Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Raphael by Alphonse de Lamartine

Part 3 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

her thus, more living, lovely, and immortal, in my eyes, than I had
ever seen her in the brightest days of Savoy. A feeling of deceitful
security and eternal possession entered into my heart, as my eyes fell
on her. She tried to stammer forth a few words on seeing me, but could
not. Her lips trembled with emotion. I fell at her feet, and pressed my
lips to the carpet upon which she trod. I then looked up to assure
myself that her presence was not a dream. She laid one of her hands
upon my hair, which thrilled beneath her touch, and holding by the
other to the marble of the chimney-piece, she too fell on her knees
before me. We gazed at each other at a distance. We sought words, and
found none for our excess of joy. We remained silent, but that very
silence and our kneeling posture was a language; I knelt full of
adoration, she full of happiness, and our attitude seemed to say, They
adore one another, but a phantom of Death stands between, and though
their eyes drink rapture, they will never be clasped in each other's


I know not how many minutes we remained thus, nor how many thousand
interrogations and answers, what floods of tears, and oceans of joy
passed unexpressed between our mute and closed lips, between our
moistened eyes, between her countenance and mine. Happiness had struck
us motionless, and time had ceased to be. It was eternity in an

There was a knock at the street door; a sound of feet on the stairs. I
rose, and she resumed, with a faltering step, her place on the sofa. I
sat down on the other side, in the shade, to hide my flushed cheeks and
tearful eyes. A man of already advanced age, of imposing stature, with
a benignant, noble, and beaming countenance, slowly entered the room.
He approached the sofa without speaking, and imprinted a paternal kiss
on Julie's trembling hand. It was Monsieur de Bonald. Spite of the
painful awakening from ecstasy that the knock and arrival of a stranger
had produced in me, I inwardly blessed him for having interrupted that
first look in which reason might have been overpowered by rapture.
There are times when the cold voice of reason is required to still with
its icy tones the fever of the senses, and to strengthen anew the soul
in its holy and energetic resolves.


Julie introduced me to M. de Bonald as the young man whose verses he
had read; he was surprised at my youth, and addressed me with
indulgence. He conversed with Julie with the paternal familiarity of a
man whose genius had rendered him illustrious; he had all the serenity
of age, and sought in the company of a young and lovely woman merely a
passing ray of beauty to enchant his eyes, and the charm of her society
during the calm and conversational hours at the close of day. His voice
was deep, as though it came from the heart, and his conversation flowed
with the graceful, yet serious, ease of a mind which seeks to unbend in
repose. Honesty was stamped on his brow, and spoke in the accents of
his voice. As the conversation seemed likely to be prolonged, and the
clock was on the point of striking twelve, I thought it right to take
my leave first, so as to create no suspicion of too great familiarity
in the mind of a friend and visitor of older standing than myself in
the house. Silence and one single look were the only reward I received
for my long and ardent expectation and my weary journey; but I bore
away with me her image and the certainty of seeing her every day,--that
was enough; it was too much. I wandered a long while on the quays,
baring my breast to the night air, and inhaling it with my lips, to
allay the fever of happiness which possessed me. On my return home, I
found that V---- had been asleep many hours; as for me, it was
daylight, and I had heard the cries of the venders in the streets of
Paris before I closed my eyes.

* * * * *

My days were filled with one single thought, which I treasured up in my
heart, and would not even allow my countenance to reveal, as a precious
perfume of which one would fear to let a particle evaporate by exposing
the vase that contains it to the outward air. I used to rise with the
first rays of light, which always penetrated tardily into the dark
alcove of the little ante-room where my friend gave me shelter like a
mendicant of love. I always began the day by a long letter to Julie,
which was but a calmer continuation of the conversation of the day
before; in it I poured forth all the thoughts that had suggested
themselves since I had left her. Love feels delightful remorse at its
tender omissions; accuses, reproaches itself, and feels no rest till
they have been repaired. They are gems fallen from the heart or the
lips of the loved one, which cause the lover's thoughts to travel back
over the past, to gather them up, and to increase the treasure of his
feelings. Julie, when she awoke, received my letter, which made it
appear to her as though the conversation of the preceding evening had
not been interrupted, but had been kept up in whispered tones during
her sleep. I always received her answer before noon.

My heart being thus appeased, after the agitation of the night, my next
thought was to calm the impatience for the evening's interview, which
began to take possession of me. I strove not to divert my heart from
its one thought, but to interest my eyes and mind, and had laid down as
a law to myself to spend several hours in reading and study, to occupy
the interval between the time when I left Julie till we met again. I
wished to improve myself not for others, but for her,--in order that he
whom she loved should not disgrace her preference; and that those
superior men who composed her society, and who sometimes saw me in her
drawing-room standing at a corner of the fireplace, like a statue of
contemplation, should discover in me, if by chance they spoke to me, a
soul, an intelligence, a hope, or a promise, beneath my timid and
silent appearance. Then I had vague dreams of shining exploits, of a
stirring destiny, which Julie would watch from afar, and rejoice to see
me struggling with men, rising in strength, in greatness, and in power;
I thought she might one day glory secretly in having appreciated me
before the crowd, and in having loved me before posterity.


All this, and still more, my forced leisure, the obsession of one
besetting thought, my contempt for all besides, the want of money to
procure other amusement, and the almost claustral seclusion in which I
lived, disposed me to a life of more intense and eager study than I had
yet led. I passed my whole day seated at a little writing-table, which
was placed beneath the small round window opening on the yard of the
Hotel Richelieu. The room was heated by a Dutch stove; a screen
enclosed my table and chair, and hid me from the observation of the
young men of fashion who often came to see my friend. In the spacious
yard below there were sounds of carriages, then silence, and now and
then bright rays of winter sun struggling against the grovelling fog of
the streets of Paris, which reminded me a little of the play of light,
the sounds of the wind, and the transparent mists of our mountains.
Sometimes I would see a sweet little boy six or eight years old playing
there; he was the son of the concierge. There was something in his face
which seemed that of a suffering angel; in his fair hair curled on his
forehead, and in his intelligent and ingenuous countenance, that
reminded me of the innocent faces of the children of my own province.
Indeed, I discovered that his family had come originally from a village
near that in which my father resided, had fallen into want, and had
been transplanted to Paris. This child had conceived a fondness for me,
from seeing me always at the window above the rooms his mother
inhabited, and had of his own accord and gratuitously devoted himself
to my service. He executed all my messages; brought me my bread, some
cheese, or the fruit for my breakfast; and went every morning to
purchase my little provisions at the grocer's. I used to take my frugal
repast on my writing-table, in the midst of my open books or
interrupted pages. The child had a black dog, which had been forgotten
at the house by some visitor; this dog had ended like the child by
attaching itself to me, and they could not be made to go down the
little wooden stairs when once they had ascended them. During the
greater part of the day, they lay and played together on the mat at my
feet beneath my table. At a later period I took away the dog with me
from Paris, and kept it many years, as a loving and faithful memento of
those days of solitude. I lost him in 1820, not without tears, in
traversing the forests of the Pontine Marshes between Rome and
Terracina. The poor child is become a man, and has learned the art of
engraving, which he practices ably at Lyons. My name having resounded
since, even in his shop, he came to see me, and wept with joy at
beholding me, and with grief at hearing of the loss of the dog. Poor
heart of man! that ever requires what it has once loved, and that sheds
tears of the same water, for the loss of an empire, or for the loss of
an animal.


During the thousands of hours in which I was thus confined between the
stove, the screen, the window, the child, and the dog, I read over all
that antiquity has written and bequeathed to us, except the poets, with
whom we had been surfeited at school, and in whose verses our wearied
eyes saw but the caaesura, and the long or short syllables. Sad effect
of premature satiety, which withers in the mind of a child the most
brightly tinted and perfumed flowers of human thought. But I read over
every philosopher, orator, and historian, in his own language. I loved
especially those who united the three great faculties of
intelligence,--narration, eloquence, and reflection; the fact, the
discourse, and the moral. Thucydides and Tacitus above all others; then
Machiavelli, the sublime practitioner of the diseases of empires; then
Cicero, the sonorous vessel which contains all, from the individual
tears of the man, the husband, the father, and the friend, up to the
catastrophes of Rome and of the world, even to his gloomy forebodings
of his own fate. There is in Cicero a stratum of divine philosophy and
serenity, through which all waters seem to be filtrated and clarified,
and through which his great mind flows in torrents of eloquence,
wisdom, piety, and harmony. I had, till then, thought him a great but
empty speaker, with little sense contained in his long periods; I was
mistaken. Next to Plato, he is the word of antiquity made man; his
style is the grandest of any language. We suppose him meagre, because
his drapery is so magnificent; but strip him of his purple and you will
still find a vast mind, which has felt, understood, and said, all that
there was to comprehend, to feel, or to say, in his day in Rome.


As to Tacitus, I did not even attempt to combat my partiality for him.
I preferred him even to Thucydides, the Demosthenes of history.
Thucydides relates, but does not give life and being. Tacitus is not
the historian, but a compendium of mankind. His narration is the
counter-blow of the fact in the heart of a free, virtuous, and feeling
man. The shudder that one feels as one reads not only passes over the
flesh, but is a shudder of the heart. His sensibility is more than
emotion,--it is pity; his judgments are more than vengeance,--they are
justice; his indignation is more than anger,--it is virtue. Our hearts
mingle with that of Tacitus, and we feel proud of our kindred with him.
Would you make crime impossible to your sons? Would you inspire them
with the love of virtue? Rear them in the love of Tacitus. If they do
not become heroes at such a school, Nature must have created them base
or vile. A people who adopted Tacitus as their political gospel would
rise above the common stature of nations; such a people would enact
before God the tragical drama of mankind in all its grandeur and in all
its majesty. As to me, I owe to his writings more than the fibres of
the flesh, I owe all the metallic fibres of my being. Should our vulgar
and commonplace days ever rise to the tragic grandeur of his time, and
I become the worthy victim of a worthy cause, I might exclaim in dying,
"Give the honor of my life and of my death to the master, and not to
the disciple, for it is Tacitus that lived, and dies in me."


I was also a passionate admirer of orators. I studied them with the
presentiment of a man who would one day have to speak to the deaf
multitude, and who would strike the chords of human auditors. I studied
Demosthenes, Cicero, Mirabeau, and especially Lord Chatham,--more
striking to my mind than all the rest, because his inspired and lyrical
eloquence seems more like a cry than like a voice. It soars above his
limited audience and the passions of the day, on the loftiest wings of
poetry, to the immutable regions of eternal truth and of eternal
feeling. Chatham receives truth from the hand of God; and with him it
becomes, not only the light, but also the thunder of the debate.
Unfortunately, as in the case of Phidias at the Parthenon, we have only
fragments, heads, arms, and mutilated trunks left of him. But when in
thought we reassemble these remains, we produce marvels and divinities
of eloquence. I pictured to myself times, events, and passions, like
those which upraised these great men, a forum such as that they filled;
and like Demosthenes addressing the billows of the sea, I spoke
inwardly to the phantoms of my imagination.


About this period I read for the first time the speeches of Fox and
Pitt. I thought Fox declamatory, though prosaic; one of those cavilling
minds, born to gainsay, rather than to say,--lawyers without gowns,
with mere lip-conscience, who plead above all for their own popularity.
I saw in Pitt a statesman whose words were deeds, and who in the crash
of Europe maintained his country, almost alone, on the foundation of
his good sense, and the consistency of his character. Pitt was
Mirabeau, with less impulse and more integrity. Mirabeau and Pitt
became, and have ever continued to be, my favorite statesmen of modern
days. Compared to them, I saw in Montesquieu only erudite, ingenious,
and systematical dissertations; Fenelon seemed to me divine, but
chimerical; Rousseau, more impassioned than inspired, greater by
instinct than by truth; while Bossuet, with his golden eloquence and
fawning soul, united, in his conduct and his language before Louis
XIV., doctoral despotism with the complaisance of a courtier. From
these studies of history and oratory I naturally passed on to politics.
The remembrance of the imperial yoke which had just been shaken off,
and my abhorrence of the military rule to which we had been subjected,
impelled me towards liberty. On the other hand, family recollections;
the influence of daily associations; the touching situation of a royal
family, passing from a throne to a scaffold or to exile, and brought
back from exile to a throne; the orphan princess in the palace of her
fathers; those old men, crowned by misfortune as much as by their
ancestry; those young princes, schooled by stern adversity, from whom
so much might be expected,--all made me hope that new-born liberty
might be made to accord with the ancient monarchy of our forefathers.
The government would thus have possessed the two most potent spells in
all human affairs,--antiquity and novelty; memory and hope. It was a
fair dream, and most natural at my age. Each succeeding day, however,
dispelled a portion of that dream. I perceived with grief that old
forms but ill contain new ideas; that monarchy and liberty would never
hold together in one bond without a perpetual struggle; that in that
struggle the strength of the state would be exhausted, that monarchy
would be constantly suspected, liberty constantly betrayed.


From these general studies I turned to another that perhaps engrossed
my mind the more from the very aridity and dryness of its nature, so
far removed from the intoxication of love and fancy in which I lived. I
mean political economy, or the science of the Wealth of Nations.

V---- had applied his mind to it with more curiosity than ardor. All
the Italian, English, or French books that had been written on the
science lined his shelves and covered his table. We read and discussed
them together, noting down the remarks that they suggested. The science
of political economy, which at that time laid down, as it still does in
the present day, more axioms than truths, and proposed more problems
than it can solve, had for us precisely the charm of mystery. It
became, moreover, between us an endless theme for those conversations
which exercise the intelligence without engrossing the mind, and suffer
us to feel, even while conversing, the presence of the one secret and
continuous thought concealed in the inmost recesses of our hearts. It
was an enigma of which we sought the answer without any great desire to
find it. After having read, examined, and noted all that constituted
the science at that time, I fancied I could discern a few theoretical
principles true in their generality, doubtful in their application,
ambitiously aspiring to be classed among absolute truths, often hollow
or false in their formula. I had no objection to make, but my
instinctive desire of demonstration was not thoroughly satisfied. I
threw down the books and awaited the light. Political economy at that
time did not exist; being an entirely experimental science, it had
neither sufficient maturity nor long standing to affirm so positively.
Since then it has progressed and promises to statesmen a few dogmas
which may be applied cautiously to society, a few sources of general
comfort, and some new ties of fraternity, to be strengthened between


I varied these serious pursuits with the study of diplomacy or the laws
of intercourse between governments, which had always attracted me from
my early youth. Chance directed me to the fountain-head. At the time
that I applied myself to political economy I had written a pamphlet of
about a hundred pages, on a subject which at that period attracted a
great share of public attention. The title of the pamphlet was: "What
place can the nobility occupy in France under a constitutional
government?" I treated this question, which was a most delicate one at
the time, with the instinctive good sense that Nature had allotted to
me, and with the impartiality of a youthful mind, soaring without
effort above the vanities from on high, the envy from below, and the
prejudices of his day. I spoke with love of the people, with
intelligence of our institutions, and with respect of that historic
nobility whose names were long the name of France herself, on her
battlefields, in her magistracy, and in foreign lands. I was for the
suppression of all privileges of nobility, save the memory of nations,
which cannot be suppressed, and proposed an elective peerage, showing
that in a free country there could be no other nobility than that of
election, which is a perpetual stimulus to public duty, and a temporary
reward of the merit or virtues of its citizens.

Julie, to whom I had lent the manuscript in order to initiate her in
the labors of my life, had shown it to Monsieur M----, a clever man of
her intimate acquaintance, for whose judgment she entertained the
greatest deference. M. M---- was the worthy son of an illustrious
member of the Constituent Assembly, had been the Emperor's private
secretary, and was now a constitutional royalist. He was one of those
whose minds are never youthful, who enter mature into the world, and
die young, leaving a void in their epoch. M. M----, after reading my
work, asked Julie who was the political man who had written those
pages. She smiled, and confessed that they were the production of a
very young man, who had neither name nor experience, and was quite
unknown in the political world. M. M---- required to see me to believe.
I was introduced to him, and he received me with kindness which
afterwards ripened into a friendship, that remained unchanged until his
death. My work was never printed; but M. M----, in his turn, introduced
me to his friend, M. de Reyneval, a man of luminous understanding,
open-hearted, and of an attractive and cheerful though grave and
laborious mind, who was at that time the life of our foreign policy. He
died, not long ago, while ambassador at Madrid. M. de Reyneval, who had
read my work, received me with that encouraging grace and cordial smile
which seems to overleap distance, and always wins at first sight the
heart of a young man. He was one of those men from whom it is pleasant
to learn, because they seem, so to speak, to diffuse themselves in
teaching, and to give rather than prescribe. One learned more of Europe
in a few mornings by conversing with this most agreeable man, than in a
whole diplomatic library. He possessed tact, the innate genius of
negotiations. I owe to him my taste for those high political affairs
which he handled with full consciousness of their importance, but
without seeming to feel their weight. His strength made everything
easy, and his ready condescension seemed to infuse grace and heart into
business. He encouraged my desire to enter on the diplomatic career,
presented me himself to the Director of the Archives, M. d'Hauterive,
and authorized him to allow me access to the collection of our treaties
and negotiations. M. d'Hauterive, who had grown old over despatches,
might be said to be the unalterable tradition and the living dogma of
our diplomacy. With his commanding figure, hollow voice, his thick and
powdered hair, his long, bushy eyebrows overshading a deep-set and dim
eye, he seemed a living, speaking century. He received me like a
father, and appeared happy to transmit to me the inheritance of all his
hoarded knowledge; he made me read, and take notes under his own eye,
and twice a week I used to study for a few hours under his direction. I
love the memory of his green old age, which so prodigally bestowed its
experience on a young man whose name he scarcely knew. M. d'Hauterive
died during the battle of July, 1830, amid the roar of the cannon which
annihilated the policy of the Bourbons and the treaties of 1815.


Such were my studious and retired habits in my little room. I wished
for nothing more; my desire to enter on some career was in truth but my
mother's ambition for me, and the regret of expending the price of her
diamond, without some compensation in my bettered condition. If at that
time I had been offered an embassy to quit Paris, and a palace to leave
my truckle-bed in the ante-room, I would have closed my eyes not to
see, and my ears not to listen to Fortune. I was too happy in my
obscurity, thanks to the ray, invisible to others, which warmed and
illumined my darkness.

My happiness dawned as the day declined. I habitually dined at home
alone in my cell, and my repast generally consisted of a slice of
boiled meat, some salad, and bread. I drank water only, to save the
expense of even a little wine, so necessary to correct the insipid and
often unwholesome water of Paris. By this means, twenty sous a day paid
for my dinner, and this meal was sufficient not only for myself but to
feed the dog who had adopted me. After dinner, I used to throw myself
on my bed, overcome by the application and solitude of the day, and
strove thus to abridge by sleep the long, dark hours which yet divided
me from the moment when time commenced for me. These were hours which
young men of my age spend in theatres, public places, or the expensive
amusements of a capital, as I had done before my transformation. I
generally awaked about eleven, and then dressed with the simplicity of
a young man whose good looks and figure set off his plain attire. I was
always neatly shod, besides having white linen and a black coat,
carefully brushed by my own hands, which I buttoned up to the throat,
after the fashion of the young disciples of the schools of the Middle
Ages. A military cloak, whose ample folds were thrown over my left
shoulder, preserved my dress from being splashed in the streets, and,
on the whole, my plain and unpretending costume, which neither aspired
to elegance nor betrayed my distress, admitted of my passing from my
solitude to a drawing-room without either attracting or offending the
eye of the indifferent. I always went on foot; for the price of one
evening's coach-hire would have cost me a day of my life of love. I
walked on the pavement, keeping close along the walls to avoid the
contact of carriage-wheels, and proceeded slowly on tip-toe for fear of
the mud, which in a well-lighted drawing-room would have betrayed the
humble pedestrian. I was in no hurry, for I knew that Julie received
every evening some of her husband's friends, and I preferred waiting
till the last carriage had driven away before I knocked. This reserve
on my part arose not only from the fear of the remarks which might be
made concerning my constant presence in the house of so young and
lovely a woman, but, above all, from my dislike to share with others
her looks and words. It seemed to me that each of those with whom she
was obliged to keep up a conversation robbed me of some part of her
presence or her mind. To see her, to hear her, and not to possess her
alone, were often a harder trial to me than not to see her at all.


To pass away the time I used to walk from one end to the other of a
bridge which crossed the Seine nearly opposite to the house where Julie
lived. How many thousand times I have reckoned the boards of that
bridge, which resounded beneath my feet! How many copper coins I have
thrown, as I passed and repassed, into the tin cup of the poor blind
man, who was seated through rain or snow on the parapet of that bridge!
I prayed that my mite which rung in the heart of the poor, and from
thence in the ear of God, might purchase for me in return a long and
secure evening, and the departure of some intruder who delayed my

Julie, who knew my dislike to meeting strangers at her house, had
devised with me a signal which should inform me from afar of the
presence or absence of visitors in her little drawing-room. When they
were numerous, the two inside shutters of the window were closed, and I
could only see a faint streak of light glimmering between the two
leaves; when there were one or two familiar friends, on the point of
leaving, one shutter was opened; and at last, when all were gone, the
two shutters were thrown open, the curtains withdrawn, and I could see
from the opposite quay the light of the lamp which stood on the little
table, where she read or worked while expecting me. I never lost sight
of that distant ray, which was visible and intelligible for me alone,
amid the thousand lights of windows, lamps, shops, carriages, and
_cafes_, and among all those avenues of fixed or wandering fires which
illumine at night the buildings and the horizon of Paris. All other
illuminations no longer existed for me,--there was no other light on
earth, no other star in the firmament but that small window, which
seemed like an open eye seeking me out in darkness, and on which my
eyes, my thoughts, my soul, were ever and solely bent. O
incomprehensible power of the infinite nature of man, which can fill
the universal space and think it too confined; or can be concentrated
in one bright speck shining through the river mists, amid the ocean of
fires of a vast city, and feel its desires, feelings, intelligence, and
love bounded by that small spark which scarce outshines the glowworm of
a summer's evening! How often have I thus thought as I paced the
bridge, muffled in my cloak! How often have I exclaimed, as I gazed at
that oval window shining in the distance: Let all the fires of earth be
quenched, let all the luminous globes of the firmament be extinguished,
but may that feeble light--the mysterious star of our two lives--shine
on forever; its glimmering would illumine countless worlds, and suffice
my eyes through all eternity!

Alas, since then I have seen this star of my youth expire, this burning
focus of my eyes and heart extinguished! I have seen the shutters of
the window closed for many a long year on the funereal darkness of that
little room. One year, one day, I saw them once more opened. I looked
to see who dared to live where she had lived before; and then I saw, in
summer time, at that same window, bathed in sunshine and adorned with
flowers, a young woman whom I did not know playing and smiling with a
new-born child, unconscious that she played upon a grave, that her
smiles were turned to tears in the eyes of a passer-by, and that so
much life seemed as a mockery of death.... Since then, at night, I have
returned; and every year I still return, approach that wall with
faltering steps, and touch that door; and then I sit on the stone
bench, and watch the lights, and listen to the voices from above. I
sometimes fancy that I see the light reflected from her lamp; that I
hear the tones of her voice; that I can knock at that door; that she
expects me; that I can go in--...O Memory, art thou a gift from Heaven,
or pain of Hell!...But I resume my story, since you, my friend, desire


The day after my arrival, Julie had introduced me to the old man, who
was to her a father, and whose latter days she brightened with the
radiance of her mind, her tenderness, and her beauty. He received me as
a son. He had learned from her our meeting in Savoy, our fraternal
attachment, our daily correspondence, and the affinity of our minds, as
shown by the conformity of our tastes, ages, and feelings. He knew the
entire purity of our attachment, and felt no jealousy, or any anxiety,
save for the life, the happiness, and reputation of his ward. He only
feared she might have been attracted and deceived by that first look,
which is sometimes a revelation, and sometimes a delusion of the young,
and that she might have bestowed her heart on a man of the creation of
her fancy. My letters, from which she had read him several passages,
had somewhat reassured him, but it was only from my countenance he
could learn whether they were an artful or natural expression of my
feelings; for style may deceive, but the countenance never can.

The old man surveyed me with that anxious attention which is often
concealed under an appearance of momentary abstraction. But as he saw
me more, and questioned me, I could see his searching look clear up,
betray an inward satisfaction, soften gradually into one of confidence
and good-will, and rest upon me with that security and caress of the
eye, which though a mute is perhaps the best reception at a first
interview. My ardent desire to please him; the timidity so natural to a
young man, who feels that the fate of his heart depends on the judgment
passed upon him; the fear that it might not be favorable; the presence
of Julie, which disconcerted though it encouraged me; and all the
shades of thought so plainly legible in my modest attitude and my
flushed cheeks,--spoke in my favor better than I could have done
myself. The old man took my hand with a paternal gesture, and said,
"Compose yourself; and consider that you have two friends in this
house, instead of one. Julie could not have better chosen a brother,
and I would not choose another son." He embraced me, and we talked
together as if he had known me from my childhood, until an old servant
came at ten o'clock, according to his invariable custom, to give him
the help of his arm on the stair, and lead him back to his own


His was a beautiful and attractive old age, to which nothing was
wanting but the security of a morrow. It was so disinterested and
parental, that it in no wise offended the eye, though associated with a
young and lovely woman. It was as an evening shade upon the bloom of
morning; but one felt that it was a protecting shade, sheltering but
not withering her youth, beauty, and innocence. The features of this
celebrated man were regular as the pure outline of antique profiles
which time emaciates slightly, but cannot impair. His blue eyes had
that softened but penetrating expression of worn-out sight, as if they
looked through a slight haze. There was an arch expression of implied
meaning in his mouth; and his smile was playful as that of a father to
his little children. His hair, which age and study had thinned, was
soft and fine, like the down of a swan. His hands were white and taper
as the marble hands of the statue of Seneca taking his dying leave of
Paulina. There were no wrinkles on his face, which had become thin and
pale from the long labor of the mind, for it had never been plump. A
few blue and bloodless veins might be traced on the depressed temples;
the light of the fire was reflected on the forehead,--that latest
beauty of man, which thought chisels and polishes unceasingly. There
was in the cheek that delicacy of skin,--that transparency of a face
which has grown old within the shade of walls, and which neither wind
nor sun have ever tanned; the complexion of woman, which gives an
effeminacy to the countenance of old men, and the ethereal, fragile,
and impalpable appearance of a vision, that the slightest breath might
dispel. His calm and well-weighed expressions, naturally set in clear,
concise, and lucid phrase, had all the precision of one who has been
used to careful selection in clothing his thoughts for writing or
dictation. His sentences were interrupted by long pauses, as if to
allow time for them to penetrate the ear, and to be appreciated by the
mind of the listener; he relieved them, every now and then, by graceful
pleasantry, never degenerating into coarseness, as though he purposely
upheld the conversation on these light and sportive wings, to prevent
its being borne down by the weight of too continuous ideas.


I soon learned to love this charming and talented old man. If I am
destined to attain old age, I should wish to grow old like him. There
was but one thing grieved me as I looked at him,--it was to see him
advancing towards death, without believing in Immortality. The natural
sciences that he had so deeply studied had accustomed his mind to trust
exclusively to the evidence of his senses. Nothing existed for him that
was not palpable; what could not be calculated contained no element of
certitude in his eyes; matter and figures composed his universe;
numbers were his god; the phenomena of Nature were his revelations,
Nature herself his Bible and his gospel; his virtue was instinct, not
seeing that numbers, phenomena, Nature, and virtue are but hieroglyphs
inscribed on the veil of the temple, whose unanimous meaning is--Deity.
Sublime but stubborn minds, who wonderfully ascend the steps of
science, one by one,--but will never pass the last, which leads to God.


This second father very soon became so fond of me, that he proposed to
give me occasionally, in his library, some lessons in those elevated
sciences which had rendered him illustrious, and now constituted his
chief relaxation. I went to him sometimes in the morning; Julie would
come at the same hours. It was a rare and touching spectacle to see
that old man seated in the midst of his books,--a monument of human
learning and philosophy, of which he had exhausted all the pages during
his long life,--discovering the mysteries of Nature and of thought to a
youth who stood beside him; while a woman, young and lovely as that
ideal philosophy, that loving wisdom,--the Beatrice of the poet of
Florence,--attended as his first disciple, and was the fellow-learner
of that younger brother. She brought the books, turned over the page,
and marked the chapters with her extended rosy finger; she moved amid
the spheres, the globes, the instruments, and the heaps of volumes, in
the dust of human knowledge; and seemed the soul of Nature disengaging
itself from matter, to kindle it and teach it to burn and love.

I learned and understood more in a few days than in years of dry and
solitary study; but the frequent infirmities of age in the master too
often interrupted these morning lessons.


I invariably spent a part of my night in the company of her who was to
me both night and day, time and eternity. As I have already said, I
always arrived when importunate visitors had left the drawing-room.
Sometimes I remained long hours on the quay or on the bridge, walking
or standing still by turns, and waiting in vain for the inside shutter
to open and to give the mute signal on which we had agreed. How have I
watched the sluggish waters of the Seine beneath the arches of the
bridge, bearing away in their course the trembling rays of the moon, or
the reflected light of the windows of the city. How many hours and half
hours have I not reckoned as they sounded from the near or distant
churches, and cursed their slowness or accused their speed! I knew the
tones of every brazen voice in the towers of Paris. There were lucky
and unlucky days. Sometimes I went in, without waiting an instant, and
only found her husband with her, who spent in lively talk, or friendly
conversation, the hours that unbent and prepared him for sleep. At
other times I only met one or two friends; they dropped in for a short
time, bringing the news or the excitement of the day, and devoted to
friendship the first hours of their evening, which they generally
concluded in some political drawing-room. These were in general
parliamentary men, eminent orators of the two chambers,--Suard, Bonald,
Mounier, Reyneval, Lally-Tolendal, the old man with the youthful mind,
and Laine. This latter was the most perfect copy of ancient eloquence
and virtue that I have seen to venerate in modern times; he was a Roman
in heart, in eloquence, and in appearance, and wanted but the toga to
be the Cicero or the Cato of his day. I felt peculiar admiration and
tender respect for this personification of a good citizen; he, in his
turn, took notice of me, and often distinguished me by some look and
word of preference. He has since been my master; and if one day I had
to serve my country, or to ascend a tribune, the remembrance of his
patriotism and his eloquence would be ever present to me as a model
that I could not hope to equal, but might imitate at a distance.

These men came round the little work-table in turn, while Julie sat
half reclined upon the sofa. I remained silent and respectful in one
corner of the room, far from her, listening, reflecting, admiring, or
disapproving inwardly, but scarcely opening my lips unless questioned,
and only joining in the conversation by a few timid and cautious words
said in a low tone. With a strong conviction on most subjects, I have
always felt an extreme shyness in expressing it before such men; they
appeared to me infinitely my superiors from age and in authority.
Respect for time, for genius, and for fame is part of my nature,--a ray
of glory dazzles me; white hairs awe me; an illustrious name bows me
voluntarily before it. I have often lost something of my real value by
this timidity, but nevertheless I have never regretted it. The
consciousness of the superiority of others is a good feeling in youth,
as at all ages, for it elevates the ideal standard to which we aspire.
Self-confidence in youth is an overweening insolence towards time and
Nature. If the feeling of the superiority of others is a delusion, it
is at least a delusion which raises human nature, and is better than
that which lowers it. Alas, we but too soon reduce it to its true but
sad proportions.

These visitors at first paid little attention to me. I used to see them
stoop towards Julie, and ask, in a low tone, who I was. My thoughtful
countenance and my immovable and modest attitude seemed to surprise and
please them; insensibly they drew towards me, or seemed by a gracious
and encouraging gesture to address some of their remarks to me. It was
an indirect invitation to take my share in the conversation. I said a
few words in grateful recognition, but I soon relapsed into my silence
and obscurity, for fear of prolonging the conversation by keeping it
up. I considered them merely as the frame of a picture; the only real
interest I felt was in the face, the speech, and the mind of her from
whom I was shut out by their presence.


What inward joy, what throbbing of the heart, when they retired, and
when I heard beneath the gateway the rolling of the carriage which bore
away the last of them! We were then alone; the night was far advanced;
our security increased at every move of the minute hand as it
approached the figure that marked midnight on the dial. Nothing was to
be heard but the sound of a few carriages, which, at rare intervals,
rattled over the stones of the quay, or the deep breathing of the old
concierge, who was stretched sleeping on a bench in the vestibule at
the foot of the stairs.

We would first look at each other, as if surprised at our happiness. I
would draw nearer to the table where Julie worked by the light of the
lamp. The work soon fell from her unheeding hands; our looks expanded,
our lips were unsealed, our hearts overflowed. Our choked and hurried
words, like the flow of water impeded by too narrow an opening, were at
first slowly poured forth, and the torrent of our thoughts trickled out
drop by drop. We could not select, among the many things we had to say,
those we most wished to impart to each other. Sometimes there was a
long silence, caused by the confusion and excess of crowded thoughts
which accumulated in our hearts and could not escape. Then they began
to flow slowly, like those first drops which show that the cloud is
about to dissolve or burst; these words called forth others in
response; one voice led on the other, as a falling child draws his
companion with him. Our words mingled without order, without answer,
and without connection; neither of us would yield the happiness of
outstripping the other in the expression of one common feeling. We
fancied that we had first felt what we disclosed of our thoughts since
the evening's conversation, or the morning's letter. At last this
tumultuous overflow, at which we laughed and blushed, after a time
subsided, and gave place to a calm effusion of the lips, which poured
forth together, or alternately, the plenitude of their expressions. It
was a continuous and murmuring transfusion of one soul into
another,--an unreserved interchange of our two natures,--a complete
transmutation of one into another, by the reciprocal communication of
all that breathed, or lived, or burned within us. Never, perhaps, did
two beings as irreproachable in their looks, or in their very thoughts,
bare their hearts to one another more unreservedly, and reveal the
mysterious depths of their feelings. The innocent nudity of our souls
was chaste, though unveiled, as light that discovers all, yet sullies
nothing. We had nought to reveal but the spotless love which purified
as it consumed us.

Our love, by its very purity, was incessantly renewed, with the same
light of soul, the same unsullied transports of its first bloom. Each
day was like the first; every instant was as that ineffable moment when
we felt it dawn within us, and saw it reflected in the heart and looks
of another self. Our love would always preserve its flower and its
perfume, for the fruit could never be culled.


Of all the different means by which God has allowed soul to communicate
with soul, through the transparent barrier of the senses, there was not
one that our love did not employ to manifest itself,--from the look
which conveys most of ourselves, in an almost ethereal ray, to the
closed lids, which seem to enfold within us the image we have received,
that it may not evaporate; from languor to delirium, from the sigh to
the loud cry; from the long silence to those exhaustless words which
flow from the lips without pause and without end, which stop the
breath, weary the tongue, which we pronounce without hearing them, and
which have no other meaning than an impotent effort to say, again and
again, what can never be said enough....

Many a time did we talk thus for hours, in whispered tones, leaning on
the little table close to each other, without perceiving that our
conversation had lasted more than the space of a single aspiration;
quite surprised to find that the minutes had flown as swiftly as our
words, and that the clock struck the inexorable hour of parting.

Sometimes there would be interrogations and answers as to our most
fugitive shades of thought and nature, dialogues in almost unheard
whispers, articulate sighs rather than audible words, blushing
confessions of our most secret inward repinings, joyful exclamations of
surprise at discovering in us both the same impressions reflected from
one another, as light in reverberations, the blow in the counterblow,
the form in the image. We would exclaim, rising by a simultaneous
impulse, "We are not two; we are one single being under two illusive
natures! Which will say you unto the other; which will say I? There is
no _I_; there is no _you_; but only _we_." ... We would then sink down,
overcome with admiration at this wonderful conformity, weeping with
delight at this twofold existence, and at having doubled our lives by
consecrating them to each other.


Most generally we used to travel back over the past, step by step, and
recall with scrupulous minuteness every place, circumstance, and hour
which had brought on, or marked the beginning of our love,--like some
young girl who has scattered by the way the unstrung pearls of her
precious necklace, and returns upon her steps, her eyes bent upon the
ground, to find and gather them up, one by one. We would not lose the
recollection of one of those places, or one of those hours, for fear of
losing at the same time the hoarded memory of a single joy. We
remembered the mountains of Savoy; the valley of Chambery; the torrents
and the lake; the mossy ground, sometimes in shade and sometimes
dappled with light, beneath the outstretched arms of the
chestnut-trees; the rays between the branches, the glimpse of sky
through the leafy dome above our heads, the blue expanse and the white
sails at our feet; our first unsought meetings in the mountain paths;
our mutual conjectures; our encounters on the lake before we knew each
other, sailing in our boats in contrary directions, her dark hair
waving in the wind, my indifferent attitude; our looks averted from the
crowd; the double enigma that we were to each other, of which the
answer was to be eternal love; then the fatal day of the tempest, and
her fainting; the mournful night of prayers and tears; the waking in
heaven; our return together by moonlight through the avenue of poplars,
her hand in mine; her warm tears which my lips had drunk, the first
words in which our souls had spoken; our joys, our parting,--we
remembered all.

We never wearied of these details. It was as though we had related some
story which was not our own. But what was there henceforth in the
universe save ourselves? O inexhaustible curiosity of love, thou art
not only a childish delight of the hour, thou art love itself, which
never tires of contemplating what it possesses, treasures up every
impression, each hair, each thrill, each blush, each sigh of the loved
one, as a reason for loving more, as a means of feeding anew with each
memory the flame of enthusiasm, in which it joys to be consumed!


Julie's tears would sometimes suddenly flow from a strange sadness. She
knew me condemned, by this concealed though to us ever-present death,
to behold in her but a phantom of happiness, which would vanish ere I
could press it to my heart. She grieved and accused herself for having
inspired me with a passion which could never bring me joy. "Oh, that I
could die, die soon, die young, and still beloved!" would she say.
"Yes, die, as I can be to you but the bitter delusion of love and joy;
at once your rapture and your woe. Ah, the divinest joys and the most
cruel anguish are mingled in my destiny! Oh, that love would kill me;
and that you might survive to love after me, as your nature and your
heart should love! In dying, I shall be less wretched than I am while
feeling that I live by your sacrifices, and doom your youth and your
love to a perpetual death!"

"Oh, blaspheme not against such ineffable joy!" I exclaimed, placing my
trembling hands beneath her eyes to receive her fast dropping tears.
"What base idea have you conceived of him whom God has thought worthy
to meet, to understand, and to love you? Are there not more oceans of
tenderness and love in this tear which falls warm from your heart, and
which I carry to my lips as the life's blood of our tortured love, than
in the thousand sated desires and guilty pleasures in which are
engulfed such vile attachments as you regret for me? Have I ever seemed
to you to desire aught else than this twofold suffering? Does it not
make of us both voluntary and pure victims? Is it not an eternal
holocaust of love, such as, from Heloise to us, the angels can scarce
have witnessed? Have I ever once reproached the Almighty, even in the
madness of my solitary nights, for having raised me by you, and for
you, above the condition of man? He has given me in you, not a woman to
be polluted by the embrace of these mortal arms, but an impalpable and
sacred incarnation of immaterial beauty. Does not the celestial fire,
which night and day burns so rapturously within me, consume all dross
of vulgar desire? Am I aught but flame? A flame as pure and holy as the
rays of your soul which first kindled it, and now feed it unceasingly
through your beaming eye! Ah, Julie, estimate yourself more worthily,
and weep not over sorrows which you imagine you inflict on me! I do not
suffer. My life is one perpetual overflow of happiness, filled by you
alone,--a repose of sense, a sleep of which you are the dream. You have
transformed my nature. I suffer? Oh, would that I could sometimes
suffer, that I might have somewhat to offer unto God, were it but the
consciousness of a privation, the bitterness of a tear, in return for
all he has given me in you! To suffer for you, might, perchance, be the
only thing which could add one drop to that cup of happiness which it
is given me to quaff. To suffer thus, is it to suffer, or to enjoy? No;
thus to live, is, in truth, to die, but it is to die some years earlier
to this wretched life, to live beforehand of the life of heaven."


She believed it, and I myself believed it, as I spoke and raised my
hands imploringly towards her. We would part after such converse as
this, each preserving, to feed on it separately till the morrow, the
impression of the last look, the echo of the last tone, that were to
give us patience to live through the long, tedious day. When I had
crossed the threshold, I would see her open her window, lean forth amid
her flowers on the iron bar of the balcony, and follow my receding
figure as long as the misty vapors of the Seine allowed her to discern
it on the bridge. Again and again would I turn to send back a sigh and
a lingering look, and strive to tear away my soul, which would not be
parted from her. It seemed as if my very being were riven asunder,--my
spirit to return and dwell with her, while my body alone, as a mere
machine, slowly wended its way through the dark and deserted streets to
the door of the hotel where I dwelt.


Thus passed away, without other change than that afforded by my
studies, and our ever-varying impressions, the delightful months of
winter. They were drawing to a close. The early splendors of spring
already began to glance fitfully from the roofs upon the damp and
gloomy wilderness of the streets of Paris. My friend V----, recalled by
his mother, was gone, and had left me alone in the little room where he
had harbored me during my stay. He was to return in the autumn, and had
paid for the lodging for a whole year, so that, though absent, he still
extended to me his brotherly hospitality. It was with sorrow I saw him
depart; none remained to whom I could speak of Julie. The burden of my
feelings would now be doubly heavy, when I could no longer relieve
myself by resting it on the heart of another; but it was a weight of
happiness,--I could still uphold it. It was soon to become a load of
anguish, which I could confide to no living being, and least of all to
her whom I loved.

My mother wrote me, that straightened means, caused by unexpected
reverses of fortune, which had fallen on my father in quick and harsh
succession, had reduced to comparative indigence our once open and
hospitable paternal home, obliging my poor father to withhold the half
of my allowance, to enable him to meet, and that only with much
difficulty, the expense of maintaining and educating six other
children. It was therefore incumbent upon me, she said, either by my
own unaided efforts to maintain myself honorably in Paris, or to return
home and live with resignation in the country, sharing the common
pittance of all. My mother's tenderness sought beforehand to comfort me
under this sad necessity; she dwelt on the joy it would be to her to
see me again, and placed before me, in most attractive colors, the
prospect of the labors and simple pleasures of a rural life. On the
other hand, some of the associates of my early years of gambling and
dissipation, who had now fallen into poverty, having met me in Paris,
reminded me of sundry trifling obligations which I had contracted
towards them, and begged me to come to their assistance. They stripped
me thus, by degrees, of the greater part of that little hoard which I
had saved by strict economy, to enable me to live longer in Paris. My
purse was well-nigh empty, and I began to think of courting fortune
through fame. One morning, after a desperate struggle between timidity
and love, love triumphed. I concealed beneath my coat my small
manuscript, bound in green, containing my verses, my last hope; and
though wavering and uncertain in my design, I turned my steps towards
the house of a celebrated publisher whose name is associated with the
progress of literature and typography in France, Monsieur Didot. I was
first attracted to this name because M. Didot, independently of his
celebrity as a publisher, enjoyed at that time some reputation as an
author. He had published his own verses with all the elegance, pomp and
circumstance of a poet who could himself control the approving voice of

When before M. Didot's door in the Rue Jacob, a door all papered with
illustrious names, a redoubled effort on my part was required to cross
the threshold, another to ascend the stairs, another still more violent
to ring at his door. But I saw the adored image of Julie encouraging
me, and her hand impelled me. I dared do anything.

I was politely received by M. Didot, a middle-aged man with a precise
and commercial air, whose speech was brief and plain as that of a man
who knows the value of minutes. He desired to know what I had to say to
him. I stammered for some time, and became embarrassed in one of those
labyrinths of ambiguous phrases under which one conceals thoughts that
will and will not come to the point. I thought to gain courage by
gaining time; at last I unbuttoned my coat, drew out the little volume,
and presented it humbly with a trembling hand to M. Didot. I told him
that I had written these verses, and wished to have them
published,--not indeed to bring me fame (I had not that absurd
delusion), but in the hope of attracting the notice and good-will of
influential literary men; that my poverty would not permit of my going
to the expense of printing; and, therefore, I came to submit my work to
him, and request him to publish it, should he, after looking over it,
deem it worthy of the indulgence or favor of cultivated minds. M. Didot
nodded, smiled kindly, but somewhat ironically, took my manuscript
between two fingers, which seemed accustomed to crumple paper
contemptuously, and putting down my verses on the table, appointed me
to return in a week for an answer as to the object of my visit. I took
my leave. The next seven days appeared to me seven centuries. My future
prospects, my favor, my mother's consolation or despair, my love,--in a
word, my life or death, were in the hands of M. Didot. At times, I
pictured him to myself reading my verses with the same rapture that had
inspired me on my mountains, or on the brink of my native torrents; I
fancied he saw in them the dew of my heart, the tears of my eyes, the
blood of my young veins; that he called together his literary friends
to listen to them, and that I heard from my alcove the sound of their
applause. At others, I blushed to think I had exposed to the inspection
of a stranger a work so unworthy of seeing the light; that I had
discovered my weakness and my impotence in a vain hope of success,
which would be changed into humiliation, instead of being converted
into gold and joy within my grasp. Hope, however, as persevering as my
distress, often got the upper hand in my dreams, and led me on from
hour to hour until the day appointed by M. Didot.


My heart failed as, on the eighth day, I ascended his stairs. I
remained a long while standing on the landing-place at his door without
daring to ring. At last some one came out, the door was opened, and I
was obliged to go in. M. Didot's face was as unexpressive and as
ambiguous as an oracle. He requested me to be seated, and while looking
for my manuscript, which was buried beneath heaps of papers, "I have
read your verses, sir," he said; "there is some talent in them, but no
study. They are unlike all that is received and appreciated in our
poets. It is difficult to see whence you have derived the language,
ideas and imagery of your poetry, which cannot be classed in any
definite style. It is a pity, for there is no want of harmony. You must
renounce these novelties which would lead astray our national genius.
Read our masters,--Delille, Parny, Michaud, Reynouard, Luce de
Lancival, Fontanes; these are the poets that the public loves. You must
resemble some one, if you wish to be recognized, and to be read. I
should advise you ill if I induced you to publish this volume, and I
should be doing you a sorry service in publishing it at my expense." So
saying, he rose, and gave me back my manuscript. I did not attempt to
contest the point with Fate, which spoke in the voice of the oracle. I
took up the volume, thanked M. Didot, and, offering some excuse for
having trespassed on his time, I went downstairs, my legs trembling
beneath me, and my eyes moistened with tears.

Ah, if M. Didot, who was a kind and feeling man, a patron of letters,
could have read in my heart, and have understood that it was neither
fame nor fortune that the unknown youth came to beg, with his book in
his hand; that it was life and love I sued for--I am sure he would have
printed my volume. He would have been repaid in heaven, at least.


I returned to my room in despair. The child and the dog wondered, for
the first time, at my sullen silence, and at the gloom that overspread
my countenance. I lighted the stove, and threw in, sheet by sheet, my
whole volume, without sparing a single page. "Since thou canst not
purchase for me a single day of life and love," I exclaimed, as I
watched it burning, "what care I if the immortality of my name be
consumed with thee? Love, not fame, is my immortality."

That same evening, I went out at nightfall. I sold my poor mother's
diamond. Till then I had kept it, in the hope that my verses might have
redeemed its value, and that I might preserve it untouched. As I handed
it to the jeweller, I kissed it by stealth, and wet it with my tears.
He seemed affected himself, and felt convinced that the diamond was
honestly mine by the grief I testified in disposing of it. The thirty
louis he gave me for it fell from my hands as I reckoned them, as if
the gold had been the price of a sacrilege. Oh, how many diamonds,
twenty times superior in price, would I not often have given since, to
repurchase that same diamond, unique in my eyes!--a fragment of my
mother's heart, one of the last teardrops from her eye, the light of
her love!... On what hand does it sparkle now?...


Spring had returned. The Tuileries cast each morning upon their idlers
the green shade of their leaves, and showered down the fragrant snow of
their horse-chestnut trees. From the bridges I could perceive beyond
the stony horizon of Chaillot and Passy the long line of verdant and
undulating hills of Fleury, Meudon, and St. Cloud. These hills seemed
to rise as cool and solitary islands in the midst of a chalky ocean.
They raised in my heart feelings of remorse and poignant reproach, and
were images and remembrances which awaked the craving after Nature that
had lain dormant for six months. The broken rays of moonlight floated
at night upon the tepid waters of the river, and the dreamy orb opened,
as far as the Seine could be traced, luminous and fantastic vistas
where the eye lost itself in landscapes of shade and vapor.
Involuntarily the soul followed the eye. The front of the shops, the
balconies, and the windows of the quays were covered with vases of
flowers which shed forth their perfume even on the passers-by. At the
corners of the streets, or the ends of the bridges, the flower-girls,
seated behind screens of flowering plants, waved branches of lilac, as
if to embalm the town. In Julie's room the hearth was converted into a
mossy grotto; the consoles and tables had each their vases of
primroses, violets, lilies of the valley, and roses. Poor flowers,
exiles from the fields! Thus swallows who have heedlessly flown into a
room bruise their own wings against the walls, while announcing to the
poor inhabitants of dismal garrets the approach of April and its sunny
days. The perfume of the flowers penetrated to our hearts, and our
thoughts were brought back, under the impression of their fragrance and
the images it evoked, to that Nature in the midst of which we had been
so isolated and so happy. We had forgotten her while the days were
dark, the sky gloomy, and the horizon bounded. Shut up in a small room
where we were all in all to each other, we never thought that there was
another sky, another sun, another nature beyond our own. These fine,
sunny days, glimpses of which we caught from among the roofs of an
immense city, recalled them to our minds. They agitated and saddened
us; they inspired us with an invincible desire to contemplate and to
enjoy them in the forests and solitudes which surround Paris. It seemed
to us while indulging these irresistible longings, and projecting
distant walks together in the woods of Fontainebleau, Vincennes, St.
Germain, and Versailles, that we should be again, as it were, amid the
woods and waters of our Alpine valleys, that at least we should see the
same sun and the same shade and recognize the harmonious sighing of the
same winds in the branches.

Spring, which was restoring to the sky its transparency and to the
plants their sap, seemed also to give new youth and pulsation to
Julie's heart. The tint upon her cheeks was brighter; her eyes more
blue, their rays more penetrating. There was more emotion in the tone
of her voice; the languor of her frame was relieved by more frequent
sighs; there was more elasticity in her walk, more youthfulness in her
attitudes; even in the stillness of her chamber, a pleasant though
feverish agitation produced a petulant movement of her feet, and sent
the words more hurriedly to her lips. In the evening Julie would undraw
the curtains, and frequently lean forth from her window to take in the
freshness of the water, the rays of the moon, and the breath of the
fragrant breeze which swept along the valley of Meudon, and was wafted
even into the apartments on the quay.

"Oh, let us give," said I, "a joyous holiday to our hearts amid all our
happiness! Of all God's creatures for whom he reanimates his earth and
his heavens, let not us, the most feeling and the most grateful, be the
only beings for whom they shall have been reanimated in vain! Let us
together dive into that air, that light, that verdure; amid those
sprouting branches, in that flood of life and vegetation, which is even
now inundating the whole earth! Let us go, let us see if naught in the
works of his creation has grown old by the weight of an added day; if
naught in that enthusiasm, which sang and groaned, loved and lamented
within us, on the mountains and on the waters of Savoy, has been
lowered by one ripple or one note!" "Yes, let us go," said she. "We
shall neither feel more, nor love better, nor bless otherwise; but we
shall have made another sky and another spot of earth witness the
happiness of two poor mortals. That temple of our love which was in our
loved mountains only will then be wherever I shall have wandered and
breathed with you." The old man encouraged these excursions to the fine
forests around Paris. He hoped, and the doctors led him to expect, that
the air laden with life, the influence of the sun, which strengthens
all things, with moderate exercise in the open fields, might invigorate
the too sensitive delicacy of Julie's nerves and give elasticity to her
heart. Every sunny day, during the five weeks of early spring, I came
at noon to fetch her. We entered a close carriage in order to avoid the
inquisitive looks and light observations of any of her acquaintances
whom we might chance to meet, or the remarks that even strangers might
have made on seeing so young and lovely a woman alone with a man of my
age; for we were not sufficiently alike to pass for brother and sister.
We left the carriage on the skirts of the woods, at the foot of the
hills, or at the gates of the parks in the environs of Paris, and
sought out at Fleury, at Meudon, at Sevres, at Satory, and at Vincennes
the longest and most solitary paths, carpeted with turf and flowers,
untrodden by horses' hoofs, except perhaps on the day of a royal hunt.
We never met any one, save a few children or poor women busy with their
knives digging up endive. Occasionally a startled doe would rustle
through the leaves, and springing across the path, after a glance at
us, dive into the thicket. We walked in silence, sometimes preceding
each other, sometimes arm in arm, or we talked of the future, of the
delight it would be to possess one out of all these untenanted acres,
with a keeper's lodge under one of the old oaks. We dreamed aloud. We
picked violets and the wild periwinkle, which we interchanged as
hieroglyphics and preserved in the smooth leaves of the hellebore. To
each of these flowery letters we linked a meaning, a remembrance, a
look, a sigh, a prayer. We kept them to reperuse when parted; they were
destined to recall each precious moment of these blissful hours.

We often sat in the shade by the side of the path, and opened a book
which we tried to read; but we could never turn the first leaf, and
ever preferred reading in ourselves the inexhaustible pages of our own
feelings. I went to fetch milk and brown bread from some neighboring
farm; we ate, seated on the grass, throwing the remains of the cup to
the ants, and the crumbs of bread to the birds. At sunset we returned
to the tumultuous ocean of Paris, the noise and crowd of which jarred
upon our hearts. I left Julie, excited by the enjoyment of the day, at
her own door, and then went back, overcome with happiness, to my
solitary room, the walls of which I would strike and bid them crumble,
that I might be restored to the light, Nature, and love which they shut
out. I dined without relish, read without understanding; I lighted my
lamp and waited, reckoning the hours as they passed, till the evening
was far enough advanced for me to venture again to her door, and renew
the enjoyment of the morning.


The next day we recommenced our wanderings. Ah, in those forests, how
many trees, marked by my knife, bear on their roots or bark a sign by
which I shall ever recognize them! They are those whose shade she
enjoyed; those beneath which she breathed new life, basked in the
warmth of the sun, or inhaled the sweet vernal scent of the trees. The
stranger sees, but dreams not that they are to another the pillars of a
temple, whose worshipper is on earth though its divinity is in heaven.
I still visit them once or twice each spring, on the anniversaries of
these walks; and when the axe lays one low, it seems to me as though it
falls upon myself, and carries away a portion of my heart.


On one of the highest and most generally solitary summits of the park
of St. Cloud, where the rounded hill descends in two separate slopes,
one towards the valley of Sevres, and the other towards the hollow
where the Chateau stands, there is an open space where three long
avenues meet. From thence the eye discovers from afar the rare
passengers that intrude on the solitude of the place. The hill, like a
promontory, overlooks the plain of Issy, the course of the Seine, and
the road to Versailles; its summit, clothed and overshaded by the
forest which fills up the triangular intervals between the three
avenues, appears like the rounded basin of a lake of which grass and
foliage are the billows. If one looks towards Sevres, one sees only a
long and sloping meadow stretching down towards the river like a
verdant and undulating cascade, which, after a rapid descent, loses
itself at the bottom of the valley in dark masses of thickets stocked
with deer. Beyond these thickets, on the other side of the Seine, the
blue slated roofs of Meudon, and the waving tops of the majestic trees
of its park, stand out in the blue summer sky. We often came to sit on
this hill, which has all the elevation of a promontory, the silence and
shade of a valley, and the solitude of a desert. The lungs play freer
there; the ear is less disturbed by the sounds of earth; the soul can
better wing its flight beyond the horizon of this life.

We went there one morning early in May, at the hour when the forest is
peopled only by the deer, which bound and skip in its lonely paths. Now
and then a gamekeeper crosses the extremity of one of the avenues, like
a black speck on the horizon. We sat down under the seventh tree of the
semi-circle round the open space, looking towards the meadows of
Sevres. Centuries have been required to frame that sturdy oak, and to
bend its gnarled branches; its roots, swelling with sap to nourish and
support its trunk, have burst through the sod at its feet, and form a
moss-covered seat, of which the oak is the back, and its lower leaves
the natural canopy. The morning was as serene and transparent as the
waters of the sea at sunrise under the green headlands of the islands
of the Archipelago. The ardent rays of an almost summer sun fell from
the clear sky on the wooded hill, and then rose again from out of the
thickets in exhalations warm as the waves which expire in the shade
after having imbibed the sunshine. There was no other sound than that
of the fall of some dry leaves of the preceding winter, which, as the
sap rose and throbbed, fell at the foot of the tree, to make room for
the new and tender foliage. Whole flights of birds dashed against the
branches round their nests, and there was one vague, universal hum of
insects that revelled in the light, and rose and fell, like a living
dust, at the least undulation of the flowering grass.


There was so much sympathy between our youth and the youthful year and
day; such entire harmony between the light, the heat, the splendor, the
silence, the gentle sounds, the pensive delights of Nature and our own
sensations; we felt so delightfully mingled with the surrounding air
and sky, life and repose; we were so completely all to each other in
this solitude,--that our exuberant but satisfied thoughts and
sensations sufficed us. We did not even seek for words to express them;
but were as the full vase, whose very plenitude renders its contents
motionless. Our hearts could hold no more; but they were capacious
enough to contain all, and nothing sought to escape from them. Our
breathing was scarcely audible.

I know not how long we remained thus seated at the foot of the oak,
mute and motionless beside one another, our faces buried in our hands,
our feet in sunshine on the grass, our heads in shade; but when I
raised my eyes the shadows had retreated before us on the grass, beyond
the folds of Julie's dress. I looked at her, she raised her face as if
by the same impulse which had made me raise mine; and gazing at me
without saying a word, she burst into tears. "Why do you weep?" I asked
with anxious emotion, but in a low tone for fear of disturbing or
diverting the course of her silent thoughts. "From happiness," she
answered. Her lips smiled, while big tears rolled down her cheeks in
shining drops, like the dew of spring. "Yes, from happiness," she
resumed. "This day, this hour, this sky, this spot, this peace, this
silence, this solitude with you, this complete assimilation of our two
souls, which no longer require to converse to comprehend each other,
which breathe in the same aspiration is too much,--too much for mortal
nature that excess of joy may kill, as excess of grief, and which, when
it can draw no cry from the heart, grieves that it cannot sigh, and
mourns that it cannot praise sufficiently."

She stopped for an instant; her cheeks were flushed. I trembled lest
death should seize her in her joy; but her voice soon reassured me.
"Raphael! Raphael!" she exclaimed in a solemn tone, which surprised me,
as if she had been announcing some good tidings, long and anxiously
expected,--"Raphael, there is a God!" "How has he been revealed to you
to-day more clearly than any other day?" I asked. "By love," she
answered, raising slowly to heaven the orbs of her bright, glistening
eyes; "yes, by love, whose torrents have flowed in my heart just now
with a murmuring, gushing fulness that I had never felt before with the
same force, nor yet the same repose. No, I no longer doubt," she
continued in a tone where certitude mingled with joy; "the spring
whence such felicity is poured upon the soul cannot be here below, nor
can it lose itself in this earth after having once gushed forth! There
is a God; there is an eternal love, of which ours is but a drop. We
will together mingle it one day with the divine ocean whence we drew
it! That ocean is God! I see it; feel it; understand it in this instant
by my happiness! Raphael, it is no longer you I love; it is no longer I
you love,--it is God we henceforth adore in one another; you in me, and
I in you, both, in these tears of bliss which reveal to us, and yet
conceal, the immortal fountain of our hearts! Away," she added, with a
still more ardent tone and look,--"away with all the vain names by
which we have hitherto called our attraction towards each other. I know
but one to express it; it is the one which has just been revealed to me
in your eyes: God! God! God!" she exclaimed once more, as though she
had wished to teach her lips a new language. "God is in you; God is in
me for you! God is us; and henceforward the feelings which oppressed us
will no longer be love, but a holy and rapturous adoration! Raphael, do
you understand me? You will no longer be Raphael, you will be my
worship of God!"

We rose in a transport of enthusiasm; we embraced the tree, and blessed
it for the inspiration which had descended from its boughs; we gave it
a name, and called it the tree of adoration.

We then slowly descended the hill of St. Cloud to return to the noise
and turmoil of Paris; but she returned with new-found faith and the
knowledge of God in her heart, and I with the joy of knowing that she
now possessed a bright and inward source of consolation, hope and


In a very short time, the expense I was obliged to incur but which I
concealed from Julie, in order to accompany her on our daily country
excursions, had so far exhausted the proceeds of the sale of my
mother's last diamond that I had only ten louis left. When each night I
reckoned over the limited number of happy days represented by that
small sum, I was seized with fits of despondency, but I should have
blushed to confess my excessive poverty to her I loved. Though far from
wealthy she would have wished to share with me all she possessed, and
that would have degraded our intercourse in my eyes. I valued my love
more than life, but I would rather have died than have debased my love.

The sedentary life I had led all the winter in my dismal room, my
intense application to study all day, the tension of my thoughts
towards one object, the want of sleep at night, but, above all, the
moral exhaustion of a heart too weak to bear a continuous ecstasy of
ten months, had undermined my constitution. A consuming flame, which
burned unfed, shone through my wan and pale face. Julie implored me to
leave Paris, to try the effect of my native air, and to preserve my
life, even at the expense of her happiness. She sent me her doctor, to
add the authority of science to the entreaties of her love. Her doctor,
or rather her friend, Dr. Alain, was one of those men who carry a
blessing with them, and whose countenance seems to reflect Heaven by
the bedside of the sick poor they visit. He was himself suffering from
a complaint of the heart brought on by a pure and mysterious passion
for one of the loveliest women in Paris.

He was active, humane, pious, and tolerant, and possessing a small
fortune sufficient for his simple wants and charities, practiced only
for a few friends or for the poor. His physic was friendship or charity
in action. The medical career is so admirable when divested of all
cupidity, it brings so much into play the better feelings of our
nature, that it often ends by being a virtue after commencing as a
profession, With Dr. Alain it was more than a virtue; it had become a
passion for relieving the woes of the body and of the soul, which are
often so closely linked! Where Alain brought life, he also took God
with him, and made even Death resplendent with serenity and

I saw him, too, die, some years later, the death of the righteous and
the just. He had learned how to die at many deathbeds; and when
stretched motionless on his, during six months of agony, his eye
counted on a little clock, which stood at the foot of his bed, the
hours that divided him from eternity. He pressed upon his bosom, with
his crossed hands, a crucifix, emblem of patience, and his look never
quitted that celestial friend, as though he had conversed at the foot
of the cross. When he suffered beyond his powers of endurance he
requested that the crucifix might be approached to his lips, and his
prayers were then mingled with thanksgiving. At last he slept,
supported to the end by his hopes and the memory of the good he had
done. He had given the poor and the sick an accumulated treasure of
good works to carry before him into the presence of the God of the
merciful. He died on a wretched bed in a garret, leaving no
inheritance. The poor bore his body to the grave, and, in their turn,
gave him the burial of charity in the common earth. O blessed soul,
that in memory, I still see smiling on that kind countenance, lighted
with inward joy, can so much virtue have been to thee but a deception?
Hast thou vanished like the reflection of my lamp upon thy portrait,
when my hand withdraws the light that allowed me to contemplate it? No,
no; God is faithful, and cannot have deceived thee, who wouldst not
have deceived a child!


The doctor took a deep and friendly interest in me. It seemed as if
Julie had imparted to him a portion of her tenderness. He understood my
complaint, though he concealed his knowledge from me, and was too
deeply read in human passion not to recognize its symptoms in us. He
ordered me to depart under penalty of death, and induced Julie herself
to enforce his commands by communicating to her his fears. He invoked
the tender authority of love to tear me from love. He tried to mitigate
the pang of separation by the allurement of hope, and ordered me to
breathe some time my native air, and then return to the baths of Savoy,
where Julie should join me, by his advice, in the beginning of autumn.
His principles did not seem startled by the symptoms of mutual passion
which he had not failed to perceive between us. Our pure flame was in
his eyes a fault, but it was also its own purification. His countenance
only expressed the indulgence of man, and the compassion of God. He
thus endeavored to save us by loosening the tie which threatened to
draw us to one common death. I at length consented to be the first to
depart, and Julie swore to follow me soon. Alas, her tears, her pale
face, and trembling lips said more than any vows! It was settled that I
should leave Paris as soon as my strength permitted me to travel. The
eighteenth of May was the day fixed for my departure.

When once we had resolved on our approaching separation we began to
reckon the minutes as hours, the hours as days. We would have amassed
and concentrated years into the short space of a second, to wrest from
time the happiness from which we were to be debarred during so many
months. These days were days of rapture, but they had their anguish and
their agony; the approaching morrow cast its gloom upon each interview,
each look and word, each pressure of the hand. Joys such as these are
not joys, but disguised pangs of love and tortures of the heart. We
devoted the whole day preceding my departure to our adieus. We wished
not to say our last farewell within the shadow of walls, which weigh
down the soul, or beneath the eyes of the indifferent, which throw back
the feelings on the heart, but beneath the sky, in the open air, in the
light, in solitude, and in silence. Nature sympathizes with all the
emotions of man; she understands, and, as an invisible confidant, seems
to share them. She garners them in heaven, and renders them divine.


In the morning, a carriage, which I had hired for the day, conveyed us
to Monceau. The windows were down, the blinds closed. We traversed the
almost deserted streets of the more elevated parts of Paris, leading to
the high walls of the park. This garden was at that time almost
exclusively reserved for their own use by the princes to whom it
belonged, and could only be entered on presenting tickets of admission,
which were very parsimoniously distributed to a few foreigners or
travellers desirous of admiring its wonderful vegetation. I had
obtained some of these tickets, through one of my mother's early
friends who was attached to the prince's household. I had selected this
solitude because I knew its owners were absent, that no admissions were
then given, and that the very gardeners would be away enjoying the
leisure of a holiday.

This magnificent desert, studded with groves of trees, interspersed
with meadows, and traversed by limpid streams, is also embellished by
monuments, columns, and ivy-covered ruins, imitations of time in which
art has copied the old age of stone. That day we knew it would be
visited only by the bright sunbeams, the insects, the birds, and us.
Alas, never were its leaves and its green turf to be watered by so many

The warm and glowing sky, the light and shade dancing fitfully on the
grass driven by the summer breeze, as the shadow of the wings of one
bird pursuing another; the clear note of the nightingale ringing
through the sonorous air; the distinctness with which the lilies of the
valley, the daisies, and the blue periwinkles which carpeted the
sloping banks of the clear waters, were reflected in their polished
mirror,--all this gladness of Nature saddened us, and this luminous
serenity of a spring morning only seemed to contrast the more with the
dark cloud which weighed upon our hearts. In vain we sought to deceive
ourselves even for a moment by expatiating on the beauty of the
landscape, the brilliant tints of the flowers, the perfumes of the air,
the depth of the shade, the stillness of those solitudes in which the
happiness of a whole world of love might have been sheltered. We
carelessly threw on them an unheeding glance, which quickly fell to the
ground; our voices, when answering with their vain formulas of joy and
admiration, betrayed the hollowness of words and the absence of our
thoughts, which were elsewhere. It was in vain we sought a
resting-place to pass the long hours of this our last interview;
seating ourselves alternately beneath the most fragrant lilacs, or the
green branches of the loftiest cedars, on the fluted fragments of
columns half-buried in ivy, or by the side of those waters that lay
most still within their grassy banks, for scarcely had we chosen one of
these sites when some vague disquietude drove us away in search of
another. Here it was the shade, and there the light; further on, the
importunate murmur of the cascade, or the persisting song of the
nightingale over our heads,--that turned into bitterness all this
exuberance of joy, and made it odious in our eyes. When our heart is
sad within us, all creation jars upon our feelings, and it could but
have added fresh pangs to the grief of two lovers, had the garden of
Eden been the scene of their parting.

At last, worn out by wandering for two hours, and finding no shelter
against ourselves, we sat down near a small bridge across a stream; a
little apart, as if the very sound of each other's breathing had been
painful, or as if we had wished instinctively to conceal from one
another the suppressed sobs which were bursting from our hearts. We
long watched abstractedly the green and slimy water as it was slowly
swept beneath the narrow arch of the bridge. It carried along on its
surface sometimes the white petals of the lily, and sometimes an empty
and downy bird's nest which the wind had blown from a tree. We soon saw
the body of a poor little swallow, turned on its back, and with
extended wings, floating down. It had, doubtless, been drowned when
skimming over the water before its wings were strong enough to bear it
on the surface; it reminded us of the swallow which had one day fallen
at our feet, from the top of the dismantled tower of the old castle on
the borders of the lake, and which had saddened us as an omen. The dead
bird passed slowly before us, and the unruffled sheet of water rolled
and engulfed it in the deep darkness below the bridge. When the bird
had disappeared, we saw another swallow pass and repass a hundred times
beneath the bridge, uttering its little sharp cry of distress, and
dashing against the wooden beams of the arch. Involuntarily we looked
at each other; I cannot tell what our eyes expressed as they met, but
the despair of the poor bird found us with our eyelids so overcharged,
and our hearts so nearly bursting, that we both turned away at the same
moment, and throwing ourselves with our faces to the ground, sobbed
aloud. One tear called forth another tear, one thought another thought,
one foreboding another foreboding, each sob another sob. We often
strove to speak, but the broken voice of the one only made that of the
other still more inaudible, and we ended by yielding to nature, and
pouring forth in silence, during hours marked by the shadows alone, all
the tears that rose from their hidden springs. They fell on the grass,
sank into the earth, were dried by the winds of heaven, absorbed by the
rays of the sun,--God took them into account! No drop of anguish
remained in our hearts when we rose face to face though almost hidden
from each other by the tearful veil of our eyes. Such was our
farewell,--a funereal image, an ocean of tears, an eternal silence.
Thus we parted without another look, lest that look should strike us to
the earth. Never will the mark of my footsteps be again traced in that
desert scene of our love and of our parting.


The next morning I was rolling along, sad and silent, wrapped in my
cloak, among the barren hills on the road that leads from Paris towards
the south. I was stowed away in a public coach, with five or six
unknown fellow-travellers who were gayly discussing the quality of the
wine and the price of the last dinner at the inn. I never once opened
my lips during that long, sad journey.

My mother received me with that serene and resigned tenderness which
might have made even misfortune happy in her company. Her diamond had
been spent in vain to advance my fortunes; and I returned home, with
shattered health and broken hopes, consumed with melancholy that she
attributed to my unoccupied youth and restless imagination, but of
which I carefully concealed the real cause, for fear of adding an
irremediable sorrow to all her other griefs.

I spent the summer alone in an almost deserted valley enclosed between
barren hills, where my father had a little farm, which was worked by a
poor family. My mother had sent me there, and commended me to the care
of these good people, that I might have a change of air and the benefit
of milk diet. My whole occupation was to reckon the days which must
intervene before I could join Julie in our dear Alpine valley. Her
letters, received and replied to daily, confirmed me in my security,
and dispelled, by their sportive gayety and caressing words, the gloomy
and sinister forebodings our last farewell had raised in my heart. Now
and then some desponding word or expression of sadness which seemed to
have unguardedly escaped, or been involuntarily overlooked among her
vistas of happiness, as a dry leaf in the midst of the foliage of
spring, struck me as being in contradiction with the calm and blooming
health she spoke of. But I attributed these discrepancies to some
vision of memory or to her impatience at the slowness of time which
might have flitted like shadows across the paper as she wrote.

The bracing mountain air, sleep at night, and exercise by day, the
healthy employment of working in the garden and in the farm, soon
restored me to health; but, above all, the approach of autumn, and the
certainty of soon seeing her once more who by her looks would give me
life. The only remaining trace of my sufferings was a gentle and
pensive melancholy which overspread my countenance; it was as the mist
of a summer's morning. My silence seemed to conceal some mystery, and
my instinctive love of solitude made the superstitious peasants of the
mountains believe that I conversed with the Genii of the woods.

All ambition had been extinguished in me by my love. I had made up my
mind for life to my hopeless poverty and obscurity, and my mother's
serene and pious resignation had entered into my heart with her holy
and gentle words. I only indulged the dream of working during ten or
eleven months of the year manually, or with my pen to earn sufficiently
thereby to spend a month or two with Julie every year. I thought that
if the old man's protection were one day to fail, I would devote myself
to her service as a slave, like Rousseau to Madame de Warens; we would
take shelter in some secluded cottage of these mountains, or in the
well-known chalets of our Savoy; I would live for her, as she would
live for me, without looking back with regret to the empty world, and
asking of love no other reward than the happiness of loving.


I was, however, often recalled harshly from my dreamy region by the
cruel penury of my home, which was partly attributable to the
unavailing expense incurred for me. Crops had failed during successive
years, and reverses of fortune had changed the humble mediocrity of my
parents into comparative want. When on Sundays I went to see my mother,
she spoke of her distress, and before me shed tears that she concealed
from my father and my sisters. I, too, was reduced to extreme
destitution. I lived at the little farm on brown bread, milk, and eggs,
and had in secret sold successively in the neighboring town all the
books and clothes I had brought from Paris, to procure wherewithal to
pay the postage of Julie's letters, for which I would have sold my
life's blood.

The month of September was drawing to a close. Julie wrote me that her
anxiety on the score of her husband's daily declining health (O pious
fraud of love to conceal her own sufferings and lighten my cares) would
detain her longer in Paris than she had expected. She pressed me to
start at once, and await her in Savoy, where she would join me without
fail towards the end of October. The letter was one of tender advice,
as that of a sister to a beloved brother. She implored and ordered me,
with the sovereign authority of love, to beware of that insidious
disease which lurks beneath the flowery surface of youth, and often
withers and consumes us at the very moment we think that we have
overcome its power. Enclosed, she sent a consultation and a
prescription from good Dr. Alain, ordering me in the most imperative
terms, and with most alarming threats, to remain during a long season
at the baths of Aix. I showed this prescription to my mother, to
account for my departure, and she was so disquieted by it that she
added her entreaties to the injunctions of the doctor to induce me to
go. Alas! I had in vain applied to a few friends as poor as myself, and
to some pitiless usurers, to obtain the trifling sum of twelve louis
required for my journey. My father had been absent six months, and my
mother would on no account have aggravated his distress and anxiety by
asking him for money. In borrowing he would have exposed his poverty,
by which he was already too much humbled. I had made up my mind to
start with two or three louis only in my purse, in the hope of
borrowing the remainder from my friend L----, at Chambery; when, a few
days before my departure, my mother, during a sleepless night, had
found in her heart a resource that a mother's heart could alone have


In one of the comers of the little garden that surrounded our house
there stood a cluster of trees, comprising a few evergreen oaks, two or
three lime trees, and seven or eight twisted elms, which were the
remains of a wood, planted centuries ago, and had, doubtless, been
respected as the _local Genius_ when the hill had been cleared, the
house built, and the garden first walled in. These lofty trees in
summer time served as a family saloon, in the open air. Their buds in
spring, their tints in autumn, and their dry leaves in winter, which
were succeeded by the hoar frost hanging from their branches like white
hair, had marked the seasons for us. Their shadows, rolled back upon
their very feet, or stretched out to the grassy border around, told us
the hours better than a dial. Beneath their foliage our mother had
nursed us, lulled us to rest, and taught us our first steps. My father
sat there, book in hand, when he returned from shooting; his shining
gun suspended from a branch, his panting dogs crouching beneath the
bench. I, too, had spent there the fairest hours of my boyhood, with
Homer or Telemachus lying open on the grass before me. I loved to lie
flat on the warm turf, my elbows resting on the volume, of which a
passing fly or lizard would sometimes hide the lines. The nightingales
among the branches sang for our home, though we could never find their
nest, or even see the branch from which their song burst forth. This
grove was the pride, the recollection, the love of all. The idea of
converting it into a small bag of money, which would leave no memory in
the heart, no perpetual joy and shade, would have occurred to no one,
save to a mother, trembling with anxiety for the life of an only son.
My mother conceived the thought; and, with the readiness and firmness
of resolve that distinguished her, called for the woodcutters as soon
as morning came,--fearing lest she should feel remorse, or my
entreaties stop her, if she first consulted me. She saw the axe laid to
their roots, and wept, and turned away her head not to hear their moan,
or witness the fall of these leafy protectors of her youth on the
echoing and desolate soil of the garden.


When I returned to M---- on the following Sunday, I looked round from
the top of the mountain for the clump of trees that stood out so
pleasantly on the hillside, screening from the sun a portion of the
gray wall of the house; and it seemed as a dream when in their wonted
place I perceived only heaps of hewn-down trunks whose barked and
bleeding branches strewed the earth around. A sawing-trestle stood
there like an instrument of torture, on which the saw with its grinding
teeth divided the trees. I hurried on with extended arms towards the
outer wall, and trembled as I opened the little garden door.... Alas!
the evergreen oak, one lime-tree, and the oldest elm alone were
standing, and the bench had been drawn in beneath their shade. "They
are sufficient," said my mother, as she advanced towards me, and, to
conceal her tears, threw herself into my arms; "the shade of one tree
is worth that of a whole forest. Besides, to me what shade can equal
yours? Do not be angry. I wrote to your father that the trees were
dying from the top, and that they were hurtful to the kitchen-garden.
Speak no more of them!"... Then leading me into the house, she opened
her desk and drew forth a bag half-filled with money. "Take this," she
said, "and go. The trees will have been amply paid me if you return
well and happy."

I blushed, and with a stifled sob took the bag. There were six hundred
francs in it, which I resolved to bring back untouched to my poor

I started on foot, like a sportsman, with leathern gaiters on my feet,
and my gun on my shoulder, and took from the bag only one hundred
francs, which I added to the little I had remaining from the proceeds
of my last sale. I could not bear to spend the price of the trees, and
therefore concealed the remainder of the money at the farm, that on my
return I might restore it to her who had so heroically torn it from her
heart for me. I ate and slept at the humblest inns in the villages
through which I passed, and was taken for a poor Swiss student
returning from the University of Strasbourg. I was never charged but
the strict value of the bread I ate, of the candle I burned, and of the
pallet on which I slept. I had brought but one book with me, which I
read at evening on the bench before the inn door; it was Werther, in
German; and the unknown characters confirmed my hosts in the idea that
I was a foreign traveller.

I thus wandered through the long and picturesque gorges of Bugey, and
crossed the Rhone at the foot of the rock of Pierre-Chatel. The
narrowed river eternally rushes past the base of this rock, with a
current wearing as the grindstone and cutting as the knife, as if to
undermine and overthrow the state-prison, whose gloomy shadow saddens
its waters. I slowly ascended the Mont du Chat by the paths of the
chamois-hunters; arrived at its summit, I perceived stretched out
before me in the distance the valleys of Aix, Chambery, and Annecy; and
at my feet the lake, dappled with rosy tints by the floating rays of
the setting sun. One single image filled for me the immensity of this
horizon; it rose from the chalets where we had met; from the doctor's
garden, the pointed slate roof of whose house I could recognize above
the smoke of the town; from the fig-trees of the little castle of
Bon-Port at the bottom of the opposite creek; from the chestnut-trees
on the hill of Tresserves; from the woods of St. Innocent; from the
island of Chatillon; from the boats which were returning to their
moorings, from all this earth, from all this sky, from all these waves.
I fell on my knees before this horizon filled with one image. I spread
out my arms and folded them again, as if I could have embraced her
spirit by clasping the air which, had swept over these scenes of our
happiness, over all the traces of her footsteps.

I then sat down behind a rock which screened me even from the sight of
the goatherds, as they passed along the path. There I remained, sunk in
contemplation, and reveling in remembrances, till the sun was almost
dipping behind the snow-clad tops of Nivolex. I did not wish to cross
the lake, or enter the town by daylight, as the homeliness of my dress,
the scantiness of my purse, and the frugality of life to which I was
constrained, in order to live some months near Julie, would have seemed
strange to the inmates of the old doctor's house. They formed too great
a contrast with my elegance in dress and habits of life during the
preceding season. I should have made those blush whom I had accosted in
the streets, in the garb of one who had not even the means of locating
himself in a decent hotel in this abode of luxury. I had, therefore,
resolved to slip by night into the humble suburb, bordering a rivulet
which runs through the orchards below the town.

I knew there a poor young serving girl, called Fanchette, who had
married a boatman the year before. She had reserved some beds in the
garret of her cottage, that she might board and lodge one or two poor
invalids at fifteen sous a day. I had engaged one of these rooms, and a
place at the humble board of the good creature. My friend L----, to
whom I had written naming the day of my arrival on the borders of the
lake, had some days previously written to take my lodgings, and warn
Fanchette of my arrival, binding her to secrecy. I had also begged him
to receive, under cover to himself, at Chambery, any letters that might
be addressed to me from Paris. He was to forward them to me by one of
the drivers of the light carts that run continually between the two
towns. I intended, during my stay at Aix, to remain in the daytime
concealed in my little cottage room, or in the surrounding orchards. I
would only, I thought, go out in the evening; I would go up to the
doctor's house by the skirts of the town; I would enter the garden by
the gate which opened on the country, and pass in delightful
intercourse the solitary evening hours. I would bear with pleasure want
and humiliation, which would be compensated a thousand fold by those
hours of love. I thought thus to conciliate the respect I owed to my
poor mother for the sacrifices she had made, with my devotion to the
idol I came to worship.


From a pious superstition of love, I had calculated my steps during my
long pedestrian journey, so as to arrive at the Abbey of Haute-Combe,
on the other side of the Mont du Chat, upon the anniversary of the day
that the miracle of our meeting, and the revelation of our two hearts,
had taken place in the fisherman's inn on the borders of the lake. It
seemed to me that days, like all other mortal things, had their
destiny, and that in the conjunction of the same sun, the same month,
the same date, and in the same spot, I might find something of her I
loved. It would be an augury, at least, of our speedy and lasting


From the brink of the almost perpendicular sides of the Mont du Chat
that descend to the lake, I could see on my left the old ruins and the
lengthening shadows of the Abbey, which darkened a vast extent of the
waters. In a few minutes I reached the spot. The sun was sinking behind
the Alps, and the long twilight of autumn enveloped the mountains, the
waves, and the shore. I did not stop at the ruins, and passed rapidly
through the orchard where we had sat at the foot of the haystack, near
the bee-hives. The hives and the haystack were still there; but there
was no glow of fire lighting the windows of the little inn, no smoke
ascending from the roof, no nets hung out to dry on the palisades of
the garden.

I knocked, no one answered; I shook the wooden latch, and the door
opened of itself. I entered the little hall with the smoky walls; the
hearth was swept clean, even to the very ashes, and the table and
furniture had been removed. The flagstones of the pavement were strewed
with straws and feathers that had fallen from five or six empty
swallows' nests which hung from the blackened beams of the ceiling. I
went up the wooden ladder which was fastened to the wall by an iron
hook, and served to ascend into the upper room where Julie had awaked
from her swoon, with her hand on my forehead. I entered as one enters a
sanctuary or a sepulchre, and looked around; the wooden beds, the
presses, the stools were all gone. The sound of my footsteps frightened
a nocturnal bird of prey, that heavily flapped its wings, and after
beating against the walls, flew out with a shrill cry through the open
window into the orchard. I could scarcely distinguish the place where I
had knelt during that terrible and yet enchanting night, at the bedside
of the sleeper or of the dead. I kissed the floor, and sat for a long
while on the edge of the window, trying to evoke again in my memory the
room, the furniture, the bed, the lamp, the hours, which had kept their
place within me though all had been changed during a single year of
absence. There was no one in the lonely neighborhood of the cottage who
could furnish any information as to the cause of its being thus
deserted. I conjectured from the heaps of fagots which remained in the
yard, from the hens and pigeons which returned of themselves to roost
in the room, or on the roof, and from the stacks of hay and straw which
stood untouched in the orchard, that the family had gone to gather in a
late harvest in the high chalets of the mountain, and had not yet come
down again.

The solitude of which I had thus taken possession was sad; not so sad,
however, as the presence of the indifferent in a spot that was sacred
in my eyes. I must have controlled before them my looks, my voice, my
gestures, and the impressions that assailed me. I resolved to pass the
night there, and brought up a bundle of fresh straw, which I spread on
the floor, on the same spot where Julie had slept her death-like sleep.
Resting my gun against the wall, I then took out of my knapsack some
bread and a goat cheese that I had bought at Seyssel to support me on
the road, and went out to eat my supper on a green platform above the
ruins of the Abbey, by the side of the spring which flows and stops
alternately, like the intermittent breathing of the mountain.


From the edge of that platform, and from the dismantled terraces of the
old monastery, at evening time, the eye embraces the most enchanting
horizon that ever delighted an anchorite, a contemplator, or a lover.
Behind is the green and humid shade of the mountain, with the murmur of
its source, and the rustling of its foliage; and on one side the ruins,
the broken walls, with their garlands of ivy, and the dark arcades
replete with night and mystery; the lake, with its expiring waves
slowly rolling, one by one, their fringes of spray at the foot of the
rocks, as if to spread its couch and lull its sleep on the fine sands.
On the opposite shore, the blue mountains clothed with their
transparent tints; and on the right, as far as the eye can reach, the
luminous track that the sun leaves in crimson light on the sky and on
the lake, when it withdraws its splendor. I revelled in this light and
shade, in these clouds and waves. I incorporated myself with lovely
Nature, and thought thus to incorporate in me the image of her who was
all nature for me. I inwardly said I saw her there. I was at that
distance from her boat when I saw it struggling against the storm.
There is the shore where she landed; there is the orchard where we
opened our hearts to each other in the sunshine, and where she returned
to life to give me two lives. There in the distance are the tops of the
poplars of the great avenue which unrolls its length like a green
serpent issuing from the waves. There are the chalets, mossy turf, and
woods of chestnut-tree, the sheltered paths upon the highest
mountain-planes where I picked flowers, strawberries, and chestnuts to
fill her lap. There she said this; there I confessed some secret of my
soul; and on that spot we remained a whole evening silent, our hearts
flooded with enthusiasm, our lips without language. Upon these waves
she wished to die; upon this shore she promised me to live. Beneath
yonder group of walnut-trees, then leafless, she bid me farewell, and
promised me that I should see her again before the new leaves should
have turned yellow. They are about to change; but love is faithful as
Nature. In a few days I shall see her once more.... I see her already;
for am I not here awaiting her? and thus to wait, is it not as though I
saw her again?


Then I pictured to myself the instant when, from the shady orchards
that slope down from the mountains behind the old doctor's house, I
should see at last that window of the closed room where she was
expected,--to see it open for the first time, and a woman's face,
half-hidden in its long dark hair, appear between the open curtains,
dreaming of that brother whom her eye seeks in the glorious landscape,
where she, too, sees but him.... And at that image my heart beat so
impetuously in my breast that I was forced to drive away the fancy for
an instant, in order to breathe.

In the meantime night had almost entirely descended from the mountain
to the lake. One could only see the waters through a mist that glazed
and darkened their wide expanse. Amid the profound and universal
silence which precedes darkness, the regular sound of oars which seemed
to approach land smote upon my ear. I soon saw a little speck moving on
the waters, and increasing gradually in size until it slid into the
little cove near the fisherman's house, throwing on either side a light
fringe of spray. Thinking that it might be the fisherman returning from
the Savoy coast to his deserted dwelling, I hurried down from the ruins
to the shore, to be there when the boat came in. I waited on the sand
till the fisherman landed.


As soon as he saw me, he cried out, "Are you, sir, the young Frenchman
who is expected at Fanchette's, and to whom I have been ordered to give
these papers?" So saying, he jumped out of the boat, and, wading
knee-deep through the water, handed me a thick letter. I felt by its
weight that it was an enclosure containing many others. I hastily tore
open the first cover, and read indistinctly in the dim moonlight a note
from my friend L---, dated that same morning from Chambery. L----
informed me that my lodging was taken and prepared for me at
Fanchette's poor house in the Faubourg, and that no one had yet arrived
from Paris at our old friend the doctor's. He added, that, having
learned from myself that I should be that same evening at Haute-Combe
to spend the night and a part of the following day, he had taken
advantage of the departure of a trusty boatman who was to pass beneath
the Abbey walls, to send me a packet of letters, which had arrived two
days before, and that I was doubtless eagerly expecting. He purposed
joining me at Haute-Combe the following day, that we might cross the
lake together, and enter the town under the shadow of night.


While my eye glanced over the note, I held the packet with a trembling
hand. It seemed to me heavy as my fate. I hastened to pay and dismiss
the boatman, who was impatient to be off so as to leave the lake and
enter the waters of the Rhone before dark. I only asked him for a piece
of candle, to enable me to read my letters; he gave it, and I soon
heard the strokes of his oars, as they once more cut through the deep
sheet of water. I returned overjoyed to the upper room, to see once
more the sacred characters of that angel in the very place where she
had first revealed herself to me in all her splendor and in all her
love. I felt sure that one of those letters must inform me that she had
left Paris and would soon be with me. I sat down on the bundle of straw
which I had brought up for my bed, and lighted my candle by means of
the priming of my gun. I hastily tore open the cover, and it was only
then that I perceived that the seal of the first envelope was black,
and that the address was in the handwriting of Dr. Alain. I shuddered

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest