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Title: A Journey Round My Room
Author: Maistre, Xavier de
Language: English
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                            [Illustration]

                       A JOURNEY ROUND MY ROOM.

                            [Illustration]



                               A JOURNEY

                             ROUND MY ROOM

                         BY XAVIER DE MAISTRE

               TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH WITH A NOTICE

                         OF THE AUTHOR’S LIFE

                               BY H. A.

                            [Illustration]


                                LONDON

                  LONGMANS, GREEN, READER, AND DYER.

                                 1871

          H. O. HOUGHTON AND CO., PRINTERS, RIVERSIDE PRESS,
                              CAMBRIDGE.


                                  TO

                                 S. A.

                                 H. A.



PREFACE.


The author of the “Voyage autour de ma Chambre” was the younger brother
of Count Joseph de Maistre, a well-known writer upon political and
philosophical subjects. Chambéry was the place of their birth, but their
family was of French origin. Both brothers were officers in the
Sardinian army; and when Savoy was conquered by the French, Xavier de
Maistre sought an asylum in Saint Petersburg, where his brother resided
in the capacity of envoy from the court of Sardinia. Xavier entered the
Russian army, distinguished himself in the war against Persia, and
attained the rank of major-general.

Our interest in the “Voyage” is heightened by our knowledge that it was
actually written during De Maistre’s forty-two days’ arrest at Turin,
referred to in the third chapter. He sent the manuscript, which he
regarded as a mere playful effort of his imagination, for his brother’s
perusal. Joseph was pleased with the book; and Xavier, who had an almost
filial affection for his brother, was soon afterwards agreeably
surprised by receiving, in place of his manuscript, the “Voyage” in
print.

This success encouraged him to begin a sequel to the “Voyage.” Joseph,
however, disapproved of this new attempt. The “Expédition Nocturne” was,
notwithstanding, finished, and was published some years later.

Xavier de Maistre’s next production (1811) was “Le Lépreux de la Cité
d’Aoste,” a very touching and gracefully written narrative. It occupies
but a few pages; and, as it is to be found in almost every good
anthology of French literature, is perhaps the best known of our
author’s works.

His other books are “Les Prisonniers du Caucase” (1815) and “La Jeune
Sibérienne,” both of them charming works, containing faithful pictures
of domestic scenes with which we are little familiar through other
sources.

From his childhood Xavier de Maistre was devoted to painting. He
deservedly gained considerable reputation as a painter of miniature
portraits and landscapes.

Nor did he neglect science while devoting himself to art and
literature. He applied himself so successfully to the study of chemistry
that he was able to communicate several valuable “Mémoires” to the
Academy of Turin, of which he was a member.

Xavier de Maistre died (1852) at an advanced age in his adopted country,
where he had married, and which he only quitted once, for a brief
season.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some apology for publishing this translation is perhaps necessary.

Although in France the “Voyage” retains the high esteem in which it has
been held for half a century, it is hardly known in England, except by
those who are familiar with the French language and literature.

During the last twenty years the proportion of educated persons in this
country who are unable to enjoy a French book in the original has
greatly decreased. Still, there are some to whom a translation of this
delightful work may be acceptable.

To them I offer the pleasant labor of a few leisure hours; but not
without assuring them that, in endeavoring to reproduce faithfully the
author’s ideas, I have felt at every paragraph how true it is that “_le
style ne se traduit pas_,”--“style is untranslatable.”

       *       *       *       *       *

The _headings_ of the chapters are not De Maistre’s. They appear in
Tardieu’s pretty little edition of the “Voyage.” The miniatures, by M.
Veyssier, are from the same source.

H. A.

Barnes, Surrey.

  _Autumn, 1871._



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER                                                             PAGE

PREFACE                                                              iii

I. A BOOK OF DISCOVERIES (_Vignette._)                                 1

II. EULOGY OF THE JOURNEY                                              4

III. LAWS AND CUSTOMS                                                  7

IV. LATITUDE AND TOPOGRAPHY                                           11

V. THE BED                                                            14

VI. FOR METAPHYSICIANS                                                17

VII. THE SOUL                                                         21

VIII. THE ANIMAL                                                      24

IX. PHILOSOPHY                                                        26

X. THE PORTRAIT                                                       29

XI. ROSE AND WHITE                                                    33

XII. THE HILLOCK (_Vignette_.)                                        36

XIII. A HALT                                                          37

XIV. JOANNETTI                                                        38

XV. A DIFFICULTY                                                      42

XVI. SOLUTION (_Vignette_)                                            45

XVII. ROSE                                                            49

XVIII. RESERVE                                                        52

XIX. A TEAR                                                           54

XX. ALBERT AND CHARLOTTE                                              57

XXI. A FRIEND (_Vignette_)                                            59

XXII. JENNY                                                           64

XXIII. THE PICTURE GALLERY                                            66

XXIV. PAINTING AND MUSIC                                              69

XXV. AN OBJECTION                                                     72

XXVI. RAPHAEL                                                         75

XXVII. A PERFECT PICTURE                                              78

XXVIII. THE UPSET CARRIAGE                                            81

XXIX. MISFORTUNE                                                      87

XXX. CHARITY                                                          91

XXXI. INVENTORY                                                       93

XXXII. MISANTHROPY                                                    95

XXXIII. CONSOLATION                                                   98

XXXIV. CORRESPONDENCE                                                 99

XXXV. THE WITHERED ROSE (_Vignette_)                                 104

XXXVI. THE LIBRARY                                                   109

XXXVII. ANOTHER WORLD                                                113

XXXVIII. THE BUST                                                    118

XXXIX. A DIALOGUE                                                    121

XL. IMAGINATION                                                      129

XLI. THE TRAVELLING-COAT                                             132

XLII. ASPASIA’S BUSKIN (_Vignette_)                                  137

LIBERTY                                                              150

Circumstances beyond my control prevented my seeing any proof of these
pages. Such Latinized forms as _behavior_ and _favor_; the misplaced
hyphen on the first line of page 25; the double _l_ in _skilful_ (p.
138, last line but one); and the frequent suppression of the former of
two parenthetical commas (as before I, p. 19, l. 18),--these are the few
deviations from my manuscript for which the printer is responsible.

The reader will oblige by substituting _comfortable_ for _agreeable_ on
page 38 line 3, _sweet_ for _lovely_ on page 68 line 4, and
_ignoramuses_ for _ignorant_ on page 78 line 12.

H. A.



[Illustration:

WEYSSIER D.      GUILLAUME, S.
]



I.

_A Book of Discoveries._


What more glorious than to open for one’s self a new career,--to appear
suddenly before the learned world with a book of discoveries in one’s
hand, like an unlooked-for comet blazing in the empyrean!

No longer will I keep my book in obscurity. Behold it, gentlemen; read
it! I have undertaken and performed a forty-two days’ journey round my
room. The interesting observations I have made, and the constant
pleasure I have experienced all along the road, made me wish to publish
my travels; the certainty of being useful decided the matter. And when
I think of the number of unhappy ones to whom I offer a never failing
resource for weary moments, and a balm for the ills they suffer, my
heart is filled with inexpressible satisfaction. The pleasure to be
found in travelling round one’s room is sheltered from the restless
jealousy of men, and is independent of Fortune.

Surely there is no being so miserable as to be without a retreat to
which he can withdraw and hide himself from the world. Such a
hiding-place will contain all the preparations our journey requires.

Every man of sense will, I am sure, adopt my system, whatever may be his
peculiar character or temperament. Be he miserly or prodigal, rich or
poor, young or old, born beneath the torrid zone or near the poles, he
may travel with me. Among the immense family of men who throng the
earth, there is not one, no, not one (I mean of those who inhabit
rooms), who, after reading this book can refuse his approbation of the
new mode of travelling I introduce into the world.



II.

_Eulogy of the Journey._


I might fairly begin the eulogium of my journey by saying it has cost me
nothing. This point merits attention. It will gain for it the praise and
welcome of people of moderate means. And not of these only: there is
another class with whom its success will, on this account, be even more
certain. “And who are they?” you ask. Why, the rich, to be sure. And
then, again, what a comfort the new mode of travelling will be to the
sick; they need not fear bleak winds or change of weather. And what a
thing, too, it will be for cowards; they will be safe from pitfalls or
quagmires. Thousands who hitherto did not dare, others who were not
able, and others to whom it never occurred to think of such a thing as
going on a journey, will make up their minds to follow my example.
Surely, the idlest person will not hesitate to set out with me on a
pleasure jaunt which will cost him neither trouble nor money. Come then,
let us start! Follow me, all ye whom the “pangs of despised love” or the
slights of friends keep within doors,--follow me far from the meannesses
and unkindnesses of men. Be ye unhappy, sick, or weary, follow me. Ye
idle ones, arouse ye, one and all. And ye who brood over gloomy projects
of reform and retreat, on account of some infidelity,--amiable
anchorites of an evening’s duration, who renounce the world for your
boudoir,--come, and be led by me to banish these dark thoughts; you lose
a moment’s pleasure without gaining a moment’s wisdom! Deign to
accompany me on my journey. We will jog cheerfully and by easy stages
along the road of travellers who have seen both Rome and Paris. No
obstacle shall hinder our way; and giving ourselves up gaily to
Imagination, we will follow her whithersoever it may be her good
pleasure to lead us.



III.

_Laws and Customs._


How many inquisitive people there are in the world! I am sure my reader
wants to know why the journey round my room has lasted forty-two days
rather than forty-three, or any other number. But how am I to tell him
what I do not know myself? All I can say is, that if the work is too
long for him, it is not my fault that it was not shorter. I dismiss all
the pride a traveller may fairly indulge in, and candidly declare I
should have been well contented, for my part, with a single chapter. It
is quite true that I made myself as comfortable as possible in my room;
but still, alas, I was not my own master in the matter of leaving it.
Nay, more, I even think that had it not been for the intervention of
certain powerful persons who interested themselves in me, and towards
whom I entertain a lively sense of gratitude, I should have had ample
time for producing a folio volume; so prejudiced in my favor were the
guardians who made me travel round my room.

And yet, intelligent reader, see how wrong these men were; and
understand clearly, if you can, the argument I am about to put before
you.

Can there be anything more natural or more just than to draw your sword
upon a man who happens to tread on your toe, who lets slip a bitter word
during a moment’s vexation caused by your own thoughtlessness, or who
has had the misfortune to gain favor in the sight of your lady-love?

Under such or like circumstances, you betake yourself to a meadow, and
there, like Nicole and the “Bourgeois Gentilhomme,” you try to give the
fourth cut while your adversary parries tierce; and, that vengeance may
be fully satisfied, you present your naked breast to him, thus running
the risk of being killed by your enemy, in order to be avenged.

It is evident that such a custom is most reasonable. And yet, we
sometimes meet with people who disapprove of so praiseworthy a course.
But what is about of a piece with the rest of the business is, that the
very persons who condemn the course we have described, and who would
have it regarded as a grave error, would judge still more harshly any
one who refused to commit it. More than one unlucky wight has, by
endeavoring to conform to their opinion, lost his reputation and his
livelihood. So that, when people are so unfortunate as to have an affair
of honor to settle, it would not be a bad plan to cast lots to see
whether it shall be arranged according to law, or according to fashion.
And as law and fashion are at variance, the judges might decide upon
their sentence by the aid of dice,--and probably it is to some such
decision as this that we should have to refer in order to explain how it
came about that my journey lasted just two and forty days.



IV.

_Latitude and Topography._


My room is situated in latitude 48° east, according to the measurement
of Father Beccaria. It lies east and west, and, if you keep very close
to the wall, forms a parallelogram of thirty-six steps round. My journey
will, however, be longer than this; for I shall traverse my room up and
down and across, without rule or plan. I shall even zig-zag about,
following, if needs be, every possible geometrical line. I am no admirer
of people who are such masters of their every step and every idea that
they can say: “To-morrow I shall make three calls, write four letters,
and finish this or that work.” So open is my soul to all sorts of ideas,
tastes, and feelings; so greedily does it absorb whatever comes first,
that ... but why should it deny itself the delights that are scattered
along life’s hard path? So few and far between are they, that it would
indeed be senseless not to stop, and even turn aside, to gather such as
are placed within our reach. Of these joys, none, to my thinking, is
more attractive than following the course of one’s fancies as a hunter
follows his game, without pretending to keep to any set route. Hence,
when I travel in my room, I seldom keep to a straight line. From my
table I go towards a picture which is placed in a corner; thence I set
out in an oblique direction for the door; and then, although on starting
I had intended to return to my table, yet, if I chance to fall in with
my arm-chair on the way, I at once, and most unceremoniously, take up my
quarters therein. By the by, what a capital article of furniture an
arm-chair is, and, above all, how convenient to a thoughtful man. In
long winter evenings it is ofttimes sweet, and always prudent, to
stretch yourself therein, far from the bustle of crowded assemblies. A
good fire, some books and pens; what safeguards these against _ennui_!
And how pleasant, again, to forget books and pens in order to stir the
fire, while giving one’s self up to some agreeable meditation, or
stringing together a few rhymes for the amusement of friends, as the
hours glide by and fall into eternity, without making their sad passage
felt.



V.

_The Bed._


Next to my arm-chair, as we go northward, my bed comes into sight. It is
placed at the end of my room, and forms the most agreeable perspective.
It is very pleasantly situated, and the earliest rays of the sun play
upon my curtains. On fine summer days I see them come creeping, as the
sun rises, all along the whitened wall. The elm-trees opposite my
windows divide them into a thousand patterns as they dance upon my bed,
and, reflecting its rose-and-white color, shed a charming tint around. I
hear the confused twitter of the swallows that have taken possession of
my roof, and the warbling of the birds that people the elms. Then do a
thousand smiling fancies fill my soul; and in the whole universe no
being enjoys an awakening so delightful, so peaceful, as mine.

I confess that I do indeed revel in these sweet moments, and prolong as
far as I can the pleasure it gives me to meditate in the comfortable
warmth of my bed. What scene can adapt itself so well to the
imagination, and awaken such delicious ideas, as the couch on which my
fancy floats me into the forgetfulness of self! Here it is that the
mother, intoxicated with joy at the birth of a son, forgets her pangs.
Hither it is that fantastic pleasures, the fruit of fancy or of hope,
come to agitate us. In a word, it is here that during one half of a
life-time we forget the annoyances of the other half.

But what a host of thoughts, some agreeable, some sad, throng my brain
at once,--strange minglings of terrible and delicious pictures!

A bed sees us born, and sees us die. It is the ever changing scene upon
which the human race play by turns interesting dramas, laughable farces,
and fearful tragedies. It is a cradle decked with flowers. A throne of
love. A sepulchre.



VI.

_For Metaphysicians._


This chapter is for metaphysicians, and for metaphysicians only. It will
throw a great light upon man’s nature. It is the prism with which to
analyze and decompose the human faculties, by separating the animal
force from the pure rays of intellect.

It would be impossible for me to explain how I came to burn my fingers
at the very onset of my journey without expounding to my reader my
system of the _Soul and the Animal_.[1] And besides, this metaphysical
discovery has so great an influence on my thoughts and actions, that it
would be very difficult to understand this book if I did not begin by
giving the key to its meaning.

Various observations have enabled me to perceive that man is made up of
a soul and an animal. These two beings are quite distinct, but they are
so dovetailed one into the other, or upon the other, that the soul must,
if we would make the distinction between them, possess a certain
superiority over the animal.

I have it from an old professor (and this is as long ago as I can
remember), that Plato used to call matter the OTHER. This is all very
well; but I prefer giving this name _par excellence_ to the animal which
is joined to our soul. This substance it is which is really the OTHER,
and which plays such strange tricks upon us. It is easy enough to see,
in a sort of general way, that man is twofold. But this, they say, is
because he is made up of soul and body; and they accuse the body of I
don’t know how many things, and very inconsistently, seeing that it can
neither feel nor think. It is upon the animal that the blame should
fall; upon that sensitive being, which, while it is perfectly distinct
from the soul, is a real individual, enjoying a separate existence, with
its own tastes, inclinations, and will, and which only ranks higher than
other animals, because it is better educated than they, and is provided
with more perfect organs.

Ladies and gentlemen! Be as proud of your intellect as you please, but
be very suspicious of the OTHER, especially when you are together.

I have experimented I know not how oft, upon the union of these two
heterogeneous creatures. I have, for instance, clearly ascertained that
the soul can make herself obeyed by the animal, and that, by way of
retaliation, the animal makes the soul act contrary to its own
inclination. The one, as a rule, has the legislative, the other the
executive power, but these two are often at variance. The great business
of a man of genius is to train his animal well, in order that it may go
alone, while the soul, delivered from this troublesome companion, can
raise herself to the skies.

But this requires illustration. When, sir, you are reading a book, and
an agreeable idea suddenly enters your imagination, your soul attaches
herself to the new idea at once, and forgets the book, while your eyes
follow mechanically the words and lines. You get through the page
without understanding it, and without remembering what you have read.
Now this is because your soul, having ordered her companion to read to
her, gave no warning of the short absence she contemplated, so that the
OTHER went on reading what the soul no longer attended to.



VII.

_The Soul._


Is not this clear to you? Let us illustrate it still farther.

One day last summer at an appointed hour, I was wending my way to court.
I had been sketching all day, and my soul, choosing to meditate upon
painting, left the duty of taking me to the king’s palace to the animal.

How sublime, thought my soul, is the painter’s art! Happy is he who is
touched by the aspect of nature, and does not depend upon his pictures
for a livelihood; who does not paint solely as a pastime, but struck
with the majesty of a beautiful form, and the wonderful way in which the
light with its thousand tints plays upon the human face, strives to
imitate in his works the wonderful effects of nature! Happy, too, is the
painter who is led by love of landscape into solitary paths, and who can
make his canvas breathe the feeling of sadness with which he is inspired
by a gloomy wood or a desert plain. His productions imitate and
reproduce nature. He creates new seas and dark caverns into which the
sun has never peered. At his command, coppices of evergreens spring into
life, and the blue of heaven is reflected on his pictures. He darkens
the air, and we hear the roar of the storm. At another time he presents
to the eye of the wondering beholder the delightful plains of ancient
Sicily: startled nymphs flee the pursuit of a satyr through the bending
reeds; temples of stately architecture raise their grand fronts above
the sacred forest that surrounds them. Imagination loses itself among
the still paths of this ideal country. Bluish backgrounds blend with
the sky, and the whole landscape, reproduced in the waters of a tranquil
river, forms a scene that no tongue can describe.

While my soul was thus reflecting, the _other_ went its way, Heaven
knows whither! Instead of going to court, according to orders, it took
such a turn to the left, that my soul just caught it up at Madame de
Hautcastel’s door, full half a mile from the Palais Royal!

Now I leave the reader to fancy what might have been the consequence had
the truant visited so beautiful a lady alone.



VIII.

_The Animal._


If it is both useful and agreeable to have a soul so disengaged from
matter that we can let it travel alone whenever we please, this has also
its disadvantages. Through this, for instance, I got the burn I spoke of
a few chapters back.

I generally leave my animal to prepare my breakfast. Its care it is to
slice and toast my bread. My coffee it makes admirably, and helps itself
thereto without my soul’s concerning herself in the transaction. But
this is a very rare and nice performance to execute; for though it is
easy enough while busied in a mechanical operation, to think of
something quite different, it is extremely difficult, so to speak, to
watch one’s self-work, or, if I express myself systematically, to employ
one’s soul to examine the animal’s progress, and to watch its work
without taking part in it. This is the most extraordinary metaphysical
feat a man can execute.

I had rested my tongs on the embers to toast my bread, and some little
time afterwards, while my soul was travelling, a burning stick fell on
the hearth: my poor animal seized the tongs, and I burnt my fingers.



IX.

_Philosophy_.


I hope I have sufficiently developed my ideas in the foregoing chapters
to furnish you, good reader, with matter for thought, and to enable you
to make discoveries along the brilliant career before you. You cannot be
other than highly satisfied with yourself if you succeed in the long run
in making your soul travel alone. The pleasure afforded by this power
will amply counterbalance any inconvenience that may arise from it. What
more flattering delight is there than the being able thus to expand
one’s existence, to occupy at once earth and heaven, to double, so to
speak, one’s being? Is it not man’s eternal, insatiable desire to
augment his strength and his faculties, to be where he is not, to
recall the past, and live in the future? He would fain command armies,
preside over learned societies, and be the idol of the fair. And, if he
attain to all this, then he regrets the tranquillity of a rural life,
and envies the shepherd’s cot. His plans, his hopes, are constantly
foiled by the ills that flesh is heir to. He can find happiness nowhere.
A quarter of an hour’s journey with me will show him the way to it.

Ah, why does he not leave to the OTHER those carking cares and that
tormenting ambition. Come, my poor friend! Make but an effort to burst
from thy prison, and from the height of heaven, whither I am about to
lead thee, from the midst of the celestial shades, from the empyrean
itself, behold thy _animal_ run along the road to fortune and honor. See
with what gravity it walks among men. The crowd falls back with respect,
and believe me, none will remark that it is alone. The people among
whom it walks care very little whether it has a soul or not, whether it
thinks or not. A thousand sentimental women will fall desperately in
love with it without discovering the defect. It may even raise itself
without thy soul’s help to the highest favor and fortune. Nay, I should
not be astonished if, on thy return from the empyrean, thy soul, on
getting home, were to find itself in the _animal_ of a noble lord.



X.

_The Portrait._


But you must not let yourself think that instead of keeping my promise
to describe my journey round my room, I am beating the bush to see how I
can evade the difficulty. This would be a great mistake on your part.
For our journey is really going on; and while my soul, falling back on
her own resources, was in the last chapter threading the mazy paths of
metaphysics, I had so placed myself in my arm-chair, that its front legs
being raised about two inches from the floor, I was able, by balancing
myself from left to right, to make way by degrees, and at last, almost
without knowing it, to get close to the wall, for this is how I travel
when not pressed for time. When there, my hand possessed itself by a
mere mechanical effort, of the portrait of Madame de Hautcastel; and the
OTHER amused itself with removing the dust which covered it. This
occupation produced a feeling of quiet pleasure, and the pleasure was
conveyed to my soul, lost though it was in the vast plains of heaven.
For it is well to observe that when the mind is thus travelling in
space, it still keeps linked to the senses by a secret and subtle chain;
so that, without being distracted from its occupations, it can
participate in the peaceful joys of the OTHER. But should this pleasure
reach a certain pitch, or should the soul be struck by some unexpected
vision, it forthwith descends swift as lightning, and resumes its place.

And that is just what happened to me while dusting the picture. Whilst
the cloth removed the dust, and brought to light those flaxen curls and
the wreaths of roses that crowned them, my soul, from the sun, whither
she had transported herself, felt a slight thrill of pleasure, and
partook sympathetically of the joy of my heart. This joy became less
indistinct and more lively, when, by a single sweep, the beautiful
forehead of that charming face was revealed. My soul was on the point of
leaving the skies in order to enjoy the spectacle. But had she been in
the Elysian Fields, had she been engaged in a seraphic concert, she
could not have stayed a single second longer when her companion, glowing
with the work, seized a proffered sponge, and passed it at once over the
eyebrows and the eyes, over the nose, over that mouth, ah heavens!--my
heart beats at the thought--over the chin and neck! It was the work of
an instant. The whole face seemed suddenly recalled into existence. My
soul precipitated herself like a falling star from the sky. She found
the OTHER in a state of ecstasy, which she herself increased by sharing
it. This strange and unexpected position caused all thought of time and
space to vanish from my mind. I lived for a moment in the past, and,
contrary to the order of nature, I grew young again. Yes, before me
stands that adored one; ’tis she, her very self! She smiles on me, she
will speak and own her love. That glance!... come, let me press thee to
my heart, O, my loved one, my other self! Partake with me this
intoxicating bliss! The moment was short, but ravishing. Cool reason
soon reasserted her sway, and in the twinkling of an eye I had grown a
whole year older. My heart grew icy cold, and I found myself on a level
with the crowd of heedless ones who throng the earth.



XI.

_Rose and White._


But we must not anticipate events. My hurry to communicate to the reader
my system of the soul and animal caused me to abandon the description of
my bed earlier than I ought to have done. When I have completed this
description, I will continue my journey where I interrupted it in the
last chapter. But let me pray you to bear in mind that we left one half
of my _ego_ four steps from my bureau, close to the wall, and holding
the portrait of Madame de Hautcastel.

In speaking of my bed, I forgot to recommend every man to have, if
possible, a bed with rose and white furniture. There can be no doubt
that colors so far affect us as to make us cheerful or sad, according
to their hues. Now, rose and white are two colors that are consecrated
to pleasure. Nature in bestowing them upon the rose has given her the
crown of Flora’s realm. And when the sky would announce to the world a
fine day, it paints the clouds at sunrise with this charming tint.

One day we were with some difficulty climbing a steep pathway. The
amiable Rosalie, whose agility had given her wings, was far in front. We
could not overtake her. All on a sudden, having reached the top of a
hillock, she turned toward us to take breath, and smiled at our
slowness. Never, perhaps, did the two colors whose praise I proclaim so
triumph. Her burning cheeks, her coral lips, her alabaster neck, were
thrown into relief by the verdure around, and entranced us all. We could
not but pause and gaze upon her. I will not speak of her blue eyes, or
of the glance she cast upon us, because this would be going from the
subject, and because I dwell upon these memories as little as possible.
Let it suffice that I have given the best illustration conceivable of
the superiority of these two colors over all others, and of their
influence upon the happiness of man.

Here will I stop for to-day. Of what subject can I treat which would not
now be insipid? What idea is not effaced by _this_ idea? I do not even
know when I shall be able to resume my work. If I go on with it at all,
and if the reader desire to see its termination, let him betake himself
to the angel who distributes thoughts, and beg him to cease to mingle
with the disconnected thoughts he showers upon me at every moment the
image of that hillock.

If this precaution is not taken, my journey will be a failure.



XII.

_The Hillock._

[Illustration]



XIII.

_A Halt._


My efforts are useless. I must sojourn here awhile, whether I will or
not. The “Halt!” is irresistible.



XIV.

_Joannetti._


I remarked that I was singularly fond of meditating when influenced by
the agreeable warmth of my bed; and that its agreeable color added not a
little to the pleasure I experienced.

That I may be provided with this enjoyment, my servant is directed to
enter my room half an hour before my time for rising. I hear him moving
about my room with a light step, and stealthily managing his
preparations. This noise just suffices to convey to me the pleasant
knowledge that I am slumbering,--a delicate pleasure this, unknown to
most men. You are just awake enough to know you are not entirely so, and
to make a dreamy calculation that the hour for business and worry is
still in the sand-glass of time. Gradually my man grows noisier; it is
so hard for him to restrain himself, and he knows too that the fatal
hour draws near. He looks at my watch, and jingles the seals as a
warning. But I turn a deaf ear to him. There is no imaginable cheat I do
not put upon the poor fellow to lengthen the blissful moment. I give him
a hundred preliminary orders. He knows that these orders, given somewhat
peevishly, are mere excuses for my staying in bed without seeming to
wish to do so. But this he affects not to see through, and I am truly
thankful to him.

At last, when I have exhausted all my resources, he advances to the
middle of the room, and with folded arms, plants himself there in a
perfectly immovable position. It must be admitted that it would be
impossible to show disapproval of my idleness with greater judgment and
address. I never resist this tacit invitation, but, stretching out my
arms to show I understand him, get up at once.

If the reader will reflect upon the behavior of my servant, he will
convince himself that in certain delicate matters of this kind,
simplicity and good sense are much better than the sharpest wit. I dare
assert that the most studied discourse on the impropriety of sloth would
not make me spring so readily from my bed as the silent reproach of
Monsieur Joannetti.

This Monsieur Joannetti is a thoroughly honest fellow, and at the same
time just the man for such a traveller as I. He is accustomed to the
frequent journeys of my soul, and never laughs at the inconsistencies of
the OTHER. He even directs it occasionally when it is alone, so that one
might say it is then conducted by two souls. When it is dressing, for
instance, he will warn it by a gesture that it is on the point of
putting on its stockings the wrong way, or its coat before its
waistcoat.

Many a time has my soul been amused at seeing poor Joannetti running
after this foolish creature under the arches of the citadel, to remind
it of a forgotten hat or handkerchief. One day, I must confess, had it
not been for this faithful servant, who caught it up just at the bottom
of the staircase, the silly creature would have presented itself at
court without a sword, as boldly as if it had been the chief
gentleman-usher, bearing the august rod.



XV.

_A Difficulty._


“Come, Joannetti,” I said, “hang up this picture.” He had helped to
clean it, and had no more notion than the man in the moon what had
produced our chapter on the portrait. He it was, who, of his own accord,
held out the wet sponge, and who, through that seemingly unimportant
act, caused my soul to travel a hundred millions of leagues in a moment
of time. Instead of restoring it to its place, he held it to examine it
in his turn. A difficulty, a problem, gave him an inquisitive air, which
I did not fail to observe.

“Well, and what fault do you find with that portrait?” said I.

“O, none at all, sir.”

“But come now, you have some remark to make, I know.”

He placed it upright on one of the wings of my bureau, and then drawing
back a little, “I wish, sir,” he said, “that you would explain how it is
that in whatever part of the room one may be, this portrait always
watches you. In the morning, when I am making your bed, the face turns
towards me; and if I move toward the window, it still looks at me, and
follows me with its eyes as I go about.”

“So that, Joannetti,” said I, “if my room were full of people, that
beautiful lady would eye every one, on all sides, at once.”

“Just so, sir.”

“She would smile on every comer and goer, just as she would on me?”

Joannetti gave no further answer. I stretched myself in my easy-chair,
and, hanging down my head, gave myself up to the most serious
meditations. What a ray of light fell upon me! Alack, poor lover! While
thou pinest away, far from thy mistress, at whose side another perhaps,
has already replaced thee; whilst thou fixest thy longing eyes on her
portrait, imagining that at least in picture, thou art the sole being
she deigns to regard,--the perfidious image, as faithless as the
original, bestows its glances on all around, and smiles on every one
alike!

And in this behold a moral resemblance between certain portraits and
their originals, which no philosopher, no painter, no observer, had
before remarked.

I go on from discovery to discovery.

[Illustration: VESSIER GUILLAUME]



XVI.

_Solution._


Joannetti remained in the attitude I have described, awaiting the
explanation he had asked of me. I withdrew my head from the folds of my
travelling dress, into which I had thrust it that I might meditate more
at my ease; and after a moment’s silence, to enable me to collect my
thoughts after the reflections I had just made, I said, turning my
arm-chair toward him,--

“Do you not see that as a picture is a plane surface, the rays of light
proceeding from each point on that surface ...?”

At that explanation, Joannetti stretched his eyes to their very widest,
while he kept his mouth half open. These two movements of the human face
express, according to the famous Le Brun, the highest pitch of
astonishment. It was, without doubt, my _animal_, that had undertaken
this dissertation, while my soul was well aware that Joannetti knew
nothing whatever about plane surfaces and rays of light. The prodigious
dilatation of his eyelids caused me to draw back. I ensconced my head in
the collar of my travelling coat, and this so effectively that I
well-nigh succeeded in altogether hiding it. I determined to dine where
I was. The morning was far advanced, and another step in my room would
have delayed my dinner until night-fall. I let myself slip to the edge
of my chair, and putting both feet on the mantel-piece, patiently
awaited my meal. This was a most comfortable attitude; indeed, it would
be difficult to find another possessing so many advantages, and so well
adapted to the inevitable sojourns of a long voyage.

At such moments, Rose, my faithful dog, never fails to come and pull at
the skirts of my travelling dress that I may take her up. She finds a
very convenient ready-made bed at the angle formed by the two parts of
my body. A V admirably represents my position. Rose jumps to her post if
I do not take her up quickly enough to please her, and I often find her
there without knowing how she has come. My hands fall into a position
which minister to her well-being, and this, either through a sympathy
existing between this good-natured creature and myself, or through the
merest chance. But no, I do not believe in that miserable doctrine of
_chance_,--in that unmeaning word! I would rather believe in animal
magnetism.

There is such reality in the relations which exist between these two
animals, that when out of sheer distraction, I put my two feet on the
mantel-piece and have no thought at all about a _halt_, dinner-time not
being near, Rose, observing this movement, shows by a slight wag of her
tail the pleasure she enjoys. Reserve keeps her in her place. The
_other_ perceives this and is gratified by it, though quite unable to
reason upon its cause. And thus a mute dialogue is established between
them, a pleasing interchange of sensations which could not be attributed
to simple chance.



XVII.

_Rose._


Do not reproach me for the prolixity with which I narrate the details of
my journey. This is the wont of travellers. When one sets out for the
ascent of Mont Blanc, or to visit the yawning tomb of Empedocles, the
minutest particulars are carefully described. The number of persons who
formed the party, the number of mules, the quality of the food, the
excellent appetite of the travellers,--everything, to the very stumbling
of the quadrupeds, is carefully noted down for the instruction of the
sedentary world.

Upon this principle, I resolved to speak of my dog Rose,--an amiable
creature for whom I entertain sincere regard,--and to devote a whole
chapter to her.

We have lived together for six years, and there has never been any
coolness between us, and if ever any little disputes have arisen, the
fault has been chiefly on my side, and Rose has always made the first
advances towards reconciliation.

In the evening, if she has been scolded she withdraws sadly and without
a murmur. The next morning at daybreak, she stands near my bed in a
respectful attitude, and at her master’s slightest movement, at the
first sign of his being awake, she makes her presence known by rapidly
tapping my little table with her tail.

And why should I refuse my affection to this good-natured creature that
has never ceased to love me ever since we have lived together? My memory
would not enable me to enumerate all the people who have interested
themselves in me but to forget me. I have had some few friends, several
lady-loves, a host of acquaintances; and now I am to all these people as
if I had never lived; they have forgotten my very name.

And yet what protestations they made, what offers of assistance! Their
purse was at my disposal, and they begged me to depend upon their
eternal and entire friendship!

Poor Rose, who has made me no promises, renders me the greatest service
that can be bestowed upon humanity, for she has always loved her master,
and loves him still. And this is why I do not hesitate to say that she
shares with my other friends the affection I feel towards them.



XVIII.

_Reserve._


We left Joannetti standing motionless before me, in an attitude of
astonishment, awaiting the conclusion of the sublime explanation I had
begun.

When he saw me bury my head in my dressing-gown, and thus end my
dissertation, he did not doubt for a moment that I had stopped short for
lack of resources, and that he had fairly overcome me by the knotty
question he had plied me with.

Notwithstanding the superiority he had hereby gained over me, he felt no
movement of pride, and did not seek to profit by his advantage. After a
moment’s silence, he took the picture, put it back in its place, and
withdrew softly on tip-toe. He felt that his presence was a sort of
humiliation to me, and his delicacy of feeling led him thus to retire
unobserved. His behavior on this occasion interested me greatly, and
gave him a higher place than ever in my affections. And he will have
too, without doubt, a place in the heart of my readers. If there be one
among them who will refuse it him after reading the next chapter, such a
one must surely have a heart of stone.



XIX.

_A Tear._


“Good Heavens!” said I to him one day, “three times have I told you to
buy me a brush. What a head the fellow has!” He answered not a word; nor
had he the evening before made any reply to a like expostulation. “This
is very odd,” I thought to myself, “he is generally so very particular.”

“Well, go and get a duster to wipe my shoes with,” I said angrily. While
he was on his way, I regretted that I had spoken so sharply, and my
anger entirely subsided when I saw how carefully he tried to remove the
dust from my shoes without touching my stockings. “What,” I said to
myself, “are there then men who brush others’ shoes for _money_!” This
word _money_ came upon me like a flash of lightning. I suddenly
remembered that for a long time my servant had not had any money from
me.

“Joannetti,” said I, drawing away my foot, “have you any change?”

A smile of justification lit up his face at the question.

“No, sir; for the last week I have not possessed a penny. I have spent
all I had for your little purchases.”

“And the brush? I suppose that is why ...?”

He still smiled. Now, he might very well have said, “No, sir; I am not
the empty-headed ass you would make out your faithful servant to be. Pay
me the one pound two shillings and sixpence halfpenny you owe me, and
then I’ll buy you your brush.” But no, he bore this ill treatment rather
than cause his master to blush at his unjust anger. And may Heaven
bless him! Philosophers, Christians! have you read this?

“Come, Joannetti,” said I, “buy me the brush.”

“But, sir, will you go like that, with one shoe clean, and the other
dirty?”

“Go, go!” I replied, “never mind about the dust, never mind that.”

He went out. I took the duster, and daintily wiped my left shoe, on
which a tear of repentance had fallen.



XX.

_Albert and Charlotte._


The walls of my room are hung with engravings and pictures, which adorn
it greatly. I should much like to submit them to the reader’s
inspection, that they might amuse him along the road we have to traverse
before we reach my bureau. But it is as impossible to describe a picture
well, as to paint one from a description.

What an emotion he would feel in contemplating the first drawing that
presents itself! He would see the unhappy Charlotte,[2] slowly, and with
a trembling hand, wiping Albert’s pistols. Dark forebodings, and all the
agony of hopeless, inconsolable love, are imprinted on her features,
while the cold-hearted Albert, surrounded by bags of law papers and
various old documents, turns with an air of indifference towards his
friend to bid him good-by. Many a time have I been tempted to break the
glass that covers this engraving, that I might tear Albert away from the
table, rend him to pieces, and trample him under foot. But this would
not do away with the Alberts. There will always be sadly too many of
them in the world. What sensitive man is there who has not such a one
near him, who receives the overflowings of his soul, the gentle emotions
of his heart, and the flights of his imagination just as the rock
receives the waves of the sea? Happy is he who finds a friend whose
heart and mind harmonize with his own; a friend who adheres to him by
likeness of tastes, feeling, and knowledge; a friend who is not the prey
of ambition or greediness, who prefers the shade of a tree to the pomp
of a court! Happy is he who has a friend!

[Illustration]



XXI.

_A Friend._


I had a friend. Death took him from me. He was snatched away at the
beginning of his career, at the moment when his friendship had become a
pressing need to my heart. We supported one another in the hard toil of
war. We had but one pipe between us. We drank out of the same cup. We
slept beneath the same tent. And, amid our sad trials, the spot where we
lived together became to us a new father-land. I had seen him exposed to
all the perils of a disastrous war. Death seemed to spare us to each
other. His deadly missives were exhausted around my friend a thousand
times over without reaching him; but this was but to make his loss more
painful to me. The tumult of war, and the enthusiasm which possesses the
soul at the sight of danger might have prevented his sighs from piercing
my heart, while his death would have been useful to his country, and
damaging to the enemy. Had he died thus, I should have mourned him less.
But to lose him amid the joys of our winter-quarters; to see him die at
the moment when he seemed full of health, and when our intimacy was
rendered closer by rest and tranquillity,--ah, this was a blow from
which I can never recover!

But his memory lives in my heart, and there alone. He is forgotten by
those who surrounded him, and who have replaced him. And this makes his
loss the more sad to me.

Nature, in like manner indifferent to the fate of individuals, dons her
green spring robe, and decks herself in all her beauty near the cemetery
where he rests. The trees cover themselves with foliage, and intertwine
their branches; the birds warble under the leafy sprays; the insects hum
among the blossoms: everything breathes joy in this abode of death.

And in the evening, when the moon shines in the sky, and I am meditating
in this sad place, I hear the grasshopper, hidden in the grass that
covers the silent grave of my friend, merrily pursuing his unwearied
song. The unobserved destruction of human beings, as well as all their
misfortunes, are counted for nothing in the grand total of events.

The death of an affectionate man who breathes his last surrounded by his
afflicted friends, and that of a butterfly killed in a flower’s cup by
the chill air of morning, are but two similar epochs in the course of
nature. Man is but a phantom, a shadow, a mere vapor that melts into
the air.

But day-break begins to whiten the sky. The gloomy thoughts that
troubled me vanish with the darkness, and hope awakens again in my
heart. No! He who thus suffuses the east with light, has not made it to
shine upon my eyes only to plunge me into the night of annihilation. He
who has spread out that vast horizon, who raised those lofty mountains
whose icy tops the sun is even now gilding, is also He who made my heart
to beat, and my mind to think.

No! My friend is not annihilated. Whatever may be the barrier that
separates us, I shall see him again. My hopes are based on no mere
syllogism. The flight of an insect suffices to persuade me. And often
the prospect of the surrounding country, the perfume of the air, and an
indescribable charm which is spread around me, so raise my thoughts,
that an invincible proof of immortality forces itself upon my soul, and
fills it to the full.



XXII.

_Jenny._


The chapter I have just written had often presented itself to my pen,
but I had as often rejected it. I had promised myself that I would only
allow the cheerful phase of my soul to show itself in this book. But
this project, like many others, I was forced to abandon. I hope the
sensitive reader will pardon me for having asked his tears; and if any
one thinks I should have omitted this chapter, he can tear it from his
copy, or even throw the whole book on the fire.

Enough for me, dear Jenny, that thy heart approves it, thou best and
best-beloved of women, best and best-beloved of sisters. To thee I
dedicate my work. If it please thee, it will please all gentle and
delicate hearts. And if thou wilt pardon the follies into which, albeit
against my will, I sometimes fall, I will brave all the critics of the
universe.



XXIII.

_The Picture Gallery._


One word only upon our next engraving.

It represents the family of the unfortunate Ugolino, dying of hunger.
Around him are his sons. One of them lies motionless at his feet. The
rest stretch their enfeebled arms towards him, asking for bread; while
the wretched father, leaning against a pillar of his prison, his eyes
fixed and haggard, his countenance immovable, dies a double death, and
suffers all that human nature can endure.

And there is the brave Chevalier d’Assas, dying, by an effort of courage
and heroism unknown in our days, under a hundred bayonets.

And thou who weepest under the palm-trees, poor negro woman! thou, whom
some barbarous fellow has betrayed and deserted, nay, worse, whom he has
had the brutality to sell as a vile slave, notwithstanding thy love and
devotion, notwithstanding the pledge of affection thou hast borne at thy
breast,--I will not pass before thine image without rendering to thee
the homage due to thy tenderness and thy sorrows.

Let us pause a moment before the other picture. It is a young
shepherdess tending her flock alone on the heights of the Alps. She sits
on an old willow trunk, bleached by many winters. Her feet are covered
by the broad leaves of a tuft of _cacalia_, whose lilac blossoms bloom
above her head. Lavender, wild thyme, the anemone, centaury, and flowers
which are cultivated with care in our hot-houses and gardens, and which
grow in all their native beauty on the Alps, form the gay carpet on
which her sheep wander.

Lovely shepherdess! tell me where is the lovely spot thou callest thy
home. From what far-off sheepfold didst thou set out at daybreak this
morning? Could I not go thither and live with thee?

But alas, the sweet tranquillity thou enjoyest will soon vanish! The
demon of war, not content with desolating cities, will ere long carry
anxiety and alarm to thy solitary retreat. Even now I see the soldiers
advancing: they climb height after height, as they march upward towards
the clouds. The cannons’ roar is heard high above the thunder-clap.

Fly, O shepherdess! Urge on thy flock! Hide thee in the farthest caves,
for no longer is repose to be found on this sad earth!



XXIV.

_Painting and Music._


I do not know how it is, but of late my chapters have always ended in a
mournful strain. In vain do I begin by fixing my eyes on some agreeable
object; in vain do I embark when all is calm: a sudden gale soon drifts
me away. To put an end to an agitation which deprives me of the mastery
of my ideas, and to quiet the beating of a heart too much disturbed by
so many touching images, I see no remedy but a dissertation. Yes, thus
will I steel my heart.

And the dissertation shall be about painting, for I cannot at this
moment expatiate upon any other subject. I cannot altogether descend
from the point I just now reached. Besides, painting is to me what
Uncle Toby’s hobby-horse was to him.[3]

I would say a few words, by the way, upon the question of preëminence
between the charming arts of painting and music. I would cast my grain
into the balance, were it but a grain of sand, a mere atom.

It is urged in favor of the painter, that he leaves his works behind
him; that his pictures outlive him, and immortalize his memory.

In reply to this we are reminded that musical composers also leave us
their operas and oratorios.

But music is subject to fashion, and painting is not. The musical
passages that deeply affected our forefathers seem simply ridiculous to
the amateurs of our own day; and they are placed in absurd farces to
furnish laughter for the nephews of those whom they once made to weep.

Raphael’s pictures will enchant our descendants as greatly as they did
our forefathers.

This is my grain of sand.



XXV.

_An Objection._


“But what,” said Madame de Hautcastel to me one day,--“what if the music
of Cherubini or Cimarosa differs from that of their predecessors? What
care I if the music of the past make me laugh, so long as that of the
present day touch me by its charms? Is it at all essential to my
happiness that my pleasures should resemble those of my
great-grandmother? Why talk to me of painting, an art which is only
enjoyed by a very small class of persons, while music enchants every
living creature?”

I hardly know at this moment how one could reply to this observation,
which I did not foresee when I began my chapter.

Had I foreseen it, perhaps I should not have undertaken that
dissertation. And pray do not imagine that you discover in this
_objection_ the artifice of a musician, for upon my honor I am none,
Heaven be my witness, and all those who have heard me play the violin!

But, even supposing the merits of the two arts to be equal, we must not
be too hasty in concluding that the merits of the _disciples_ of
Painting and Music are therefore balanced. We see children play the
harpsichord as if they were _maestri_, but no one has ever been a good
painter at twelve years old. Painting, besides taste and feeling,
requires an amount of thoughtfulness that musicians can dispense with.
Any day may you hear men who are well nigh destitute of head and heart,
bring out from a violin or harp the most ravishing sounds.

The human ANIMAL may be taught to play the harpsichord, and when it has
learned of a good master, the soul can travel at her ease while sounds
with which she does not concern herself are mechanically produced by the
fingers. But the simplest thing in the world cannot be painted without
the aid of all the faculties of the soul.

If, however, any one should take it into his head to ply me with a
distinction between the composition and the performance of music, I
confess that he would give me some little difficulty. Ah, well! were all
writers of essays quite candid they would all conclude as I am doing.
When one enters upon the examination of a question, a dogmatic tone is
generally assumed, because there has been a secret decision beforehand,
just as I, notwithstanding my hypocritical impartiality, had decided in
favor of painting. But discussion awakens objections, and everything
ends with doubt.



XXVI.

_Raphael._


Now that I am more tranquil, I will endeavor to speak calmly of the two
portraits that follow the picture of the shepherdess of the Alps.

Raphael! Who but thyself could paint thy portrait; who but thyself would
have dared attempt it? Thy open countenance, beaming with feeling and
intellect, proclaims thy character and thy genius.

To gratify thy shade, I have placed beside thee the portrait of thy
mistress, whom the men of all generations will hold answerable for the
loss of the sublime works of which art has been deprived by thy
premature death.

When I examine the portrait of Raphael, I feel myself penetrated by an
almost religious respect for that great man, who, in the flower of his
age, excelled the ancients, and whose pictures are at once the
admiration and the despair of modern artists. My soul, in admiring it,
is moved with indignation against that Italian who preferred her love to
her lover, and who extinguished at her bosom that heavenly flame, that
divine genius.

Unhappy one! Knewest thou not that Raphael had announced a picture
superior even to that of the _Transfiguration_? Didst thou not know that
thine arms encircled the favorite of nature, the father of enthusiasm, a
sublime genius ... a divinity?

While my soul makes these observations, her companion, whose eyes are
attentively fixed upon the lovely face of that fatal beauty, feels quite
ready to forgive her the death of Raphael.

In vain my soul upbraids this extravagant weakness; she is not listened
to at all. On such occasions a strange dialogue arises between the two,
which terminates too often in favor of the bad principles, and of which
I reserve a sample for another chapter.

And if, by the way, my soul had not at that moment abruptly closed the
inspection of the gallery, if she had given the OTHER time to
contemplate the rounded and graceful features of the beautiful Roman
lady, my intellect would have miserably lost its supremacy.

And if, at that critical moment I had suddenly obtained the favor
bestowed upon the fortunate Pygmalion, without having the least spark of
the genius which makes me pardon Raphael his errors, it is just possible
that I should have succumbed as he did.



XXVII.

_A Perfect Picture._


My engravings, and the paintings of which I have spoken, fade away into
nothing at the first glance bestowed upon the next picture. The immortal
works of Raphael and Correggio, and of the whole Italian school, are not
to be compared to it. Hence it is that when I accord to an amateur the
pleasure of travelling with me, I always keep this until the last as a
special luxury, and ever since I first exhibited this sublime picture to
connoisseurs and to ignorant, to men of the world, to artists, to women,
to children, to animals even, I have always found the spectators,
whoever they might be, show, each in his own way, signs of pleasure and
surprise, so admirably is nature rendered therein.

And what picture could be presented to you, gentlemen; what spectacle,
ladies, could be placed before your eyes more certain of gaining your
approval than the faithful portraiture of yourselves? The picture of
which I speak is a mirror, and no one has as yet ventured to criticise
it. It is to all who look on it a perfect picture, in depreciation of
which not a word can be said.

You will at once admit that it should be regarded as one of the wonders
of the world.

I will pass over in silence the pleasure felt by the natural philosopher
in meditating upon the strange phenomena presented by light as it
reproduces upon that polished surface all the objects of nature. A
mirror offers to the sedentary traveller a thousand interesting
reflections, a thousand observations which render it at once a useful
and precious article.

Ye whom Love has held or still holds under his sway, learn that it is
before a mirror that he sharpens his darts, and contemplates his
cruelties. There it is that he plans his manœuvres, studies his tactics,
and prepares himself for the war he wishes to declare. There he
practices his killing glances and little affectations, and sly poutings,
just as a player practices, with himself for spectator, before appearing
in public.

A mirror, being always impartial and true, brings before the eyes of the
beholder the roses of youth and the wrinkles of age, without calumny and
without flattery. It alone among the councilors of the great, invariably
tells them the truth.

It was this recommendation that made me desire the invention of a moral
mirror, in which all men might see themselves, with their virtues and
their vices. I even thought of offering a prize to some academy for this
discovery, when riper reflection proved to me that such an invention
would be useless.

Alas! how rare it is for ugliness to recognize itself and break the
mirror! In vain are looking-glasses multiplied around us which reflect
light and truth with geometrical exactness. As soon as the rays reach
our vision and paint us as we are, self-love slips its deceitful prism
between us and our image, and presents a divinity to us.

And of all the prisms that have existed since the first that came from
the hands of the immortal Newton, none has possessed so powerful a
refractive force, or produced such pleasing and lively colors, as the
prism of self-love.

Now, seeing that ordinary looking-glasses record the truth in vain, and
that they cannot make men see their own imperfections, every one being
satisfied with his face, what would a moral mirror avail? Few people
would look at it, and no one would recognize himself. None save
philosophers would spend their time in examining themselves,--I even
have my doubts about the philosophers.

Taking the mirror as we find it, I hope no one will blame me for ranking
it above all the pictures of the Italian school.

Ladies, whose taste cannot be faulty, and whose opinion should decide
the question, generally upon entering a room let their first glance fall
upon this picture.

A thousand times have I seen ladies, aye, and gallants, too, forget at a
ball their lovers and their mistresses, the dancing, and all the
pleasures of the fête, to contemplate with evident complaisance this
enchanting picture, and honoring it even, from time to time, in the
midst of the liveliest quadrille, with a look.

Who then can dispute the rank that I accord to it among the masterpieces
of the art of Apelles?



XXVIII.

_The Upset Carriage._


I had at last nearly reached my bureau. So close was I, that had I
stretched out my arm I could have touched the corner nearest to me. But
at this very moment I was on the verge of seeing the fruit of all my
labors destroyed, and of losing my life. I should pass over in silence
the accident that happened to me, for fear of discouraging other
travellers, were it not that it is so difficult to upset such a
post-chaise as I employ, that it must be allowed that one must be
uncommonly unlucky--as unlucky, indeed, as it is my lot to be--to be
exposed to a like danger.

There I was, stretched at full length upon the ground, completely upset,
and it was done so quickly, so unexpectedly, that I should have been
almost tempted to question the cause of my abject position, had not a
singing in my ears and a sharp pain in my left shoulder too plainly
demonstrated it.

This was again the OTHER, who had played a trick upon me.

Startled by the voice of a poor man who suddenly asked alms at my door,
and by the voice of Rose, my other half suddenly turned the arm-chair
sharply round, before my soul had time to warn it that a piece of brick,
which served as a drag, was gone. The jerk was so violent that my
post-chaise was quite thrown from its centre of gravity, and turned over
upon me.

This was, I must own, one of the occasions upon which I had most to
complain of my soul. For instead of being vexed at herself for having
been absent, and scolding her companion for its hurry, she so far
forgot herself as to give way to the most animal resentment, and to
insult the poor fellow cruelly.

“Idle rascal,” she said, “go and work.” (An execrable apostrophe this,
the invention of miserly, heartless Mammon.)

“Sir,” replied the man, hoping to soften my heart, “I come from
Chambéry.”

“So much the worse for you.”

“I am James. You saw me when you were in the country. I used to drive
the sheep into the fields.”

“And what do you do here?” My soul began to regret the harshness of my
first words; I almost think she regretted them a moment before they were
uttered. In like manner, when one meets in the road a rut or puddle, one
sees it, but has not time to avoid it.

Rose finished the work of bringing me to good sense and repentance. She
had recognized Jem, who had often shared his crust with her, and she
testified by her caresses, her remembrance and gratitude.

Meanwhile, Joannetti, who had gathered together what was left of my
dinner, his own share, gave it at once to Jem.

Poor Joannetti!

Thus it is that in my journey I get lessons of philosophy and humanity
from my servant and my dog.



XXIX.

_Misfortune._


Before proceeding farther, I wish to remove a suspicion which may have
crossed the minds of my readers.

I would not for all the world be suspected of having undertaken this
journey just because I did not know how to spend my time, and was in a
manner compelled thereto by circumstances. I here affirm, and swear by
all that is dear to me, that I projected it long before the event took
place which deprived me of my liberty for forty-two days. This forced
retirement only served as an opportunity for setting out sooner than I
had intended.

This gratuitous protestation will, I know, appear suspicious in the eyes
of some. But those who are so ready to suspect are just the persons who
will not read this book. They have enough to do at home and at their
friends’, plenty of other business to attend to. And good, honest folk
will believe me.

Still, I freely admit that I should have preferred another season for my
journey, and that I should have chosen for its execution Lent rather
than the Carnival. The philosophical reflections, however, that have
come to me from above have greatly aided me in supporting the loss of
those pleasures which Turin offers at this noisy and exciting time.

It is certain, I have thought to myself, that the walls of my chamber
are not so magnificently decorated as those of a ballroom. The silence
of my cottage is far less agreeable than the pleasing sounds of music
and dancing. But among the brilliant personages one meets in those
festive scenes, there are certainly some who are more sick at heart
than I am.

And why should I picture to myself those who are more happily
circumstanced than it is my lot to be, while the world swarms with those
who are worse off? Instead of transporting myself in fancy to that
sumptuous dancing-hall, where so many beauties are eclipsed by the young
Eugénie, I need only pause a moment in one of the streets, that lead
thither, if I would learn how happy is my fate.

For, under the porticos of those magnificent apartments, lie a crowd of
wretched people, half-naked, and ready to die from cold and misery. What
a spectacle is here! Would that this page of my book were known
throughout the universe! Would that every one knew that in this opulent
city a host of wretched beings sleep, without covering, in the coldest
winter nights, and with no pillow but the corner-stone of a street, or
the steps of a palace.

Here, again, is a group of children, crouching together for protection
from the deadly cold; and here a trembling woman, who has no voice left
to complain with. The passers-by come and go without being touched by a
spectacle with which they are so familiar. The noise of carriages, the
shouts of intemperance, the ravishing sounds of music, mingle not
unfrequently with the wails of those unhappy creatures, and fill the ear
with doleful discord.



XXX.

_Charity._


Were any one to pass a hasty judgment upon a city, taking my last
chapter as a criterion, he would err greatly. I have spoken of the poor
we meet with, of their pitiful lamentations, and of the indifference
with which many regard them. But I have said nothing of the multitude of
charitable persons who sleep while others seek amusement, and who rise
at dawn, unobserved and unostentatiously, to succor the unfortunate.

This aspect of city life must not be passed by in silence. I will write
it on the reverse of the page I was anxious everybody should read.

After having divided their good things with their brethren, after
having poured balm into hearts chafed by sorrow, you may see them enter
the churches, while wearied vice sleeps upon eider-down, to offer up
their prayers to God, and to thank Him for his mercies. The light of a
solitary lamp still struggles in the sanctuary with the daylight; but
they are already prostrate before the altar. And the Almighty, angered
by the hard-hearted selfishness of men, witholds his threatening hand.



XXXI.

_Inventory._


I could not help saying a word in my journey about those poor creatures,
for the thought of them has often come across me on my way, and turned
the current of my reflections. Sometimes, struck with the difference
between their case and my own, I have suddenly stopped my
travelling-carriage, and thought my chamber extravagantly embellished!
What superfluous luxury! Six chairs, two tables, a bureau, and a
looking-glass! What vain display! My bed above all things, my rose and
white bed, with its two mattresses, seemed to rival the magnificence and
effeminacy of Asiatic monarchs.

These meditations made me indifferent to the pleasures that had been
forbidden me. And, as I went on from one reflection to another, my fit
of philosophy became so serious that I could have seen a ball going on
in the next room, and heard the sound of violins and flutes without
stirring. I could have heard Marchesini’s melodious voice, that voice
which has so often transported me, yes, I could have listened to it
without being moved. Nay, more, I could have gazed upon the most
beauteous woman in Turin, upon Eugénie herself, adorned from head to
foot by the hands of Mademoiselle Rapoux,[4] without emotion. But, of
this last, I must confess myself not quite sure.



XXXII.

_Misanthropy._


But, gentlemen, allow me to ask a question. Do you enjoy balls and plays
as much as you used to do? As for me, I avow that for some time past
crowded assemblies have inspired me with a kind of terror. When in their
midst, I am assailed by an ominous dream. In vain I try to shake it off;
like the dream of _Athalie_, it constantly returns. Perhaps this is
because the soul, overwhelmed at the present moment by dark fancies and
painful pictures, sees nothing but sadness around it, just as a
disordered stomach turns the most wholesome food into poison. However
this may be, my dream is as follows. When I am at one of these fêtes,
among a crowd of kind, good-natured men, who dance and sing, who weep at
tragedies, and are full of frankness and cordiality, I say to myself:--

“If suddenly a white bear, a philosopher, a tiger, or some other animal
of this kind were to enter, and ascending to the orchestra, were to
shout out furiously: ‘Wretched beings! Listen to the truth that comes
from my lips! You are oppressed! You are the slaves of tyrants! You are
wretched and heart-sick! Awake from your lethargy!

“‘Musicians, break your instruments about your heads, and let each one
of you arm himself with a poniard. Think no more about holidays and
rejoicings. Climb into the boxes, and stab their occupants, one and all.
And let the women steep their timid hands in blood.

“‘Quit this room, for you are free! Tear your king from his throne, and
your God from his sanctuary.’

“Well, and how many of these charming men will obey this tiger’s voice.
How many of them thought, perhaps, of such deeds before they entered?
Who can tell? Was there no dancing in Paris five years ago?”

Joannetti! shut the door and windows! I do not wish to see the light!
Let no one enter my room. Put my sword within reach. Go out yourself,
and keep away from me.



XXXIII.

_Consolation._


No, no! Stay, Joannetti, my good fellow! And you too, Rose, you who
guess what are my sorrows, and soften them by your caresses, come!

V forms the resting-place.



XXXIV.

_Correspondence._


The upset of my post-chaise has rendered the reader the service of
shortening my journey by a good dozen chapters, for, upon getting up, I
found myself close to my bureau, and saw that I had no time left for any
observations upon a number of engravings and pictures which had yet to
be surveyed, and which might have lengthened my excursions into the
realm of painting.

Leaving to the right the portraits of Raphael and his mistress, the
Chevalier d’Assas and the Shepherdess of the Alps, and taking the left,
the side on which the window is situated, my bureau comes into view. It
is the first and the most prominent object the traveller’s eyes light
upon, taking the route I have indicated.

It is surmounted by a few shelves that serve as a book-case, and the
whole is terminated by a bust which completes the pyramid, and
contributes more than any other object to the adornment of this region.

Upon opening the first drawer to the left, we find an inkstand, paper of
all kinds, pens ready mended, and sealing-wax; all which set the most
indolent person longing to write.

I am sure, dear Jenny, that if you chanced to open this drawer, you
would reply to the letter I wrote you a year ago.

In the opposite drawer lies a confused heap of materials for a touching
history of the prisoner of Pignerol,[5] which, my dear friends, you will
ere long read.

Between these two drawers is a recess into which I throw whatever
letters I receive. All that have reached me during the last ten years
are there. The oldest of them are arranged according to date in several
packets; the new ones lie pell-mell. Besides these, I have several
dating from my early boyhood.

How great a pleasure it is to behold again through the medium of these
letters the interesting scenes of our early years, to be once again
transported into those happy days that we shall see no more!

How full is my heart, and how deeply tinged with sadness is its joy, as
my eyes wander over those words traced by one who is gone forever! That
handwriting is his, and it was his heart that guided his hand. It was to
me that he addressed this letter, and this letter is all that is left of
him!

When I put my hand into this recess, I seldom leave the spot for the
whole day. In like manner, a traveller will pass rapidly through whole
provinces of Italy, making a few hurried and trivial observations on the
way, and upon reaching Rome will take up his abode there for months.

This is the richest vein in the mine I am exploring. How changed I find
my ideas and sentiments, and how altered do my friends appear when I
examine them as they were in days gone by, and as they are now! In these
mirrors of the past I see them in mortal agitation about plans which no
longer disturb them.

Here I find an event announced which we evidently looked upon as a great
misfortune; but the end of the letter is wanting, and the circumstance
is so entirely forgotten that I cannot now make out what the matter was
which so concerned us. We were possessed by a thousand prejudices. We
knew nothing of the world, and of men. But then, how warm was our
intercourse! How intimate our friendship! How unbounded our confidence!

In our ignorance there was bliss. But now,--ah! all is now changed. We
have been compelled, as others, to read the human heart; and truth,
falling like a bomb into the midst of us, has forever destroyed the
enchanted palace of illusion.

[Illustration]



XXXV.

_The Withered Rose._


If the subject were worth the trouble, I could readily write a chapter
upon that dry rose. It is a flower of last year’s carnival. I gathered
it myself in the Valentino.[6] And in the evening, an hour before the
ball was to begin, I bore it, full of hope, and agreeably excited, to
Madame Hautcastel, for her acceptance. She took it, and without looking
at it or me, placed it upon her toilette-table. And how could she have
given _me_ any of her attention? She was engaged in looking at herself.
There she stood before a large mirror; her hair was ornamented for a
fête, and the decorations of her dress were undergoing their final
arrangement. She was so fully occupied, her attention was so totally
absorbed by the ribbons, gauzes, and all sorts of finery that lay in
heaps before her, that I did not get a look or any sign of recognition.
There was nothing for me but resignation. I held out humbly in my hand a
number of pins arranged in order. But her pincushion being more within
reach, she took them from her pincushion, and when I brought my hand
nearer, she took them from my hand, quite indifferently, and in taking
them up she would feel about for them with the tips of her fingers,
without taking her eyes from the glass, lest she should lose sight of
herself.

For some time I held behind her a second mirror that she might judge the
better how her dress became her, and as her face reflected itself from
one glass to another, I saw a prospective of coquettes, no one of whom
paid me the least attention. In a word, I must confess that my rose and
I cut a very poor figure.

At last I lost all patience, and unable longer to control the vexation
that preyed upon me, I put down the looking-glass I had been holding,
and went out angrily without taking leave.

“O! you are going?” she said, turning so as to see her figure in
profile. I made no answer, but I listened some time at the door to see
what effect my abrupt departure would have.

“Do you not see,” she said to her maid, after a moment’s silence, “that
this caraco, particularly the lower part, is much too large at the
waist, and will want pinning?”

Why and wherefore that rose is upon my shelf, I shall certainly not
explain, for, as I said before, a withered rose does not deserve a
chapter.

And pray observe, ladies, that I make no reflection upon the adventure
with the rose. I do not say whether Madame de Hautcastel did well or
otherwise in preferring her dress to me, or whether I had any right to a
better reception.

I take special care to deduce therefrom no general conclusions about the
reality, the strength, and the duration of the affection of ladies for
their friends. I am content to cast this chapter (since it is one) into
the world with the rest of my journey, without addressing it to any one,
and without recommending it to any one.

I will only add, gentlemen, a word of counsel. Impress well upon your
minds this fact, that your mistress is no longer yours on the day of a
ball.

As soon as dressing begins, a lover is no more thought of than a husband
would be; and the ball takes the place of a lover.

Every one knows how little a husband gains by enforcing his love. Take
your trouble, then, patiently, cheerfully.

And, my dear sir, do not deceive yourself; if a lady welcome you at a
ball, it is not as a lover that you are received, for you are a
husband--but as a part of the ball; and you are therefore but a fraction
of her new conquest. You are the decimal of a lover. Or, it may be, you
dance well, and so give éclat to her graces. After all, perhaps, the
most flattering way in which you can regard her kind welcome is to
consider that she hopes by treating as her cavalier a man of parts like
yourself, to excite the jealousy of her companions. Were it not for that
she would not notice you at all.

It amounts then to this. You must resign yourself to your fate, and wait
until the husband’s _rôle_ is played. I know those who would be glad to
get off at so cheap a rate.



XXXVI.

_The Library._


I promised to give a dialogue between my soul and the OTHER. But there
are some chapters which elude me, as it were, or rather, there are
others which flow from my pen _nolens volens_, and derange my plans.
Among these is one about my library; and I will make it as short as I
can. Our forty-two days will soon be ended; and even were it not so, a
similar period would not suffice to complete the description of the rich
country in which I travel so pleasantly.

My library, then, is composed of novels, if I must make the confession;
of novels and a few choice poets.

As if I had not troubles enough of my own, I share those of a thousand
imaginary personages, and I feel them as acutely as my own. How many
tears have I shed for that poor Clarissa,[7] and for Charlotte’s[8]
lover!

But if I go out of my way in search of unreal afflictions, I find in
return, such virtue, kindness, and disinterestedness in this imaginary
world as I have never yet found united in the real world around me. I
meet with a woman after my heart’s desire, free from whim, lightness,
and affectation. I say nothing about beauty; this I can leave to my
imagination, and picture her faultlessly beautiful. And then, closing
the book, which no longer keeps pace with my ideas, I take the fair one
by the hand, and we travel together over a country a thousand times more
delightful than Eden itself. What painter could represent the fairy
land in which I have placed the goddess of my heart? What poet could
ever describe the lively and manifold sensations I experience in those
enchanted regions?

How often have I cursed that Cleveland,[9] who is always embarking upon
new troubles which he might very well avoid! I cannot endure that book
with its long list of calamities. But if I open it by way of
distraction, I cannot help devouring it to the end.

For how could I leave that poor man among the Abaquis? What would become
of him in the hands of those savages? Still less dare I leave him in his
attempt to escape from captivity.

Indeed, I so enter into his sorrows, I am so interested in him and in
his unfortunate family, that the sudden appearance of the ferocious
Ruintons makes my hair stand on end. When I read that passage a cold
perspiration covers me, and my fright is as lively and real as if I was
going to be roasted and eaten by the monsters myself.

When I have had enough of tears and love, I turn to some poet, and set
out again for a new world.



XXXVII.

_Another World._


From the Argonautic expedition to the Assembly of Notables; from the
bottom of the nethermost pit to the furthest fixed star beyond the Milky
Way; to the confines of the Universe; to the gates of chaos; thus far
extends the vast field over the length and breadth of which I leisurely
roam. I lack nor time nor space. Thither, conducted by Homer, by Milton,
by Virgil, by Ossian, I transport my existence.

All the events that have taken place between these two epochs; all the
countries, all the worlds, all the beings that have existed between
these two boundaries,--all are mine, all as lawfully belong to me as
the ships that entered the Piræus belonged to a certain Athenian.

Above all the rest do I love the poets who carry me back to the remotest
antiquity. The death of the ambitious Agamemnon, the madness of Orestes,
and the tragical history of the heaven-persecuted family of the Atrides,
inspire me with a terror that all the events of modern times could not
excite in my breast.

Behold the fatal urn which contains the ashes of Orestes! Who would not
shudder at the sight? Electra, unhappy sister! be comforted, for it is
Orestes himself who bears the urn, and the ashes are those of his
enemies.

No longer are their banks like those of Xanthus or the Scamander. No
longer do we visit plains such as those of Hesperia or Arcadia. Where
are now the isles of Lemnos and Crete? Where the famous labyrinth? Where
is the rock that forlorn Ariadne washed with her tears? Theseus is seen
no more; Hercules is gone forever. The men, aye, and the heroes of our
day are but pigmies.

When I would visit a scene full of enthusiasm, and put forth all the
strength of my imagination, I cling boldly to the flowing robe of the
sublime blind poet of Albion at the moment when he soars heavenward, and
dares approach the throne of the Eternal. What muse was able to sustain
him in a flight so lofty that no man before him ever ventured to raise
his eyes so high? From heaven’s dazzling pavement which avaricious
Mammon looked down upon with envious eyes, I pass, horror-stricken, to
the vast caverns of Satan’s sojourn. I take my place at the infernal
council, mingle with the host of rebellious spirits, and listen to their
discourse.

But here I must confess a weakness for which I have often reproached
myself.

I cannot help taking a certain interest in Satan, thus hurled headlong
from heaven. (I am speaking, of course, of _Milton’s_ Satan.) While I
blame the obstinacy of the rebel angel, the firmness he shows in the
midst of his exceeding great misery, and the grandness of his courage,
inspire me, against my will, with admiration. Although not ignorant of
the woe resulting from the direful enterprise that led him to force the
gate of hell and to trouble the home of our first parents, I cannot for
a moment, do what I will, wish he may perish in the confusion of chaos
on his way. I even think I could willingly help him, did not shame
withhold me. I follow his every movement, and take as much pleasure in
travelling with him as if I were in very good company. In vain I
consider that after all he is a devil on his way to the ruin of the
human race, that he is a thorough democrat not after the manner of those
of Athens, but of Paris. All this does not cure me of my prejudice in
his favor.

How vast was his project! How great the boldness displayed in its
execution!

When the thrice-threefold gates of hell fly open before him, and the
dark, boundless ocean discloses itself in all its horror at his feet,
with undaunted eye he surveys the realm of chaos, and then, opening his
sail-broad wings, precipitates himself into the abyss.[10]

To me this passage is one of the noblest efforts of imagination, and one
of the most splendid journeys ever made, next to _the journey round my
room_.



XXXVIII.

_The Bust._


I should never end if I tried to describe a thousandth part of the
strange events I meet with when I travel in my library. The voyages of
Cook and the observations of his fellow-travellers Banks and Solander
are nothing compared with my adventures in this one district. Indeed, I
think I could spend my life there in a kind of rapture, were it not for
the bust I have already mentioned, upon which my eyes and thoughts
always fix themselves at last, whatever may be the position of my soul.
And when my soul is violently agitated, or a prey to despair, a glance
at this bust suffices to restore the troubled being to its natural
state. It sounds the chord upon which I keep in tune the harmonies, and
correct the discords of the sensations and perceptions of which my being
is made up. How striking the likeness! Those are the features nature
gave to the best of men. O, that the sculptor had been able to bring to
view his noble soul, his genius, his character! But what am I
attempting! Is it here that his praise should be recorded? Do I address
myself to the men that surround me? Ah! what concern is it of theirs?

I am contented to bend before thy image, O best of fathers! Alas, that
this should be all that is left me of thee and of my father-land! Thou
quittedst the earth when crime was about to invade it; and so heavy are
the ills that oppress thy family, that we are constrained to regard thy
loss as a blessing. Many would have been the evils a longer life would
have brought upon thee! And dost thou, O my father, dost thou, in thine
abode of bliss, know the lot of thy family! Knowest thou that thy
children are exiled from the country thou hast served with so much zeal
and integrity for sixty years?

Dost thou know that they are forbidden to visit thy grave? But tyranny
has not been able to deprive them of the most precious part of thy
heritage, the record of thy virtues, and the force of thine example. In
the midst of the torrent of crime which has borne their father-land and
their patrimony to ruin, they have steadfastly remained united in the
path marked out for them by thee. And when it shall be given them to
prostrate themselves once more beside thy tomb, thou shalt see in them
thine obedient children.



XXXIX.

_A Dialogue._


I promised a dialogue, and I will keep my word.

It was daybreak. The rays of the sun were gilding the summit of Mount
Viso, and the tops of the highest hills on the island beneath our feet.
My soul was already awake. This early awakening may have been the effect
of those night visions which often excite in her a fatiguing and useless
agitation: or perhaps the carnival, then drawing to a close, was the
secret cause; for this season of pleasure and folly influences the human
organization much as do the phases of the moon and the conjunction of
certain planets. However this may be, my soul was awake, and wide awake,
when she shook off the bands of sleep.

For some time she had shared, though confusedly, the sensations of the
OTHER: but she was still encumbered by the swathes of night and sleep;
and these swathes seemed to her transformed into gauze and fine linen
and Indian lawn. My poor soul was, as it were, enwrapped in all this
paraphernalia, and the god of sleep, that he might hold her still more
firmly under his sway, added to these bonds disheveled tresses of flaxen
hair, ribbon bows, and pearl necklaces. Really it was pitiful to see her
struggle in these toils.

The agitation of the nobler part of myself communicated itself to the
OTHER; and the latter, in its turn, reacted powerfully upon my soul.

I worked myself, at last, into a state which it would be hard to
describe, while my soul, either sagaciously or by chance, hit upon a way
of escaping from the gauzes by which it was being suffocated. I know
not whether she discovered an outlet, or whether, which is a more
natural conclusion, it occurred to her to raise them: at all events, she
found a means of egress from the labyrinth. The tresses of disheveled
hair were still there; but they were now rather help than hindrance; my
soul seized them, as a drowning man clutches the sedge on a river’s
bank, but the pearl necklace broke in the act, and the unstrung pearls
rolled on the sofa, and from the sofa to Madame Hautcastel’s floor (for
my soul, by an eccentricity for which it would be difficult to give a
reason, fancied she was at that lady’s house); then a great bunch of
violets fell to the ground, and my soul, which then awoke, returned
home, bringing with her common sense and reality. She strongly
disapproved, as you will readily imagine, of all that had passed in her
absence; and here it is that the dialogue begins which forms the subject
of this chapter.

Never had my soul been so ungraciously received. The complaints she
thought fit to make at this critical moment fully sufficed to stir up
domestic strife; a revolt, a formal insurrection followed.

“What!” said my soul, “is it thus that during my absence, instead of
restoring your strength by quiet sleep that you may be better able to do
my bidding, you have the insolence (the expressing was rather strong) to
give yourself up to transports which my authority has not sanctioned!”

Little accustomed to this haughty tone, the OTHER angrily answered:--

“Really, madame” (this madame was meant to remove from the discussion
anything like familiarity), “really, this affectation of virtuous
decorum is highly becoming to you! Is it not to the sallies of your
imagination, and to your extravagant ideas, that I owe what in me
displeases you? What right have you to go on those pleasant excursions
so often, without taking me with you? Have I ever complained about your
attending the meetings in the Empyrean or in the Elysian fields, your
conversations with the celestial intelligences, your profound
speculations (a little raillery here, you see), your castles in the air,
and your transcendental systems? And have I not a right, when you leave
me in this way, to enjoy the blessings bestowed upon me by Nature, and
the pleasures she places before me?”

My soul, surprised at so much vivacity and eloquence, did not know how
to reply. In order to settle the dispute amicably, she endeavored to
veil with the semblance of good-nature the reproaches that had escaped
her. But, that she might not seem to take the first steps towards
reconciliation, she affected a formal tone. “_Madame_,” she said, with
assumed cordiality.... If the reader thought the word misplaced when
addressed to my soul, what will he say of it now, if he call to mind the
cause of the quarrel? But my soul did not feel the extreme absurdity of
this mode of expression, so much does passion obscure the intellect!
“Madame,” she said, “nothing, be assured, would give me so much pleasure
as to see you enjoy those pleasures of which your nature is susceptible,
if even I did not participate in them, were it not that such pleasures
are harmful to you, injuriously affecting the harmony which....” Here my
soul was rudely interrupted, “No, no, I am not the dupe of your
pretended kindness. The sojourn we are compelled to make together in
this room in which we travel; the wound which I received, which still
bleeds, and which nearly destroyed me,--is not all this the fruit of
your overweening conceit and your barbarous prejudices? My comfort, my
very existence, is counted as nothing when your passions sway you: and
then, forsooth, you pretend that you take an interest in my welfare, and
that your insults spring from friendship.”

My soul saw very well that the part she was playing on this occasion was
no flattering one. She began, too, to perceive that the warmth of the
dispute had put the cause of it out of sight. Profiting from this
circumstance, she caused a further distraction by saying to Joannetti,
who at that moment entered the room, “Make some coffee!” The noise of
the cups attracted all the rebel’s attention, who forthwith forgot
everything else. In like manner we show children a toy to make them
forget the unwholesome fruit for which they beg and stamp.

While the water was being heated, I insensibly fell asleep. I enjoyed
that delightful sensation about which I have already entertained my
readers, and which you experience when you feel yourself to be dozing.
The agreeable rattling Joannetti made with the coffee-pot reëchoed in my
brain, and set all my sensitive nerves vibrating, just as a single
harp-string when struck will make the octaves resound.

At last I saw as it were, a shadow pass before me. I opened my eyes, and
there stood Joannetti. Ah, what an aroma! How agreeable a surprise!
Coffee! Cream! A pyramid of dry toast! Good reader, come, breakfast with
me!



XL.

_Imagination._


What a wealth of delights has kind Nature given to those who can enjoy
them. Who can count the innumerable phases they assume in different
individuals, and at different periods of life! The confused remembrance
of the pleasures of my boyhood sends a thrill through my heart. Shall I
attempt to paint the joys of the youth whose soul glows with all the
warmth of love, at an age when interest, ambition, hatred, and all the
base passions that degrade and torment humanity are unknown to him, even
by name?

During this age, too short, alas! the sun shines with a brightness it
never displays in after-life; the air is then purer, the streams
clearer and fresher, and nature has aspects, and the woods have paths,
which in our riper age we never find again. O, what perfumes those
flowers breathe! How delicious are those fruits! With what colors is the
morning sky adorned! Men are all good, generous, kind-hearted; and women
all lovely and faithful. On all sides we meet with cordiality,
frankness, and unselfishness. Nature presents to us nothing but flowers,
virtues, and pleasures.

The excitement of love, and the anticipation of happiness, do they not
fill our hearts to the brim with emotions no less lively and various?

The sight of nature and its contemplation, whether we regard it as a
whole, or examine its details, opens to our reason an immense field of
enjoyments. Soon the imagination, brooding over this sea of pleasures,
increases their number and intensity. The various sensations so unite
and blend as to form new ones. Dreams of glory mingle with the
palpitations of love. Benevolence moves hand in hand with self-esteem.
Melancholy, from time to time, throws over us her solemn livery, and
changes our tears to joy. Thus the perceptions of the mind, the feelings
of the heart, the very remembrance of sensations, are inexhaustible
sources of pleasure and comfort to man. No wonder, then, that the noise
Joannetti made with the coffee-pot, and the unexpected appearance of a
cup of cream, should have impressed me so vividly and so agreeably.



XLI.

_The Travelling-coat._


I put on my travelling-coat, after having examined it with a complacent
eye; and forthwith resolved to write a chapter _ad hoc_, that I might
make it known to the reader.

The form and usefulness of these garments being pretty generally known,
I will treat specially of their influence upon the minds of travellers.

My winter travelling-coat is made of the warmest and softest stuff I
could meet with. It envelops me entirely from head to foot, and when I
am in my arm-chair, with my hands in my pockets, I am very like the
statue of Vishnu one sees in the pagodas of India.

You may, if you will, tax me with prejudice when I assert the influence
a traveller’s costume exercises upon its wearer. At any rate I can
confidently affirm with regard to this matter, that it would appear to
me as ridiculous to take a single step of my journey round my room in
uniform, with my sword at my side, as it would to go forth into the
world in my dressing-gown. Were I to find myself in full military dress,
not only should I be unable to proceed with my journey, but I really
believe I should not be able to read what I have written about my
travels, still less to understand it.

Does this surprise you? Do we not every day meet with people who fancy
they are ill because they are unshaven, or because some one has thought
they have looked poorly, and told them so? Dress has such influence upon
men’s minds that there are valetudinarians who think themselves in
better health than usual when they have on a new coat and well-powdered
wig. They deceive the public and themselves by their nicety about dress,
until one finds some fine morning they have died in full fig, and their
death startles everybody.

And in the class of men among whom I live, how many there are who,
finding themselves clothed in uniform, firmly believe they are officers,
until the unexpected appearance of the enemy shows them their mistake.
And more than this, if it be the king’s good pleasure to allow one of
them to add to his coat a certain trimming, he straightway believes
himself to be a general, and the whole army gives him the title without
any notion of making fun of him! So great an influence has a coat upon
the human imagination!

The following illustration will show still further the truth of my
assertion.

It sometimes happened that they forgot to inform the Count de ---- some
days beforehand of the approach of his turn to mount guard. Early one
morning, on the very day on which this duty fell to the Count, a
corporal awoke him, and announced the disagreeable news. But the idea of
getting up there and then, putting on his gaiters, and turning out
without having thought about it the evening before, so disturbed him
that he preferred reporting himself sick and staying at home all day. So
he put on his dressing-gown, and sent away his barber. This made him
look pale and ill, and frightened his wife and family. He really _did_
feel a little poorly.

He told every one he was not very well, partly for the sake of
appearances, and partly because he positively believed himself to be
indisposed. Gradually the influence of the dressing-gown began to work.
The slops he was obliged to take upset his stomach. His relations and
friends sent to ask after him. He was soon quite ill enough to take to
his bed.

In the evening Dr. Ranson[11] found his pulse hard and feverish, and
ordered him to be bled next day.

If the campaign had lasted a month longer, the sick man’s case would
have been past cure.

Now, who can doubt about the influence of travelling-coats upon
travellers, if he reflect that poor Count de ---- thought more than once
that he was about to perform a journey to the other world for having
inopportunely donned his dressing-gown in this?

[Illustration]



XLII.

_Aspasia’s Buskin._


I was sitting near my fire after dinner, enveloped in my “habit de
voyage,” and freely abandoning myself to its influence: the hour for
starting was, I knew, drawing nigh; but the fumes generated by digestion
rose to my brain, and so obstructed the channels along which thoughts
glide on their way from the senses, that all communication between them
was intercepted. And as my senses no longer transmitted any idea to my
brain, the latter, in its turn, could no longer emit any of that
electric fluid with which the ingenious Doctor Valli resuscitates dead
frogs.

After reading this preamble, you will easily understand why my head fell
on my chest, and why the muscles of the thumb and forefinger of my right
hand, being no longer excited by the electric fluid, became so relaxed
that a volume of the works of the Marquis Caraccioli, which I was
holding tightly between these two fingers, imperceptibly eluded my
grasp, and fell upon the hearth.

I had just had some callers, and my conversation with the persons who
had left the room had turned upon the death of Dr. Cigna, an eminent
physician then lately deceased. He was a learned and hard-working man, a
good naturalist, and a famous botanist. My thoughts were occupied with
the merits of this skillful man. “And yet,” I said to myself, “were it
possible for me to evoke the spirits of those whom he has, perhaps,
dismissed to the other world, who knows but that his reputation might
suffer some diminution?”

I travelled insensibly to a dissertation on medicine and the progress it
has made since the time of Hippocrates. I asked myself whether the
famous personages of antiquity who died in their beds, as Pericles,
Plato, the celebrated Aspasia, and Hippocrates, died, after the manner
of ordinary mortals, of some putrid or inflammatory fever; and whether
they were bled, and crammed with specifics.

To say why these four personages came into my mind rather than any
others, is out of my power; for who can give reasons for what he dreams?
All that I can say is that my soul summoned the doctor of Cos, the
doctor of Turin, and the famous statesman who did such great things, and
committed such grave faults.

But as to his graceful friend, I humbly own that it was the OTHER who
beckoned her to come. Still, however, when I think of the interview, I
am tempted to feel some little pride, for it is evident that in this
dream the balance in favor of reason was as four to one. Pretty fair
this, methinks, for a lieutenant.

However this may be, whilst giving myself up to the reflections I have
described, my eyes closed, and I fell fast asleep. But upon shutting my
eyes, the image of the personages of whom I had been thinking, remained
painted upon that delicate canvas we call memory; and these images,
mingling in my brain with the idea of the evocation of the dead, it was
not long before I saw advancing in procession Hippocrates, Plato,
Pericles, Aspasia, and Doctor Cigna in his bob-wig.

I saw them all seat themselves in chairs ranged around the fire.
Pericles alone remained standing to read the newspapers.

“If the discoveries of which you speak were true,” said Hippocrates to
the doctor, “and had they been as useful to the healing art as you
affirm, I should have seen the number of those who daily descend to the
gloomy realm of Pluto decrease; but the ratio of its inhabitants,
according to the registers of Minos which I have myself verified,
remains still the same as formerly.”

Doctor Cigna turned to me and said: “You have without doubt heard these
discoveries spoken of. You know that Harvey discovered the circulation
of the blood; that the immortal Spallanzani explained the process of
digestion, the mechanism of which is now well understood;” and he
entered upon a long detail of all the discoveries connected with physic,
and of the host of remedies for which we are indebted to chemistry: in
short, he delivered an academical discourse in favor of modern
medicine.

“But am I to believe,” I replied, “that these great men were ignorant of
all you have been telling them, and that their souls, having shuffled
off this mortal coil, still meet with any obscurities in nature?”

“Ah! how great is your error!” exclaimed the _proto-physician_[12] of
the Peloponnesus. The mysteries of nature are as closely hidden from the
dead as from the living. Of one thing we who linger on the banks of the
Styx are certain, that He who created all things alone knows the great
secret which men vainly strive to solve. “And,” added he, turning to the
doctor, “do be persuaded by me to divest yourself of what still clings
to you of the party-spirit you have brought with you from the sojourn of
mortals. And since, seeing that Charon daily ferries over in his boat as
many shades as heretofore, the labors of a thousand generations and all
the discoveries men have made have not been able to prolong their
existence, let us not uselessly weary ourselves in defending an art
which, among the dead, cannot even profit its practitioners.”

Thus, to my great amazement, spoke the famous Hippocrates.

Doctor Cigna smiled; and as spirits can neither withstand evidence, nor
silence truth, he not only agreed with Hippocrates, but, blushing after
the manner of disembodied intelligences, he protested that he had
himself always had his doubts.

Pericles, who had drawn near the window, heaved a deep sigh, the cause
of which I divined. He was reading a number of the “Moniteur,” which
announced the decadence of the arts and sciences. He saw illustrious
scholars desert their sublime conceptions to invent new crimes, and
shuddered at hearing a rabble herd compare themselves with the heroes
of generous Greece; and this, forsooth, because they put to death,
without shame or remorse, venerable old men, women, and children, and
coolly perpetrated the blackest and most useless crimes.

Plato, who had listened to our conversation without joining in it, and
seeing it brought to a sudden and unexpected close, thus spoke: “I can
readily understand that the discoveries great men have made in the
various branches of natural science do not forward the art of medicine,
which can never change the course of nature, except at the cost of life.
But this will certainly not be so with the researches that have been
made in the study of politics. Locke’s inquiries into the nature of the
human understanding, the invention of printing, the accumulated
observations drawn from history, the number of excellent books which
have spread sound information even among the lower orders,--so many
wonders must have contributed to make men better, and the happy republic
I conceived, which the age in which I lived caused me to regard as an
impracticable dream, no doubt now exists upon the earth?” At this
question the honest doctor cast down his eyes, and only answered by
tears. In wiping them with his pocket-handkerchief, he involuntarily
moved his wig on one side, so that a part of his face was hidden by it.
“Ye gods!” exclaimed Aspasia, with a scream, “how strange a sight! And
is it a discovery of one of your great men that has led you to the idea
of turning another man’s skull into a head-dress?”

Aspasia, from whom our philosophical dissertations had elicited nothing
but gapes, had taken up a magazine of fashions which lay on the
chimney-piece, the leaves of which she had been turning over for some
time when the doctor’s wig made her utter this exclamation. Finding the
narrow, ricketty seat upon which she was sitting uncomfortable, she had,
without the least ceremony, placed her two bare legs, which were adorned
with bandelets, on the straw-bottomed chair between her and me, and
rested her elbow upon the broad shoulders of Plato.

“It is no skull,” said the doctor, addressing her, and taking off his
wig, which he threw on the fire, “it is a wig, madam; and I know not why
I did not cast this ridiculous ornament into the flames of Tartarus when
first I came among you. But absurdities and prejudices adhere so closely
to our miserable nature that they even follow us sometimes beyond the
grave.” I took singular pleasure in seeing the doctor thus abjure his
physic and his wig at the same moment.

“I assure you,” said Aspasia, “that most of the head-dresses represented
in the pages I have been turning over deserve the same fate as yours,
so very extravagant are they.”

The fair Athenian amused herself vastly in looking over the engravings,
and was very reasonably surprised by the variety and oddity of modern
contrivances. One figure, especially struck her. It was that of a young
lady with a really elegant head-dress which Aspasia only thought
somewhat too high. But the piece of gauze that covered the neck was so
very full you could scarcely see half her face. Aspasia, not knowing
that these extraordinary developments were produced by starch, could not
help showing a surprise which would have been redoubled (but inversely),
had the gauze been transparent.

“But do explain,” she said, “why women of the present day seem to wear
dresses to hide rather than to clothe them. They scarcely allow their
faces to be seen, those faces by which alone their sex is to be
guessed, so strangely are their bodies disfigured by the eccentric folds
of their garments. Among all the figures represented in these pages, I
do not find one with the neck, arms, and legs bare. How is it your young
warriors are not tempted to put an end to such a fashion? It would
appear,” she added, “that the virtue of the women of this age, which
they parade in all their articles of dress, greatly surpasses that of my
contemporaries.”

As she ended these words, Aspasia turned her eyes on me as if to ask a
reply. I pretended not to notice this, and in order to give myself an
absent air, took up the tongs and pushed away among the embers the
shreds of the doctor’s wig which had escaped the flames. Observing
presently afterwards that one of the bandelets which clasped Aspasia’s
buskin had come undone, “Permit me,” said I, “charming lady,”--and
eagerly stooping, stretched out my hands towards the chair on which I
had fancied I saw those legs about which even great philosophers went
into ecstacies.

I am persuaded that at this moment I was very near genuine somnambulism,
so real was the movement of which I speak. But Rose, who happened to be
sleeping in the chair, thought the movement was meant for her, and
jumping nimbly into my arms, she drove back into Hades the famous shades
my travelling-coat had summoned.



_Liberty._


Delightful realm of Imagination, which the benevolent Being has bestowed
upon man to console him for the disappointments he meets with in real
life.

This day, certain persons on whom I am dependent affect to restore me to
liberty. As if they had ever deprived me of it! As if it were in their
power to snatch it from me for a single moment, and to hinder me from
traversing, at my own good pleasure, the vast space that ever lies open
before me! They have forbidden me to go at large in a city, a mere
speck, and have left open to me the whole universe, in which immensity
and eternity obey me.

I am now free, then; or rather, I must enter again into bondage. The
yoke of office is again to weigh me down, and every step I take must
conform with the exigencies of politeness and duty. Fortunate shall I be
if some capricious goddess do not again make me forget both, and if I
escape from this new and dangerous captivity.

O why did they not allow me to finish my captivity! Was it as a
punishment that I was exiled to my chamber, to that delightful country
in which abound all the riches and enjoyments of the world? As well
might they consign a mouse to a granary.

Still, never did I more clearly perceive that I am double than I do now.
Whilst I regret my imaginary joys, I feel myself consoled. I am borne
along by an unseen power which tells me I need the pure air, and the
light of heaven, and that solitude is like death. Once more I don my
customary garb; my door opens; I wander under the spacious porticos of
the Strada della Po; a thousand agreeable visions float before my eyes.
Yes, there is that mansion, that door, that staircase! I thrill with
expectation.

In like manner the act of slicing a lemon gives you a foretaste that
makes your mouth water.

Poor ANIMAL! Take care!


FOOTNOTES:

[1] _Bête_ is not translatable here. The English word _animal_ is
hardly nearer than _beast_. _Bête_ is a milder word than _beast_, and
when used metaphorically, implies silliness rather than brutality. In
some cases our _creature_ would translate it, _Pauvre bête!_ _Poor
creature!_

[2] Vide _Werther_, chapter xxviii.

[3] The reader will probably have been reminded of the “Sentimental
Journey” before reaching this proof of our author’s acquaintance with
the writings of Sterne.

H. A.


[4] A fashionable milliner of the time.

[5] This work was not published.

[6] The botanical garden of Turin.

[7] Richardson’s _Clarissa Harlowe_.

[8] Goethe’s _Werther_.

[9] _Cleveland_, by the Abbé Prévost.

[10] Some freedom of translation is, perhaps, pardonable here. Our
author, depending, it would seem, upon his memory, gives Satan wings
large enough “to cover a whole army.” It was “the extended wings” of
the gates of hell, not of Satan, that Milton describes as wide enough
to admit a “bannered host.” _Paradise Lost_, ii. 885.

H. A.


[11] A popular Turin physician when the _Voyage_ was written.

[12] A title known at the Sardinian court.





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