping her hands, cried out in “It shall not be so," exclaimed anguish, “Perhaps dead !—and we Madame Rameau, vehemently, and have wronged him! Oh, Jacques, winding her arm round her hus- Jacques ! how shall we find outband's neck. “I loved my son how discover our boy? Who can better than thee once — more the tell us where to search ? at the hosshame to me. Now, I would rather pital—or in the cemeteries ?" At lose twenty such sons than peril the last word she dropped into a thy life, my Jacques ! Madame," seat, and her whole frame shook she continued, turning to the Ve- with her sobs. nosta, “thou wert wiser than I. Jacques approached her tenderly, Thou wert ever opposed to the and kneeling by her side, said union between thy young friend “No, m'amie, comfort thyself, if
Natnted the ti tvro el familleeast live
it be indeed comfort to learn that repented and would not repeat ? thy son is alive and well. For my And Gustave kept his word. He part, I know not if I would not has never, so far as I know, attendrather he had died in his innocent ed, at least spoken, at the Red childhood. I have seen him - clubs since that evening." spoken to him. I know where he “ Thank heaven so far," muris to be found.”
mured Madame Rameau. “You do, and concealed it from “So far, yes; but hear more. me? Oh, Jacques !”
A little time after I thus met him "Listen to me, wife, and you he changed his lodging, and did too, Madame; for what I have to not confide to us his new address, say should be made known to giving as a reason to us that he Mademoiselle Cicogna. Some time wished to avoid all clue to his dissince, on the night of the famous covery by that pertinacious Madesortie, when at my post on the moiselle Julie." ramparts, I was told that Gustave Rameau had here sunk his voice had joined himself to the most into a whisper, intended only for violent of the Red Republicans, his wife, but the ear of the Venosta and had uttered at the Club de la was fine enough to catch the Vengeance sentiments, of which I sound, and she repeated, “ Madewill only say that I his father and moiselle Julie ! Santa Maria ! who a Frenchman, hung my head with is she?" shame when they were repeated “Oh," said M. Rameau, with to me. I resolved to go to the a shrug of his shoulders, and with club myself. I did. I heard him true Parisian sang froid as to such speak--heard him denounce Chris- matters of morality, “a trifle not tianity as the instrument of ty- worth considering. Of course a rants."
good-looking garçon like Gustave “Ah!” cried the two women, must have his little affairs of with a simultaneous shudder. the heart before he settles for
“When the assembly broke up, life. Unluckily, amongst those of I waylaid him at the door. I spoke Gustave was one with a violentto him seriously. I told him what tempered girl who persecuted him anguish such announcement of blas- when he left her, and he naturally phemous opinions would inflict on wished to avoid all chance of a his pious mother. I told him I silly scandal, if only out of respect should deem it my duty to inform to the dignity of his fiancée. But Mademoiselle Cicogna, and warn I found that was not the true her against the union on which he motive, or at least the only one, had told us his heart was bent. He for concealment. Prepare yourappeared sincerely moved by what self, my poor wife. Thou hast I said ; implored me to keep silence heard of these terrible journals towards his mother and his be- which the déchéance has let loose trothed; and promised, on that con- upon us. Our unhappy boy is the dition, to relinquish at once what principal writer of one of the worst he called his career as an orator,' of them, under the name of 'Dideand appear no more at such exe- rot le Jeune.'” crable clubs. On this understand- “What !” cried the Venosta. ing I held my tongue. Why, with “That monster! The good Abbé such other causes of grief and suf. Vertpré was telling us of the fering, should I tell thee, poor wife, writings with that name attached of a sin that I hoped thy son had to them. The Abbé himself is de
nounced by name as one of those could not help it ; that a time meddling priests who are to be was rapidly coming when his. constrained to serve as soldiers, opinions would be uppermost; that or pointed out to the vengeance since October the Communists of the canaille. Isaura's fiancée a were gaining ascendancy, and only blasphemer !"
waited the end of the siege to “Hush, hush !” said Madame put down the present Government, Rameau rising, very pale but self- and with it all hypocrisies and collected. “How do you know shams, religious or social. My this, Jacques ?”
wife, he was rude to me, insult"From the lips of Gustave him- ing; but he had been drinkingself. I heard first of it yesterday that made him incautious : and he from one of the young reprobates continued to walk by my side towith whom he used to be familiar, wards his own lodging, on reachand who even complimented me ing which he ironically invited me on the rising fame of my son, and to enter, saying, 'I should meet praised the eloquence of his article there men who would soon argue that day. But I would not believe me out of my obsolete notions.' him. I bought the journal—here You may go to him, wife, now, it is; saw the name and address if you please. I will not, nor of the printer-went this morning will I take from him a crust of to the office-was there told that bread. I came hither, determined • Diderot le Jeune' was within to tell the young lady all this, if revising the press-stationed my- I found her at home. I should self by the street door, and when be a dishonoured man if I suffered Gustave came out I seized his her to be cheated into misery. arm and asked him to say Yes or There, Madame Venosta, there ! No if he was the author of this Take that journal, show it to Madeinfamous article, — this, which I moiselle, and report to her all I now hold in my hand. He owned have said.” the authorship with pride; talked M. Rameau, habitually the mildwildly of the great man he was est of men, had, in talking, worked -of the great things he was to himself up into positive fury. do; said that, in hitherto conceal. His wife, calmer but more deeping his true name, he had done ly affected, made a piteous sign toall he could to defer to the bigoted the Venosta not to say more, and prejudices of his parents and his without other salutation or adieu fiancée; and that if genius, like took her husband's arm, and led fire, would find its way out, he him from the house.
Obtaining from her husband now, it was within the precincts Gustave's address, Madame Rameau of that section of the many-faced hastened to her son's apartment capital in which the beau monde alone through the darkling streets. was held in detestation or scorn ; The house in which he lodged was still the house had certain pretenin a different quarter from that in sions, boasting a courtyard and a which Isaura had visited him, porter's lodge. Madame Rameau, Then, the street selected was still instructed to mount au second. in the centre of the beau monde found the door ajar, and, entering,