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grows unproductive, he falls back upon by the discouraging influence of the the Premier-Paris. When readers times. M. Dumas has brought out
for twelve-volume re- the final volume of “ Les Quarante mances, and plays in ten acts and Cing,” a romance which we may obthirty tableaux cease 10 draw, he starts serve, en passant, is a scandalous speupon a fresh tack--proposes enlighten- cimen of what the French call faire la ing the public on politics, regenerating ligne-doing the line, writing against France ihrough the leaders of a news- paper, upon the Vauxhall principle of paper. We were greatly amused by making ihe smallest possible substance his advertisement of the journal, cover the utmost possible surface. It intending to act as lantern to this is pity to see a man of remarkable shining light of the new political day.' talent, which M. Dumas really is, thus “Our task is easy”—these were its con- degrading himself into a mere mercancluding words--"Dieu dicte, nous écri- tile speculator, lumbering his books vons.” Setting aside the slight pro- with pages upon pages of useless and fanity of this startling assertion, one meaningless . dialogue-if dialogue cannot but admire the characteristic that is to be called, of which the fol. modesty of the self-conferred secre- lowing stuff is a specimen :taryship. We are assured, however, “ You are the Chevalier d'Artagthat M. Dumas has been found far nan.” less able and attractive at the head of “ Then let me pass." the column, than he was in his old “ Useless !" place at the foot of the page.
Why useless ?" The disjointed times being decidedly “ Because his Eminence is not at unfavourable to belles lettres, we were home.” scarcely surprized at the first non-arri What! his Eminence is not at val of ihe monthly parcel, in which our home! Where is he then ?" punctual Paris agent is wont to for « Gone.” ward us the literary novelties of the « Gone ?" preceding thirty days. On a second
6 Yes." and a third omission we grew uneasy,
“ Where?” &c., &c. and suspected the Red Republicans of This is taken at random, from the abstracting our packages in transitu ; volume last published of the Vicomte but absolved the democrats on receipt de Bragelonne, in which romance the of advice, that if the books did not marvellous and Crichtonian muskearrive, it was because they were not teers, brought forward again, when sent; and that if they were not sent, hard upon threescore, show less it was because there were none, or as sign of suffering from the march of good as none to send. At last a case years than does the narrative of their has reached us-half the usual size, adventures from its unconscionable but containing, nevertheless, the protraction. Much more than half French literature of the entire sum- the book is made up of such weari.
A poor display indeed ! The some conferences as that above-cited, pens of the novelists have shrivelled where the interlocutors carry on a sort in their grasp; their plump goose- of cut and thrust conversation, with quills have dwindled into emaciated an economy of words explicable by tooth-picks. Instead of the exuberant the fact that in a French fenilleton, eight-volume romance, with promise or volume, one word of dialogue of continuation, we have single vo- makes a line, as well as ten. With lumes, meagre tales, that seem nipped the assistance of his secretary, M. in the bud, blighted by the breath of Maquet, and of bis son, Alexander revolution. No author, not already the Younger, M. Dumas gets through involved in one of those tremendous a prodigious amount of this sort of series with which French writers have trash, at once productive to his pocket lately abused the public patience, and damaging to his reputation ; and now cares to exceed a volume or two. then, when he finds publishers beM. Sue, having got into the middle of ginning to grumble, and the public the seven capital sins, is fain to floun- detecting the device, and rejecting the der on through the ocean of iniquity; windy repast, he applies himself in but his pen flags, evidently affecied earnest, and produces something
exceedingly good, of which he is quite ber the eagerness with which each capable, if once he gets the spur. It is successive feuilleton was looked for, to the necessity of thus occasionally re- during its appearance in that paper. deeming his reputation, that we are in- We ourselves abominate the feuilleton debied for the few really praiseworthy system, by which one is a year or two romances he has written--for the Che- reading a book, imbibing it by daily valier d'Harmental, for the earlier por- crumbs, like the lady who eat her tion of the Mousquetaires, and for his pillau with a bodkin. We waited till master-piece, Le Comte de Monte the work was complete, and then read Christo. His enemies and libellers have it off the reel,-not at a sitting, cerasserted that the first named of these tainly, considering the length, but books was written by M. Maquet, and early and late, in bed and at board. only fathered by Dumas; but the as. And being somewhat fastidious in sertion is absurd, and is belied by the matter of novels, it is evident Monte book itself, replete with that vivid Christo must have great attractions animation which characterizes what. thus to carry us at a canter through ever Alexander writes. Moreover, its interminable series of volumes. Its the man who could write such a novel chief fault is the usual one of its would have no need to purchase the author-exaggeration. We are sure name of M. Dumas. He would not M. Dumas is one of those persons who lack a publisher, and his reputation love to dream with their eyes openwould soon be made. We believe the to build themselves palaces in fairyfact to be, that Maquet is a sort of land, to arrange_gardens after the industrious drudge, employed by Du- fashion of that of Eden, to furnish the mas to rummage Chronicles, and to most preterperfect of apartments with collate and write down historical inci- the most fabulous of furniture, to hang dents and facts, for his employer to diamonds on their trees, and a roc's distort and expand into romances. egg in their drawing-room. His airFor, as an historical romance writer, constructed castles find a site in the M. Dumas is utterly without a con- pages of his romances.
The right way science. By him characters and to read is to forget as fast as pos
twisted and turned as sible the improbabilities and impossibest suits his convenience. “I have bilities. The supernatural being out twenty years' work before me,” he of vogue, he does not give to Edmund is reported
to have said, " to Dantes the lamp of Aladdin, but illustrate French history.” Heaven (which is quite equivalent) a few knows what sort of an illustrator double handfuls of precious stones, he is ! We would advise no one to whereof the smallest specimen is take their notions of French histori. caught at by a Jew for a thousand cal personages from M. Dumas novels, pounds; whilst one of the largest, or from his history either—for he hollowed out, forms a convenient rewrites history also, at times, and the ceptacle for a score of pills, as big as only doubt is, which is the greatest peas, which it is the Count's custom fiction, his history or his romance. to carry about with him. With the But for the titles, it were not always aid of ihis incalcuable wealth, Dantes easy to distinguish between them. It pursues his grand scheme of revenge were unfair, however, whilst quizzing upon the persons to whom he is in. his absurdities, to lose sight of his debted for fourteen years' undeserved merits. These are numerous and re- imprisonment in the dungeons of the markable. His spirit and vivacity of Chateau d'If. Gold being the uni. style are extraordinary; and we can versal key, all doors fly open before call to mind no living writer superior him: nothing is impossible to the to him for invention. Monte Christo man who scatters millions upon the is his masterpiece. It is indeed a very path leading to the goal of his desires. striking and amusing book. With de. Take the treasure for granted, and fects that forbid our calling it a first- stiil there is much exaggeration to get rate romance of its class, it is yet far over ; but there are also many truthmore entertaining than many that ful touches, many finely drawn chaclaim and obtain the title. The readers racters. How exquisitely tender of the Journal des Debats well remem are some of the scenes between the
paralytic and his granddaughter; how writer of a small monthly satirical capital and characteristic the inter- pamphlet, Les Guèpes, The Wasps, view between the old Italian gambler which has existed for several years, and the young French thief, when they with varying, but, upon the whole, are paid by the Count to consider with very great success. M. Karr's each other as father and son ! In wit is of a peculiar order, approaching this romance there is none of the more nearly to humour than French make weight dialogue so lavishly inter- wit generally does. There is an odd polated in most of the same author's sort of dryness and fantastic naïveté in works. In style, too, and description, some of his drolieries, quite distinct M. Dumas bere rises above his ave- from what we are accustomed to in rage. His style, always lively and the comic writings of his countrymen. piquant, is usually loose, unpolished, With this the German origin to be inand defaced by conventionalisms the ferred from his name may have some Academy would hardly sanction. In connexion. There is also a Germanic Monte Christo he has evidently taken vagueness and dreaminess in some of pains to do well, and the result is the his books, although their scene is best-written book he has yet produced. usually on French ground, frequently
But we lose sight of our parcel, as on the coast of Brittany, a country M. yet but half unpacked. Here is a Karr evidently well knows and loves. volume of the Député d'Arcis (an- One of his great recommendations is other of the continuation family), the general propriety of his writings. heavy stuff, seemingly, by Balzac; Of most of them, the tone and tendency and this brings us to the end of the are alike unexceptionable, and some continuations. With these exceptions, are mere “simple stories," which the the French writers who have not al- most fastidious papas—who deny that together left off writing, have at least any good thing can proceed from a kept within circumscribed limits. French dress, and look upon the yelHere we have a volume from M. Méry low paper cover with “ Paris" at its of Marseilles, a clever, careless writer, foot as the ineradicable mark of the not much known in England; another beast, the moral quarantine flag, beby the authoress of Consuelo; two tokening uncleanness which no amount more from M. Alphonse Karr; a of lazaretto can purge or purifycouple from that old sinner, Paul de might with safe conscience place in Kock, who is not often so concise, the hands of their blooming artless having superadded, of late years, to sixteen-year-old daughters. The fact his other transgressions the crime of is, that people will read French novels long-windedness; a brief Sicilian - so long as they are not audaciously sketch from M. Paul de Musset. We indecent, immoral, or irreligious-be. turn aside a heap of political matter, cause the present race of French noof no great merit or value; a few pam- velists far cleverer and more phlets, of some talent, but fugitive in. amusing than their English brethren. terest, by Girardic and others; a ream And although some French novels are of portraits and caricatures; a few offensive and abominable, it is not fair more novels whose authors' names or to include all in the black list, or to whose first pages condemn them; deny that a great improvement has Mourir
pour la Patrie, and some other taken place since the period (the early revolutionary staves, bad music and years of the reign of the first and last worse words, and the box is empty. King of the French) when the Paris We sit down to peruse the little we press was clogged with indecency and have selected as worth perusal from infidelity. We should be very sorry the pile of printed paper. La Famille to put Mrs. George Sand's works into Alain, by Karr, is the first thing that the bands of any young woman; we comes to hand. We have read the would insult no woman, of any age, greater part of it already, in the French by commending to her notice the periodical in which it first appeared. obscene buffoonery of De Kock; but M. Karr is rather a favourite of ours. neither would we condemn the whole There are many good points about flock for a sprinkling of scabby sheep. his novels, although he is, perhaps, There are many French writers of a less popular as a novelist than as the very different stamp from the two just
named ; and M. Karr is one of the They had taken a few whitings. One. betler sort. The tale now before us simus was proud, because almost all is a Norman story, possessing better the fish had been caught on his line. plot and incident than many of its " Risquetout, who had started that predecessors; for in these respects, morning rather prematurely, without This author—from indolence, we sus- waiting till the fine weather had thopect-is often rather deficient. We roughly set in, had a feeling of fear and need hardly tell our readers that the embarrassment at sight of the miller. Norman is noted for his cunning, and • Have you caught anything ?' said for his litigious propensities, as the Eloi. Gascon is for his boasting and vanity, A few whitings. Will you come the Lorrainer for his stolidity, &c., &c. and eat some with us?' In La Famille Alain, the character “ Eloi made no answer; but when the istics of the province, and the casual. lines and fish had been taken out of the ties of the peasants and fisherman's boat, and the boat had been washed and life, are cleverly illustrated. Tranquille hauled up upon the shore, he followed Alaine, surnamed Risquetout, from the three tishers ibeir home. certain bold feats of his earlier years, Pélagie also felt uneasy at sight of lives by the sea side on the produce of Eloi; she asked him, as Tranquille had his neis. His family consists of his done, if he would eat a whiting, to wife Pélagie, his sons and daughter, which he replied, Cæsar, Onesimus, and Berenice, and " "Not refuse you.' of his foster-daughter Pulcherie. " Then, as they changed the fish With respect to these magnificent from one basket to another, he took up names, M. Karr thinks it necessary to two, and kept them a long time in his offer some explanation. “I am not bands, repeating, ‘Fine whitings these, their inventor," he says, " and they very fine wbitings! until Pélagie are very common in Normandy. There said :is not a village that has not its Bere «• You shall take them home with nices, its Artemesias, its Cleopatras. you, cousin.' I know not whence the inhabitants ori “ Eloi answered nothing; they sat ginally took these names. Perhaps they down to dinner; he found the cider not were given by dames of high degree, very good, which did not prevent his who took them from Mademoiselle drinking a great deal of it. de Scudery's romances, to bestow them " • Well, Tranquille,' said he, at on their rustic god-children, and they last, it is to-day you are to pay me have since remained traditional in the hurdred and twenty crowns I lent the country.” The book opens with you.' the christening of a new fishing-boat, “ Neither the intrepid Risquetout, to build which Tranquille Alain has nor any of his family, dared to observe borrowed a hundred crowns of his that the loan was not of one hundred cousin Eloi, miller and usurer. In and twenty crowns, but only of one France, as elsewhere, and especially hundred crowns, for which a hundred in Normandy, millers have a roguish and twenty were to be paid back. reputation. The loan is to be repaid, “ • True,' said Tranquille Alain, part at the beginning and part at the "true; but the same reason which preend of the fishing season, with twenty vented my paying you the other day, crowns interest. But the season sets prevents me to-day; to-day only bave in stormy and unfavourably; the fish we been able to put to sea. shun the coast; and at the date ap “ • I am sadly inconvenienced for pointed for the first payment, the these hundred and twenty crowns I debtor is unprepared with either prin. lent you, cousin. I had reckoned on cipal or interest." At last the wind lulls, them to employ in an affair-I had and the angry waves subside into a long taken them from a sum 1 had in resullen swell. Risquetout and his sons serve—and here I am, distressed for put to sea.
want of them.' “ Towards the close of day, as the " • I am sorrier for it than you are, boats reappeared on the horizon, Eloi cousin, but a little patience and all Alain came down from Beuzeval, and will go well.' waited their arrival upon the beach. “ Tranquille did not dare say that
Eloi could not be distressed for the “Pélagie longed to remind Eloi that hundred and twenty crowns, their the profit sacrificed had been but fifty agreement having been, that he should crowns a few minutes before, but she repay only a portion at the beginning of held her tongue. the season, and the remainder at its con “I am no Turk,' continued the mil. clusion.
ler; I will renew your bills. Draw one « . And when will you pay me?' of a hundred and fifty crowns payable
". Well, cousin, at the end of the at Michaelmas.' season.'
“ The husband and wife exchanged a “ • The two halves shall be paid to look. Pélagie spoke. gether,' added Pélagie, bolder than her “What, cousin ! a hundred and husband.
fifty crowns! That makes, then, thirty “It is to-day the money would be crowns interest from now till Michaeluseful to me; I miss an affair on mas, and that on sixty crowns, or rather which I should gain fifty crowns! It on fifty, since only half the sum is due; is very hard to have obliged people, and out of the sixty crowns ten are for and to find one's-self in difficulty in interest.? consequence. I am so much in want “I don't deny it. You think thirty of money, Risquetout, that if you crowns interest too much; well, I offer give me iwo hundred francs, I will re- sixty for the same time. Give me sixty turn you these two bills of sixty crowns crowns, and I return the two bills, each.
and thank you into the bargain, and «« You know very well I have no you will have done me a famous sermoney, Eloi.'
vice.' " Never mind, it shows you what ""Ah! cousin, I wish I had never sacrifices I would make to-day, to re- borrowed this money of you ! ceive what you owe me.'
“ • I am sure I wish you had not ; “ Again no one dared tell the miller I should not be pinched for it to-day. that he was not very sincere when he And why am I? Because I won't offered to sacrifice a hundred and sixty get you into difficulties, for I might francs to obtain payment of a sum which give your two bills in payment for the would enable him, he said, to gain a affair I speak of, and then you would hundred and fifty.
be made to pay, or your boats would be " " What is to be done?' said he. sold; but I prefer being the loser my. • • I wish I had the money, Eloi.' self, for after all, cousin, we are
“You say then that you cannot brothers' sons, and we must help one pay, till Michaelmay, the hundred and another in this world.' twenty crowns you should have paid :. Nevertheless, cousin, thirty to-day:
crowns are a very high figure.' “ • That is to say, cousin,' cried “« Yes; and I should be quite Pélagie, always bolder or less patient content if you would give me sisty than her husband, that we should for the hundred and twenty I lent you ; have given you half of it.'
but, Lord bless me! add nothing to « • Yes; but that half was due a the bill, if you like let me lose everyfortnight ago ; and, besides, I am in thing.' such want of that half, thai-See here, «*It is fair to add something now, I offered just now to give you Eloi.' back your bills for two hundred francs; Well, since
thirty well, pay me one, and I return you crowns too much, when I should be both. There is nothing stingy or too happy to give sixty, add nothing, or greedy in that offer, I hope ; I lent you add thirty crowns.' a hundred and twenty crowns, and I cry “ Tranquille and his wife looked at quits for sixty.
each other. “ Cousin, I repeat that I have no “) will do as you wish,' said money, and besides, if I had sixty Risquetout.' crowns, I would give them you, which «« Observe, said the miller, that it would not prevent my giving you the is not I who wish it. What I wish, sixty others later.'
on the contrary, is to see my hun«'It is sixty crowns that I lose on dred and twenty crowns which went the affair I miss for want of money.' out of my pocket, and to receive