Page images
PDF
EPUB

SIXTY YEARS OF THE “REVUE DES DEUX suppressions nor the alterations practiced hy BuMONDES.”

loz on his writers' prose, often said, "I write In the comedies of olden time the dramatis per. rarely in the Revue des Deux Mondes because Bu

loz is not fond of me sonæ were often named after their part: the

In this Michelet was mis"Abbe," the "Secretary," the "General.” This is taken; it was not the writers whom Buloz disliked, what might be done with regard to the contribu but the Revue which he preferred, and Michelet tors to the Revue des Deux Mondes. Ever since it himself in the beginning had too "new" a style in has been in existence, and under all forms of gov

the eyes of the majority of subscribers for Buloz ernment, the Revue des Deux Mondes, has always

to run the risk of alarming them. Do not forget, had its "philosopher," its "povelist,” its "histor

reader, the very reactionary color of Comte Mole, ian." its “sailor,” its "officer,” its "great lady,” its and certain early patrons of the Revue, who, as they "art critic,” its "literary critic,” its “politician.” were obliged to tolerate romantism in fiction and fanThe novelist, the critic, or the politician made the

tastic literature, were all the more resolute in ex. review a paying concern, according as the scales

pelling it from the historical domain. Certainly of public opinion inclined to one or the other in the period, thanks to the outburst of literary exthe valuation of their talent. These designations,

cellence which began to fill it, was the accomplice formerly more particularly adopted in theatrical

of the energy and organizing genius of a man like spheres, crept into salons, a fact that explains

Buloz. With a whole staff of officers, the role of their adaptability to the Revue des Deux Mondes,

the leader is marvelously simplified. Yet, in truly in itself the salon of Europe as it is the peri- spite of this, had it not been for the strong montastyle of the Academy.

guard combativeness of the director, the Revue Once admitted within its sacred precincts, the

must have perished, as so many others perish, neophyte easily bends to what is required of him, under the pressure of the nonentities imposed on and, under the shadow of his future electors,

them by shareholders or powerful protectors. adopts the tone, manner and style of the academi

It was only natural that the Conservative supcian he hopes one day to be. A day arrives when porters of the Revue, who tolerated certain writers the young writer, who not unfrequently began by

of the Opposition, should do so on condition of some modest exotic adaptation, abandons his

furnishing a quota of their own shade of opinion, deferential hesitations, and, if a critic, at

saying: "We will accept your Sand and Musset if tains by degrees those heights of scath you will accept our Sacy, St-Marc-Girardin," &c. ing irony, the inevitable reaction from early This, however, came of itself later on and at suctimidity. The Revue is firmly rooted in the

cessive dates, for the period of the representatives purest romantism, which, added to its pres

of the Journal des Debats was not simultaneous ent decided academic color, gives it the somewhat with the period or Alfred de Vigny, and other hybrid appearance of a battlemented castle sur. writers of the romantic school. Yet among the mounted by an Athenian cupola.

"romantics” a choice was made. The conservative Let us point to another contradiction, dating and governmental instinct of Buloz set those on from the first hour, that of being at once separa

one side who were “romantic" chiefly by spirit of tist and unionist. Separatisi on account of the rebellion, like Barbey d'Aurevilly: the sting revery decided division of labor between writers sulting from this ostracism being so keenly felt by having each their special literary domain; Union

the object thereof, that as late as 1876 he conist because, however isolated these writers be

may

temptuously referred to the Revue as an "icy in their own sphere of action, there is a bond which crypt,” never having forgiven his exclusion. unites them all, the "spirit” of the Revue, which

When Charles Nodier and Gerard de Nerval is notbing else than the spirit and soul of its had disappeared, only the great ones of the rofounder. A spirit eminently conservative, whose mantic movement remained, over whom the Uniessence has never been impaired by the most dar. versity sprinkled its holy water.

The august ing contribuions. The spirit of Francois Buloz it procession of "Sorbonniens" represented by Villeis which animates, and will continue to animate, main, Cousin, Vitet, Ampere, Remusat, &c., apthe Revue des Deux Mondes. This spirit of con peared, and it is perhaps in these facts, more than servatism is the safeguard of a literary group. It in the supposed want of tenderness in Buloz, that resists that stream of tendencies peculiar to each the true reason of Michelet's abstention should be period, which, in carrying an organ along with it, sought. What could Tintoret himself do if he deprives it of its original principle and individual were sbut up in the Acropolis! The refulgent power.

This spirit, which boldly holds its own fire of the historic ressuscitens could find no place against the attacks of time, was necessarily during amongst so many sage Platoniciens, so careful of the life of the founder of the Revue inacceptable the form, that for some, like Vitet and Ampere, to many from its very intensity.

the framework was more important than the perMichelet, for instance, who admitted neither the sons it was to frame.

After the advent of the Empire the Revue be the question; the reader is the product of his surcame chiefly political; the stronghold of the Oppo- roundings, and it was that reader's tastes which sition; the palladium of Orleapism. Buloz always served as a guide to Buloz. remained as proof against the advances of the The romantic movement had been created by Tuileries as he was unshaken in his fidelity to the what remained of the soldierly traditions of the Orleans family. All this, however, did not pre Empire, added to the troubadourism of the Restorvent a legend from spreading - a legend chiefly ation. Thereader of the Revue of 1838 was as fitted due to the recriminations of "rejected contribu for the perusal of "Lelia" and "Indiana," as well tors," which dwelt more on the aggressive side of prepared by Rene and Delphine for the exaggerathe Bulozian energy than on its noble and gener tions of emotional transports as the sane reader of ous nature. Has not Plautus always exercised a our pages is prepared by the business-like atmosgreater fascination over the multitude than Tacı- phere he breathes to read Bourget, Hervieu, and tus, and is it not the multitude who make reputa the most ruthless psychologists of that school. If tions- while envy traces the portrait? Thus are Buloz refused to admit a certain naturalism of the explained those sketches in which the claws of coarser kind, bis refusal was caused by a profound the great founder are emphasized, whilst in reality knowledge of his public, the science of the laws he had no other claws than those of an over

of evolution and flexibility, without which no worked Titan, whose serenity sometimes gave way magazice can live. under the pressure of multiple responsibility.

The salon of Alfred de Vigny, where the inspirMuch too little has been said about the vigor and

ation of Marie Dorval was felt under the visible many-sided beauty of his character. The assidu grace of Mme. de Vigoy, furnished many contribous manner in which the Emperor laid siege to

utors to the founder of the Revue, Ste. Beuve the Revue, and the firmness and noble-mindedness amongst others—pot the Ste. Beuve of the Port with which Buloz, who personally liked Napoleon Royal and the seventeenth century, but Ste. III. as much as he execrated the Empire, resisted Beuve the poet author of "Joseph Delorme" and the attack, has never been sufficiently brought the “Consolations." forward. The founder of the Revue des Deux Another bond of union between the men of that Mondes displayed rare energy in hardening bim- period was their disinterestedness. No sooner self against his own sympathy, and at once ceased

had it been known that a new review was about bis visits to St. Cloud when he realized the nature to appear, than everyone was anxious to particiof the ascendency exercised.

pate in its production, without asking or caring With Napoleon III. it bad been personal fasci- how much they would be paid, or whether they nation, with Cavour vain-glorious baubles-such were to be paid at all, the only ambitio. being to as a Count's title, which the founder of Italian gain the public ear. This indifference to money unity offered the director of the Revue. A case in

outlived the time of the first romantic writers. which Cavour showed a decided lack of psycho. The author of these pages remembers in her childlogical insight. No living being was so entirely hood to have seen Cousin and Villemain, both old indifferent to all worldly vanity as this great

men at that time, walk about the Luxemburg worker, fated to fall at his post.

Gardens with her father for hours together. The 'To see Buloz on the eve of a number, would child remembers the ever recurrent names of Rahave sufficed to show him entirely wrapped up in cine, Conde, Richelieu, which reached her ears, as the fate of bis magazine. Nights spent poring she trundled her hoop backwards and forwards. over proofs, reading, re-reading, and working In re-memorating these informal conversations, them over again; the genius-like manner (the ex the conclusion is evident; the time spent by those pression is not exaggerated in this case) with

true literati in critical discussions would be spent which this cast-iron Savoyard availed himself of by our contemporaries in prose-making, either by his instinctive knowledge of the reader, to draw

writing or lecturing; but in any case remunerative from the writer the very essence of his talent; the prose. Such was the prestige of Buloz's directorardent love, the lover's patience and self-sacrifice ship in the eyes of men like Cousin, that far from he had for "his" Revue, excluded entirely any objecting, as Michelet did, to the pruning and hold over him by anything in the world, save cutting of his articles, he often said: “When Buloz what might benefit his work.

wishes to sacrifice a passage, I always consent; Considering that one of the glories of Francois for if I resisted, I know that it is I who would be Buloz was that prescience which made him feel wrong." every vibration of the public, it is easy to under

I stand that, as the Revue began in romantism, it Romantism may be defined as naturalism with repudiated naturalism, although both are branches emotional developments. Naturalism was a more of the same psychological trunk. It was the per- physiological form of romantism. The romantism spicacity of the founder of the Revue which settled of Dumas pere incarnated inself in Anthony, who

kills because he is resisted; the naturalism of ism and "actualism" presented themselves under Dumas fils takes form in Claude, who kills because the frock coat of "M. de Camors," our hero did there was not resistance enough. As far as moral not hesitate to accept the same. initiative is concerned it is the same thing, and in Romantism was all over in 1838, even in such a reasonably constituted society neither the out satirical brains as Loeve-Veimars (one of the most raged husband for the exasperated lover will brilliant at that time). We find in Loeve's "Nehave the right to kill. Whether it be the impulse penthes” (miscellaneous Merimeean stories) a deof passion, as in Anthony's case, or of retributive cidedly romantic tone! In like mapper Octave justice, as with Claude, it is always impulse; and Feuillet, the Berquin of the Jeune Homme PauClaude who kills in invoking considerations fur vre," was finishing his career in writing "Julia de nished by anger is no wbit less romantic, less pas Treceur,” and “M. de Camors.” The influence of sionate, less impulsive than Anthony. It may, environment was making itself felt again. Natthen, be said that the distinction is only in words, uralis'n had told on Feuillet, as romantism had and that a so-called "naturalist” like Goncourt is on Merimee; when the clever Mephistopheles of only a variety of the romantist. Hence, if the Arsene Guyot and the Venus d'Iles wrote “CoRevue accepted Indiana and Lelia, whilst it re lomba" and "Carmen.” fused to admit naturalism, it was chiefly because

II. the framework and style of Mme. Sand, poetical A majestic muse floating her flag over the two and high-flown to an intense degree, avoided the hemispheres! Such was the illustration designed disagreeable realism of our contemporary "patur by Johannot for the heading of the numbers of alists," or to speak more clearly, because the nat

1838-a muse, a flag, two globes! No one will uralism of romantism was idealist, taking pleasure deny that to moderns this is a decoration infinitely in expressing the finer movements of disinterested more antiquated than any shaft of a pillar dating passion, whilst the naturalism of our days prefers from Sesostres. The trinity of the Revue de Paris, to contemplate Nature in her lower aspects. The Revue des Voyages, and Francois Buloz had given difference is felt rather from an æsthetic than birth to this pictorial inspiration, Over two corpses from a moral stand point. The reader of the Revue -the Revue de Paris was no more, the Revue des is neither a St. Vincent de Paul nor a pathologist; Voyages was expiring-over these two dead bodies he does not profess to read for anything beyond the undaunted montagnard had breathed life. his information or his pleasure. He can have no Henceforth, draped in a sun-colored covering the professional reasons to descend with Nana into nymph pursued her way, carried along by every those depths which are reputed true to life in pro- zephyr, and directed in her course by all kinds of portion to their filth. Being neither a "fisher of mariners--here borne towards the heights of critimen” nor

an apostle, what would the modern cism or of art by Beule and Ampere, there soaring abonne find to interest him in reading of this kind? to the realms of history with Vitet; yet again, risWhat Buloz tried to avoid was not the violence of ing to the regions of imagination and poetry--this the subject, but its unæsthetic treatment. In re muse, from Merimee to Loti, from Michelet to fusing to admit the Goncourts the founder of the Duruy, from Montegut to Lemaitre, has every Revue was not actuated by a systematic want of koown fortune except the bad. appreciation of their talent, but by the certainty At the time of which we are writing the wealth that his subscriber, even supposing him to admire of this Golconda was, however, more apparent on "Germinie Lacerteux" and her congeners, would the title-page of the Revue than in its cash-box, or cease subscribing publicly as a kind of salve to his in the shareholders' dividends. It was an unrivconscience for buying the volume privately. Per alled literary orchestra. The music-stands were sonally, Buloz appreciated wit wherever it was to all occupied by musicians of the first order. Its to be found, even in the “Nain Jaune.” He had “philosopher” gormandizing Lerminier, whose charged his brother-in-law, Herry Blaze, to act as “menus'* were the delight of "Paris qui s'amuse,” an intermediary between him and Rochefort, as whilst “Paris qui travaille” attended his lectures also between him and Dumas fils. Rochefort in at the Sorbonne. Poetry was represented by Lathe Revue des Deux Mondes! This bomb was martine, de Vigny, Musset. When Lamartine retransformed by the Prussians into a soap-bubble. ceived from Buloz two bank.notes of a thousand

Prepared for everything during the siege, francs each, for a few verses, he exclaimed, "I through which he passed with stoic endurance, thought the Revue did not pay for poetry.” “Yes, Buloz had taken his precautions in Holland, and when it is Jocelyn's." It is true that Musset's after having emigrated with the Chambers to Ver Proverbes”—those proverbs which now give the sailles during the Commune, he was ready for any

*One of Lerminier's friends, celebrated for his wit, saw event, and neither the siege nor the "Federates”

him sit down to dinner just as he himself was going to ever caused an hour's delay in the publication of hear the “Dame Blanche”: when he returned, he found

Lerminier at his dessert. "Lerminier's dinner is an opera the fortnightly number. When "naturalism," real

comique,” he said.

poet's heirs an annual income of 40,000 francs in their alternate loves and hates are to be seen true it is these proverbs were then paid for at 25 every day in the amative processes of lovers exlouis each! This is quite exact, but what is not "cited and enervated by too vivid imagination or less so, and not so well known, is that Musset too intense cerebral pressure. Those cerebral never found himself in 'pecuniary'embarrassmients workshops, in constant ebullition, which produce (which was often the case) without Buloz helping in a state of fever and recruit' their strength in a him out of them for the time being..." mirage, all this has been foreseen in the order of · Lerminier, whose 'epicurianism and dandyism evolution--why then' was such a fate especially equalled, to say the least of it, his philosophy, has reserved to these particular lovers? left us a fine book on "Les Lois.”. His style was "At this period of the Revue's existence, Mme. good, and he possessed a strong power of evoca Sand liad been the only writer of fiction, when tion; the manner in which he depicts the baptism suddenly and incognito with the "Peche de Madeof Clovis reminds one of Michelet, and the volume leine" opened wide to Mme. Caro the path of contaius upon the spectacular exhibitions of Cath fame. olicism, fragments of an immortal color and viva Victor Hugo sent verses to Guernsey which city. Yet, with what forgetfulness these secondary were the exile's lament, accompanying S:e. Beúve, glories of romantism have fallen! Secondary only Edmond About, and Octave Feuillet in their (with regard to their surroundings, for in a less march towards' St. Cloud. three new converts to elysian period they would have taken their place imperialism, of whom, however, it cannot be said at the head of the movement, and not in tbe sec that they followed in the wake' of Metimee; the ond rank:.

imperialism of Merintee really resolving itself into - In the summary of the same years we find Am- "Eugenisin." The author of "Carmen" could weil adee Thierry and his "Attila" (the conqueror of have paraphrased whát Thiers said in speaking of men preceded the conqueror of souls). "Attila Catholicism: "I am not "for the spiritual, but thie was followed in the same review (and by the same temporal?” Merimee would have expressed hiinauthor) with a whole procession of saints of the selfiin saying, "Iain for the Enpress, the Einpite Thebaid+S. Jerome, S. Paula, 6: Eustachia, &c. is nothing to me.""'? . By the side of Thierry we find Merimee, archæ. But to return to 'Buloz and his love for the ologist, asthete, and storyteller in turns, as he "Revue." '. A few verses of Musset; Written as 'a describes in the countries he visits the stones with pastime;'remain one of the best sketches to depict which cathedrals are built, or the stones to be this energetic and ardent nature sb 'entirelylábfound at the bottom of Carmen's heart.

sorbed by his work. Wishing to estimate properly -: We now approach the fateful date which, thanks the extent of Buloz's uneasiness when the fate of to an accident, gave birth to the most popularized his creation was at stake, Musset shows hini to'uis love story of the century. A duet was contem- during the summer at a moment when all his 'staff plated with Dumas, chance brought about a meet are dispersed, the "number" is near, and manaing with Musset. A fall to Pagello; from Pagello to scripts absent: Chopin, that is how :Vulcan manages when he

Buloz est sur la greve: touches love affairs.: Ste: Beuve gave a supper at

Pale et decolore, Puissot; instead of Dunias who was expected, it

Il voit passen en reve was Musset who came; from that circumstance

Gerdes* tont effare. sprang "Elle et Lui" and "Lui et Elle," with all

Ampere, eu bas de soie, ;,'

Pour l'Afrique est parti, the detractors of "Elle' and all the brawlers against

Dans les filles de joie "Lui." In spite of its many storms and fluctua

Musset s'est abruti. tions, nothing could be more common place in

George Sand est abesse reality than this love story. Two imaginative be

1. Dans un couvent lointain. ings meet, and pass from love to execration, from Mme. Sand had stepped progressively from execration to insult, from insult to love again, "Lelia" to the subtle dissertations of "Mlle de la separating to come together once more;' all these Quintinie" and the “Marquis de Villemer,” to finphases being accentuated by endless caprices. ish by the apotheosis of the hearth after she had This is the alphabet of love, and in this case lovers begun by the "Meunier d'Angibault." Feuillet, offer supreme excuse or justification the merit of on the contrary, passed from the somewhat insipid having written "Rolla" and "Indiana."); Why, berquinades of his first manner to the violent imthen, so much tumult and outcry over a liaison in petuosity of "M. de Camors" and "Julia de Trewhich, after all, the only, exceptional element was caur." Camors was in truth the synthesis of the the genius of those engaged in it, but which was time; he presented himself to society covered with decidedly banal as a love drama. The capricious. paternal blood, as Napoleon III. presented himself ness and violence, the versatility and monotony splashed from head to foot by the ad of December. in these changes shown by, Musset and Mme. Sand

* The Secretary of the Revue.

[ocr errors]

i

[ocr errors]

III.

lasted ten years. The machine exploded in 1868. The war of Italy was strenthening an already The very day after the publication of one of his existing friendship between Count Cavour and chronicles Forcade went mad. We have before Buloz. Under the signature of Albert Blanc, writing on the subject here read over those pages later on Ambassador of France in Italy, the Revue which speak of events long since past, of facts gave to the world a great deal of what Victor long since accomplished. Such an intense and Emanuel's minister was planning. Albert Blanc's living force animates them that they can only be articles were historical. He spoke of Victor Am compared to some pages of Theophile Gautier. adee, but under this leitmotir of past times every There are parts of this chronicle, those written one understood the transparent allusions to things during the war of Italy and the affairs of Schlesof the day where the plan of the morrow was wig-Holstein, which reach the heights of history, clearly indicated. Albert Blanc seemed to speak and form, moreover, the most valuable documents only of Charles Albert; in reality it was Cavour of the period, who took this means of communication with Napo Living in a train, every month Buloz left Paris leon III.

in the morning of the ist and 15th and returned In 1859 the Revue des Deux Mondes, now flour on the 26th and roth; fifteen hours to go and fifishing and powerful and able to give big dividends teen to return, which made sixty hours a month. to the shareholders, had migrated from the rue des This tiring life, carried on for many years, would Beaux Arts to the rue St. Benoit, a characteristic soon have ruined a less robust constitution. Buloz habitation with a general savor of Jansenism and was not long ill; he was taken off by a chronic the seventeenth century. The offices, situated on disease which had exhausted his general health. the first floor, opening on the garden, gave one The fatigue of traveling would have been nothing the idea of a house in Marais (the fashionable without the anxiety occasioned by the "number." neighborhood of Pascal's time) quite appropriate Imagine the continual agitation of the telegraph to the collaboration of Ste. Beuve. The distance between Paris and Ronjoux (on Lake Bourget), is great between the official decorum of the pres the delay in promised papers, the fear of running ent building in the rue l'Universite, and the bu short of matter to fill the Revue!—all these cares colic aspect of the study where Forcade used to rendering life in the country still more worrying write bis "political chronicle"; the chronicle which perhaps than life in town. He died quietly, his influenced the march of European politics, the proofs in his hand, without ever having failed in chronicle so eagerly awaited by ministers of every the production of a single number. country.

None could be less like the founder of the Revue A dandy, deriving a considerable fortune from than his son Charles Buloz: affable, hospitable as his directorship of the Semaine Financiere, Eugene much as his father had been stern and austere. Forcade had no hesitation in declaring that he The new reign was an Elizabethan age of courtliwould gladly write his chronicle without the ness nd grace, and purely literary prestige. smallest remuneration, so highly did he appreciate Renan was at his highest-the Renan of Marcthe situation and notoriety it gave him. But For Aurele and the "Apotres," in the full bloom of his cade's success was precisely the cause of his ruin. evangelical-philosophical career. Like Balzac, carrying everything to excess, he Around the young editor gathered a cluster of forced his instrument, and broke it. On the 14th contemporary romancers and historians: Duruy, and 30th of each month he was to be seen alight Delpit, Henry Houssaye; academicians in the bud, ing from his carriage about eight in the morning as yet only lively and brilliant "chums" of the before the Revue des Deux Mondes. Until 10:30 new chief, no less than well-appreciated writers. he went over the heap of daily papers awaiting After the war and Commune there survived no him on his table. At eleven he sat down to a "Opposition"; hence no more waves of politics to lunch as formidable as Lerminier's dinners, which be raised or calmed by a Forcade. he discussed alone with two bottles of Burgundy, Charles de Mazade, the "fortnightly" politibrought from his own cellar. After his coffee and cian, and Emile Montegut remained, under the cigar, he began his task at 12:30, having as sole amicable new reign, the principal representatives witnesses of his labor two decanters of fine cham. of former times. pagne. At six he rose, with the task accomplished Under a body so frail that his hearers often and the bottles empty. His pen had run over the feared to see it break during the violent gesticulapaper from 12:30 to 6 without a single interrup- tion and vivacity of his speech, Montegut hid a tion, without the slightest correction or erasure. true artist's soul, a soul subtle, delicate and ardent, His sheets, thrown on the ground beside him,

excellently expressed in the following lines in were taken away every two hours by a messenger which the critic describes friendship: “Contrary from the printing office.

to love, friendship possesses its greatest charm This fortnightly production, at high pressure, and value only wben two beings understand each

« PreviousContinue »