« ПредишнаНапред »
an hour-five o'clock precisely- the salon ; and at their sight De I am famished.”
Brézé dashed to the staircase and The concierge disappeared with called out to the concierge to serve Fox. De Brézé then amused him- the dinner. self by searching into Frederic's Frederic, though unconscious of cupboards and buffets, from which the Thyestean nature of the banquet, he produced a cloth and utensils still looked round for the dog; and, necessary for the repast. These he not perceiving him, began to call arranged with great neatness, and out, “ Fox! Fox ! where hast thou awaited in patience the moment of hidden thyself ?” participation in the feast. ..
“Tranquillise yourself,” said De The hour of five had struck be- Brézé. "Do not suppose that I fore Savarin and Frederic entered have not . . . .
NOTE BY THE AUTHOR's son."
The hand that wrote thus far has left unwritten the last scene of the tragedy of poor Fox. In the deep where Prospero has dropped his wand are now irrevocably buried the humour and the pathos of this cynophagous banquet. One detail of it, however, which the author imparted to his son, may here be faintly indicated. Let the sympathising reader recognise all that is dramatic in the conflict between hunger and affection; let him recall to mind the lachrymose loving-kindness of his own postprandial emotions after blissfully breaking some fast, less mercilessly prolonged, we will hope, than that of these besieged banqueters; and then, though unaided by the fancy which conceived so quaint a situation, he may perhaps imagine what tearful tenderness would fill the eyes of the kind-hearted Frederic, as they contemplate the well-picked bones of his sacrificed favourite on the platter before him ; which he pushes away, sighing, “ Ah, poor Fox ! how he would have enjoyed those bones!”.
The chapter immediately following this one also remains unfinished. It was not intended to close the narrative thus left uncompleted; but of those many and so various works which have not unworthily associated with almost every department of literature the name of a single English writer, it is CHAPTER THE LAST. Had the author lived to finish it, he would doubtless have added to his Iliad of the Siege of Paris its most epic episode, by here describing the mighty combat between those two princes of the Parisian Bourse, the magnanimous Duplessis and the redoubtable Louvier. Amongst the few other pages of the book which have been left unwritten, we must also reckon with regret some page descriptive of the reconciliation between Graham Vane and Isaura Cicogna; but, fortunately for the satisfaction of every reader who may have followed thus far the fortunes of The Parisians,' all that our curiosity is chiefly interested to learn has been recorded in the Envoi, which was written before the completion of the novel.
See also Prefatory Note, p. 1.
We know not, indeed, what has become of these two Parisian types of a Beauty not of Holiness, the poor vain Poet of the Pavé, and the goodhearted Ondine of the Gutter. It is obvious, from the absence of all allusion to them in Lemercier's letter to Vane, that they had passed out of the narrative before that letter was written. We must suppose the catastrophe of their fates to have been described, in some preceding chapter, by the author himself; who would assuredly not have left M. Gustave Rameau in permanent possession of his ill-merited and ill-ministered fortune. That French representative of the appropriately popular poetry of modern ideas, which prefers “the roses and raptures of vice” to “the lilies and languors of virtue,” cannot have been irredeemably reconciled by the sweet savours of the domestic pot-au-feu, even when spiced with pungent whiffs of repudiated disreputability, to any selfish betrayal of the cause of universal social emancipation from the personal proprieties. If poor Julie Caumartin has perished in the siege of Paris, with all the grace of her self-wrought redemption still upon her, we shall doubtless deem her fate a happier one than any she could have found in prolonged existence as Madame Rameau ; and a certain modicum of this world's good things will, in that case, have been rescued for worthier employment by Graham Vane. To that assurance nothing but Lemercier's description of the fate of Victor de Mauléon (which will be found in the Envoi) need be added for the satisfaction of our sense of poetic justice : and, if on the mimic stage, from which they now disappear, all these puppets have rightly played their parts in the drama of an empire's fall, each will have helped " to point a moral” as well as to “adorn a tale.” Valete et plaudite!
CHAPTER THE LAST.
Among the refugees which the Monsieur. What makes you think convoi from Versailles disgorged on me your enemy?”. the Paris station were two men, " I remember your threats.” who, in pushing through the crowd, “A propos of Rochebriant. By came suddenly face to face with the way, when would it be convenieach other.
ent to you and the dear Marquis to “Aha! Bon jour, M. Duplessis,” let me into prompt possession of said a burly voice.
that property? You can no longer “ Bon jour, M. Louvier," replied pretend to buy it as a dot for MadeDuplessis.
moiselle Valerie.” “How long have you left Bre- “I know not that yet. It is true tagne ?”.
that all the financial operations at“On the day that the news of tempted by my agent in London the armistice reached it, in order to have failed. But I may recover be able to enter Paris the first day myself yet, now that I re-enter its gates were open. And you- Paris. In the mean time, we have where have you been ?”
still six months before us; for, as “In London."
you will find-if you know it not “Ah! in London !” said Duples- already—the interest due to you sis, paling. “I knew I had an has been lodged with Messrs -enemy there."
of — , and you cannot foreclose, “ Enemy! I? Bah! my dear even if the law did not take into consideration the national calam- better come to an amicable arrangeities as between debtor and cred- ment with me. A propos, I read in itor."
the 'Times' newspaper that Alain “Quite true. But if you cannot was among the wounded in the buy the property it must pass into sortie of December." my hands in a very short time. “Yes; we learnt that through a And you and the Marquis had pigeon-post. We were afraid ...
The intelligent reader will per- some social virtues to be realised ceive that the story I relate is ages afterwards by happier generavirtually closed with the preceding tions, all tending to save man from chapter ; though I rejoice to think despair of the future, were the that what may be called its plot whole society to unite for the joydoes not find its dénouement amidst less hour of his race in the abjurathe crimes and the frenzy of the tion of soul and the denial of God, Guerre des Communeaux. Fit because all irresistibly establishing subjects these, indeed, for the social that yearning towards an unseen annalist in times to come. When future which is the leading atcrimes that outrage humanity have tribute of soul, evincing the governtheir motive or their excuse in ment of a divine Thought which principles that demand the demo- evolves out of the discords of one lition of all upon which the civili- age the harmonies of another, and, sation of Europe has its basis — in the world within us as in the worship, property, and marriage- world without, enforces upon every in order to reconstruct a new civi- unclouded reason the distinction lisation adapted to a new human- between Providence and Chance. ity, it is scarcely possible for the The account subjoined may suffice serenest contemporary to keep his to say all that rests to be said of mind in that state of abstract those individuals in whose fate, reasoning with which Philosophy apart from the events or personages deduces from some past evil some that belong to graver history, the existent good. For my part, I reader of this work may have conbelieve that throughout the whole ceived an interest. It is translated known history of mankind, even in from the letter of Frederic Lemerepochs when reason is most misled cier to Graham Vane, dated June and conscience most perverted, - , a month after the defeat of there runs visible, though fine and the Communists. threadlike, the chain of destiny, “Dear and distinguished Engwhich has its roots in the throne lishman, whose name I honour but of an All-wise and an All-good ; fail to pronounce, accept my cordial that in the wildest illusions by thanks for your interests in such which multitudes are frenzied, there remains of Frederic Lemercier as may be detected gleams of pro- vet survive the ravages of famine, phetic truths; that in the fiercest Equality, Brotherhood, Petroleum, crimes which, like the disease of an and the Rights of Labour. I did epidemic, characterise a peculiar not desert my Paris when M. epoch under abnormal circum- Thiers, 'parmula non bene relictâ,' stances, there might be found led his sagacious friends and his instincts or aspirations towards valiant troops to the groves of Versailles, and confided to us un- his faith in the Imperial dynasty, armed citizens the preservation of and that Imperialist party is much order and property from the in- stronger than it appears on the surgents whom he left in posses- surface. So many of the bourgeoisie sion of our forts and cannon. I recall with a sigh eighteen years of felt spellbound by the interest of prosperous trade; so many of the the sinistre melodrame, with its military officers, so many of the quick succession of scenic effects civil officials, identify their career and the metropolis of the world for with the Napoleonic favour; and its stage. Taught by experience, I so many of the Priesthood, abdid not aspire to be an actor; and horring the Republic, always liable even as a spectator, I took care to pass into the hands of those who neither to hiss nor applaud. Imi- assail religion,-unwilling to admit tating your happy England, I ob- the claim of the Orleanists, are at served a strict neutrality; and, heart for the Empire. safe myself from danger, left my “But I will tell you one secret. best friends to the care of the gods. I and all the quiet folks like me
“As to political questions, I dare (we are more numerous than any not commit myself to a conjecture. one violent faction) are willing to At this rouge et noir table, all I can accept any form of government by say is, that whichever card turns which we have the best chance of up, it is either a red or a black one. keeping our coats on our backs. One gamester gains for the moment Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité are gone by the loss of the other; the table quite out of fashion; and Madeeventually ruins both.
moiselle — has abandoned her “No one believes that the pre- great chant of the Marseillaise, and sent form of government can last; is drawing tears from enlightened every one differs as to that which audiences by her pathetic delivery can.Raoul de Vandemar is im- of 0 Richard ! O mon roi !" moyably convinced of the restora- “Now about the other friends of tion of the Bourbons. Savarin is whom you ask for news. meditating a new journal devoted “Wonders will never cease. Louto the cause of the Count of Paris. vier and Duplessis are no longer De Brézé and the old Count de deadly rivals. They have become Passy, having in turn espoused and sworn friends, and are meditating opposed every previous form of a great speculation in common, to government, naturally go in for a commence as soon as the Prussian perfectly novel experiment, and are debt is paid off. Victor de Mauléon for constitutional dictatorship under brought about this reconciliation in the Duc d'Aumale, which he is to a single interview during the brief hold at his own pleasure, and ulti- interregnum between the Peace and mately resign to his nephew the the Guerre des Communeaux. You Count, under the mild title of a know how sternly Louvier was bent constitutional king ;—that is, if it upon seizing Alain de Rochebriant's ever suits the pleasure of a dictator estates. Can you conceive the true to depose himself. To me this cause? Can you imagine it possible seems the wildest of notions. If that a hardened money-maker like the Duc's administration were suc- Louvier should ever allow himself cessful, the French would insist on to be actuated, one way or the other, keeping it; and if the uncle were by the romance of a sentimental unsuccessful, the nephew would not wrong? Yet so it was. It seems have a chance. Duplessis retains that many years ago he was desperately in love with a girl who dis- and from Duplessis himself. I tell appeared from his life, and whom the tale as 'twas told to me, with he believed to have been seduced all the gloss of sentiment upon its by the late Marquis de Rochebriant. woof. But between ourselves, I am It was in revenge for this supposed too Parisian not to be sceptical as crime that he had made himself the to the unalloyed amiability of sudprincipal mortgagee of the late Mar- den conversions. And I suspect. quis; and, visiting the sins of the that Louvier was no longer in a father on the son, had, under the condition to indulge in the unproinfernal disguise of friendly interest, fitable whim of turning rural seigmade himself sole mortgagee to neur. He had sunk large sums and Alain, upon terms apparently the incurred great liabilities in the new most generous. The demon soon street to be called after his name ; showed his griffe, and was about to and that street has been twice rayforeclose, when Duplessis came to aged, first by the Prussian siege and Alain's relief; and Rochebriant was next by the Guerre des Communto be Valérie's dot on her marriage eaux; and I can detect many reawith Alain. The Prussian war, of sons why Louvier should deem it. course, suspended all such plans, prudent not only to withdraw from pecuniary and matrimonial. Du- the Rochebriant seizure, and make plessis, whose resources were terri- sure of peacefully recovering the bly crippled by the war, attempted capital lent on it, but establishing operations in London with a view joint interest and quasi partnership of raising the sum necessary to pay with a financier so brilliant and off the mortgage ;-found himself successful as Armand Duplessis has strangely frustrated and baffled. hitherto been. Louvier was in London, and de- “Alain himself is not quite refeated his rival's agent in every covered from his wound, and is now speculation. It became impossible at Rochebriant, nursed by his aunt for Duplessis to redeem the mort- and Valérie. I have promised to gage. The two men came to Paris visit him next week. Raoul de with the peace. Louvier determin- Vandemar is still at Paris with his ed both to seize the Breton lands mother, saying there is no place and to complete the ruin of Du- where one Christian man can be of plessis; when he learned from De such service. The old Count deMauléon that he had spent half his clines to come back, saying there is. life in a baseless illusion ;- that no place where a philosopher can be Alain's father was innocent of the in such danger. crime for which his son was to suffer; "I reserve as my last communiand Victor, with that strange power cation, in reply to your questions, over men's minds which was so that which is the gravest. You peculiar to him, talked Louvier into say that you saw in the public mercy if not into repentance. In journals brief notice of the asshort, the mortgage is to be paid off sassination of Victor de Mauléon ; by instalments at the convenience and you ask for such authentic: of Duplessis. Alain's marriage with particulars as I can give of that Valérie is to take place in a few event, and of the motives of the weeks. The fournisseurs are already assassin. gone to fit up the old chateau for “I need not, of course, tell you the bride, and Louvier is invited to how bravely the poor Vicomte bethe wedding.