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La Legende des Siecles by Victor Hugo

Part 4 out of 5

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Les vents, subitement domptes, la reconnaissent?
Est-ce l'aimant qui s'est fait aider par l'eclair
Pour batir un esquif celeste avec de l'air?
Du haut des clairs azurs vient-il une visite?
Est-ce un transfigure qui part et ressuscite,
Qui monte, delivre de la terre, emporte
Sur un char volant fait d'extase et de clarte,
Et se rapproche un peu par instants pour qu'on voie,
Du fond du monde noir, la fuite de sa joie?

Ce n'est pas un morceau d'une cime; ce n'est
Ni l'outre ou tout le vent de la Fable tenait,
Ni le jeu de l'eclair; ce n'est pas un fantome
Venu des profondeurs aurorales du dome;
Ni le rayonnement d'un ange qui s'en va,
Hors de quelque tombeau beant, vers Jehovah;
Ni rien de ce qu'en songe ou dans la fievre on nomme.
Qu'est-ce que ce navire impossible? C'est l'homme.

C'est la grande revolte obeissante a Dieu!
La sainte fausse clef du fatal gouffre bleu!
C'est Isis qui dechire eperdument son voile!
C'est du metal, du bois, du chanvre et de la toile,
C'est de la pesanteur delivree, et volant;
C'est la force alliee a l'homme etincelant,
Fiere, arrachant l'argile a sa chaine eternelle;
C'est la matiere, heureuse, altiere, ayant en elle
De l'ouragan humain, et planant a travers
L'immense etonnement des cieux enfin ouverts!

Audace humaine! effort du captif! sainte rage!
Effraction enfin plus forte que la cage!
Que faut-il a cet etre, atome au large front,
Pour vaincre ce qui n'a ni fin, ni bord, ni fond,
Pour dompter le vent, trombe, et l'ecume, avalanche?
Dans le ciel une toile et sur mer une planche.

Jadis des quatre vents la fureur triomphait;
De ces quatre chevaux echappes l'homme a fait
L'attelage de son quadrige;
Genie, il les tient tous dans sa main, fier cocher
Du char aerien que l'ether voit marcher;
Miracle, il gouverne un prodige.

Char merveilleux! son nom est Delivrance. Il court
Pres de lui le ramier est lent, le flocon lourd;
Le daim, l'epervier, la panthere
Sont encor la, qu'au loin son ombre a deja fui;
Et la locomotive est reptile, et, sous lui,
L'hydre de flamme est ver de terre.

Une musique, un chant, sort de son tourbillon.
Ses cordages vibrants et remplis d'aquilon
Semblent, dans le vide ou tout sombre,
Une lyre a travers laquelle par moment
Passe quelque ame en fuite au fond du firmament
Et melee aux souffles de l'ombre.

Car l'air, c'est l'hymne epars; l'air, parmi les recifs
Des nuages roulant en groupes convulsifs,
Jette mille voix etouffees;
Les fluides, l'azur, l'effluve, l'element,
Sont toute une harmonie ou flottent vaguement
On ne sait quels sombres Orphees.

Superbe, il plane avec un hymne en ses agres;
Et l'on croit voir passer la strophe du progres.
Il est la nef, il est le phare!
L'homme enfin prend son sceptre et jette son baton.
Et l'on voit s'envoler le calcul de Newton
Monte sur l'ode de Pindare.

Le char haletant plonge et s'enfonce dans l'air,
Dans l'eblouissement impenetrable et clair,
Dans l'ether sans tache et sans ride;
Il se perd sous le bleu des cieux demesures;
Les esprits de l'azur contemplent effares
Cet engloutissement splendide.

Il passe, il n'est plus la; qu'est-il donc devenu?
Il est dans l'invisible, il est dans l'inconnu;
Il baigne l'homme dans le songe,
Dans le fait, dans le vrai profond, dans la clarte,
Dans l'ocean d'en haut plein d'une verite
Dont le pretre a fait un mensonge.

Le jour se leve, il va; le jour s'evanouit,
Il va; fait pour le jour, il accepte la nuit.
Voici l'heure des feux sans nombre;
L'heure ou, vu du nadir, ce globe semble, ayant
Son large cone obscur sous lui se deployant,
Une enorme comete d'ombre.

La brume redoutable emplit au loin les airs.
Ainsi qu'au crepuscule on voit, le long des mers,
Le pecheur, vague comme un reve,
Trainant, dernier effort d'un long jour de sueurs,
Sa nasse ou les poissons font de pales lueurs,
Aller et venir sur la greve.

La Nuit tire du fond des gouffres inconnus
Son filet ou luit Mars, ou rayonne Venus,
Et, pendant que les heures sonnent,
Ce filet grandit, monte, emplit le ciel des soirs,
Et dans ses mailles d'ombre et dans ses reseaux noirs
Les constellations frissonnent.

L'aeroscaphe suit son chemin; il n'a peur
Ni des pieges du soir, ni de l'acre vapeur,
Ni du ciel morne ou rien ne bouge,
Ou les eclairs, luttant au fond de l'ombre entre eux,
Ouvrent subitement dans le nuage affreux
Des cavernes de cuivre rouge.

Il invente une route obscure dans les nuits;
Le silence hideux de ces lieux inouis
N'arrete point ce globe en marche;
Il passe, portant l'homme et l'univers en lui;
Paix! gloire! et, comme l'eau jadis, l'air aujourd'hui
Au-dessus de ses flots voit l'arche.

Le saint navire court par le vent emporte
Avec la certitude et la rapidite
Du javelot cherchant la cible;
Rien n'en tombe, et pourtant il chemine en semant;
Sa rondeur, qu'on distingue en haut confusement,
Semble un ventre d'oiseau terrible.

Il vogue; les brouillards sous lui flottent dissous;
Ses pilotes penches regardent, au-dessous
Des nuages ou l'ancre traine,
Si, dans l'ombre, ou la terre avec l'air se confond,
Le sommet du mont Blanc ou quelque autre bas-fond
Ne vient pas heurter sa carene.

La vie est sur le pont du navire eclatant.
Le rayon l'envoya, la lumiere l'attend.
L'homme y fourmille, l'homme invincible y flamboie.
Point d'armes; un fier bruit de puissance et de joie;
Le cri vertigineux de l'exploration!
Il court, ombre, clarte, chimere, vision!
Regardez-le pendant qu'il passe, il va si vite!
Comme autour d'un soleil un systeme gravite,
Une sphere de cuivre enorme fait marcher
Quatre globes ou pend un immense plancher;
Elle respire et fuit dans les vents qui la bercent;
Un large et blanc hunier horizontal, que percent
Des trappes, se fermant, s'ouvrant au gre du frein,
Fait un grand diaphragme a ce poumon d'airain;
Il s'impose a la nue ainsi qu'a l'onde un liege;
La toile d'araignee humaine, un vaste piege
De cordes et de noeuds, un enchevetrement
De soupapes que meut un cable ou court l'aimant,
Une embuche de treuils, de cabestans, de moufles,
Prend au passage et fait travailler tous les souffles;
L'esquif plane, encombre d'hommes et de ballots,
Parmi les arcs-en-ciel, les azurs, les halos,
Et sa course, echeveau qui sans fin se devide,
A pour point d'appui l'air et pour moteur le vide;
Sous le plancher s'etage un chaos regulier
De ponts flottants que lie un tremblant escalier;
Ce navire est un Louvre errant avec son faste;
Un fil le porte; il fuit, leger, fier, et si vaste,
Si colossal, au vent du grand abime clair,
Que le Leviathan, rampant dans l'apre mer,
A l'air de sa chaloupe aux tenebres tombee,
Et semble, sous le vol d'un aigle, un scarabee
Se tordant dans le flot qui l'emporte, tandis
Que l'immense oiseau plane au fond d'un paradis.

Si l'on pouvait rouvrir les yeux que le ver ronge,
Oh! ce vaisseau, construit par le chiffre et le songe,
Eblouirait Shakspeare et ravirait Euler!
Il voyage, Delos gigantesque de l'air,
Et rien ne le repousse et rien ne le refuse;
Et l'on entend parler sa grande voix confuse.

Par moments la tempete accourt, le ciel palit,
L'autan, bouleversant les flots de l'air, emplit
L'espace d'une ecume affreuse de nuages;
Mais qu'importe a l'esquif de la mer sans rivages?
Seulement, sur son aile il se dresse en marchant;
Il devient formidable a l'abime mechant,
Et dompte en fremissant la trombe qui se creuse.
On le dirait conduit dans l'horreur tenebreuse
Par l'ame des Leibniz, des Fultons, des Keplers;
Et l'on croit voir, parmi le chaos plein d'eclairs,
De detonations, d'ombre et de jets de soufre,
Le sombre emportement d'un monde dans un gouffre.

Qu'importe le moment? qu'importe la saison?
La brume peut cacher dans le bleme horizon
Les Saturnes et les Mercures;
La bise, conduisant la pluie aux crins epars,
Dans les nuages lourds grondant de toutes parts
Peut tordre des hydres obscures;

Qu'importe? il va. Tout souffle est bon; simoun, mistral!
La terre a disparu dans le puits sideral,
Il entre au mystere nocturne,
Au-dessus de la grele et de l'ouragan fou,
Laissant le globe en bas dans l'ombre, on ne sait ou,
Sous le renversement de l'urne.

Intrepide, il bondit sur les ondes du vent;
Il se rue, aile ouverte et a proue en avant,
Il monte, il monte, il monte encore,
Au dela de la zone ou tout s'evanouit,
Comme s'il s'en allait dans la profonde nuit
A la poursuite de l'aurore!

Calme, il monte ou jamais nuage n'est monte;
Il plane a la hauteur de la serenite,
Devant la vision des spheres;
Elles sont la, faisant le mystere eclatant,
Chacune feu d'un gouffre, et toutes constatant
Les enigmes par les lumieres.

Andromede etincelle, Orion resplendit;
L'essaim prodigieux des Pleiades grandit;
Sirius ouvre son cratere;
Arcturus, oiseau d'or, scintille dans son nid;
Le Scorpion hideux fait cabrer au zenith
Le poitrail bleu du Sagittaire.

L'aeroscaphe voit, comme en face de lui,
La-haut, Aldebaran par Cephee ebloui,
Persee, escarboucle des cimes,
Le chariot polaire aux flamboyants essieux,
Et, plus loin, la lueur lactee, o sombres cieux,
La fourmiliere des abimes!

Vers l'apparition terrible des soleils,
Il monte; dans l'horreur des espaces vermeils,
Il s'oriente, ouvrant ses voiles;
On croirait, dans l'ether ou de loin on entend,
Que ce vaisseau puissant et superbe, en chantant,
Part pour une de ces etoiles;

Tant cette nef, rompant tous les terrestres noeuds,
Volante, et franchissant le ciel vertigineux,
Reve des blemes Zoroastres,
Comme effrenee au souffle insense de la nuit,
Se jette, plonge, enfonce et tombe et roule et fuit
Dans le precipice des astres!

Ou donc s'arretera l'homme seditieux?
L'espace voit, d'un oeil par moment soucieux,
L'empreinte du talon de l'homme dans les nues;
Il tient l'extremite des choses inconnues;
Il epouse l'abime a son argile uni;
Le voila maintenant marcheur de l'infini.
Ou s'arretera-t-il, le puissant refractaire?
Jusqu'a quelle distance ira-t-il de la terre?
Jusqu'a quelle distance ira-t-il du destin?
L'apre Fatalite se perd dans le lointain;
Toute l'antique histoire affreuse et deformee
Sur l'horizon nouveau fuit comme une fumee.
Les temps sont venus. L'homme a pris possession
De l'air, comme du flot le grebe et l'alcyon.
Devant nos reves fiers, devant nos utopies
Ayant des yeux croyants et des ailes impies,
Devant tous nos efforts pensifs et haletants,
L'obscurite sans fond fermait ses deux battants;
Le vrai champ enfin s'offre aux puissantes algebres;
L'homme vainqueur, tirant le verrou des tenebres,
Dedaigne l'ocean, le vieil infini mort.
La porte noire cede et s'entre-baille. Il sort!

O profondeurs! faut-il encor l'appeler l'homme?

L'homme est d'abord monte sur la bete de somme;
Puis sur le chariot que portent des essieux;
Puis sur la frele barque au mat ambitieux;
Puis quand il a fallu vaincre l'ecueil, la lame,
L'onde et l'ouragan, l'homme est monte sur la flamme;
A present l'immortel aspire a l'eternel;
Il montait sur la mer, il monte sur le ciel.

L'homme force le sphinx a lui tenir la lampe.
Jeune, il jette le sac du vieil Adam, qui rampe,
Et part, et risque aux cieux, qu'eclaire son flambeau,
Un pas semblable a ceux qu'on fait dans le tombeau;
Et peut-etre voici qu'enfin la traversee
Effrayante, d'un astre a l'autre, est commencee!

Stupeur! se pourrait-il que l'homme s'elancat?
O nuit! se pourrait-il que l'homme, ancien forcat,
Que l'esprit humain, vieux reptile,
Devint ange et, brisant le carcan qui le mord,
Fut soudain de plain-pied avec les cieux? La mort
Va donc devenir inutile!

Oh! franchir l'ether! songe epouvantable et beau!
Doubler le promontoire enorme du tombeau!
Qui sait?--toute aile est magnanime,
L'homme est aile,--peut-etre, o merveilleux retour!
Un Christophe Colomb de l'ombre, quelque jour,
Un Gama du cap de l'abime,

Un Jason de l'azur, depuis longtemps parti,
De la terre oublie, par le ciel englouti,
Tout a coup sur l'humaine rive
Reparaitra, monte sur cet alerion,
Et, montrant Sirius, Allioth, Orion,
Tout pale, dira: J'en arrive!

Ciel! ainsi, comme on voit aux voutes des celliers
Les noirceurs qu'en rodant tracent les chandeliers,
On pourrait, sous les bleus pilastres,
Deviner qu'un enfant de la terre a passe,
A ce que le flambeau de l'homme aurait laisse
De fumee au plafond des astres!

Pas si loin! pas si haut! redescendons. Restons
L'homme, restons Adam; mais non l'homme a tatons,
Mais non l'Adam tombe! Tout autre reve altere
L'espece d'ideal qui convient a la terre.
Contentons-nous du mot: meilleur! ecrit partout.

Oui, l'aube s'est levee.

Oh! ce fut tout a coup
Comme une eruption de folie et de joie,
Quand, apres six mille ans dans la fatale voie,
Defaite brusquement par l'invisible main,
La pesanteur, liee au pied du genre humain,
Se brisa; cette chaine etait toutes les chaines!
Tout s'envola dans l'homme, et les fureurs, les haines,
Les chimeres, la force evanouie enfin,
L'ignorance et l'erreur, la misere et la faim,
Le droit divin des rois, les faux dieux juifs ou guebres,
Le mensonge, le dol, les brumes, les tenebres,
Tomberent dans la poudre avec l'antique sort,
Comme le vetement du bagne dont on sort.

Et c'est ainsi que l'ere annoncee est venue,
Cette ere qu'a travers les temps, epaisse nue,
Thales apercevait au loin devant ses yeux;
Et Platon, lorsque, emu, des spheres dans les cieux
Il ecoutait les chants et contemplait les danses.

Les etres inconnus et bons, les providences
Presentes dans l'azur ou l'oeil ne les voit pas,
Les anges qui de l'homme observent tous les pas,
Leur tache sainte etant de diriger les ames
Et d'attiser, avec toutes les belles flammes,
La conscience au fond des cerveaux tenebreux,
Ces amis des vivants, toujours penches sur eux,
Ont cesse de fremir et d'etre, en la tourmente
Et dans les sombres nuits, la voix qui se lamente.
Voici qu'on voit bleuir l'ideale Sion.
Ils n'ont plus d'oeil fixe sur l'apparition
Du vainqueur, du soldat, du fauve chasseur d'hommes.
Les vagues flamboiements epars sur les Sodomes,
Precurseurs du grand feu devorant, les lueurs
Que jette le sourcil tragique des tueurs,
Les guerres, s'arrachant avec leur griffe immonde
Les frontieres, haillon difforme du vieux monde,
Les battements de coeur des meres aux abois,
L'embuscade ou le vol guettant au fond des bois,
Le cri de la chouette et de la sentinelle,
Les fleaux, ne sont plus leur alarme eternelle.
Le deuil n'est plus mele dans tout ce qu'on entend;
Leur oreille n'est plus tendue a chaque instant
Vers le gemissement indigne de la tombe;
La moisson rit aux champs ou ralait l'hecatombe;
L'azur ne les voit plus pleurer les nouveau-nes,
Dans tous les innocents pressentir des damnes,
Et la pitie n'est plus leur unique attitude;
Ils re regardent plus la morne servitude
Tresser sa maille obscure a l'osier des berceaux.
L'homme aux fers, penetre du frisson des roseaux,
Est remplace par l'homme attendri, fort et calme;
La fonction du sceptre est faite par la palme;
Voici qu'enfin, o gloire! exauces dans leur voeu,
Ces etres, dieux pour nous, creatures pour Dieu,
Sont heureux, l'homme est bon, et sont fiers, l'homme est juste.
Les esprits purs, essaim de l'empyree auguste,
Devant ce globe obscur qui devient lumineux,
Ne sentent plus saigner l'amour qu'ils ont en eux;
Une clarte parait dans leur beau regard sombre;
Et l'archange commence a sourire dans l'ombre.

Ou va-t-il, ce navire? Il va, de jour vetu,
A l'avenir divin et pur, a la vertu,
A la science qu'on voit luire,
A la mort des fleaux, a l'oubli genereux,
A l'abondance, au calme, au rire, a l'homme heureux;
Il va, ce glorieux navire,

Au droit, a la raison, a la fraternite,
A la religieuse et sainte verite
Sans impostures et sans voiles,
A l'amour, sur les coeurs serrant son doux lien,
Au juste, au grand, au bon, au beau...--Vous voyez bien
Qu'en effet il monte aux etoiles!

Il porte l'homme a l'homme, et l'esprit a l'esprit.
Il civilise, o gloire! Il ruine, il fletrit
Tout l'affreux passe qui s'effare;
Il abolit la loi de fer, la loi de sang,
Les glaives, les carcans, l'esclavage, en passant
Dans les cieux comme une fanfare.

Il ramene au vrai ceux que le faux repoussa;
Il fait briller la foi dans l'oeil de Spinosa
Et l'espoir sur le front de Hobbe;
Il plane, rassurant, rechauffant, epanchant
Sur ce qui fut lugubre et ce qui fut mechant
Toute la clemence de l'aube.

Les vieux champs de bataille etaient la dans la nuit;
Il passe, et maintenant voila le jour qui luit
Sur ces grands charniers de l'histoire
Ou les siecles, penchant leur oeil triste et profond,
Venaient regarder l'ombre effroyable que font
Les deux ailes de la victoire.

Derriere lui, Cesar redevient homme; Eden
S'elargit sur l'Erebe, epanoui soudain;
Les ronces de lys sont couvertes;
Tout revient, tout renait; ce que la mort courbait
Refleurit dans la vie, et le bois du gibet
Jette, effraye, des branches vertes.

Le nuage, l'aurore aux candides fraicheurs,
L'aile de la colombe, et toutes les blancheurs,
Composent la-haut sa magie;
Derriere lui, pendant qu'il fuit vers la clarte,
Dans l'antique noirceur de la fatalite
Des lueurs de l'enfer rougie,

Dans ce brumeux chaos qui fut le monde ancien,
Ou l'allah turc s'accoude au sphinx egyptien,
Dans la seculaire gehenne,
Dans la Gomorrhe infame ou flambe un lac fumant,
Dans la foret du mal qu'eclairent vaguement
Les deux yeux fixes de la Haine,

Tombent, sechent, ainsi que des feuillages morts,
Et s'en vont la douleur, le peche, le remords,
La perversite lamentable,
Tout l'ancien joug, de reve et de crime forge,
Nemrod, Aron, la guerre avec le prejuge,
La boucherie avec l'etable!

Tous les spoliateurs et tous les corrupteurs
S'en vont; et les faux jours sur les fausses hauteurs;
Et le taureau d'airain qui beugle,
La hache, le billot, le bucher devorant,
Et le docteur versant l'erreur a l'ignorant,
Vil baton qui trompait l'aveugle!

Et tous ceux qui faisaient, au lieu de repentirs,
Un rire au prince avec les larmes des martyrs,
Et tous ces flatteurs des epees
Qui louaient le sultan, le maitre universel,
Et, pour assaisonner l'hymne, prenaient du sel
Dans le sac aux tetes coupees!

Les pestes, les forfaits, les cimiers fulgurants,
S'effacent, et la route ou marchaient les tyrans,
Belial roi, Dagon ministre,
Et l'epine, et la haie horrible du chemin
Ou l'homme du vieux monde et du vieux vice humain
Entend beler le bouc sinistre.

On voit luire partout les esprits sideraux;
On voit la fin du monstre et la fin du heros,
Et de l'athee et de l'augure,
La fin du conquerant, la fin du paria;
Et l'on voit lentement sortir Beccaria
De Dracon qui se transfigure.

On voit l'agneau sortir du dragon fabuleux,
La vierge de l'opprobre, et Marie aux yeux bleus
De la Venus prostituee;
Le blaspheme devient le psaume ardent et pur,
L'hymne prend, pour s'en faire autant d'ailes d'azur,
Tous les haillons de la huee.

Tout est sauve! La fleur, le printemps aromal,
L'eclosion du bien, l'ecroulement du mal,
Fetent dans sa course enchantee
Ce beau globe eclaireur, ce grand char curieux,
Qu'Empedocle, du fond des gouffres, suit des yeux,
Et, du haut des monts, Promethee!

Le jour s'est fait dans l'antre ou l'horreur s'accroupit.
En expirant, l'antique univers decrepit,
Larve a la prunelle ternie,
Gisant, et regardant le ciel noir s'etoiler,
A laisse cette sphere heureuse s'envoler
Des levres de son agonie.

Oh! ce navire fait le voyage sacre!
C'est l'ascension bleue a son premier degre,
Hors de l'antique et vil decombre,
Hors de la pesanteur, c'est l'avenir fonde;
C'est le destin de l'homme a la fin evade,
Qui leve l'ancre et sort de l'ombre!

Ce navire la-haut conclut le grand hymen,
Il mele presque a Dieu l'ame du genre humain.
Il voit l'insondable, il y touche;
Il est le vaste elan du progres vers le ciel;
Il est l'entree altiere et sainte du reel
Dans l'antique ideal farouche.

Oh! chacun de ses pas conquiert l'illimite!
Il est la joie; il est la paix; l'humanite
A trouve son organe immense;
Il vogue, usurpateur sacre, vainqueur beni,
Reculant chaque jour plus loin dans l'infini
Le point sombre ou l'homme commence.

Il laboure l'abime; il ouvre ces sillons
Ou croissaient l'ouragan, l'hiver, les tourbillons,
Les sifflements et les huees;
Grace a lui, la concorde est la gerbe des cieux;
Il va, fecondateur du ciel mysterieux,
Charrue auguste des nuees.

Il fait germer la vie humaine dans ces champs
Ou Dieu n'avait encor seme que des couchants
Et moissonne que des aurores;
Il entend, sous son vol qui fend les airs sereins,
Croitre et fremir partout les peuples souverains,
Ces immenses epis sonores!

Nef magique et supreme! elle a, rien qu'en marchant,
Change le cri terrestre en pur et joyeux chant,
Rajeuni les races fletries,
Etabli l'ordre vrai, montre le chemin sur,
Dieu juste! et fait entrer dans l'homme tant d'azur
Qu'elle a supprime les patries!

Faisant a l'homme avec le ciel une cite,
Une pensee avec toute l'immensite,
Elle abolit les vieilles regles;
Elle abaisse les monts, elle annule les tours,
Splendide, elle introduit les peuples, marcheurs lourds,
Dans la communion des aigles.

Elle a cette divine et chaste fonction
De composer la-haut l'unique nation,
A la fois derniere et premiere,
De promener l'essor dans le rayonnement,
Et de faire planer, ivre de firmament,
La liberte dans la lumiere.

LA TROMPETTE DU JUGEMENT

Je vis dans la nuee un clairon monstrueux.

Et ce clairon semblait, au seuil profond des cieux,
Calme, attendre le souffle immense de l'archange.

Ce qui jamais ne meurt, ce qui jamais ne change,
L'entourait. A travers un frisson, on sentait
Que ce buccin fatal, qui reve et qui se tait,
Quelque part, dans l'endroit ou l'on cree, ou l'on seme,
Avait ete forge par quelqu'un de supreme
Avec de l'equite condensee en airain.
Il etait la, lugubre, effroyable, serein.
Il gisait sur la brume insondable qui tremble,
Hors du monde, au dela de tout ce qui ressemble
A la forme de quoi que ce soit.

Il vivait.

Il semblait un reveil songeant pres d'un chevet.

Oh! quelle nuit! la, rien n'a de contour ni d'age;
Et le nuage est spectre, et le spectre est nuage.
Et c'etait le clairon de l'abime.

Une voix
Un jour en sortira qu'on entendra sept fois.
En attendant, glace, mais ecoutant, il pense;
Couvant le chatiment, couvant la recompense;
Et toute l'epouvante eparse au ciel est soeur
De cet impenetrable et morne avertisseur.

Je le considerais dans les vapeurs funebres
Comme on verrait se taire un coq dans les tenebres.
Pas un murmure autour du clairon souverain.
Et la terre sentait le froid de son airain,
Quoique, la, d'aucun monde on ne vit les frontieres.

Et l'immobilite de tous les cimetieres,
Et le sommeil de tous les tombeaux, et la paix
De tous les morts couches dans la fosse, etaient faits
Du silence inoui qu'il avait dans la bouche;
Ce lourd silence etait pour l'affreux mort farouche
L'impossibilite de faire faire un pli
Au suaire cousu sur son front par l'oubli.
Ce silence tenait en suspens l'anatheme.
On comprenait que tant que ce clairon supreme
Se tairait, le sepulcre, obscur, roidi, beant,
Garderait l'attitude horrible du neant,
Que la momie aurait toujours sa bandelette,
Que l'homme irait tombant du cadavre au squelette,
Et que ce fier banquet radieux, ce festin
Que les vivants gloutons appellent le destin,
Toute la joie errante en tourbillons de fetes,
Toutes les passions de la chair satisfaites,
Gloire, orgueil, les heros ivres, les tyrans souls,
Continueraient d'avoir pour but, et pour dessous,
La pourriture, orgie offerte aux vers convives;
Mais qu'a l'heure ou soudain, dans l'espace sans rives,
Cette trompette vaste et sombre sonnerait,
On verrait, comme un tas d'oiseaux d'une foret,
Toutes les ames, cygne, aigle, eperviers, colombes,
Fremissantes, sortir du tremblement des tombes,
Et tous les spectres faire un bruit de grandes eaux,
Et se dresser, et prendre a la hate leurs os,
Tandis qu'au fond, au fond du gouffre, au fond du reve
Blanchissant l'absolu, comme un jour qui se leve,
Le front mysterieux du juge apparaitrait.

Ce clairon avait l'air de savoir le secret.

On sentait que le rale enorme de ce cuivre
Serait tel qu'il ferait bondir, vibrer, revivre
L'ombre, le plomb, le marbre, et qu'a ce fatal glas
Toutes les surdites voleraient en eclats;
Que l'oubli sombre avec sa perte de memoire
Se leverait au son de la trompette noire;
Que dans cette clameur etrange, en meme temps
Qu'on entendrait fremir tous les cieux palpitants,
On entendrait crier toutes les consciences;
Que le sceptique au fond de ses insouciances,
Que le voluptueux, l'athee et le douteur,
Et le maitre tombe de toute sa hauteur,
Sentiraient ce fracas traverser leurs vertebres;
Que ce dechirement celeste des tenebres
Ferait dresser quiconque est soumis a l'arret;
Que qui n'entendit pas le remords, l'entendrait;
Et qu'il reveillerait, comme un choc a la porte,
L'oreille la plus dure et l'ame la plus morte,
Meme ceux qui, livres au rire, aux vains, combats,
Aux vils plaisirs, n'ont point tenu compte ici-bas
Des avertissements de l'ombre et du mystere,
Meme ceux que n'a point reveilles sur la terre
Le tonnerre, ce coup de cloche de la nuit!

Oh! dans l'esprit de l'homme ou tout vacille et fuit,
Ou le verbe n'a pas un mot qui ne begaie,
Ou l'aurore apparait, helas! comme une plaie,
Dans cet esprit, tremblant des qu'il ose augurer,
Oh! comment concevoir, comment se figurer
Cette vibration communiquee aux tombes,
Cette sommation aux blemes catacombes
Du ciel ouvrant sa porte et du gouffre ayant faim,
Le prodigieux bruit de Dieu disant: Enfin!

Oui, c'est vrai,--c'est du moins jusque-la que l'oeil plonge,--
C'est l'avenir,--du moins tel qu'on le voit en songe;--
Quand le monde atteindra son but, quand les instants,
Les jours, les mois, les ans, auront rempli le temps,
Quand tombera du ciel l'heure immense et nocturne,
Cette goutte qui doit faire deborder l'urne,
Alors, dans le silence horrible, un rayon blanc,
Long, pale, glissera, formidable et tremblant,
Sur ces haltes de nuit qu'on nomme cimetieres;
Les tentes fremiront, quoiqu'elles soient des pierres,
Dans tous ces sombres camps endormis; et, sortant
Tout a coup de la brume ou l'univers l'attend,
Ce clairon, au-dessus des etres et des choses,
Au-dessus des forfaits et des apotheoses,
Des ombres et des os, des esprits et des corps,
Sonnera la diane effrayante des morts.

O lever en sursaut des larves pele-mele!
Oh! la Nuit reveillant la Mort, sa soeur jumelle!

Pensif, je regardais l'incorruptible airain.

Les volontes sans loi, les passions sans frein,
Toutes les actions de tous les etres, haines,
Amours, vertus, fureurs, hymnes, cris, plaisirs, peines,
Avaient laisse, dans l'ombre ou rien ne remuait,
Leur pale empreinte autour de ce bronze muet;
Une obscure Babel y tordait sa spirale.

Sa dimension vague, ineffable, spectrale,
Sortant de l'eternel, entrait dans l'absolu.
Pour pouvoir mesurer ce tube, il eut fallu
Prendre la toise au fond du reve, et la coudee
Dans la profondeur trouble et sombre de l'idee;
Un de ses bouts touchait le bien, l'autre le mal;
Et sa longueur allait de l'homme a l'animal,
Quoiqu'on ne vit point la d'animal et point d'homme;
Couche sur terre, il eut joint Eden a Sodome.

Son embouchure, gouffre ou plongeait mon regard,
Cercle de l'inconnu tenebreux et hagard,
Pleine de cette horreur que le mystere exhale,
M'apparaissait ainsi qu'une offre colossale
D'entrer dans l'ombre ou Dieu meme est evanoui.
Cette gueule, avec l'air d'un redoutable ennui,
Morne, s'elargissait sur l'homme et la nature,
Et cette epouvantable et muette ouverture
Semblait le baillement noir de l'eternite.

Au fond de l'immanent et de l'illimite,
Parfois, dans les lointains sans nom de l'Invisible,
Quelque chose tremblait de vaguement terrible,
Et brillait et passait, inexprimable eclair.
Toutes les profondeurs des mondes avait l'air
De mediter, dans l'ombre ou l'ombre se repete,
L'heure ou l'on entendrait de cette apre trompette
Un appel aussi long que l'infini jaillir.
L'immuable semblait d'avance en tressaillir.

Des porches de l'abime, antres hideux, cavernes
Que nous nommons enfers, puits, gehennams, avernes,
Bouches d'obscurite qui ne prononcent rien;
Du vide ou ne flottait nul souffle aerien;
Du silence ou l'haleine osait a peine eclore,
Ceci se degageait pour l'ame: Pas encore.

Par instants, dans ce lieu triste comme le soir,
Comme on entend le bruit de quelqu'un qui vient voir,
On entendait le pas boiteux de la justice;
Puis cela s'effacait. Des vermines, le vice,
Le crime, s'approchaient; et, fourmillement noir,
Fuyaient. Le clairon sombre ouvrait son entonnoir.
Un groupe d'ouragans dormait dans ce cratere,
Comme cet organum des gouffres doit se taire
Jusqu'au jour monstrueux ou nous ecarterons
Les clous de notre biere au-dessus de nos fronts,
Nul bras ne le touchait dans l'invisible sphere;
Chaque race avait fait sa couche de poussiere
Dans l'orbe sepulcral de son evasement;
Sur cette poudre l'oeil lisait confusement
Ce mot: RIEZ, ecrit par le doigt d'Epicure;
Et l'on voyait, au fond de la rondeur obscure,
La toile d'araignee horrible de Satan.

Des astres qui passaient murmuraient: 'Souviens-t'en!
Prie!' et la nuit portait cette parole a l'ombre.

Et je ne sentais plus ni le temps ni le nombre.

Une sinistre main sortait de l'infini.
Vers la trompette, effroi de tout crime impuni,
Qui doit faire a la mort un jour lever la tete,
Elle pendait enorme, ouverte, et comme prete
A saisir ce clairon qui se tait dans la nuit,
Et qu'emplit le sommeil formidable du bruit.
La main, dans la nuee et hors de l'Invisible,
S'allongeait A quel etre etait-elle? Impossible
De le dire, en ce morne et brumeux firmament.
L'oeil dans l'obscurite ne voyait clairement
Que les cinq doigts beants de cette main terrible;
Tant l'etre, quel qu'il fut, debout dans l'ombre horrible,
--Sans doute, quelque archange ou quelque seraphin
Immobile, attendant le signe de la fin,--
Plongeait profondement, sous les tenebreux voiles,
Du pied dans les enfers, du front dans les etoiles!

FIN

NOTES

LA CONSCIENCE.

It has been thought that the subject of this poem was suggested to
Victor Hugo by a passage in _Les tragiques_, a satirical poem in
seven books, depicting the misfortunes and vices of France, written
by Theodore Agrippa D'Aubigne (1551-1630), whom Sainte-Beuve calls
the Juvenal of the sixteenth century. The passage relating to Cain
occurs in the sixth book, called _Les Vengeances_. The following
extracts indicate the spirit in which the author dealt with his
theme.

Il avoit peur de tout, et il avoit peur de lui
. . . . . . .
La mort ne put avoir de mort pour recompense:
L'Enfer n'eut point de morts a punir cette offense;
Mais autant de jours il sentit de trespas:
Vif, il ne vescut point; mort, il ne mourut pas.
Il fuit d'effroi transi, trouble, tremblant et blesme,
Il fuit de tout le monde, il s'enfuit de soy-mesme
. . . . . . .
Il possedoit le monde et non une asseurance;
Il estoit seul partout, hors mis sa conscience,
Et fut marque au front affin qu'en s'enfuiant
Aucun n'osast tuer ses maux en le tuant.

It is clear that if the poem suggested the subject to Hugo it
suggested nothing else.

With _Cain_ may be compared _Le Parricide_, one of the 1859 series,
which is also inspired by the theme of the guilty conscience
pursuing the murderer. In this case remorse is symbolized by a
drop of blood which falls upon the head of the criminal wherever
he goes.

_Assur_, English Asshur; the name occurs in the marginal rendering
of Gen. x. II (Revised Version).

The names of persons and their descriptions are taken from the
account of Cain's descendants in Gen. iv. 17-23.

_Jabel_, English Jabal, son of Lamech, a descendant of Cain and
Adah. 'He was the father of such as dwell in tents and have cattle.'

_Tsilla_, English Zillah, one of Lamech's wives.

_Jubal_, the brother of Jabal. 'He was the father of all such a
handle the harp and pipe.'

_Henoch_, English Enoch, Cain's son.

_Tubalcain_, English Tubal-cain, the son of Lamech and his wife
Zillah. He was 'the forger of every cutting instrument of brass
and iron.'

_Seth_ was the third son of Adam and Eve, and

_Enos_ was the son of Seth.

PUISSANCE EGALE BONTE.

_Iblis_, one of the names used in the Koran for the Spirit of
Evil. He was a spirit who refused to prostrate himself before
Adam at the command of the Almighty, and was therefore expelled
from Eden. Instead of being immediately destroyed, however, he
was given a respite till the Day of Judgement. The word is derived
from the Arabic _balas_, wicked.

Another tradition, not found in the Koran, is that Iblis was a
warrior angel whom the Almighty sent to exterminate the Djinns, the
beings, half men, half angels, who inhabited the country of the
Genii. Instead of performing this command, the spirit rebelled and
was cast down into hell. It is hardly necessary to add that Hugo's
story is of his own invention.

_Bonte_ (see heading), one of Hugo's favourite words for
expressing the moral attributes of the Almighty power. The theme
that God is goodness, which is more than justice, is developed in
_Dieu: La Lumiere_.

La justice, c'est vous, l'humanite; mais Dieu
Est la bonte.

Compare also the concluding lines of _Le Crapaud_.

The word has no exact equivalent in English. It comprehends
kindness, tenderness, and gentleness.

It may be interesting to note that Hugo was fond of comparing an
object composed of a centre and rays to a spider. Edmond Huguet
(_Les Sens de la Forme dans les Metaphores de Victor Hugo_) gives
the following examples:

'De la hauteur ou je suis, la rade pleine de nacelles (a
quatre rames) figure une mare couverte d'araignees d'eau.'
(_Alpes et Pyrenees_.)

'Nous estimons une araignee chose hideuse et nous sommes
ravis de retrouver sa toile en rosace sur les facades des
cathedrales, et son corps et ses pattes en clef de voute dans
les chapelles.' (_France et Belgique_.)

'Les lanternes de ce temps-la ressemblaient a de grosses
etoiles rouges pendues a des cordes, et jetaient sur le
pave une ombre qui avait la forme d'une grande araignee.'
(_Les Miserables_.)

Rostabat prend pour fronde, ayant Roland pour cible,
Un noir grappin qui semble une araignee horrible.
(_La Legende des Siecles, Le Petit Roi de Galice._)

'Trois ou quatre larges araignees de pluie s'ecraserent
autour de lui sur la roche.' (_Les Travailleurs de la Mer._)

Hugo appears to have had a feeling of antipathy for the spider and
frequently chose it as the symbol of evil. In __Dieu: Le
Corbeau_,_ the spirits of good and evil are thus described:--

L'un est l'Esprit de vie, au vol d'aigle, aux yeux d'astre,
Qui rayonne, cree, aime, illumine, construit;
Et l'autre est l'araignee enorme de la nuit.

In _La Fin de Satan_, of the days before the Flood,

Depuis longtemps l'azur perdait ses purs rayons,
Et par instants semblait plein de hideuses toiles
Ou l'araignee humaine avait pris les etoiles.

And of Ignatius Loyola,

Sombre araignee a qui Dieu, pour tisser sa toile,
Donnait des fils d'aurore et des rayons d'etoile.

Compare also:--

La toile d'araignee horrible de Satan.
(_La Trompette du Jugement._)

In other passages the spider is a type of the unpleasant.

La nuit, qui sert de fond au guet mysterieux
Du hibou promenant la rondeur de ses yeux,
Ainsi qu'a l'araignee ouvrant ses pales toiles.
(_La Confiance du Marquis Fabrice._)

See also the passage from _La Bouche d'Ombre_, quoted in the notes
to _Le Crapaud._

BOOZ ENDORMI.

The subject of this exquisite little idyll is taken from the Book of
Ruth, chapter iii, in which Ruth the Moabitess is described as lying
at the feet of Boaz, the kinsman of her dead husband, Mahlon the
Hebrew, in order that she might claim from him that he should marry
her and continue the family of Mahlon, as provided by the law of
Moses.

_Judith._ There was a Judith, daughter of Beer the Hittite, one of
the wives of Esau (Gen. xxxvi. 34). Hugo may or may not have had
this personage in his mind.

_asphodele_. Hugo is not always accurate in his local colouring.
Asphodels are not found in Palestine.

_Galgala_, the form found in the Septuagint and Vulgate of the
place-name Gilgal.

_Les grelots des troupeaux._ Here, again, Hugo is inaccurate.
Sheep in Palestine do not have bells attached to them.

_Jerimadeth_. The name seems to be of Hugo's own invention. It
was a trick of the poet's to make proper names suit the
exigencies of rime, as in this instance, in which
'Jerimadeth rimes with' demandait.

AU LION D'ANDROCLES.

It is impossible to name the period to which Hugo is referring
in this poem more precisely than by saying that it is the age of
Rome under the Empire. As will be seen from the notes, the
personages and events alluded to are not all contemporaneous.
It was enough for Hugo that they were typical of the Roman
decadence.

_Trimalcion_. The festival of Trimalcion is an episode in the
_Satyricon_ of Petronius Arbiter, the poem in which are
described all the excesses of Roman luxury and debauchery.
Petronius Arbiter lived in the time of Claudius.

_Lesbie_. Hugo is guilty of one of his inaccuracies here.
Lesbia was the lady to whom the poems of Catullus (87-47 B.C.?)
were addressed, while Delia, who is mentioned below in connexion
with Catullus, was in reality the mistress of Tibullus
(54 B.C.-19 A.D.).

_Crassus_. Hugo no doubt refers to M. Licinius Crassus
(died 53 B.C.), the Triumvir, who, when praetor, led an army
against the revolted gladiators under Spartacus. He twice defeated
them and subsequently crucified or hung, along the road from Capua
to Rome, six thousand slaves who had been taken prisoners.

_Epaphrodite_. Epaphroditus, a freedman and favourite of the Emperor
Nero, was the master of Epictetus, the lame slave and Stoic
philosopher, who was amongst the greatest of pagan moralists.
Epaphroditus, who treated his slave with great cruelty, is said to
have been one day twisting his leg for amusement. Epictetus said,
'If you continue, you will break my leg.' Epaphroditus went on, the
leg was broken, and Epictetus only said, 'Did I not tell you that
you would break it?'

Hugo seems to have in mind the short reigns of Galba (r. A.D. 68-9),
Otho (r. A.D. 69), and Vitellius (r. A.D. 69), all of whom perished
by violence.

_Vitellius_ was famous even among the later Romans for his gluttony
and voracious appetite. During the four months of his reign he is
said to have spent seven millions sterling on the pleasures of his
table. When at last the people rose against him, and the soldiers
proclaimed another emperor, Vitellius was found hiding in his
palace. He was dragged out into the Forum and killed on the
Gemoniae _(les Gemonies)_, a staircase which went up the Capitoline
Hill and on which the corpses of criminals were exposed before being
thrown into the Tiber. This is the _Escalier_ referred to in the
next line.

l. 57. These tortures were not known in Rome. They suggest rather
the Middle Ages.

_le cirque_. The circus where chariot-races took place. Hugo seems
to be confusing it with the Colosseum, where the gladiatorial
combats were fought.

_Le noir gouffre cloaque_. The Cloaca Maxima was the great sewer of
Rome. It is still in existence and in use. Hugo here first makes it
the symbol of the destruction towards which the Roman Empire was
tending, and then treats it half as a concrete reality, half as a
figure for some underworld in which dethroned but living emperors
meet. This blending of the symbol and the thing symbolized is
characteristic of the poet.

_chiffres du fatal nombre_: the figures or digits that stand for the
doomed number, i.e. the number with which a doomed man is marked.

_Attila_, the famous king of the Huns, 'the Scourge of God' as he was
called, reigned A.D. 434-53.

LE MARIAGE DE ROLAND.

The poem is founded on the 'Chanson de Girart de Viane,' one of the
Carolingian cycles of epic poems, written by Bertrand de Bar-sur-Aube,
a poet of Champagne who lived in the first half of the thirteenth
century.

The story, as told in the _Chanson_, is as follows:--

Girard, or Girart, the son of Garin of Montglave, a poor nobleman,
goes with his brother Renier to the court of Charlemagne to seek
his fortune. After being at court for some time he quarrelled with
the Emperor, owing to the latter marrying the widow of Aubery, duc
de Bourgogne, who was pledged to Girart. As a compensation for the
loss of his bride, he was given the Comte of Vienne, in Dauphine.
When he presented himself before Charlemagne to do homage, the
queen, whose affection for her old lover had changed to contempt,
forced him by a trick to kiss her foot instead of that of her
husband. Some time after, Girart learnt the truth, and, furious at
the insult placed upon him, he rebelled against his sovereign.
Renier, who had been made duke of Genoa, with his son Olivier
and his daughter 'la belle Aude,' came to help him. Charlemagne
besieged Vienne with a great army, and amongst his warriors was
his nephew Roland, who was his principal champion, just as Olivier
was that of Girart. A siege, like that of Troy, ensued, many
doughty deeds being done by the two heroes. In the course of the
fighting Roland sees Aude and falls in love with her. He takes her
prisoner, and almost succeeds in carrying her off to his tent, but
Olivier rescues her. Finally, it is agreed that the quarrel between
the monarch and his vassal shall be settled by a duel between the
two champions. Needless to say, the latter fall in readily with the
proposal. Olivier is armed by an aged Jew, Joachim, who with others
of his nation had fled to Vienne with Pontius Pilate after the
Crucifixion, and had not yet succeeded in dying. The combat takes
place in an island in the Rhone, and la Belle Aude, with mingled
feelings, watches from a window her brother and her lover
contending for victory. The struggle is full of tremendous incident.
At the outset each of the champions cuts the horse of the other in
two and the fight is continued on foot. Olivier's sword is broken,
and Roland invites him to send for another and take a little rest
and refreshment. A boatman goes to Vienne and procures from the
old Jew a famous sword, called Hauteclere, and some wine. The fight
is renewed and lasts till nightfall, when an angel descends from
heaven, and orders the two heroes to be reconciled and to fight
together against the Saracens. The warriors embrace and Olivier
promises Roland the hand of his sister. Such was the beginning of
the friendship of the two mighty champions ofChristendom.

Hugo's poem, however, is not based directly on the story, but on a
modern prose adaptation by Achille Jubinal which appeared in _Le
Journal du Dimanche_ in 1846. Leon Gautier indeed, in _Les Epopees
francaises, says: `Victor Hugo s'est propose de traduire notre
vieux poeme, dont il avait sans doute quelque texte sous les yeux.'
But it is clear from the mistake about the word Closamont and other
details that Gautier was mistaken and that the source from which
Hugo drew was Jubinal's reproduction.

Hugo omitted from his adaptation two incidents of great poetic
interest, namely, the picture of Aude watching the fight, and the
miraculous intervention of the angel. He has, on the other hand,
inserted the barbaric incident of the fight with trees. He has
eliminated, that is to say, the tender and the religious elements
from the story and made it simply the narrative of a Homeric combat,
with more than a touch of the grotesque. Nevertheless, he has
retained the characteristic incident of the chivalrous behaviour of
Roland in sending for a new sword for his enemy and in giving him
time for rest, a trait which finds a parallel in many other
_Chansons_, notably in the story of the battle of Roland with
Ferragus, a Saracen giant. When Ferragus is worn out with fighting,
Roland watches over him while he sleeps, and on his awakening enters
into a theological discussion with him in the hope of converting him
to Christianity. When this pious desire fails, the combat is renewed.

_Saint Michael_ is described in Rev. xii. 7-9 as fighting against
Satan and casting him out of heaven.

Hugo is mistaken in his description of _Olivier_, who was not lord of
Vienne and a sovereign count, but only the son of Renier, duke of
Genoa. The only statement in these two lines which is correct is
that his grandfather was Garin.

L. 27. As already noted, in the original story it is an aged Jew who
arms Olivier for the fight.

_Rollon_ (English _Rollo_) was the Norse pirate who invaded France in
A.D. 912 and founded the Duchy of Normandy. The reference to him is
of course an anachronism.

_estoc_ (_c_ pronounced), a long narrow sword used for thrusting.

_cimier_ (from Latin _cyma_, the young sprout of a cabbage), the crest
on the helmet.

Roland's sword, _Durandal_, which was given him by Charlemagne, plays
the same part in the French _Chansons_ as Siegfried's sword
Balmung in the _Nibelunglied_, or Excalibur in the Arthurian cycle.
Other forms of the name are _Durendas, Durrenda, Durandarda_.

_en franc neveu du roi_, like a real or genuine nephew of the king.

_Tournon_, a town situated on the right bank of the Rhone, in the
department of Ardeche. It still produces a well-known wine, called
_Vins de l'Ermitage_.

1. 70. Here is a curious mistake, which Jubinal originated and Hugo
copied. Closamont was the original possessor of the sword, not
another name for the weapon. The lines in the 'Chanson de Girart de
Viane' are:--

Une en aporte ke molt fut onoree.
plus de c. anz l'ot li iuis gardee,
Closamont fut, k'iert de grand renommee,
li emperere de Rome la loee.

_Sinnagog or Sinnagos_ was the Saracen king of Alexandria with whose
attack on the castle of Garin, Olivier's grandfather, the story of
'Girart de Viane' begins.

1. 144. This is another deviation from tradition, as we have it in
the Carolingian cycle. Roland never married Aude. He was still
betrothed to her when he fell at Roncesvalles.

AYMERILLOT.

The poem on part of which this is based is an anonymous _Chanson_
written in the thirteenth century and belonging to the cycle known
as the cycle of _Guillaume_.

The story is as follows. Charlemagne is returning from Spain, after
the defeat at Roncesvalles, his army discouraged, his knights
exhausted, and wishing only to be at home and in comfort. Suddenly
he catches sight of a city, surrounded by a crenelated wall,
splendid within, with a palace the roofs of which shine in the sun,
its feet bathed in the sea, which is covered by the ships of its
commerce. Charlemagne wishes to attack it, but the duke of Bavaria
advises him to let it alone; it is garrisoned by thousands of
pagans and his men are exhausted. The Emperor addresses several of
his barons in turn, offering to each the city if he will take it.
One and all refuse: Charlemagne upbraids them for their cowardice,
bids them go home, and declares he will take the town by himself.
Then Hernaut de Beaulande brings forward his son Aimeri, who
volunteers to undertake the task. With the aid of one hundred
barons he captures the city and is made Count of Narbonne. Hugo has
selected the first and the best part of the _Chanson_ for
modernization. Leon Gautier (_Les Epopees francaises_) says:
'Rien n'egale en majeste le debut de ce poeme, dont le denoument est
presque trivial... Rien de plus ennuyeux que le recit de tant de
combats contre les Sarrasins; rien de plus attachant que le tableau
de ce grand desespoir de Charlemagne a la vue de Narbonne, dont
aucun de ses Barons ne veut entreprendre la conquete. Il n'y a
peut-etre dans aucune poesie aucun episode comparable a ce discours
de l'Empereur, lorsqu'il crie a tous ses chevaliers: "Rales vos en,
Bourguignon et Francois...je remenrai ici, a Narbonois." C'est
ce qu'a bien compris Victor Hugo, qui a si fidelement traduit et
surpasse encore les beautes du texte original.'

Hugo's poem, however, is not based directly on the _Chanson_, but on
two prose adaptations written by Achille Jubinal, and published
respectively in the _Musee des Familles_ (1843) and the _Journal du
Dimanche _(1846). Yet these stories did little more than furnish the
framework for the poem, by far the greater part of which is the
original work of Hugo.

_a la barbe fleurie_, white-bearded. Expression taken from the
_Chanson_. In mediaeval poetry Charlemagne is always described as an
old man.

_Roncevaux_, which we call by the Spanish name Roncesvalles, is the
valley in the Pyrenees where Charlemagne's rearguard was attacked and
cut to pieces by the Moors during his retreat from Spain.

_Ganelon_, the knight through whose treachery the defeat of
Charlemagne at Roncesvalles was brought about.

_les douze pairs_. The twelve Paladins of tradition, who formed
Charlemagne's Round Table.

L. 6-10. These words are taken almost verbatim from Jubinal's
adaptation of the story in the _Musee des Familles_. Jubinal's words
are:

'L'etcheco-sauna (le laboureur des montagnes) est rentre chez lui
avec son chien; il a embrasse sa femme et ses enfants. Il a nettoye
ses fleches ainsi que sa corne de boeuf, et les ossements des heros
qui ne sont plus blanchissent deja pour l'eternite.'

In a note Jubinal says: 'Ces paroles sont empruntees au chant basque
d'Altabicar.'

_Son cheval syrien_. In the _Chanson_ Charlemagne rides on a _mulet
de Sulie (Syrie)_. Jubinal changed the mule into a horse. This is
one of the points of detail which show that Hugo followed the modern
author.

L. 25. The city, as we learn subsequently, was Narbonne. Narbonne is
on the west coast of the Gulf of Lyons, near the eastern end of the
Pyrenees. Originally a Roman colony, it was one of the chief seats of
the Visigoths, from whom it was taken by the Saracens, when they
overran Southern France. Charlemagne took it from the latter in 759.
Till the fourteenth century it was a port, but the sand has blocked
up the harbour and the town is now some distance from the sea.

_machicoulis_, battlements; or, more exactly, a gallery round the
tower with openings in it from which projectiles could be hurled
upon an enemy below.

_vermeil_. The word is one of Hugo's favourite adjectives, and is
used to suggest a bright vivid red, and almost invariably in
connexion with objects that have pleasurable associations.

The following are a few typical instances of its use:--

'L'aube vermeille.' (_Les Feuilles d'Automne: Madame, autour de vous_.)

'Les cones vermeils' (du palais dans les nuages). (Ibid.: _Soleils
Couchants_.)

'Les beaux rosiers vermeils.' (_Les Quatre Vents: L'Immense Etre_.)

'Les astres vermeils.' (Ibid.: _La Nuit_.)

'Aux soirs d'ete qu'embrase une clarte vermeille.' (_Dieu L'Ange_.)

'Les plats bordes de fleurs sont en vermeil: (_Eviradnus_.)

'Et, vermeille,

Mahaud, en meme temps que l'aurore, s'eveille.' (Ibid.)

The word seems to be used without any definite suggestion of colour
in such phrases as 'des espaces vermeils' (_Plein Ciel_), 'quand le
satyre fut sur la cime vermeille' (_Le Satyre_), 'des arbres
vermeils' (of trees lit up by the setting sun) (_Le Crapaud_).

The word is used with a bold extension of meaning in _Les Voix
Interieures: A Eugene_, where the appetite of boyhood is called
'l'appetit vermeil.'

_dromon_, mediaeval warship, worked by oars and sail, the ancestor
of the galley. The word is also used, as apparently here, for
merchantmen.

_Bearnais_, inhabitant of Bearn, the province in the Pyrenees from
which Henri IV came.

_Turcs_. This is of course a mistake for Saracens or Moors. The word
occurs in the original poem, Jubinal copied it, and Hugo copied
Jubinal. The original, it maybe noted, had 'trente mille Turcs,'
Jubinal cut them down to 'vingt mille.' Hugo's 'vingt mille' is
another detail which shows that his poem is based on Jubinal's
adaptation.

_preux_. The Old French adjective meant 'valiant.' At the present
time the word is only used in the phrase _preux chevalier. Preux_ as
a noun is rare, but de Vigny has 'Charlemagne et ses preux.'

_je ne farde guere_: I speak without affectation. _Farder_ used
absolutely in this way is rare.

_rendus_: knocked up, overdone.

_arbaletes_, crossbows.

L. 80, For the metaphor compare the _Chanson_ in _Les Chatiments_,
Livre VII

Berlin, Vienne etaient ses maitresses;
Il les forcait,
Leste, et prenant les forteresses
Par le corset;
Il triompha de cent bastilles
Qu'il investit.--
Voici pour toi, voici des filles,
Petit, petit.

These two passages are good specimens of what Brunetiere called Hugo's
barbarous and Merovingian humour, a species of humour which suits well
the reproduction of a mediaeval _Chanson_, even if it offends the
critical in a modern satire.

_gentil_, used in its original sense of 'noble'.

_maillot_, Old French form of _maillet_, a mace or club. _salade_,
head-piece worn by knights, a word used in the fifteenth, sixteenth, and
seventeenth centuries.

_duche_, which is now masculine, was formerly of the feminine gender.

_liais_, lias; _pierre de liais_ is Portland stone.

_douve_, as a term in fortification, means the wall of a ditch.

_estramacon_, a long, straight, two-edged sword. The word is of
Italian origin and first came into use in the sixteenth century. In an
adaptation of a thirteenth-century _Chanson_ it is out of place, as is
_salade_ above.

_escarcelle_, a kind of large purse which was carried at the belt.

l 193. The reference to the Sorbonne, which was founded in 1252, is of
course an anachronism.

_estoc_. See note on MARIAGE DE ROLAND.

_bachelier_. In the Middle Ages the word was used of a young man of
good birth who, being too poor to raise his own standard, fought
under the banner of a knight, but not as a squire. The
juxtaposition of _Je suis bachelier_ with _Je sais lire en latin_
has given rise to the suspicion that Hugo, who found the word in
one of Jubinal's articles, understood it in the modern sense. In
the absence of further evidence, however, the poet may be
considered entitled to a verdict of 'not proven'.

BIVAR.

_Bivar_, in Spanish _Vivar_, was the name of the ancestral home of
the Cid. It is a castle near Burgos, in which the Cid was born in
1040.

_patio_ (Spanish), a court or open space in front of a house. The
_ti_ is pronounced as in French _question_.

_buenos dias_=good day.

l 18. The full name of the Cid was Rodrigue Ruy Diaz de Bivar, or in
Spanish Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar.

_campeador_. The Spanish word _campeador_, derived from _campear_,
to be eminent in the field, signifies _excellent_, _pre-eminent_,
and was the title given to their champion by the Spaniards, The
Moors called him the Cid, i.e. Seid, an Arabic word for _chief_.

_pavois_, an old word for a large shield, which protected the whole
body, and on which the Franks raised the king whom they had elected.

_richomme_, from the Spanish _ricohombre_, a title given to the
Barons of Aragon.

_servidumbre_ (Spanish), an establishment of servants. In Spanish
the last syllable is sounded.

EVIRADNUS. (PAGE 26.)

As far as is known, the story is of Hugo's own invention. The epoch
may be supposed to be the later Middle Ages, the place anywhere in
Teuton lands. The proper names are mostly of Hugo's own invention;
some are, however, echoes from German mediaeval history. The poem
and another called _Le Petit Roi de Galice_ form a section of the
_Legende_ called _Les Chevaliers Errants_.

l 1. There was a Ladislaus, King of Poland, in the fourteenth, and
a Sigismund, Emperor of Germany, in the fifteenth century. But the
personages of the poem are in reality wholly imaginary.

_stryge_ (written also _strige_), a vampire or demon that wanders
about at night. Derived from Latin _striga_, a bird of night, or a
witch.

_lemure_: Lemures (the singular is very rare) is the Latin
_lemures_, the disembodied spirits which haunted houses and caused
terror to the living.

_val_, valley, The word is now little used and only in poetry,
except in the phrase _par monts et par vaux_.

_preux_. See note on AYMERILLOT, l 54.

_munster_ (German), cathedral.

_bauges_, properly the lairs of wild boars.

_Amadis_, commonly called Amadis of Gaul, the hero of a celebrated
mediaeval poem, written originally in Spanish, which recounts his
heroism in war and constancy in love. He is the typical
knight-errant and true lover.

_Baudoin_. This is Baldwin, brother of Godfrey of Bouillon. He
became King of Jerusalem and died in 1118. During the Crusade he
went on a pilgrimage to the Holy City.

Sir G.Young in his _Poems from Victor Hugo_ suggests that _Corbus_
may stand for _Cottbus_, the capital of Old or Lower Lusatia.

_burg_ (German), a castle.

_guivre_ (also written _givre_), a heraldic term meaning a serpent.

_dree_, a fantastic stone ornament.

_fohn_ (German _Foehn_), the south wind.

_le Grand Dormant_: Frederick Barbarossa, who, tradition says, never
died, but is still sleeping in a cave.

_roture_, i.e. his position as a peasant. _Roture_ is derived from
the Latin _ruptura_, the action of breaking the earth, and is the
base of the common word _roturier_.

_releve_, used in its feudal sense of 'to hold of'; the castle was
not feudally dependent on the city.

L. 214, i.e. the castle reflects the history of the ancient kings.

_les deux haches de pierre_. This is said figuratively and alludes
to the deeds of Attila, who ravaged the Eastern Empire and extended
his dominions almost to the Ural Mountains, whilst later on,
crossing the Rhine, he attacked the Goths of Southern France and
Spain.

_Lusace_, Latin Lusatia, German Lausitz, was a district between the
Elbe and the Oder, in what is now the kingdom of Saxony. But the
name has no significance. The personages and places in the poem are
in reality all imaginary.

_la griffe_ is the claw of a beast or bird of prey; _la serre_ is
the foot of a bird of prey.

_Sortent de leur tenaille_. A somewhat obscure expression.
Apparently _tenaille_ is used in the sense of 'vice', and the words
mean 'are of their manufacture or moulding.'

L. 291. i.e. the Emperor is the superior in rank.

_dromons_. See note on AYMERILLOT, L. 39.

_l'ordre teutonique_, the Order of Teutonic Knights. Originally
founded to protect the Christians in Palestine, the Teutonic
Knights received domains in Italy and Germany from the Pope and
Emperor, conquered Prussia (1228), and established there a military
power which lasted four centuries.

_hydre_. In Greek legend the hydra was a serpent with seven heads,
and, when one of them was cut off, two grew in its place. It is
Hugo's favourite figure for cruelty or tyranny.

_Lusace_ consisted of two margraviates, the upper and the lower.

_elle a peur du fleuron_, i.e. she is afraid to be marchioness. The
flower-shaped ornaments in a crown are called _fleurons_. A
marquis's coronet was adorned with 'fleurons' alternating with
pearls and the contrast between the pointed 'fleuron' and the round
pearl suggests the figure employed in the next line.

_tribunaux d'amour_, or _cours d'amour_, were the celebrated courts
of the Middle Ages, presided over by ladies of high rank, which gave
judgement in cases of love and gallantry and laid down laws for
lovers. They existed principally in France, especially in Southern
France.

L. 369. The Wends were a Slav people who lived in Lusatia, but the
name Thassilo is Bavarian.

_Nemrod_. See note on PLEINE MER, l.107.

_Fenris_: the great wolf of Scandinavian mythology whose growth was
such that the gods in fear chained him to a rock. Some day his upper
jaw will touch the sky, while his lower still rests on earth, and
then Odin will tremble for his throne.

_le serpent Asgar_. This serpent is probably of Hugo's invention and
its name taken from the mythical city of the Scandinavians, Asgard,
built by the gods and in which they often resided.

_l'archange Attila_. This is not the king of the Huns, nor is he one
of the known archangels. However, as the Scriptures mention only
three archangels, Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael, out of the seven,
Hugo may or may not be right in speaking of an archangel of the name
of Attila. _Le grand chandelier_ brought from the lower regions by
the archangel is merely a poetic fancy and a reminiscence of the
seven-branched candlestick of the tabernacle (Exod. XXV. 31-7).

_Acteon_. Actaeon in Greek mythology was a hunter who saw Diana
bathing, and was in consequence changed by the goddess into a stag.

L. 437. _chanfrein_, the piece of armour which covered the head of
the horse.

_Les chatons des cuissards sont barris de leurs cles_. A difficult
line. The _chatons_ were the studs or screws which held the
thigh-piece (_cuissard_) in its place, and the instrument which
worked them was called _la cle_. _Barres_ appears to mean simply
'fastened'. Sir G.Young translates:--

'Their cuissart-studs up to the socket braced'

_boutoir_, the sharp spike on the knee-piece.

_crible_. The word refers to the visor with seven bars, which was
one of the marks of a marquis's rank.

_mortier_. The round cap which was the ancient emblem of
sovereignty in France. It was worn by barons who possessed full
powers of administering justice in their domains, also by the
presidents of the 'parlements', and by the chancellors. A modified
form is still part of the official dress of some of the judges of
the highest courts.

It will be noted that the antiquities in this passage are French,
not German.

_tortil_, a ribbon twisted round a crown, the special ornament of a
baron, not of a duke. It also signifies in heraldry a circular band
or pad to which heraldic negroes' heads were attached.

_rondache_, a round shield.

L. 492. The reference is to the coronet of a French marquis, which
bore eight jewelled ornaments, four of which consisted each of
three great pearls arranged as a trefoil, while the other four were
'feuilles d'ache,' the heraldic representation of the leaf of the
wild parsley.

_hydre_: see note on L. 323.

_timbre_, in heraldry, signifies anything placed above the
escutcheon to mark the rank of the person to whom it belonged. Here
Hugo seems to use it of the shield, perhaps because the triangular
shield was a mark of knightly rank.

_fauves_, here 'terrible'.

A chapter might be written on Hugo's bold and occasionally strange
uses of this word. Its primary meaning is either 'dull red' or
'tawny', but in Hugo's poetry it is used rather as a somewhat vague
epithet to suggest darkness, gloom, cruelty, savagery, or oppressive
power. It never denotes merely a physical quality; in such
expressions as 'leur fauve volee', speaking of the ravens in _La Fin
de Satan_, 'le desert fauve' (_Androcles_), 'son bec fauve', of the
vulture (_Sultan Mourad_), the suggestion of wildness or
ruthlessness predominates. Usually the word is used in a wholly
figurative sense. Thus in _La Fin de Satan_ the fallen archangel,
flying from Jehovah, is 'fauve et hagard', Barabbas stumbling
against the Cross is 'fauve', and of the lunatic in the tombs
it is said: 'fauve il mordait'. In all these cases the meaning is
'wild','savage '. In _Dieu_ we have `Venus, fauve et fatale'
('cruel'), in _L'Ane_ les canons dont les fauves gueulees'
('terrible'), in _L'Annee Terrible_'un hallier fauve ou des sabres
fourmillent' ('wild'), and France is called upon to be 'franchement
fauve et sombre' ('fierce'). In the following passages we have
bolder uses still:

Le progres a parfois l'allure vaste et fauve ('awe-inspiring')
Et le bien bondissant effare ceux qu'il sauve. (_Dieu_.)

If man had been unselfish,

L'ombre immense serait son fauve auxiliaire. (Ibid.)

Of war,

Elle chantait, terrible et tranquille, et sa bouche
Fauve bavait du sang dans le clairon farouche.
(_Changement d'Horizon._)
La fauve volupte de mourir. (_Mangeront-ils?_)

It is applied even to sound. 'Le fauve bruit' is used in _L'Ane_ of
the battles of primeval monsters, and more mystically in _La Vision
d'ou sortit le livre_ of the passing of the Spirit of Fatality.

Also of smell

Que l'homme au ciel s'egare ou qu'il fanatise
Avec la fauve odeur des buchers qu'il attise.
(_Religions et Religion_.)

Nor must the strange well-known line in _La Bouche d'Ombre_ be
forgotten

Le fauve Univers est le forcat de Dieu.

_Fauve_ is always used of what is dark and gloomy, just as
_vermeil_ is always applied to what is bright and pleasant.

_cimier_. See note on LE MARIAGE DE ROLAND.

_melusine_. A heraldic figure, half woman, half serpent, bathing
in a basin. Taken from the name of a fairy, celebrated in the folklore
of Poitou.

_alerion_, a heraldic figure, representing an eagle without beak or
claws.

_le manche d'une guitare_ is the small end.

_bourguignotte_, a small helmet without throat-piece, so called
because it was first used by the Burgundians.

_Diane eblouissait le patre: a reference to the `old sweet mythos,'
as Browning calls it, of Diana, the goddess of the Moon, stooping
from heaven to kiss the shepherd Endymion, as he lay asleep on
Mount Latmos.

_Rhodope_, the wife of Haemus, king of Thrace, who was changed
into a mountain because she thought herself more beautiful than Hera.

1. 839. The allusions are to the quarrels between the Greek and
Roman Churches.

_galoubet_. A little wind instrument in shape like a flageolet, with
three holes. It was played with the left hand, while the right beat
a tambourine. It was peculiar to Languedoc and Provence.

_marche_, German _Mark_, military frontier.

_L'idee._ In the original edition of 1859 the word was L'epee.

_Josaphat._ The valley of Josaphat or Jehosaphat is between
Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, and according to both Jewish and
Moslem
tradition is to be the place of the Last Judgment. This tradition
may be based on Joel iii. 12, or on the meaning of the word Josaphat,
which is, 'Jehovah will judge,' or on both.

_goules_, from Arabic _ghul_. English _ghoul_. The creatures who,
according to Eastern superstition, devour dead bodies.

_lamies_, from Lat. _lamia_, a fabulous being possessing the head of
a woman and the body of a sea-serpent, which was supposed to devour
children.

_en rupture de ban_. _Rompre le ban_ is to set at defiance a decree
of banishment, the punishment for which was death.

_un dogue en arret_. The name _dogue_ is given to a kind of large
dog, akin to a bloodhound, but the term is not correctly used here,
as _en arret_ means _pointing_.

_vermeille_. See note on AYMERILLOT.

SULTAN MOURAD.

In his preface to the volume of 1859 Hugo appeals to the history of the
Turks by Cantemir as a justification for his picture of Sultan Mourad.
This was Demetrius Cantemir (1673-1723), who had a remarkable history,
and wrote a valuable book. Though not a Turk, he attached himself to
the Turks, and fought under the banner of the Crescent during his early
life. In 1710 he was made Waiwode, or Governor, of Moldavia, Then,
deserting the setting for the rising sun, he allied himself with
Czar Peter the Great, then at war with Turkey. But the campaign was
unsuccessful, and Cantemir, flying from Moldavia, took refuge in the
Ukraine. For the rest of his life he divided his time between study and
instructing the Moldavians who had accompanied him. He is said to have
spoken Persian, Turkish, Arabic, modern Greek, Russian, Moldavian,
and Italian. The work to which Hugo refers was a history of the
aggrandizement and decadence of the Ottoman Empire. Written in Latin,
and translated subsequently into English, French, and German, it was
long the standard work on the subject.

It does not seem probable that Hugo had any particular Sultan in mind
when he delineated Sultan Mourad. Indeed the geography of the poem
suggests that he is depicting an idealized Oriental tyrant.

The nearest approximation to the monster to be found in the pages
of Cantemir is Ammath IV (r. 1623-40), of whose cruelty and
bloodthirstiness the historian gives a vivid account. His principal
exploit was the taking of Bagdad from the Persians, on which occasion he
slaughtered 1,000 of the citizens in cold blood.

For Hugo's conception of the power and influence of the Turkish Empire
when at its zenith, see _Le Rhin: Conclusion_, II, III.

_Liban_ is Lebanon.

_rampantes_. The word is used with the heraldic sense.

I. 19. The so-called Temple of Theseus (its real dedication is doubtful)
stands on a low hill just outside Athens. It is in a state of almost
perfect preservation. The nails which crowded its woodwork were
doubtless those on which the heads of slaughtered Greeks were fastened.
Of course in the Greek temple there was no woodwork, except possibly in
the roof.

_cangiar_, a short Turkish sword, with an almost straight blade, having
a single edge.

_Naxos_ is an island in the South Aegean Sea; _Ancyra_, a town in Asia
Minor.

_epiques_. A curious use of the word. It appears to mean `worthy of
epic poetry,' i.e. the spectres were those of great heroic men. In _Les
Chants du Crepuscule_ Hugo has 'des grenadiers epiques' (_Napoleon II_).

Elea, Megara, are towns in Greece, Famagusta is in Cyprus.

Agrigentum was a well-known Greek colony in Sicily; Fiume, at the head
of the Adriatic Sea, is now an Austrian port.

_Modon_, a maritime town in the Peloponnesus.

_Alep_, Aleppo. _Brousse_, a town in Anatolia.

_Damas_, Damascus.

_Tarvis_ (English Treviso) is a town in the province of Venice.

_boyard_. The boyards were the feudal nobles of Roumania and other
Balkan countries.

_Rhamseion_, a sepulchral monument built by Ramses III, king of Egypt,
in the fourteenth century B.C.

_Generalife_, the palace of the Moorish kings at Granada in Spain. It is
scarcely necessary to say that no Turkish Sultan ever held any part of
Spain.

_echouait_. The word is here used transitively (a rare use) in the sense
of 'drove against.'

_soudan_, a word of Arabic origin, was a mediaeval name for certain
Mahometan princes in Egypt and Asia Minor. The word seems here loosely
to designate the Turkish sultans.

_turbe_, a kind of small round chapel, usually attached to a mosque, in
which the tombs of Sultans and other great persons are placed.

LA CONFIANCE DU MARQUIS FABRICE. (PAGE 71.)

This is the third section of a poem called _L'Italie: Ratbert_. The
story is of Hugo's own invention, and is intended to delineate on the
one hand the savagery, and on the other the knight-errantry, of the
Middle Ages.

_Pharamond_, a somewhat legendary Frankish chieftain of the fifth
century A.D.

_Final_. The name, alone or in composition, is borne by three small
towns or villages on or near the Genoese coast. There was a marquisate
of Final in the Middle Ages.

_Witikind_. Hugo possibly had in mind the Saxon chief of this name
(A.D. 750-807) who for five years successfully resisted the power of
Charlemagne, and finally made an honourable peace with him. It does not
appear that he ever bore the title of king. His country was the ancient
Saxony, that is the country between the lower Rhine and the lower Elbe.
He had no connexion with Genoa, whither Hugo has dragged the Saxons
without justification.

_Albenga_: the name is taken from a small town on the Genoese coast, not
far from Final.

_abbe du peuple_, a name of a popularly elected magistrate at Genoa. The
office was in existence from 1270 to 1339.

_tribun militaire de Rome_: Latin, _tribunus militaris_; the officers of
the legion, six in number, who in republican times commanded in turn,
six months at a time.

_architrave_, the lower part of the entablature, that which rests
immediately on the column. To understand the line, it must be remembered
that the tower is conceived as a ruin.

_alleux_, a feudal term, signifying hereditary property. The word is
misused here in the sense of feudal dues.

_censive_. Another feudal term, meaning the dues owed by an estate to
the lord of whom it was held.

_balistes_ (from Latin _ballista_), mediaeval machines for hurling
stones and darts.

_le puits d'une sachette_, a hole in which a recluse lived. _Sachette_
(masc. _sachet_) was the name given to certain nuns of the Augustinian
order who wore a loose woollen garment (_sac_), whence the name was
derived. It afterwards became used of any recluse. In _Notre-Dame de
Paris_ Hugo applies it to the half-crazy inhabitant of the Tour-Roland.

_cruzade_, an old Portuguese coin, so called because it was marked
with a cross. There was an old cruzade worth about 3 fr. 30, and a new
cruzade worth not quite 3 fr.

_Narse_, or Narses, was king of Persia A.D. 294-303.

_Tigrane_, the name of an Armenian, not a Persian dynasty. There were
seven kings of this name, and they occupied the Armenian throne from 565
to 161 B.C.

_nonce_. This word is in strictness used only of the emissaries of the
Pope. Its use in any sense is an anachronism, as it was not introduced
till the sixteenth century.

_Ratbert_ is thus described at the beginning of the poem:--

Ratbert, fils de Rodolphe et petit-fils de Charles,
Qui se dit empereur et qui n'est que roi d'Arles.

Arles, which Hugo spells with or without the _s_ according to the
exigencies of the metre, was the capital of the kingdom of Provence, one
of the kingdoms formed out of the fragments of Charlemagne's empire. It
embraced most of S.E. France, and lasted from A.D. 855 to 1032. This
kingdom was frequently called _le royaume d'Arle_. _Roy d'Arle_ is
therefore a historical title, but the names Ratbert and Rodolphe, as
grandson and son respectively of Charlemagne, are imaginary.

_Macchabee_. Judas Maccabaeus, the Jewish hero, who freed his country
from the tyranny of Antiochus Epiphanes.

_Amadis_ See note on EVIRADNUS.

_Aetius_, a Roman general who lived in the fifth century A.D. One of
the last heroes and defenders of ancient Rome, he fought Franks,
Burgundians, Huns, and succeeded in uniting the German kings of Gaul
against Attila, and inflicting a crushing defeat upon him (A. D. 451).

_latobrige_. The Latobriges were an ancient German tribe who lived in
what is now Wurtemberg and Baden.

_Platon_: the Athenian philosopher Plato, justly placed amongst the
poets.

_Plaute_: Plautus, the Roman writer of comedies, who lived in the second
century B.C.

_Scaeva Memor_, a Roman poet and tragedian of the first century A.D.,
rescued from oblivion by this line. The three make a bizarre trio; see
note on BOOZ ENDORMI.

_Sicambre_. The Sicambres were the German tribe who in Roman times lived
on the Rhine.

_incruste d'erable_, i. e. inlaid with maple.

_bailli_, i. e. governor.

_reitre_, an old word, derived from the German _Reiter_, used of the
German knights.

_buccin_, properly a whelk, is a name given to a musical instrument very
similar to a trombone.

_brassiere_, a little jacket or vest worn close round the body. The word
is usually used in the plural. Likely enough Hugo intends simply the
corset.

_au penchant des mers_, i. e. where the land slopes to the sea. A
peculiar expression; _au penchant de la terre_ would be more usual.

_les chouettes felines_. The epithet refers to their nocturnal habits.

L. 353. The antecedent of _que_ is _vautours_. The reference is to
gladiatorial combats in the Roman Circus, and the _louve d'airain_ is
the famous bronze wolf of the Capitol, a statue representing a wolf
suckling two children.

_fauve_, here `savage'. See note on EVIRADNUS.

_cru_, i. e. unashamed.

_faite vermeil_. See note on AYMERILLOT, where the same phrase
occurs.

L. 391. figurant, 'suggesting the form of'. A highly characteritic
touch. Hugo possessed a faculty of poetic vision which changed the
shapes of things so as to bring them into harmony with the dominant
ideas of the moment. Cf. LA ROSE DE L'INFANTE, and LA CONFIANCE.

_Heliogabales_. Heliogabalus was a Roman Emperor (r. 217-222) noted for
his sensuality and his caprices.

_cistre_, cittern or cithern, a musical instrument resembling the
guitar.

_un Louvre_: the Louvre is the well-known palace in Paris where many
kings of France resided. Note the antithesis in the same line, _antre de
rois, Louvre de voleurs_.

_les ors_, various kinds of gold. _Sixte Malaspina_, introduced as one
of the counsellors of Ratbert in a poem entitled 'Ratbert' not given
here.

_chape_ is the Picard form of 'cape' (see note on LES PAUVRES GENS, l.
97). It is the name for a long cloak, fastened in front, and worn by
clergy and choristers when performing Divine Service. Formerly any long
loose cloak was called a _charpe_. As is still the custom in the Greek
Church, images of the Virgin or saints are largely used, and they are
found as ornaments on pieces of furniture and sacerdotal vestments.

L. 455. A peacock roasted whole and served up ornamented with its
feathers was a favourite dish at the banquets of the fifteenth century.

_hypocras_, an infusion of cinnamon, sweet almonds, amber, and musk in
sweetened wine.

_Le roi d'Arle_. See note to l. 179.

_l'araignee_. See note under PUISSANCE EGALE BONTE.

_jacque_ (also written jaque), a short close-fitting coat or tunic.

_vair_ (English _vair_), the fur of the squirrel, a highly esteemed and
costly material for dress in the later Middle Ages.

_chevalier haubert_, i. e. a knight who has the right to wear the
haubert or cuirass.

_Urbain quatre_, Pope (1261-. 1264). He is rightly described as the son
of a cobbler.

_Afranus_, introduced as the bishop of Frejus, and one of Ratbert's evil
counsellors, in the poem of 'Ratbert'. See note on l. 435 _supra_.

L. 721. For the element of supernatural vengeance on cruelty compare
_L'Aigle du casque_, published in the 1877 series.

LA ROSE DE L'INFANTE.

A French critic has said happily of this poem: '"La Rose de l'Infante"
est un chef-d'oeuvre, digne d'etre illustre par Velasquez.' (Gaston
Deschamps in Petit de Julleville's _Histoire de la langue et de la
litterature francaises_.)

The little princess, of whom such an enchanting picture is given in this
poem, is an imaginary figure. There was no Infanta of five years of age
at the epoch of the Armada.

_ basquine_, a rich skirt worn by Spanish women.

_point de Genes_, Genoese lace, which at one time rivalled that of Venice.

_fil d'or florentin_, gold thread of Florence.

_Duc de Brabant_ was one of the many titles of the King of Spain.

L. 69. See note on LA CONFIANCE.

_glas_ (pronounced _gla_), 'passing bell.'

_vitreux_: 'glassy,' 'lack-lustre.' The sunken eyes seemed of an
unfathomable depth.

_Iblis_. See note on PUISSANCE EGALE BONTE,

_Escurial_. The vast and gloomy palace near Madrid built by Philip II in
the form of a gridiron in memory of St. Laurence, on whose feast-day he
won the battle of St. Quentin.

_L'Inde_. The inclusion of India in Philip's dominions can hardly be
justified. As King of Spain he possessed nothing in India, and as King
of Portugal only a few trading stations and fortresses.

For Hugo's conception of the power and position of Spain at this epoch,
see _Le Rhin: Conclusion_, II, III.

L. 130. Prescott describes Philip as being habitually grave in manner,
unsocial and sombre, and always dressed in black. The Order of the
Golden Fleece was the only jewel he ever wore.

L. 137. 'Better a ruined kingdom, true to itself and its king, than
one left unharmed to the profit of the Devil and the heretics.
'--Correspondence of Philip, quoted by Prescott in the History
of Philip II.

_Burgos_, the ancient capital of Old Castile. _Aranjuez_, a town in the
province of Toledo, where Philip had a summer residence.

_la toison d'or_, the Golden Fleece, an order of knighthood founded by
Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, in 1420.

_grincer un sourire_: a bold and vivid expression, _grincer_ meaning 'to
gnash the teeth.'

_gastadour_, from the Lat. _vastator_, ravager, despoiler.

_l'Escaut_, the Scheldt. The _Adour_ is a river in Southern France, but
no ships for the Armada came from France. One suspects the influence of

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