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  • 1843
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painted above it in yellow letters on a green ground, and remembered that he had seen the name at the foot of the title-page of several novels at Blosse’s reading-room. In he went, not without the inward trepidation which a man of any imagination feels at the prospect of a battle. Inside the shop he discovered an odd-looking old man, one of the queer characters of the trade in the days of the Empire.

Doguereau wore a black coat with vast square skirts, when fashion required swallow-tail coats. His waistcoat was of some cheap material, a checked pattern of many colors; a steel chain, with a copper key attached to it, hung from his fob and dangled down over a roomy pair of black nether garments. The booksellers’ watch must have been the size of an onion. Iron-gray ribbed stockings, and shoes with silver buckles completed is costume. The old man’s head was bare, and ornamented with a fringe of grizzled locks, quite poetically scanty. “Old Doguereau,” as Porchon styled him, was dressed half like a professor of belles-lettres as to his trousers and shoes, half like a tradesman with respect to the variegated waistcoat, the stockings, and the watch; and the same odd mixture appeared in the man himself. He united the magisterial, dogmatic air, and the hollow countenance of the professor of rhetoric with the sharp eyes, suspicious mouth, and vague uneasiness of the bookseller.

“M. Doguereau?” asked Lucien.

“That is my name, sir.”

“You are very young,” remarked the bookseller.

“My age, sir, has nothing to do with the matter.”

“True,” and the old bookseller took up the manuscript. “Ah, begad! _The Archer of Charles IX._, a good title. Let us see now, young man, just tell me your subject in a word or two.”

“It is a historical work, sir, in the style of Scott. The character of the struggle between the Protestants and Catholics is depicted as a struggle between two opposed systems of government, in which the throne is seriously endangered. I have taken the Catholic side.”

“Eh! but you have ideas, young man. Very well, I will read your book, I promise you. I would rather have had something more in Mrs. Radcliffe’s style; but if you are industrious, if you have some notion of style, conceptions, ideas, and the art of telling a story, I don’t ask better than to be of use to you. What do we want but good manuscripts?”

“When can I come back?”

“I am going into the country this evening; I shall be back again the day after to-morrow. I shall have read your manuscript by that time; and if it suits me, we might come to terms that very day.”

Seeing his acquaintance so easy, Lucien was inspired with the unlucky idea of bringing the _Marguerites_ upon the scene.

“I have a volume of poetry as well, sir—-” he began.

“Oh! you are a poet! Then I don’t want your romance,” and the old man handed back the manuscript. “The rhyming fellows come to grief when they try their hands at prose. In prose you can’t use words that mean nothing; you absolutely must say something.”

“But Sir Walter Scott, sir, wrote poetry as well as—-“

“That is true,” said Doguereau, relenting. He guessed that the young fellow before him was poor, and kept the manuscript. “Where do you live? I will come and see you.”

Lucien, all unsuspicious of the idea at the back of the old man’s head, gave his address; he did not see that he had to do with a bookseller of the old school, a survival of the eighteenth century, when booksellers tried to keep Voltaires and Montesquieus starving in garrets under lock and key.

“The Latin Quarter. I am coming back that very way,” said Doguereau, when he had read the address.

“Good man!” thought Lucien, as he took his leave. “So I have met with a friend to young authors, a man of taste who knows something. That is the kind of man for me! It is just as I said to David–talent soon makes its way in Paris.”

Lucien went home again happy and light of heart; he dreamed of glory. He gave not another thought to the ominous words which fell on his ear as he stood by the counter in Vidal and Porchon’s shop; he beheld himself the richer by twelve hundred francs at least. Twelve hundred francs! It meant a year in Paris, a whole year of preparation for the work that he meant to do. What plans he built on that hope! What sweet dreams, what visions of a life established on a basis of work! Mentally he found new quarters, and settled himself in them; it would not have taken much to set him making a purchase or two. He could only stave off impatience by constant reading at Blosse’s.

Two days later old Doguereau come to the lodgings of his budding Sir Walter Scott. He was struck with the pains which Lucien had taken with the style of this his first work, delighted with the strong contrasts of character sanctioned by the epoch, and surprised at the spirited imagination which a young writer always displays in the scheming of a first plot–he had not been spoiled, thought old Daddy Doguereau. He had made up his mind to give a thousand francs for _The Archer of Charles IX._; he would buy the copyright out and out, and bind Lucien by an engagement for several books, but when he came to look at the house, the old fox thought better of it.

“A young fellow that lives here has none but simple tastes,” said he to himself; “he is fond of study, fond of work; I need not give more than eight hundred francs.”

“Fourth floor,” answered the landlady, when he asked for M. Lucien de Rubempre. The old bookseller, peering up, saw nothing but the sky above the fourth floor.

“This young fellow,” thought he, “is a good-looking lad; one might go so far as to say that he is very handsome. If he were to make too much money, he would only fall into dissipated ways, and then he would not work. In the interests of us both, I shall only offer six hundred francs, in coin though, not paper.”

He climbed the stairs and gave three raps at the door. Lucien came to open it. The room was forlorn in its bareness. A bowl of milk and a penny roll stood on the table. The destitution of genius made an impression on Daddy Doguereau.

“Let him preserve these simple habits of life, this frugality, these modest requirements,” thought he.–Aloud he said: “It is a pleasure to me to see you. Thus, sir, lived Jean-Jacques, whom you resemble in more ways than one. Amid such surroundings the fire of genius shines brightly; good work is done in such rooms as these. This is how men of letters should work, instead of living riotously in cafes and restaurants, wasting their time and talent and our money.”

He sat down.

“Your romance is not bad, young man. I was a professor of rhetoric once; I know French history, there are some capital things in it. You have a future before you, in fact.”

“Oh! sir.”

“No; I tell you so. We may do business together. I will buy your romance.”

Lucien’s heart swelled and throbbed with gladness. He was about to enter the world of literature; he should see himself in print at last.

“I will give you four hundred francs,” continued Doguereau in honeyed accents, and he looked at Lucien with an air which seemed to betoken an effort of generosity.

“The volume?” queried Lucien.

“For the romance,” said Doguereau, heedless of Lucien’s surprise. “In ready money,” he added; “and you shall undertake to write two books for me every year for six years. If the first book is out of print in six months, I will give you six hundred francs for the others. So, if you write two books each year, you will be making a hundred francs a month; you will have a sure income, you will be well off. There are some authors whom I only pay three hundred francs for a romance; I give two hundred for translations of English books. Such prices would have been exorbitant in the old days.”

“Sir, we cannot possibly come to an understanding. Give me back my manuscript, I beg,” said Lucien, in a cold chill.

“Here it is,” said the old bookseller. “You know nothing of business, sir. Before an author’s first book can appear, a publisher is bound to sink sixteen hundred francs on the paper and the printing of it. It is easier to write a romance than to find all that money. I have a hundred romances in manuscript, and I have not a hundred and sixty thousand francs in my cash box, alas! I have not made so much in all these twenty years that I have been a bookseller. So you don’t make a fortune by printing romances, you see. Vidal and Porchon only take them of us on conditions that grow harder and harder day by day. You have only your time to lose, while I am obliged to disburse two thousand francs. If we fail, _habent sua fata libelli_, I lose two thousand francs; while, as for you, you simply hurl an ode at the thick-headed public. When you have thought over this that I have the honor of telling you, you will come back to me.–_You will come back to me_!” he asserted authoritatively, by way of reply to a scornful gesture made involuntarily by Lucien. “So far from finding a publisher obliging enough to risk two thousand francs for an unknown writer, you will not find a publisher’s clerk that will trouble himself to look through your screed. Now that I have read it I can point out a good many slips in grammar. You have put _observer_ for _faire observer_ and _malgre que_. _Malgre_ is a preposition, and requires an object.”

Lucien appeared to be humiliated.

“When I see you again, you will have lost a hundred francs,” he added. “I shall only give a hundred crowns.”

With that he rose and took his leave. On the threshold he said, “If you had not something in you, and a future before you; if I did not take an interest in studious youth, I should not have made you such a handsome offer. A hundred francs per month! Think of it! After all, a romance in a drawer is not eating its head off like a horse in a stable, nor will it find you in victuals either, and that’s a fact.”

Lucien snatched up his manuscript and dashed it on the floor.

“I would rather burn it, sir!” he exclaimed.

“You have a poet’s head,” returned his senior.

Lucien devoured his bread and supped his bowl of milk, then he went downstairs. His room was not large enough for him; he was turning round and round in it like a lion in a cage at the Jardin des Plantes.

At the Bibliotheque Saint-Genevieve, whither Lucien was going, he had come to know a stranger by sight; a young man of five-and-twenty or thereabouts, working with the sustained industry which nothing can disturb nor distract, the sign by which your genuine literary worker is known. Evidently the young man had been reading there for some time, for the librarian and attendants all knew him and paid him special attention; the librarian would even allow him to take away books, with which Lucien saw him return in the morning. In the stranger student he recognized a brother in penury and hope.

Pale-faced and slight and thin, with a fine forehead hidden by masses of black, tolerably unkempt hair, there was something about him that attracted indifferent eyes: it was a vague resemblance which he bore to portraits of the young Bonaparte, engraved from Robert Lefebvre’s picture. That engraving is a poem of melancholy intensity, of suppressed ambition, of power working below the surface. Study the face carefully, and you will discover genius in it and discretion, and all the subtlety and greatness of the man. The portrait has speaking eyes like a woman’s; they look out, greedy of space, craving difficulties to vanquish. Even if the name of Bonaparte were not written beneath it, you would gaze long at that face.

Lucien’s young student, the incarnation of this picture, usually wore footed trousers, shoes with thick soles to them, an overcoat of coarse cloth, a black cravat, a waistcoat of some gray-and-white material buttoned to the chin, and a cheap hat. Contempt for superfluity in dress was visible in his whole person. Lucien also discovered that the mysterious stranger with that unmistakable stamp which genius sets upon the forehead of its slaves was one of Flicoteaux’s most regular customers; he ate to live, careless of the fare which appeared to be familiar to him, and drank water. Wherever Lucien saw him, at the library or at Flicoteaux’s, there was a dignity in his manner, springing doubtless from the consciousness of a purpose that filled his life, a dignity which made him unapproachable. He had the expression of a thinker, meditation dwelt on the fine nobly carved brow. You could tell from the dark bright eyes, so clear-sighted and quick to observe, that their owner was wont to probe to the bottom of things. He gesticulated very little, his demeanor was grave. Lucien felt an involuntary respect for him.

Many times already the pair had looked at each other at the Bibliotheque or at Flicoteaux’s; many times they had been on the point of speaking, but neither of them had ventured so far as yet. The silent young man went off to the further end of the library, on the side at right angles to the Place de la Sorbonne, and Lucien had no opportunity of making his acquaintance, although he felt drawn to a worker whom he knew by indescribable tokens for a character of no common order. Both, as they came to know afterwards, were unsophisticated and shy, given to fears which cause a pleasurable emotion to solitary creatures. Perhaps they never would have been brought into communication if they had not come across each other that day of Lucien’s disaster; for as Lucien turned into the Rue des Gres, he saw the student coming away from the Bibliotheque Sainte-Genevieve.

“The library is closed; I don’t know why, monsieur,” said he.

Tears were standing in Lucien’s eyes; he expressed his thanks by one of those gestures that speak more eloquently than words, and unlock hearts at once when two men meet in youth. They went together along the Rue des Gres towards the Rue de la Harpe.

“As that is so, I shall go to the Luxembourg for a walk,” said Lucien. “When you have come out, it is not easy to settle down to work again.”

“No; one’s ideas will not flow in the proper current,” remarked the stranger. “Something seems to have annoyed you, monsieur?”

“I have just had a queer adventure,” said Lucien, and he told the history of his visit to the Quai, and gave an account of his subsequent dealings with the old bookseller. He gave his name and said a word or two of his position. In one month or thereabouts he had spent sixty francs on his board, thirty for lodging, twenty more francs in going to the theatre, and ten at Blosse’s reading room–one hundred and twenty francs in all, and now he had just a hundred and twenty francs in hand.

“Your story is mine, monsieur, and the story of ten or twelve hundred young fellows besides who come from the country to Paris every year. There are others even worse off than we are. Do you see that theatre?” he continued, indicating the turrets of the Odeon. “There came one day to lodge in one of the houses in the square a man of talent who had fallen into the lowest depths of poverty. He was married, in addition to the misfortunes which we share with him, to a wife whom he loved; and the poorer or the richer, as you will, by two children. He was burdened with debt, but he put his faith in his pen. He took a comedy in five acts to the Odeon; the comedy was accepted, the management arranged to bring it out, the actors learned their parts, the stage manager urged on the rehearsals. Five several bits of luck, five dramas to be performed in real life, and far harder tasks than the writing of a five-act play. The poor author lodged in a garret; you can see the place from here. He drained his last resources to live until the first representation; his wife pawned her clothes, they all lived on dry bread. On the day of the final rehearsal, the household owed fifty francs in the Quarter to the baker, the milkwoman, and the porter. The author had only the strictly necessary clothes–a coat, a shirt, trousers, a waistcoat, and a pair of boots. He felt sure of his success; he kissed his wife. The end of their troubles was at hand. ‘At last! There is nothing against us now,’ cried he.–‘Yes, there is fire,’ said his wife; ‘look, the Odeon is on fire!’–The Odeon was on fire, monsieur. So do not you complain. You have clothes, you have neither wife nor child, you have a hundred and twenty francs for emergencies in your pocket, and you owe no one a penny.–Well, the piece went through a hundred and fifty representations at the Theatre Louvois. The King allowed the author a pension. ‘Genius is patience,’ as Buffon said. And patience after all is a man’s nearest approach to Nature’s processes of creation. What is Art, monsieur, but Nature concentrated?”

By this time the young men were striding along the walks of the Luxembourg, and in no long time Lucien learned the name of the stranger who was doing his best to administer comfort. That name has since grown famous. Daniel d’Arthez is one of the most illustrious of living men of letters; one of the rare few who show us an example of “a noble gift with a noble nature combined,” to quote a poet’s fine thought.

“There is no cheap route to greatness,” Daniel went on in his kind voice. “The works of Genius are watered with tears. The gift that is in you, like an existence in the physical world, passes through childhood and its maladies. Nature sweeps away sickly or deformed creatures, and Society rejects an imperfectly developed talent. Any man who means to rise above the rest must make ready for a struggle and be undaunted by difficulties. A great writer is a martyr who does not die; that is all.–There is the stamp of genius on your forehead,” d’Arthez continued, enveloping Lucien by a glance; “but unless you have within you the will of genius, unless you are gifted with angelic patience, unless, no matter how far the freaks of Fate have set you from your destined goal, you can find the way to your Infinite as the turtles in the Indies find their way to the ocean, you had better give up at once.”

“Then do you yourself expect these ordeals?” asked Lucien.

“Trials of every kind, slander and treachery, and effrontery and cunning, the rivals who act unfairly, and the keen competition of the literary market,” his companion said resignedly. “What is a first loss, if only your work was good?”

“Will you look at mine and give me your opinion?” asked Lucien.

“So be it,” said d’Arthez. “I am living in the Rue des Quatre-Vents. Desplein, one of the most illustrious men of genius in our time, the greatest surgeon that the world has known, once endured the martyrdom of early struggles with the first difficulties of a glorious career in the same house. I think of that every night, and the thought gives me the stock of courage that I need every morning. I am living in the very room where, like Rousseau, he had no Theresa. Come in an hour’s time. I shall be in.”

The poets grasped each other’s hands with a rush of melancholy and tender feeling inexpressible in words, and went their separate ways; Lucien to fetch his manuscript, Daniel d’Arthez to pawn his watch and buy a couple of faggots. The weather was cold, and his new-found friend should find a fire in his room.

Lucien was punctual. He noticed at once that the house was of an even poorer class than the Hotel de Cluny. A staircase gradually became visible at the further end of a dark passage; he mounted to the fifth floor, and found d’Arthez’s room.

A bookcase of dark-stained wood, with rows of labeled cardboard cases on the shelves, stood between the two crazy windows. A gaunt, painted wooden bedstead, of the kind seen in school dormitories, a night-table, picked up cheaply somewhere, and a couple of horsehair armchairs, filled the further end of the room. The wall-paper, a Highland plaid pattern, was glazed over with the grime of years. Between the window and the grate stood a long table littered with papers, and opposite the fireplace there was a cheap mahogany chest of drawers. A second-hand carpet covered the floor–a necessary luxury, for it saved firing. A common office armchair, cushioned with leather, crimson once, but now hoary with wear, was drawn up to the table. Add half-a-dozen rickety chairs, and you have a complete list of the furniture. Lucien noticed an old-fashioned candle-sconce for a card-table, with an adjustable screen attached, and wondered to see four wax candles in the sockets. D’Arthez explained that he could not endure the smell of tallow, a little trait denoting great delicacy of sense perception, and the exquisite sensibility which accompanies it.

The reading lasted for seven hours. Daniel listened conscientiously, forbearing to interrupt by word or comment–one of the rarest proofs of good taste in a listener.

“Well?” queried Lucien, laying the manuscript on the chimney-piece.

“You have made a good start on the right way,” d’Arthez answered judicially, “but you must go over your work again. You must strike out a different style for yourself if you do not mean to ape Sir Walter Scott, for you have taken him for your model. You begin, for instance, as he begins, with long conversations to introduce your characters, and only when they have said their say does description and action follow.

“This opposition, necessary in all work of a dramatic kind, comes last. Just put the terms of the problem the other way round. Give descriptions, to which our language lends itself so admirably, instead of diffuse dialogue, magnificent in Scott’s work, but colorless in your own. Lead naturally up to your dialogue. Plunge straight into the action. Treat your subject from different points of view, sometimes in a side-light, sometimes retrospectively; vary your methods, in fact, to diversify your work. You may be original while adapting the Scots novelist’s form of dramatic dialogue to French history. There is no passion in Scott’s novels; he ignores passion, or perhaps it was interdicted by the hypocritical manners of his country. Woman for him is duty incarnate. His heroines, with possibly one or two exceptions, are all alike; he has drawn them all from the same model, as painters say. They are, every one of them, descended from Clarissa Harlowe. And returning continually, as he did, to the same idea of woman, how could he do otherwise than produce a single type, varied only by degrees of vividness in the coloring? Woman brings confusion into Society through passion. Passion gives infinite possibilities. Therefore depict passion; you have one great resource open to you, foregone by the great genius for the sake of providing family reading for prudish England. In France you have the charming sinner, the brightly-colored life of Catholicism, contrasted with sombre Calvinistic figures on a background of the times when passions ran higher than at any other period of our history.

“Every epoch which has left authentic records since the time of Charles the Great calls for at least one romance. Some require four or five; the periods of Louis XIV., of Henry IV., of Francis I., for instance. You would give us in this way a picturesque history of France, with the costumes and furniture, the houses and their interiors, and domestic life, giving us the spirit of the time instead of a laborious narration of ascertained facts. Then there is further scope for originality. You can remove some of the popular delusions which disfigure the memories of most of our kings. Be bold enough in this first work of yours to rehabilitate the great magnificent figure of Catherine, whom you have sacrificed to the prejudices which still cloud her name. And finally, paint Charles IX. for us as he really was, and not as Protestant writers have made him. Ten years of persistent work, and fame and fortune will be yours.”

By this time it was nine o’clock; Lucien followed the example set in secret by his future friend by asking him to dine at Eldon’s, and spent twelve francs at that restaurant. During the dinner Daniel admitted Lucien into the secret of his hopes and studies. Daniel d’Arthez would not allow that any writer could attain to a pre-eminent rank without a profound knowledge of metaphysics. He was engaged in ransacking the spoils of ancient and modern philosophy, and in the assimilation of it all; he would be like Moliere, a profound philosopher first, and a writer of comedies afterwards. He was studying the world of books and the living world about him–thought and fact. His friends were learned naturalists, young doctors of medicine, political writers and artists, a number of earnest students full of promise.

D’Arthez earned a living by conscientious and ill-paid work; he wrote articles for encyclopaedias, dictionaries of biography and natural science, doing just enough to enable him to live while he followed his own bent, and neither more nor less. He had a piece of imaginative work on hand, undertaken solely for the sake of studying the resources of language, an important psychological study in the form of a novel, unfinished as yet, for d’Arthez took it up or laid it down as the humor took him, and kept it for days of great distress. D’Arthez’s revelations of himself were made very simply, but to Lucien he seemed like an intellectual giant; and by eleven o’clock, when they left the restaurant, he began to feel a sudden, warm friendship for this nature, unconscious of its loftiness, this unostentatious worth.

Lucien took d’Arthez’s advice unquestioningly, and followed it out to the letter. The most magnificent palaces of fancy had been suddenly flung open to him by a nobly-gifted mind, matured already by thought and critical examinations undertaken for their own sake, not for publication, but for the solitary thinker’s own satisfaction. The burning coal had been laid on the lips of the poet of Angouleme, a word uttered by a hard student in Paris had fallen upon ground prepared to receive it in the provincial. Lucien set about recasting his work.

In his gladness at finding in the wilderness of Paris a nature abounding in generous and sympathetic feeling, the distinguished provincial did, as all young creatures hungering for affection are wont to do; he fastened, like a chronic disease, upon this one friend that he had found. He called for D’Arthez on his way to the Bibliotheque, walked with him on fine days in the Luxembourg Gardens, and went with his friend every evening as far as the door of his lodging-house after sitting next to him at Flicoteaux’s. He pressed close to his friend’s side as a soldier might keep by a comrade on the frozen Russian plains.

During those early days of his acquaintance, he noticed, not without chagrin, that his presence imposed a certain restraint on the circle of Daniel’s intimates. The talk of those superior beings of whom d’Arthez spoke to him with such concentrated enthusiasm kept within the bounds of a reserve but little in keeping with the evident warmth of their friendships. At these times Lucien discreetly took his leave, a feeling of curiosity mingling with the sense of something like pain at the ostracism to which he was subjected by these strangers, who all addressed each other by their Christian names. Each one of them, like d’Arthez, bore the stamp of genius upon his forehead.

After some private opposition, overcome by d’Arthez without Lucien’s knowledge, the newcomer was at length judged worthy to make one of the _cenacle_ of lofty thinkers. Henceforward he was to be one of a little group of young men who met almost every evening in d’Arthez’s room, united by the keenest sympathies and by the earnestness of their intellectual life. They all foresaw a great writer in d’Arthez; they looked upon him as their chief since the loss of one of their number, a mystical genius, one of the most extraordinary intellects of the age. This former leader had gone back to his province for reasons on which it serves no purpose to enter, but Lucien often heard them speak of this absent friend as “Louis.” Several of the group were destined to fall by the way; but others, like d’Arthez, have since won all the fame that was their due. A few details as to the circle will readily explain Lucien’s strong feeling of interest and curiosity.

One among those who still survive was Horace Bianchon, then a house-student at the Hotel-Dieu; later, a shining light at the Ecole de Paris, and now so well known that it is needless to give any description of his appearance, genius, or character.

Next came Leon Giraud, that profound philosopher and bold theorist, turning all systems inside out, criticising, expressing, and formulating, dragging them all to the feet of his idol–Humanity; great even in his errors, for his honesty ennobled his mistakes. An intrepid toiler, a conscientious scholar, he became the acknowledged head of a school of moralists and politicians. Time alone can pronounce upon the merits of his theories; but if his convictions have drawn him into paths in which none of his old comrades tread, none the less he is still their faithful friend.

Art was represented by Joseph Bridau, one of the best painters among the younger men. But for a too impressionable nature, which made havoc of Joseph’s heart, he might have continued the traditions of the great Italian masters, though, for that matter, the last word has not yet been said concerning him. He combines Roman outline with Venetian color; but love is fatal to his work, love not merely transfixes his heart, but sends his arrow through the brain, deranges the course of his life, and sets the victim describing the strangest zigzags. If the mistress of the moment is too kind or too cruel, Joseph will send into the Exhibition sketches where the drawing is clogged with color, or pictures finished under the stress of some imaginary woe, in which he gave his whole attention to the drawing, and left the color to take care of itself. He is a constant disappointment to his friends and the public; yet Hoffmann would have worshiped him for his daring experiments in the realms of art. When Bridau is wholly himself he is admirable, and as praise is sweet to him, his disgust is great when one praises the failures in which he alone discovers all that is lacking in the eyes of the public. He is whimsical to the last degree. His friends have seen him destroy a finished picture because, in his eyes, it looked too smooth. “It is overdone,” he would say; “it is niggling work.”

With his eccentric, yet lofty nature, with a nervous organization and all that it entails of torment and delight, the craving for perfection becomes morbid. Intellectually he is akin to Sterne, though he is not a literary worker. There is an indescribable piquancy about his epigrams and sallies of thought. He is eloquent, he knows how to love, but the uncertainty that appears in his execution is a part of the very nature of the man. The brotherhood loved him for the very qualities which the philistine would style defects.

Last among the living comes Fulgence Ridal. No writer of our times possesses more of the exuberant spirit of pure comedy than this poet, careless of fame, who will fling his more commonplace productions to theatrical managers, and keep the most charming scenes in the seraglio of his brain for himself and his friends. Of the public he asks just sufficient to secure his independence, and then declines to do anything more. Indolent and prolific as Rossini, compelled, like great poet-comedians, like Moliere and Rabelais, to see both sides of everything, and all that is to be said both for and against, he is a sceptic, ready to laugh at all things. Fulgence Ridal is a great practical philosopher. His worldly wisdom, his genius for observation, his contempt for fame (“fuss,” as he calls it) have not seared a kind heart. He is as energetic on behalf of another as he is careless where his own interests are concerned; and if he bestirs himself, it is for a friend. Living up to his Rabelaisian mask, he is no enemy to good cheer, though he never goes out of his way to find it; he is melancholy and gay. His friends dubbed him the “Dog of the Regiment.” You could have no better portrait of the man than his nickname.

Three more of the band, at least as remarkable as the friends who have just been sketched in outline, were destined to fall by the way. Of these, Meyraux was the first. Meyraux died after stirring up the famous controversy between Cuvier and Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, a great question which divided the whole scientific world into two opposite camps, with these two men of equal genius as leaders. This befell some months before the death of the champion of rigorous analytical science as opposed to the pantheism of one who is still living to bear an honored name in Germany. Meyraux was the friend of that “Louis” of whom death was so soon to rob the intellectual world.

With these two, both marked by death, and unknown to-day in spite of their wide knowledge and their genius, stands a third, Michel Chrestien, the great Republican thinker, who dreamed of European Federation, and had no small share in bringing about the Saint-Simonian movement of 1830. A politician of the calibre of Saint-Just and Danton, but simple, meek as a maid, and brimful of illusions and loving-kindness; the owner of a singing voice which would have sent Mozart, or Weber, or Rossini into ecstasies, for his singing of certain songs of Beranger’s could intoxicate the heart in you with poetry, or hope, or love–Michel Chrestien, poor as Lucien, poor as Daniel d’Arthez, as all the rest of his friends, gained a living with the haphazard indifference of a Diogenes. He indexed lengthy works, he drew up prospectuses for booksellers, and kept his doctrines to himself, as the grave keeps the secrets of the dead. Yet the gay bohemian of intellectual life, the great statesman who might have changed the face of the world, fell as a private soldier in the cloister of Saint-Merri; some shopkeeper’s bullet struck down one of the noblest creatures that ever trod French soil, and Michel Chrestien died for other doctrines than his own. His Federation scheme was more dangerous to the aristocracy of Europe than the Republican propaganda; it was more feasible and less extravagant than the hideous doctrines of indefinite liberty proclaimed by the young madcaps who assume the character of heirs of the Convention. All who knew the noble plebeian wept for him; there is not one of them but remembers, and often remembers, a great obscure politician.

Esteem and friendship kept the peace between the extremes of hostile opinion and conviction represented in the brotherhood. Daniel d’Arthez came of a good family in Picardy. His belief in the Monarchy was quite as strong as Michel Chrestien’s faith in European Federation. Fulgence Ridal scoffed at Leon Giraud’s philosophical doctrines, while Giraud himself prophesied for d’Arthez’s benefit the approaching end of Christianity and the extinction of the institution of the family. Michel Chrestien, a believer in the religion of Christ, the divine lawgiver, who taught the equality of men, would defend the immortality of the soul from Bianchon’s scalpel, for Horace Bianchon was before all things an analyst.

There was plenty of discussion, but no bickering. Vanity was not engaged, for the speakers were also the audience. They would talk over their work among themselves and take counsel of each other with the delightful openness of youth. If the matter in hand was serious, the opponent would leave his own position to enter into his friend’s point of view; and being an impartial judge in a matter outside his own sphere, would prove the better helper; envy, the hideous treasure of disappointment, abortive talent, failure, and mortified vanity, was quite unknown among them. All of them, moreover, were going their separate ways. For these reasons, Lucien and others admitted to their society felt at their ease in it. Wherever you find real talent, you will find frank good fellowship and sincerity, and no sort of pretension, the wit that caresses the intellect and never is aimed at self-love.

When the first nervousness, caused by respect, wore off, it was unspeakably pleasant to make one of this elect company of youth. Familiarity did not exclude in each a consciousness of his own value, nor a profound esteem for his neighbor; and finally, as every member of the circle felt that he could afford to receive or to give, no one made a difficulty of accepting. Talk was unflagging, full of charm, and ranging over the most varied topics; words light as arrows sped to the mark. There was a strange contrast between the dire material poverty in which the young men lived and the splendor of their intellectual wealth. They looked upon the practical problems of existence simply as matter for friendly jokes. The cold weather happened to set in early that year. Five of d’Arthez’s friends appeared one day, each concealing firewood under his cloak; the same idea had occurred to the five, as it sometimes happens that all the guests at a picnic are inspired with the notion of bringing a pie as their contribution.

All of them were gifted with the moral beauty which reacts upon the physical form, and, no less than work and vigils, overlays a youthful face with a shade of divine gold; purity of life and the fire of thought had brought refinement and regularity into features somewhat pinched and rugged. The poet’s amplitude of brow was a striking characteristic common to them all; the bright, sparkling eyes told of cleanliness of life. The hardships of penury, when they were felt at all, were born so gaily and embraced with such enthusiasm, that they had left no trace to mar the serenity peculiar to the faces of the young who have no grave errors laid to their charge as yet, who have not stooped to any of the base compromises wrung from impatience of poverty by the strong desire to succeed. The temptation to use any means to this end is the greater since that men of letters are lenient with bad faith and extend an easy indulgence to treachery.

There is an element in friendship which doubles its charm and renders it indissoluble–a sense of certainty which is lacking in love. These young men were sure of themselves and of each other; the enemy of one was the enemy of all; the most urgent personal considerations would have been shattered if they had clashed with the sacred solidarity of their fellowship. All alike incapable of disloyalty, they could oppose a formidable No to any accusation brought against the absent and defend them with perfect confidence. With a like nobility of nature and strength of feeling, it was possible to think and speak freely on all matters of intellectual or scientific interest; hence the honesty of their friendships, the gaiety of their talk, and with this intellectual freedom of the community there was no fear of being misunderstood; they stood upon no ceremony with each other; they shared their troubles and joys, and gave thought and sympathy from full hearts. The charming delicacy of feeling which makes the tale of _Deux Amis_ a treasury for great souls, was the rule of their daily life. It may be imagined, therefore, that their standard of requirements was not an easy one; they were too conscious of their worth, too well aware of their happiness, to care to trouble their life with the admixture of a new and unknown element.

This federation of interests and affection lasted for twenty years without a collision or disappointment. Death alone could thin the numbers of the noble Pleiades, taking first Louis Lambert, later Meyraux and Michel Chrestien.

When Michel Chrestien fell in 1832 his friends went, in spite of the perils of the step, to find his body at Saint-Merri; and Horace Bianchon, Daniel d’Arthez, Leon Giraud, Joseph Bridau, and Fulgence Ridal performed the last duties to the dead, between two political fires. By night they buried their beloved in the cemetery of Pere-Lachaise; Horace Bianchon, undaunted by the difficulties, cleared them away one after another–it was he indeed who besought the authorities for permission to bury the fallen insurgent and confessed to his old friendship with the dead Federalist. The little group of friends present at the funeral with those five great men will never forget that touching scene.

As you walk in the trim cemetery you will see a grave purchased in perpetuity, a grass-covered mound with a dark wooden cross above it, and the name in large red letters–MICHEL CHRESTIEN. There is no other monument like it. The friends thought to pay a tribute to the sternly simple nature of the man by the simplicity of the record of his death.

So, in that chilly garret, the fairest dreams of friendship were realized. These men were brothers leading lives of intellectual effort, loyally helping each other, making no reservations, not even of their worst thoughts; men of vast acquirements, natures tried in the crucible of poverty. Once admitted as an equal among such elect souls, Lucien represented beauty and poetry. They admired the sonnets which he read to them; they would ask him for a sonnet as he would ask Michel Chrestien for a song. And, in the desert of Paris, Lucien found an oasis in the Rue des Quatre-Vents.

At the beginning of October, Lucien had spent the last of his money on a little firewood; he was half-way through the task of recasting his work, the most strenuous of all toil, and he was penniless. As for Daniel d’Arthez, burning blocks of spent tan, and facing poverty like a hero, not a word of complaint came from him; he was as sober as any elderly spinster, and methodical as a miser. This courage called out Lucien’s courage; he had only newly come into the circle, and shrank with invincible repugnance from speaking of his straits. One morning he went out, manuscript in hand, and reached the Rue du Coq; he would sell _The Archer of Charles IX._ to Doguereau; but Doguereau was out. Lucien little knew how indulgent great natures can be to the weaknesses of others. Every one of the friends had thought of the peculiar troubles besetting the poetic temperament, of the prostration which follows upon the struggle, when the soul has been overwrought by the contemplation of that nature which it is the task of art to reproduce. And strong as they were to endure their own ills, they felt keenly for Lucien’s distress; they guessed that his stock of money was failing; and after all the pleasant evenings spent in friendly talk and deep meditations, after the poetry, the confidences, the bold flights over the fields of thought or into the far future of the nations, yet another trait was to prove how little Lucien had understood these new friends of his.

“Lucien, dear fellow,” said Daniel, “you did not dine at Flicoteaux’s yesterday, and we know why.”

Lucien could not keep back the overflowing tears.

“You showed a want of confidence in us,” said Michel Chrestien; “we shall chalk that up over the chimney, and when we have scored ten we will—-“

“We have all of us found a bit of extra work,” said Bianchon; “for my own part, I have been looking after a rich patient for Desplein; d’Arthez has written an article for the _Revue Encyclopedique_; Chrestien thought of going out to sing in the Champs Elysees of an evening with a pocket-handkerchief and four candles, but he found a pamphlet to write instead for a man who has a mind to go into politics, and gave his employer six hundred francs worth of Machiavelli; Leon Giraud borrowed fifty francs of his publisher, Joseph sold one or two sketches; and Fulgence’s piece was given on Sunday, and there was a full house.”

“Here are two hundred francs,” said Daniel, “and let us say no more about it.”

“Why, if he is not going to hug us all as if we had done something extraordinary!” cried Chrestien.

Lucien, meanwhile, had written to the home circle. His letter was a masterpiece of sensibility and goodwill, as well as a sharp cry wrung from him by distress. The answers which he received the next day will give some idea of the delight that Lucien took in this living encyclopedia of angelic spirits, each of whom bore the stamp of the art or science which he followed:–

_David Sechard to Lucien._

“MY DEAR LUCIEN,–Enclosed herewith is a bill at ninety days, payable to your order, for two hundred francs. You can draw on M. Metivier, paper merchant, our Paris correspondent in the Rue Serpente. My good Lucien, we have absolutely nothing. Eve has undertaken the charge of the printing-house, and works at her task with such devotion, patience, and industry, that I bless heaven for giving me such an angel for a wife. She herself says that it is impossible to send you the least help. But I think, my friend now that you are started in so promising a way, with such great and noble hearts for your companions, that you can hardly fail to reach the greatness to which you were born, aided as you are by intelligence almost divine in Daniel d’Arthez and Michel Chrestien and Leon Giraud, and counseled by Meyraux and Bianchon and Ridal, whom we have come to know through your dear letter. So I have drawn this bill without Eve’s knowledge, and I will contrive somehow to meet it when the time comes. Keep on your way, Lucien; it is rough, but it will be glorious. I can bear anything but the thought of you sinking into the sloughs of Paris, of which I saw so much. Have sufficient strength of mind to do as you are doing, and keep out of scrapes and bad company, wild young fellows and men of letters of a certain stamp, whom I learned to take at their just valuation when I lived in Paris. Be a worthy compeer of the divine spirits whom we have learned to love through you. Your life will soon meet with its reward. Farewell, dearest brother; you have sent transports of joy to my heart. I did not expect such courage of you.

“DAVID.”

_Eve Sechard to Lucien._

“DEAR,–your letter made all of us cry. As for the noble hearts to whom your good angel surely led you, tell them that a mother and a poor young wife will pray for them night and morning; and if the most fervent prayers can reach the Throne of God, surely they will bring blessings upon you all. Their names are engraved upon my heart. Ah! some day I shall see your friends; I will go to Paris, if I have to walk the whole way, to thank them for their friendship for you, for to me the thought has been like balm to smarting wounds. We are working like day laborers here, dear. This husband of mine, the unknown great man whom I love more and more every day, as I discover moment by moment the wealth of his nature, leaves the printing-house more and more to me. Why, I guess. Our poverty, yours, and ours, and our mother’s, is heartbreaking to him. Our adored David is a Prometheus gnawed by a vulture, a haggard, sharp-beaked regret. As for himself, noble fellow, he scarcely thinks of himself; he is hoping to make a fortune for _us_. He spends his whole time in experiments in paper-making; he begged me to take his place and look after the business, and gives me as much help as his preoccupation allows. Alas! I shall be a mother soon. That should have been a crowning joy; but as things are, it saddens me. Poor mother! she has grown young again; she has found strength to go back to her tiring nursing. We should be happy if it were not for these money cares. Old Father Sechard will not give his son a farthing. David went over to see if he could borrow a little for you, for we were in despair over your letter. ‘I know Lucien,’ David said; ‘he will lose his head and do something rash.’–I gave him a good scolding. ‘My brother disappoint us in any way!’ I told him, ‘Lucien knows that I should die of sorrow.’–Mother and I have pawned a few things; David does not know about it, mother will redeem them as soon as she has made a little money. In this way we have managed to put together a hundred francs, which I am sending you by the coach. If I did not answer your last letter, do not remember it against me, dear; we were working all night just then. I have been working like a man. Oh, I had no idea that I was so strong!

“Mme. de Bargeton is a heartless woman; she has no soul; even if she cared for you no longer, she owed it to herself to use her influence for you and to help you when she had torn you from us to plunge you into that dreadful sea of Paris. Only by the special blessing of Heaven could you have met with true friends there among those crowds of men and innumerable interests. She is not worth a regret. I used to wish that there might be some devoted woman always with you, a second myself; but now I know that your friends will take my place, and I am happy. Spread your wings, my dear great genius, you will be our pride as well as our beloved.

“EVE.”

“My darling,” the mother wrote, “I can only add my blessing to all that your sister says, and assure you that you are more in my thoughts and in my prayers (alas!) than those whom I see daily; for some hearts, the absent are always in the right, and so it is with the heart of your mother.”

So two days after the loan was offered so graciously, Lucien repaid it. Perhaps life had never seemed so bright to him as at that moment; but the touch of self-love in his joy did not escape the delicate sensibility and searching eyes of his friends.

“Any one might think that you were afraid to owe us anything,” exclaimed Fulgence.

“Oh! the pleasure that he takes in returning the money is a very serious symptom to my mind,” said Michel Chrestien. “It confirms some observations of my own. There is a spice of vanity in Lucien.”

“He is a poet,” said d’Arthez.

“But do you grudge me such a very natural feeling?” asked Lucien.

“We should bear in mind that he did not hide it,” said Leon Giraud; “he is still open with us; but I am afraid that he may come to feel shy of us.”

“And why?” Lucien asked.

“We can read your thoughts,” answered Joseph Bridau.

“There is a diabolical spirit in you that will seek to justify courses which are utterly contrary to our principles. Instead of being a sophist in theory, you will be a sophist in practice.”

“Ah! I am afraid of that,” said d’Arthez. “You will carry on admirable debates in your own mind, Lucien, and take up a lofty position in theory, and end by blameworthy actions. You will never be at one with yourself.”

“What ground have you for these charges?”

“Thy vanity, dear poet, is so great that it intrudes itself even into thy friendships!” cried Fulgence. “All vanity of that sort is a symptom of shocking egoism, and egoism poisons friendship.”

“Oh! dear,” said Lucien, “you cannot know how much I love you all.”

“If you loved us as we love you, would you have been in such a hurry to return the money which we had such pleasure in lending? or have made so much of it?”

“We don’t lend here; we give,” said Joseph Bridau roughly.

“Don’t think us unkind, dear boy,” said Michel Chrestien; “we are looking forward. We are afraid lest some day you may prefer a petty revenge to the joys of pure friendship. Read Goethe’s _Tasso_, the great master’s greatest work, and you will see how the poet-hero loved gorgeous stuffs and banquets and triumph and applause. Very well, be Tasso without his folly. Perhaps the world and its pleasures tempt you? Stay with us. Carry all the cravings of vanity into the world of imagination. Transpose folly. Keep virtue for daily wear, and let imagination run riot, instead of doing, as d’Arthez says, thinking high thoughts and living beneath them.”

Lucien hung his head. His friends were right.

“I confess that you are stronger than I,” he said, with a charming glance at them. “My back and shoulders are not made to bear the burden of Paris life; I cannot struggle bravely. We are born with different temperaments and faculties, and you know better than I that faults and virtues have their reverse side. I am tired already, I confess.”

“We will stand by you,” said d’Arthez; “it is just in these ways that a faithful friendship is of use.”

“The help that I have just received is precarious, and every one of us is just as poor as another; want will soon overtake me again. Chrestien, at the service of the first that hires him, can do nothing with the publishers; Bianchon is quite out of it; d’Arthez’s booksellers only deal in scientific and technical books–they have no connection with publishers of new literature; and as for Horace and Fulgence Ridal and Bridau, their work lies miles away from the booksellers. There is no help for it; I must make up my mind one way or another.”

“Stick by us, and make up your mind to it,” said Bianchon. “Bear up bravely, and trust in hard work.”

“But what is hardship for you is death for me,” Lucien put in quickly.

“Before the cock crows thrice,” smiled Leon Giraud, “this man will betray the cause of work for an idle life and the vices of Paris.”

“Where has work brought you?” asked Lucien, laughing.

“When you start out from Paris for Italy, you don’t find Rome half-way,” said Joseph Bridau. “You want your pease to grow ready buttered for you.”

The conversation ended in a joke, and they changed the subject. Lucien’s friends, with their perspicacity and delicacy of heart, tried to efface the memory of the little quarrel; but Lucien knew thenceforward that it was no easy matter to deceive them. He soon fell into despair, which he was careful to hide from such stern mentors as he imagined them to be; and the Southern temper that runs so easily through the whole gamut of mental dispositions, set him making the most contradictory resolutions.

Again and again he talked of making the plunge into journalism; and time after time did his friends reply with a “Mind you do nothing of the sort!”

“It would be the tomb of the beautiful, gracious Lucien whom we love and know,” said d’Arthez.

“You would not hold out for long between the two extremes of toil and pleasure which make up a journalist’s life, and resistance is the very foundation of virtue. You would be so delighted to exercise your power of life and death over the offspring of the brain, that you would be an out-and-out journalist in two months’ time. To be a journalist –that is to turn Herod in the republic of letters. The man who will say anything will end by sticking at nothing. That was Napoleon’s maxim, and it explains itself.”

“But you would be with me, would you not?” asked Lucien.

“Not by that time,” said Fulgence. “If you were a journalist, you would no more think of us than the Opera girl in all her glory, with her adorers and her silk-lined carriage, thinks of the village at home and her cows and her sabots. You could never resist the temptation to pen a witticism, though it should bring tears to a friend’s eyes. I come across journalists in theatre lobbies; it makes me shudder to see them. Journalism is an inferno, a bottomless pit of iniquity and treachery and lies; no one can traverse it undefiled, unless, like Dante, he is protected by Virgil’s sacred laurel.”

But the more the set of friends opposed the idea of journalism, the more Lucien’s desire to know its perils grew and tempted him. He began to debate within his own mind; was it not ridiculous to allow want to find him a second time defenceless? He bethought him of the failure of his attempts to dispose of his first novel, and felt but little tempted to begin a second. How, besides, was he to live while he was writing another romance? One month of privation had exhausted his stock of patience. Why should he not do nobly that which journalists did ignobly and without principle? His friends insulted him with their doubts; he would convince them of his strength of mind. Some day, perhaps, he would be of use to them; he would be the herald of their fame!

“And what sort of a friendship is it which recoils from complicity?” demanded he one evening of Michel Chrestien; Lucien and Leon Giraud were walking home with their friend.

“We shrink from nothing,” Michel Chrestien made reply. “If you were so unlucky as to kill your mistress, I would help you to hide your crime, and could still respect you; but if you were to turn spy, I should shun you with abhorrence, for a spy is systematically shameless and base. There you have journalism summed up in a sentence. Friendship can pardon error and the hasty impulse of passion; it is bound to be inexorable when a man deliberately traffics in his own soul, and intellect, and opinions.”

“Why cannot I turn journalist to sell my volume of poetry and the novel, and then give up at once?”

“Machiavelli might do so, but not Lucien de Rubempre,” said Leon Giraud.

“Very well,” exclaimed Lucien; “I will show you that I can do as much as Machiavelli.”

“Oh!” cried Michel, grasping Leon’s hand, “you have done it, Leon. –Lucien,” he continued, “you have three hundred francs in hand; you can live comfortably for three months; very well, then, work hard and write another romance. D’Arthez and Fulgence will help you with the plot; you will improve, you will be a novelist. And I, meanwhile, will enter one of those _lupanars_ of thought; for three months I will be a journalist. I will sell your books to some bookseller or other by attacking his publications; I will write the articles myself; I will get others for you. We will organize a success; you shall be a great man, and still remain our Lucien.”

“You must despise me very much, if you think that I should perish while you escape,” said the poet.

“O Lord, forgive him; it is a child!” cried Michel Chrestien.

When Lucien’s intellect had been stimulated by the evenings spent in d’Arthez’s garret, he had made some study of the jokes and articles in the smaller newspapers. He was at least the equal, he felt, of the wittiest contributors; in private he tried some mental gymnastics of the kind, and went out one morning with the triumphant idea of finding some colonel of such light skirmishers of the press and enlisting in their ranks. He dressed in his best and crossed the bridges, thinking as he went that authors, journalists, and men of letters, his future comrades, in short, would show him rather more kindness and disinterestedness than the two species of booksellers who had so dashed his hopes. He should meet with fellow-feeling, and something of the kindly and grateful affection which he found in the _cenacle_ of the Rue des Quatre-Vents. Tormented by emotion, consequent upon the presentiments to which men of imagination cling so fondly, half believing, half battling with their belief in them, he arrived in the Rue Saint-Fiacre off the Boulevard Montmartre. Before a house, occupied by the offices of a small newspaper, he stopped, and at the sight of it his heart began to throb as heavily as the pulses of a youth upon the threshold of some evil haunt.

Nevertheless, upstairs he went, and found the offices in the low _entresol_ between the ground floor and the first story. The first room was divided down the middle by a partition, the lower half of solid wood, the upper lattice work to the ceiling. In this apartment Lucien discovered a one-armed pensioner supporting several reams of paper on his head with his remaining hand, while between his teeth he held the passbook which the Inland Revenue Department requires every newspaper to produce with each issue. This ill-favored individual, owner of a yellow countenance covered with red excrescences, to which he owed his nickname of “Coloquinte,” indicated a personage behind the lattice as the Cerberus of the paper. This was an elderly officer with a medal on his chest and a silk skull-cap on his head; his nose was almost hidden by a pair of grizzled moustaches, and his person was hidden as completely in an ample blue overcoat as the body of the turtle in its carapace.

“From what date do you wish your subscription to commence, sir?” inquired the Emperor’s officer.

“I did not come about a subscription,” returned Lucien. Looking about him, he saw a placard fastened on a door, corresponding to the one by which he had entered, and read the words–EDITOR’S OFFICE, and below, in smaller letters, _No admittance except on business_.

“A complaint, I expect?” replied the veteran. “Ah! yes; we have been hard on Mariette. What would you have? I don’t know the why and wherefore of it yet.–But if you want satisfaction, I am ready for you,” he added, glancing at a collection of small arms and foils stacked in a corner, the armory of the modern warrior.

“That was still further from my intention, sir. I have come to speak to the editor.”

“Nobody is ever here before four o’clock.”

“Look you here, Giroudeau, old chap,” remarked a voice, “I make it eleven columns; eleven columns at five francs apiece is fifty-five francs, and I have only been paid forty; so you owe me another fifteen francs, as I have been telling you.”

These words proceeded from a little weasel-face, pallid and semi-transparent as the half-boiled white of an egg; two slits of eyes looked out of it, mild blue in tint, but appallingly malignant in expression; and the owner, an insignificant young man, was completely hidden by the veteran’s opaque person. It was a blood-curdling voice, a sound between the mewing of a cat and the wheezy chokings of a hyena.

“Yes, yes, my little militiaman,” retorted he of the medal, “but you are counting the headings and white lines. I have Finot’s instructions to add up the totals of the lines, and to divide them by the proper number for each column; and after I performed that concentrating operation on your copy, there were three columns less.”

“He doesn’t pay for the blanks, the Jew! He reckons them in though when he sends up the total of his work to his partner, and he gets paid for them too. I will go and see Etienne Lousteau, Vernou—-“

“I cannot go beyond my orders, my boy,” said the veteran. “What! do you cry out against your foster-mother for a matter of fifteen francs? you that turn out an article as easily as I smoke a cigar. Fifteen francs! why, you will give a bowl of punch to your friends, or win an extra game of billiards, and there’s an end of it!”

“Finot’s savings will cost him very dear,” said the contributor as he took his departure.

“Now, would not anybody think that he was Rousseau and Voltaire rolled in one?” the cashier remarked to himself as he glanced at Lucien.

“I will come in again at four, sir,” said Lucien.

While the argument proceeded, Lucien had been looking about him. He saw upon the walls the portraits of Benjamin Constant, General Foy, and the seventeen illustrious orators of the Left, interspersed with caricatures at the expense of the Government; but he looked more particularly at the door of the sanctuary where, no doubt, the paper was elaborated, the witty paper that amused him daily, and enjoyed the privilege of ridiculing kings and the most portentous events, of calling anything and everything in question with a jest. Then he sauntered along the boulevards. It was an entirely novel amusement; and so agreeable did he find it, that, looking at the turret clocks, he saw the hour hands were pointing to four, and only then remembered that he had not breakfasted.

He went at once in the direction of the Rue Saint-Fiacre, climbed the stair, and opened the door.

The veteran officer was absent; but the old pensioner, sitting on a pile of stamped papers, was munching a crust and acting as sentinel resignedly. Coloquinte was as much accustomed to his work in the office as to the fatigue duty of former days, understanding as much or as little about it as the why and wherefore of forced marches made by the Emperor’s orders. Lucien was inspired with the bold idea of deceiving that formidable functionary. He settled his hat on his head, and walked into the editor’s office as if he were quite at home.

Looking eagerly about him, he beheld a round table covered with a green cloth, and half-a-dozen cherry-wood chairs, newly reseated with straw. The colored brick floor had not been waxed, but it was clean; so clean that the public, evidently, seldom entered the room. There was a mirror above the chimney-piece, and on the ledge below, amid a sprinkling of visiting-cards, stood a shopkeeper’s clock, smothered with dust, and a couple of candlesticks with tallow dips thrust into their sockets. A few antique newspapers lay on the table beside an inkstand containing some black lacquer-like substance, and a collection of quill pens twisted into stars. Sundry dirty scraps of paper, covered with almost undecipherable hieroglyphs, proved to be manuscript articles torn across the top by the compositor to check off the sheets as they were set up. He admired a few rather clever caricatures, sketched on bits of brown paper by somebody who evidently had tried to kill time by killing something else to keep his hand in.

Other works of art were pinned in the cheap sea-green wall-paper. These consisted of nine pen-and-ink illustrations for _Le Solitaire_. The work had attained to such an unheard-of European popularity, that journalists evidently were tired of it.–“The Solitary makes his first appearance in the provinces; sensation among the women.–The Solitary perused at a chateau.–Effect of the Solitary on domestic animals. –The Solitary explained to savage tribes, with the most brilliant results.–The Solitary translated into Chinese and presented by the author to the Emperor at Pekin.–The Mont Sauvage, Rape of Elodie.” –(Lucien though this caricature very shocking, but he could not help laughing at it.)–“The Solitary under a canopy conducted in triumphal procession by the newspapers.–The Solitary breaks the press to splinters, and wounds the printers.–Read backwards, the superior beauties of the Solitary produce a sensation at the Academie.”–On a newspaper-wrapper Lucien noticed a sketch of a contributor holding out his hat, and beneath it the words, “Finot! my hundred francs,” and a name, since grown more notorious than famous.

Between the window and the chimney-piece stood a writing-table, a mahogany armchair, and a waste-paper basket on a strip of hearth-rug; the dust lay thick on all these objects. There were short curtains in the windows. About a score of new books lay on the writing-table, deposited there apparently during the day, together with prints, music, snuff-boxes of the “Charter” pattern, a copy of the ninth edition of _Le Solitaire_ (the great joke of the moment), and some ten unopened letters.

Lucien had taken stock of this strange furniture, and made reflections of the most exhaustive kind upon it, when, the clock striking five, he returned to question the pensioner. Coloquinte had finished his crust, and was waiting with the patience of a commissionaire, for the man of medals, who perhaps was taking an airing on the boulevard.

At this conjuncture the rustle of a dress sounded on the stair, and the light unmistakable footstep of a woman on the threshold. The newcomer was passably pretty. She addressed herself to Lucien.

“Sir,” she said, “I know why you cry up Mlle. Virginie’s hats so much; and I have come to put down my name for a year’s subscription in the first place; but tell me your conditions—-“

“I am not connected with the paper, madame.”

“Oh!”

“A subscription dating from October?” inquired the pensioner.

“What does the lady want to know?” asked the veteran, reappearing on the scene.

The fair milliner and the retired military man were soon deep in converse; and when Lucien, beginning to lose patience, came back to the first room, he heard the conclusion of the matter.

“Why, I shall be delighted, quite delighted, sir. Mlle. Florentine can come to my shop and choose anything she likes. Ribbons are in my department. So it is all quite settled. You will say no more about Virginie, a botcher that cannot design a new shape, while I have ideas of my own, I have.”

Lucien heard a sound as of coins dropping into a cashbox, and the veteran began to make up his books for the day.

“I have been waiting here for an hour, sir,” Lucien began, looking not a little annoyed.

“And ‘they’ have not come yet!” exclaimed Napoleon’s veteran, civilly feigning concern. “I am not surprised at that. It is some time since I have seen ‘them’ here. It is the middle of the month, you see. Those fine fellows only turn up on pay days–the 29th or the 30th.”

“And M. Finot?” asked Lucien, having caught the editor’s name.

“He is in the Rue Feydeau, that’s where he lives. Coloquinte, old chap, just take him everything that has come in to-day when you go with the paper to the printers.”

“Where is the newspaper put together?” Lucien said to himself.

“The newspaper?” repeated the officer, as he received the rest of the stamp money from Coloquinte, “the newspaper?–broum! broum!–(Mind you are round at the printers’ by six o’clock to-morrow, old chap, to send off the porters.)–The newspaper, sir, is written in the street, at the writers’ houses, in the printing-office between eleven and twelve o’clock at night. In the Emperor’s time, sir, these shops for spoiled paper were not known. Oh! he would have cleared them out with four men and a corporal; they would not have come over _him_ with their talk. But that is enough of prattling. If my nephew finds it worth his while, and so long as they write for the son of the Other (broum! broum!) —-after all, there is no harm in that. Ah! by the way, subscribers don’t seem to me to be advancing in serried columns; I shall leave my post.”

“You seem to know all about the newspaper, sir,” Lucien began.

“From a business point of view, broum! broum!” coughed the soldier, clearing his throat. “From three to five francs per column, according to ability.–Fifty lines to a column, forty letters to a line; no blanks; there you are! As for the staff, they are queer fish, little youngsters whom I wouldn’t take on for the commissariat; and because they make fly tracks on sheets of white paper, they look down, forsooth, on an old Captain of Dragoons of the Guard, that retired with a major’s rank after entering every European capital with Napoleon.”

The soldier of Napoleon brushed his coat, and made as if he would go out, but Lucien, swept to the door, had courage enough to make a stand.

“I came to be a contributor of the paper,” he said. “I am full of respect, I vow and declare, for a captain of the Imperial Guard, those men of bronze—-“

“Well said, my little civilian, there are several kinds of contributors; which kind do you wish to be?” replied the trooper, bearing down on Lucien, and descending the stairs. At the foot of the flight he stopped, but it was only to light a cigar at the porter’s box.

“If any subscribers come, you see them and take note of them, Mother Chollet.–Simply subscribers, never know anything but subscribers,” he added, seeing that Lucien followed him. “Finot is my nephew; he is the only one of my family that has done anything to relieve me in my position. So when anybody comes to pick a quarrel with Finot, he finds old Giroudeau, Captain of the Dragoons of the Guard, that set out as a private in a cavalry regiment in the army of the Sambre-et-Meuse, and was fencing-master for five years to the First Hussars, army of Italy! One, two, and the man that had any complaints to make would be turned off into the dark,” he added, making a lunge. “Now writers, my boy, are in different corps; there is the writer who writes and draws his pay; there is the writer who writes and gets nothing (a volunteer we call him); and, lastly, there is the writer who writes nothing, and he is by no means the stupidest, for he makes no mistakes; he gives himself out for a literary man, he is on the paper, he treats us to dinners, he loafs about the theatres, he keeps an actress, he is very well off. What do you mean to be?”

“The man that does good work and gets good pay.”

“You are like the recruits. They all want to be marshals of France. Take old Giroudeau’s word for it, and turn right about, in double-quick time, and go and pick up nails in the gutter like that good fellow yonder; you can tell by the look of him that he has been in the army.–Isn’t it a shame that an old soldier who has walked into the jaws of death hundreds of times should be picking up old iron in the streets of Paris? Ah! God A’mighty! ’twas a shabby trick to desert the Emperor.–Well, my boy, the individual you saw this morning has made his forty francs a month. Are you going to do better? And, according to Finot, he is the cleverest man on the staff.”

“When you enlisted in the Sambre-et-Meuse, did they talk about danger?”

“Rather.”

“Very well?”

“Very well. Go and see my nephew Finot, a good fellow, as good a fellow as you will find, if you can find him, that is, for he is like a fish, always on the move. In his way of business, there is no writing, you see, it is setting others to write. That sort like gallivanting about with actresses better than scribbling on sheets of paper, it seems. Oh! they are queer customers, they are. Hope I may have the honor of seeing you again.”

With that the cashier raised his formidable loaded cane, one of the defenders of Germainicus, and walked off, leaving Lucien in the street, as much bewildered by this picture of the newspaper world as he had formerly been by the practical aspects of literature at Messrs. Vidal and Porchon’s establishment.

Ten several times did Lucien repair to the Rue Feydeau in search of Andoche Finot, and ten times he failed to find that gentleman. He went first thing in the morning; Finot had not come in. At noon, Finot had gone out; he was breakfasting at such and such a cafe. At the cafe, in answer to inquiries of the waitress, made after surmounting unspeakable repugnance, Lucien heard that Finot had just left the place. Lucien, at length tired out, began to regard Finot as a mythical and fabulous character; it appeared simpler to waylay Etienne Lousteau at Flicoteaux’s. That youthful journalist would, doubtless, explain the mysteries that enveloped the paper for which he wrote.

Since the day, a hundred times blessed, when Lucien made the acquaintance of Daniel d’Arthez, he had taken another seat at Flicoteaux’s. The two friends dined side by side, talking in lowered voices of the higher literature, of suggested subjects, and ways of presenting, opening up, and developing them. At the present time Daniel d’Arthez was correcting the manuscript of _The Archer of Charles IX._ He reconstructed whole chapters, and wrote the fine passages found therein, as well as the magnificent preface, which is, perhaps, the best thing in the book, and throws so much light on the work of the young school of literature. One day it so happened that Daniel had been waiting for Lucien, who now sat with his friend’s hand in his own, when he saw Etienne Lousteau turn the door-handle. Lucien instantly dropped Daniel’s hand, and told the waiter that he would dine at his old place by the counter. D’Arthez gave Lucien a glance of divine kindness, in which reproach was wrapped in forgiveness. The glance cut the poet to the quick; he took Daniel’s hand and grasped it anew.

“It is an important question of business for me; I will tell you about it afterwards,” said he.

Lucien was in his old place by the time that Lousteau reached the table; as the first comer, he greeted his acquaintance; they soon struck up a conversation, which grew so lively that Lucien went off in search of the manuscript of the _Marguerites_, while Lousteau finished his dinner. He had obtained leave to lay his sonnets before the journalist, and mistook the civility of the latter for willingness to find him a publisher, or a place on the paper. When Lucien came hurrying back again, he saw d’Arthez resting an elbow on the table in a corner of the restaurant, and knew that his friend was watching him with melancholy eyes, but he would not see d’Arthez just then; he felt the sharp pangs of poverty, the goadings of ambition, and followed Lousteau.

In the late afternoon the journalist and the neophyte went to the Luxembourg, and sat down under the trees in that part of the gardens which lies between the broad Avenue de l’Observatoire and the Rue de l’Ouest. The Rue de l’Ouest at that time was a long morass, bounded by planks and market-gardens; the houses were all at the end nearest the Rue de Vaugirard; and the walk through the gardens was so little frequented, that at the hour when Paris dines, two lovers might fall out and exchange the earnest of reconciliation without fear of intruders. The only possible spoil-sport was the pensioner on duty at the little iron gate on the Rue de l’Ouest, if that gray-headed veteran should take it into his head to lengthen his monotonous beat. There, on a bench beneath the lime-trees, Etienne Lousteau sat and listened to sample-sonnets from the _Marguerites_.

Etienne Lousteau, after a two-years’ apprenticeship, was on the staff of a newspaper; he had his foot in the stirrup; he reckoned some of the celebrities of the day among his friends; altogether, he was an imposing personage in Lucien’s eyes. Wherefore, while Lucien untied the string about the _Marguerites_, he judged it necessary to make some sort of preface.

“The sonnet, monsieur,” said he, “is one of the most difficult forms of poetry. It has fallen almost entirely into disuse. No Frenchman can hope to rival Petrarch; for the language in which the Italian wrote, being so infinitely more pliant than French, lends itself to play of thought which our positivism (pardon the use of the expression) rejects. So it seemed to me that a volume of sonnets would be something quite new. Victor Hugo has appropriated the old, Canalis writes lighter verse, Beranger has monopolized songs, Casimir Delavigne has taken tragedy, and Lamartine the poetry of meditation.”

“Are you a ‘Classic’ or a ‘Romantic’?” inquired Lousteau.

Lucien’s astonishment betrayed such complete ignorance of the state of affairs in the republic of letters, that Lousteau thought it necessary to enlighten him.

“You have come up in the middle of a pitched battle, my dear fellow; you must make your decision at once. Literature is divided, in the first place, into several zones, but our great men are ranged in two hostile camps. The Royalists are ‘Romantics,’ the Liberals are ‘Classics.’ The divergence of taste in matters literary and divergence of political opinion coincide; and the result is a war with weapons of every sort, double-edged witticisms, subtle calumnies and nicknames _a outrance_, between the rising and the waning glory, and ink is shed in torrents. The odd part of it is that the Royalist-Romantics are all for liberty in literature, and for repealing laws and conventions; while the Liberal-Classics are for maintaining the unities, the Alexandrine, and the classical theme. So opinions in politics on either side are directly at variance with literary taste. If you are eclectic, you will have no one for you. Which side do you take?”

“Which is the winning side?”

“The Liberal newspapers have far more subscribers than the Royalist and Ministerial journals; still, though Canalis is for Church and King, and patronized by the Court and the clergy, he reaches other readers.–Pshaw! sonnets date back to an epoch before Boileau’s time,” said Etienne, seeing Lucien’s dismay at the prospect of choosing between two banners. “Be a Romantic. The Romantics are young men, and the Classics are pedants; the Romantics will gain the day.”

The word “pedant” was the latest epithet taken up by Romantic journalism to heap confusion on the Classical faction.

Lucien began to read, choosing first of all the title-sonnets.

EASTER DAISIES.

The daisies in the meadows, not in vain, In red and white and gold before our eyes, Have written an idyll for man’s sympathies, And set his heart’s desire in language plain.

Gold stamens set in silver filigrane Reveal the treasures which we idolize;
And all the cost of struggle for the prize Is symboled by a secret blood-red stain.

Was it because your petals once uncurled When Jesus rose upon a fairer world,
And from wings shaken for a heav’nward flight Shed grace, that still as autumn reappears You bloom again to tell of dead delight, To bring us back the flower of twenty years?

Lucien felt piqued by Lousteau’s complete indifference during the reading of the sonnet; he was unfamiliar as yet with the disconcerting impassibility of the professional critic, wearied by much reading of poetry, prose, and plays. Lucien was accustomed to applause. He choked down his disappointment and read another, a favorite with Mme. de Bargeton and with some of his friends in the Rue des Quatre-Vents.

“This one, perhaps, will draw a word from him,” he thought.

THE MARGUERITE.

I am the Marguerite, fair and tall I grew In velvet meadows, ‘mid the flowers a star. They sought me for my beauty near and far; My dawn, I thought, should be for ever new. But now an all unwished-for gift I rue, A fatal ray of knowledge shed to mar
My radiant star-crown grown oracular, For I must speak and give an answer true. An end of silence and of quiet days,
The Lover with two words my counsel prays; And when my secret from my heart is reft, When all my silver petals scattered lie, I am the only flower neglected left,
Cast down and trodden under foot to die.

At the end, the poet looked up at his Aristarchus. Etienne Lousteau was gazing at the trees in the Pepiniere.

“Well?” asked Lucien.

“Well, my dear fellow, go on! I am listening to you, am I not? That fact in itself is as good as praise in Paris.”

“Have you had enough?” Lucien asked.

“Go on,” the other answered abruptly enough.

Lucien proceeded to read the following sonnet, but his heart was dead within him; Lousteau’s inscrutable composure froze his utterance. If he had come a little further upon the road, he would have known that between writer and writer silence or abrupt speech, under such circumstances, is a betrayal of jealousy, and outspoken admiration means a sense of relief over the discovery that the work is not above the average after all.

THE CAMELLIA.

In Nature’s book, if rightly understood, The rose means love, and red for beauty glows; A pure, sweet spirit in the violet blows, And bright the lily gleams in lowlihood.

But this strange bloom, by sun and wind unwooed, Seems to expand and blossom ‘mid the snows, A lily sceptreless, a scentless rose,
For dainty listlessness of maidenhood.

Yet at the opera house the petals trace For modesty a fitting aureole;
An alabaster wreath to lay, methought, In dusky hair o’er some fair woman’s face Which kindles ev’n such love within the soul As sculptured marble forms by Phidias wrought.

“What do you think of my poor sonnets?” Lucien asked, coming straight to the point.

“Do you want the truth?”

“I am young enough to like the truth, and so anxious to succeed that I can hear it without taking offence, but not without despair,” replied Lucien.

“Well, my dear fellow, the first sonnet, from its involved style, was evidently written at Angouleme; it gave you so much trouble, no doubt, that you cannot give it up. The second and third smack of Paris already; but read us one more sonnet,” he added, with a gesture that seemed charming to the provincial.

Encouraged by the request, Lucien read with more confidence, choosing a sonnet which d’Arthez and Bridau liked best, perhaps on account of its color.

THE TULIP.

I am the Tulip from Batavia’s shore; The thrifty Fleming for my beauty rare
Pays a king’s ransom, when that I am fair, And tall, and straight, and pure my petal’s core.

And, like some Yolande of the days of yore, My long and amply folded skirts I wear, O’er-painted with the blazon that I bear –Gules, a fess azure; purpure, fretty, or.

The fingers of the Gardener divine
Have woven for me my vesture fair and fine, Of threads of sunlight and of purple stain; No flower so glorious in the garden bed, But Nature, woe is me, no fragrance shed Within my cup of Orient porcelain.

“Well?” asked Lucien after a pause, immeasurably long, as it seemed to him.

“My dear fellow,” Etienne said, gravely surveying the tips of Lucien’s boots (he had brought the pair from Angouleme, and was wearing them out). “My dear fellow, I strongly recommend you to put your ink on your boots to save blacking, and to take your pens for toothpicks, so that when you come away from Flicoteaux’s you can swagger along this picturesque alley looking as if you had dined. Get a situation of any sort or description. Run errands for a bailiff if you have the heart, be a shopman if your back is strong enough, enlist if you happen to have a taste for military music. You have the stuff of three poets in you; but before you can reach your public, you will have time to die of starvation six times over, if you intend to live on the proceeds of your poetry, that is. And from your too unsophisticated discourse, it would seem to be your intention to coin money out of your inkstand.

“I say nothing as to your verses; they are a good deal better than all the poetical wares that are cumbering the ground in booksellers’ backshops just now. Elegant ‘nightingales’ of that sort cost a little more than the others, because they are printed on hand-made paper, but they nearly all of them come down at last to the banks of the Seine. You may study their range of notes there any day if you care to make an instructive pilgrimage along the Quais from old Jerome’s stall by the Pont Notre Dame to the Pont Royal. You will find them all there –all the _Essays in Verse_, the _Inspirations_, the lofty flights, the hymns, and songs, and ballads, and odes; all the nestfuls hatched during the last seven years, in fact. There lie their muses, thick with dust, bespattered by every passing cab, at the mercy of every profane hand that turns them over to look at the vignette on the title-page.

“You know nobody; you have access to no newspaper, so your _Marguerites_ will remain demurely folded as you hold them now. They will never open out to the sun of publicity in fair fields with broad margins enameled with the florets which Dauriat the illustrious, the king of the Wooden Galleries, scatters with a lavish hand for poets known to fame. I came to Paris as you came, poor boy, with a plentiful stock of illusions, impelled by irrepressible longings for glory–and I found the realities of the craft, the practical difficulties of the trade, the hard facts of poverty. In my enthusiasm (it is kept well under control now), my first ebullition of youthful spirits, I did not see the social machinery at work; so I had to learn to see it by bumping against the wheels and bruising myself against the shafts, and chains. Now you are about to learn, as I learned, that between you and all these fair dreamed-of things lies the strife of men, and passions, and necessities.

“Willy-nilly, you must take part in a terrible battle; book against book, man against man, party against party; make war you must, and that systematically, or you will be abandoned by your own party. And they are mean contests; struggles which leave you disenchanted, and wearied, and depraved, and all in pure waste; for it often happens that you put forth all your strength to win laurels for a man whom you despise, and maintain, in spite of yourself, that some second-rate writer is a genius.

“There is a world behind the scenes in the theatre of literature. The public in front sees unexpected or well-deserved success, and applauds; the public does _not_ see the preparations, ugly as they always are, the painted supers, the _claqueurs_ hired to applaud, the stage carpenters, and all that lies behind the scenes. You are still among the audience. Abdicate, there is still time, before you set your foot on the lowest step of the throne for which so many ambitious spirits are contending, and do not sell your honor, as I do, for a livelihood.” Etienne’s eyes filled with tears as he spoke.

“Do you know how I make a living?” he continued passionately. “The little stock of money they gave me at home was soon eaten up. A piece of mine was accepted at the Theatre-Francais just as I came to an end of it. At the Theatre-Francais the influence of a first gentleman of the bedchamber, or of a prince of the blood, would not be enough to secure a turn of favor; the actors only make concessions to those who threaten their self-love. If it is in your power to spread a report that the _jeune premier_ has the asthma, the leading lady a fistula where you please, and the soubrette has foul breath, then your piece would be played to-morrow. I do not know whether in two years’ time, I who speak to you now, shall be in a position to exercise such power. You need so many to back you. And where and how am I to gain my bread meanwhile?

“I tried lots of things; I wrote a novel, anonymously; old Doguereau gave me two hundred francs for it, and he did not make very much out of it himself. Then it grew plain to me that journalism alone could give me a living. The next thing was to find my way into those shops. I will not tell you all the advances I made, nor how often I begged in vain. I will say nothing of the six months I spent as extra hand on a paper, and was told that I scared subscribers away, when as a fact I attracted them. Pass over the insults I put up with. At this moment I am doing the plays at the Boulevard theatres, almost _gratis_, for a paper belonging to Finot, that stout young fellow who breakfasts two or three times a month, even now, at the Cafe Voltaire (but you don’t go there). I live by selling tickets that managers give me to bribe a good word in the paper, and reviewers’ copies of books. In short, Finot once satisfied, I am allowed to write for and against various commercial articles, and I traffic in tribute paid in kind by various tradesmen. A facetious notice of a Carminative Toilet Lotion, _Pate des Sultanes_, Cephalic Oil, or Brazilian Mixture brings me in twenty or thirty francs.

“I am obliged to dun the publishers when they don’t send in a sufficient number of reviewers’ copies; Finot, as editor, appropriates two and sells them, and I must have two to sell. If a book of capital importance comes out, and the publisher is stingy with copies, his life is made a burden to him. The craft is vile, but I live by it, and so do scores of others. Do not imagine that things are any better in public life. There is corruption everywhere in both regions; every man is corrupt or corrupts others. If there is any publishing enterprise somewhat larger than usual afoot, the trade will pay me something to buy neutrality. The amount of my income varies, therefore, directly with the prospectuses. When prospectuses break out like a rash, money pours into my pockets; I stand treat all round. When trade is dull, I dine at Flicoteaux’s.

“Actresses will pay you likewise for praise, but the wiser among them pay for criticism. To be passed over in silence is what they dread the most; and the very best thing of all, from their point of view, is criticism which draws down a reply; it is far more effectual than bald praise, forgotten as soon as read, and it costs more in consequence. Celebrity, my dear fellow, is based upon controversy. I am a hired bravo; I ply my trade among ideas and reputations, commercial, literary, and dramatic; I make some fifty crowns a month; I can sell a novel for five hundred francs; and I am beginning to be looked upon as a man to be feared. Some day, instead of living with Florine at the expense of a druggist who gives himself the airs of a lord, I shall be in a house of my own; I shall be on the staff of a leading newspaper, I shall have a _feuilleton_; and on that day, my dear fellow, Florine will become a great actress. As for me, I am not sure what I shall be when that time comes, a minister or an honest man–all things are still possible.”

He raised his humiliated head, and looked out at the green leaves, with an expression of despairing self-condemnation dreadful to see.

“And I had a great tragedy accepted!” he went on. “And among my papers there is a poem, which will die. And I was a good fellow, and my heart was clean! I used to dream lofty dreams of love for great ladies, queens in the great world; and–my mistress is an actress at the Panorama-Dramatique. And lastly, if a bookseller declines to send a copy of a book to my paper, I will run down work which is good, as I know.”

Lucien was moved to tears, and he grasped Etienne’s hand in his. The journalist rose to his feet, and the pair went up and down the broad Avenue de l’Observatoire, as if their lungs craved ampler breathing space.

“Outside the world of letters,” Etienne Lousteau continued, “not a single creature suspects that every one who succeeds in that world –who has a certain vogue, that is to say, or comes into fashion, or gains reputation, or renown, or fame, or favor with the public (for by these names we know the rungs of the ladder by which we climb to the higher heights above and beyond them),–every one who comes even thus far is the hero of a dreadful Odyssey. Brilliant portents rise above the mental horizon through a combination of a thousand accidents; conditions change so swiftly that no two men have been known to reach success by the same road. Canalis and Nathan are two dissimilar cases; things never fall out in the same way twice. There is d’Arthez, who knocks himself to pieces with work–he will make a famous name by some other chance.

“This so much desired reputation is nearly always crowned prostitution. Yes; the poorest kind of literature is the hapless creature freezing at the street corner; second-rate literature is the kept-mistress picked out of the brothels of journalism, and I am her bully; lastly, there is lucky literature, the flaunting, insolent courtesan who has a house of her own and pays taxes, who receives great lords, treating or ill-treating them as she pleases, who has liveried servants and a carriage, and can afford to keep greedy creditors waiting. Ah! and for yet others, for me not so very long ago, for you to-day–she is a white-robed angel with many-colored wings, bearing a green palm branch in the one hand, and in the other a flaming sword. An angel, something akin to the mythological abstraction which lives at the bottom of a well, and to the poor and honest girl who lives a life of exile in the outskirts of the great city, earning every penny with a noble fortitude and in the full light of virtue, returning to heaven inviolate of body and soul; unless, indeed, she comes to lie at the last, soiled, despoiled, polluted, and forgotten, on a pauper’s bier. As for the men whose brains are encompassed with bronze, whose hearts are still warm under the snows of experience, they are found but seldom in the country that lies at our feet,” he added, pointing to the great city seething in the late afternoon light.

A vision of d’Arthez and his friends flashed upon Lucien’s sight, and made appeal to him for a moment; but Lousteau’s appalling lamentation carried him away.

“They are very few and far between in that great fermenting vat; rare as love in love-making, rare as fortunes honestly made in business, rare as the journalist whose hands are clean. The experience of the first man who told me all that I am telling you was thrown away upon me, and mine no doubt will be wasted upon you. It is always the same old story year after year; the same eager rush to Paris from the provinces; the same, not to say a growing, number of beardless, ambitious boys, who advance, head erect, and the heart that Princess Tourandocte of the _Mille et un Jours_–each one of them fain to be her Prince Calaf. But never a one of them reads the riddle. One by one they drop, some into the trench where failures lie, some into the mire of journalism, some again into the quagmires of the book-trade.

“They pick up a living, these beggars, what with biographical notices, penny-a-lining, and scraps of news for the papers. They become booksellers’ hacks for the clear-headed dealers in printed paper, who would sooner take the rubbish that goes off in a fortnight than a masterpiece which requires time to sell. The life is crushed out of the grubs before they reach the butterfly stage. They live by shame and dishonor. They are ready to write down a rising genius or to praise him to the skies at a word from the pasha of the _Constitutionnel_, the _Quotidienne_, or the _Debats_, at a sign from a publisher, at the request of a jealous comrade, or (as not seldom happens) simply for a dinner. Some surmount the obstacles, and these forget the misery of their early days. I, who am telling you this, have been putting the best that is in me into newspaper articles for six months past for a blackguard who gives them out as his own and has secured a _feuilleton_ in another paper on the strength of them. He has not taken me on as his collaborator, he has not give me so much as a five-franc piece, but I hold out a hand to grasp his when we meet; I cannot help myself.”

“And why?” Lucien, asked, indignantly.

“I may want to put a dozen lines into his _feuilleton_ some day,” Lousteau answered coolly. “In short, my dear fellow, in literature you will not make money by hard work, that is not the secret of success; the point is to exploit the work of somebody else. A newspaper proprietor is a contractor, we are the bricklayers. The more mediocre the man, the better his chance of getting on among mediocrities; he can play the toad-eater, put up with any treatment, and flatter all the little base passions of the sultans of literature. There is Hector Merlin, who came from Limoges a short time ago; he is writing political articles already for a Right Centre daily, and he is at work on our little paper as well. I have seen an editor drop his hat and Merlin pick it up. The fellow was careful never to give offence, and slipped into the thick of the fight between rival ambitions. I am sorry for you. It is as if I saw in you the self that I used to be, and sure am I that in one or two years’ time you will be what I am now.–You will think that there is some lurking jealousy or personal motive in this bitter counsel, but it is prompted by the despair of a damned soul that can never leave hell.–No one ventures to utter such things as these. You hear the groans of anguish from a man wounded to the heart, crying like a second Job from the ashes, ‘Behold my sores!'”

“But whether I fight upon this field or elsewhere, fight I must,” said Lucien.

“Then, be sure of this,” returned Lousteau, “if you have anything in you, the war will know no truce, the best chance of success lies in an empty head. The austerity of your conscience, clear as yet, will relax when you see that a man holds your future in his two hands, when a word from such a man means life to you, and he will not say that word. For, believe me, the most brutal bookseller in the trade is not so insolent, so hard-hearted to a newcomer as the celebrity of the day. The bookseller sees a possible loss of money, while the writer of books dreads a possible rival; the first shows you the door, the second crushes the life out of you. To do really good work, my boy, means that you will draw out the energy, sap, and tenderness of your nature at every dip of the pen in the ink, to set it forth for the world in passion and sentiment and phrases. Yes; instead of acting, you will write; you will sing songs instead of fighting; you will love and hate and live in your books; and then, after all, when you shall have reserved your riches for your style, your gold and purple for your characters, and you yourself are walking the streets of Paris in rags, rejoicing in that, rivaling the State Register, you have authorized the existence of beings styled Adolphe, Corinne or Clarissa, Rene or Manon; when you shall have spoiled your life and your digestion to give life to that creation, then you shall see it slandered, betrayed, sold, swept away into the back waters of oblivion by journalists, and buried out of sight by your best friends. How can you afford to wait until the day when your creation shall rise again, raised from the dead–how? when? and by whom? Take a magnificent book, the _pianto_ of unbelief; _Obermann_ is a solitary wanderer in the desert places of booksellers’ warehouses, he has been a ‘nightingale,’ ironically so called, from the very beginning: when will his Easter come? Who knows? Try, to begin with, to find somebody bold enough to print the _Marguerites_; not to pay for them, but simply to print them; and you will see some queer things.”

The fierce tirade, delivered in every tone of the passionate feeling which it expressed, fell upon Lucien’s spirit like an avalanche, and left a sense of glacial cold. For one moment he stood silent; then, as he felt the terrible stimulating charm of difficulty beginning to work upon him, his courage blazed up. He grasped Lousteau’s hand.

“I will triumph!” he cried aloud.

“Good!” said the other, “one more Christian given over to the wild beasts in the arena.–There is a first-night performance at the Panorama-Dramatique, my dear fellow; it doesn’t begin till eight, so you can change your coat, come properly dressed in fact, and call for me. I am living on the fourth floor above the Cafe Servel, Rue de la Harpe. We will go to Dauriat’s first of all. You still mean to go on, do you not? Very well, I will introduce you to one of the kings of the trade to-night, and to one or two journalists. We will sup with my mistress and several friends after the play, for you cannot count that dinner as a meal. Finot will be there, editor and proprietor of my paper. As Minette says in the Vaudeville (do you remember?), ‘Time is a great lean creature.’ Well, for the like of us, Chance is a great lean creature, and must be tempted.”

“I shall remember this day as long as I live,” said Lucien.

“Bring your manuscript with you, and be careful of your dress, not on Florine’s account, but for the booksellers’ benefit.”

The comrade’s good-nature, following upon the poet’s passionate outcry, as he described the war of letters, moved Lucien quite as deeply as d’Arthez’s grave and earnest words on a former occasion. The prospect of entering at once upon the strife with men warmed him. In his youth and inexperience he had no suspicion how real were the moral evils denounced by the journalist. Nor did he know that he was standing at the parting of two distinct ways, between two systems, represented by the brotherhood upon one hand, and journalism upon the other. The first way was long, honorable, and sure; the second beset with hidden dangers, a perilous path, among muddy channels where conscience is inevitably bespattered. The bent of Lucien’s character determined for the shorter way, and the apparently pleasanter way, and to snatch at the quickest and promptest means. At this moment he saw no difference between d’Arthez’s noble friendship and Lousteau’s easy comaraderie; his inconstant mind discerned a new weapon in journalism; he felt that he could wield it, so he wished to take it.

He was dazzled by the offers of this new friend, who had struck a hand in his in an easy way, which charmed Lucien. How should he know that while every man in the army of the press needs friends, every leader needs men. Lousteau, seeing that Lucien was resolute, enlisted him as a recruit, and hoped to attach him to himself. The relative positions of the two were similar–one hoped to become a corporal, the other to enter the ranks.

Lucien went back gaily to his lodgings. He was as careful over his toilet as on that former unlucky occasion when he occupied the Marquise d’Espard’s box; but he had learned by this time how to wear his clothes with a better grace. They looked as though they belonged to him. He wore his best tightly-fitting, light-colored trousers, and a dress-coat. His boots, a very elegant pair adorned with tassels, had cost him forty francs. His thick, fine, golden hair was scented and crimped into bright, rippling curls. Self-confidence and belief in his future lighted up his forehead. He paid careful attention to his almost feminine hands, the filbert nails were a spotless pink, and the white contours of his chin were dazzling by contrast with a black satin stock. Never did a more beautiful youth come down from the hills of the Latin Quarter.

Glorious as a Greek god, Lucien took a cab, and reached the Cafe Servel at a quarter to seven. There the portress gave him some tolerably complicated directions for the ascent of four pairs of stairs. Provided with these instructions, he discovered, not without difficulty, an open door at the end of a long, dark passage, and in another moment made the acquaintance of the traditional room of the Latin Quarter.

A young man’s poverty follows him wherever he goes–into the Rue de la Harpe as into the Rue de Cluny, into d’Arthez’s room, into Chrestien’s lodging; yet everywhere no less the poverty has its own peculiar characteristics, due to the idiosyncrasies of the sufferer. Poverty in this case wore a sinister look.

A shabby, cheap carpet lay in wrinkles at the foot of a curtainless walnut-wood bedstead; dingy curtains, begrimed with cigar smoke and fumes from a smoky chimney, hung in the windows; a Carcel lamp, Florine’s gift, on the chimney-piece, had so far escaped the pawnbroker. Add a forlorn-looking chest of drawers, and a table littered with papers and disheveled quill pens, and the list of furniture was almost complete. All the books had evidently arrived in the course of the last twenty-four hours; and there was not a single object of any value in the room. In one corner you beheld a collection of crushed and flattened cigars, coiled pocket-handkerchiefs, shirts which had been turned to do double duty, and cravats that had reached a third edition; while a sordid array of old boots stood gaping in another angle of the room among aged socks worn into lace.

The room, in short, was a journalist’s bivouac, filled with odds and ends of no value, and the most curiously bare apartment imaginable. A scarlet tinder-box glowed among a pile of books on the nightstand. A brace of pistols, a box of cigars, and a stray razor lay upon the mantel-shelf; a pair of foils, crossed under a wire mask, hung against a panel. Three chairs and a couple of armchairs, scarcely fit for the shabbiest lodging-house in the street, completed the inventory.

The dirty, cheerless room told a tale of a restless life and a want of self-respect; some one came hither to sleep and work at high pressure, staying no longer than he could help, longing, while he remained, to be out and away. What a difference between this cynical disorder and d’Arthez’s neat and self-respecting poverty! A warning came with the thought of d’Arthez; but Lucien would not heed it, for Etienne made a joking remark to cover the nakedness of a reckless life.

“This is my kennel; I appear in state in the Rue de Bondy, in the new apartments which our druggist has taken for Florine; we hold the house-warming this evening.”