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Forty-Five" brings us to the Bourbons. Then come our “ Three Musketeers,” whose story is continued for us in “ Twenty Years After" and “The Viscount of Bragelonne.” “The Chevalier of Harmental ” tells of the last days of Louis XIV., “A Daughter of the Regent” dates itself, “Joseph Balsamo" follows, and “The Queen's Necklace" brings us to Marie Antoinette.“ Ange Pitou” and “ The Countess of Charny." carry us onward to the Revolution, to varied aspects of which Dumas gives four novels —“ A Chevalier of the Maison-Rouge,” “ The Whites and the Blues,” “The Companions of Jehu,” and “The Red Rose.”
But because Dumas wrote novels of the chief characters and events in Novels not based on French history, it must not be supposed that he based his stories on careful careful study. study of anything. They are all built, as is “ The Three Musketeers,” on hasty impressions of memoirs, decked out by an exuberant imagination into a sort of comedy of history, that lets fancy play around the evidences of the past and, in Dumas's own words, “ exalts history to the height of fiction.” None of this work shows grasp of character or psychologic insight; here again “ The Three Musketeers” is wholly typical; but they almost all show what “ The Three Musketeers” shows supremely, prodigious imagination, wonderful dramatic instinct. He fuses and recasts his material, and links together just as the old minstrels used to do, chaplets of episodes by turns frolicsome, wild, extravagant, breathless, impetuous, all on the slenderest thread of narrative plot.
In all these novels the women are subordinated to the men. Milady in “ The Three Musketeers,” his best female character, is so because she is most virile. But he subordinates character, even in his heroes, to plot, and he subordinates plot to action. We can see him skimming the surface of history like a light-hearted boy. He has no judgment nor discernment for historic fact, but he has unerring judgment and discernment for what is effective. He never fails to absorb the reader, and to excite an intense curiosity. He seizes the telling incident, and spins around it the silken thread of his fancy with a gaiety of style.
As Dumas became popular, demand for his work came from every side, Popularity of his and, indeed, there seems to have been in the early forties a demand for work. novels in France more general and more imperative than that country had known. Every daily paper had its slice of fiction “under the line" on the first page, the feuilleton. In this way Dumas began the publication of “Monte Cristo” in 1841, and before this was finished, in 1845, he had entered into contracts simultaneously with six newspapers to furnish more “ copy” than it was physically possible for him to produce. Men said he kept a novel factory, that he bought the work of unknown authors or translators, and it does appear that he was willing to buy ideas or even whole novels and plays which he would rewrite, infusing his own spirit into them. Later on he became even less scrupulous. But it is certain that none of those who claimed to share his honor as well as his profits ever produced anything like his work. And he was a man almost as industrious as he was fertile. He lived, says the romantic critic Jules Janin, “ without a moment's rest. Even while traveling he wrote, composed, planned. He was a slave of story-telling. His youth, his whole life, passed in obeying this taskmaster, the ogre that swallowed up his genius." There seems to have been no period of his life when he could not produce with astonishing rapidity, and if he employed assistants, he got far more out of them than they ever got out of themselves. “Gentlemen,” he once said good-humoredly to his detractors, “ the doors are open for you. The columns are ready. Write us a 'Three Musketeers,' a ' Monte Cristo.' Don't wait till I'm dead to do it. With all the books I have to write, give me the relaxation of reading yours.”
It is certain, however, that Dumas overestimated his power with a His best stories. vanity that was perhaps an inheritance from his negro grandmother. The years 1843 to 1846 witnessed the crown of his achievement in
to his profilin nastrious without a momen slave
Value of such journalistic work.
Entertainer rather than artist.
“Monte Cristo," “ The Three Musketeers,” “Twenty Years After," and “ Queen Margot.” He never approached the feeblest of these.
One effect of this mode of journalistic publication is immediately apparent to every reader of Dumas's novels who realizes that the work was produced day by day, often with the copy-boy at the writer's elbow. The value of such journalistic work depends on the independent interest that each fragment possesses. The artistic effect of the whole would in any case suffer from the accentuation of the parts. The attention of the reader is inevitably concentrated on details. The architectural effect of mass is lost upon him. The author becomes a raconteur, a sort of Scheherezade aiming at immediate effects, content that the impression of today shall be effaced by the impression of tomorrow. So such novels might continue to any length, and in fact France in the forties was, in the words of one of her critics,“ overwhelmed by some five or six huge compositions that embraced in their somber framework heaven and hell with all the most deadly passions of the human race.” These were the days of the “ Memoirs of the Devil,” of “The Mysteries of Paris,” “The Mysteries of London,” and “The Wandering Jew." The taste of the time was for novels in daily morsels in which characters reappeared every morning, so regularly and so long, that men came, as Gautier says, to regard them as part of daily life. “I often used to hear men say," he tells us, “' Monte Cristo has done this or that. I think he was right' or possibly wrong, just as one would blame the acts of one alive.”
From this point of view Dumas is not so much an artist as an entertainer; not so much a quality as a quantity, or, as he said of himself, .“ only a vulgarizer.” But for this very reason he contributed more than any other to give French fiction a cosmopolitan audience in the great middle class. He extended its domain greatly and permanently, being indeed the most catholic-spirited novelist of his time in interest and in sympathy, and the greatest story-teller in all the western world.
Let us say a word of Dumas's life after “ The Three Musketeers,” before we pass to consider that novel itself. For a time he was possessor of a princely income, but he spent this and more with a phenomenal thriftlessness, for he had a sort of barbaric generosity, that made him a millionaire to a host of parasites, while to himself he was a beggar. He entered on contracts with thoughtless levity, became involved in lawsuits as costly as they were dishonorable, built a palace that cost half a million francs in 1847, sold it for debt in 1851, and from that year till his death became a pathetic wanderer, evading the sheriff and looking for “copy" in Belgium, England, Russia, the Caucasus, and Italy, till in 1866 he fell into the precarious poverty of senility, and was saved from a sordid end only by the persistent solicitude of his son, who had taken him rather as a warning than an example. He died at Dieppe on the day of the Prussian occupation of that town, December 5, 1870. After peace had come again he was solemnly interred at Villers-Cotterets.
Consider now “ The Three Musketeers,” that “Iliad of the feuilleton.” It is based, with no pretense of disguise, on the “ Memoirs of D'Artagnan” by Coutils de Sandras, who was almost contemporary with the story he pretended to record with realistic detail. These “ Memoirs" furnished the main outline of “The Three Musketeers,” and behind the hero of both is still to be discerned the historical Charles de Batz Castelmare d'Artagnan, who was killed at the siege of Maestricht in 1673. Sandras, too, had been a pioneer in the kind of fiction that Dumas was to write. He first transferred the scene of romance frankly from fairyland to France. He first made rapid action take the place of tedious talk about action, and he made men speak in brisk dialogue, not in the elaborate and fantastic language of Scudéry. Altogether in the history of fiction his book is by no means negligible, though it would surely be neglected were it not for “ The Three Musketeers.” Here, as in the
Dumas's later life.
“ The Three Musketeers.'
“Memoirs,” D'Artagnan serves as a connecting thread, though he is no
Deeds of daring.
Blight of the historical novel.
THE INNER LIFE OF AFSCHYLUS.*
SK SK BY HAROLD N. FOWLER. SK SK
(Professor of Greek, College for Women, Western Reserve University, Cleveland.) - l ESCHYLUS, the son of Euphorion, was born at Eleusis, near Athens, about 525 B. C., the son of a noble family. The deme of Eleusis was the home of the Eleusinian mysteries, the deme in which more than anywhere else in Attica religious ceremonies =9 would naturally attract the attention of the citizens and occupy their minds. Everywhere in Greece, to be sure, religious observances formed a part of the daily life of every state and every individual, for no undertaking was begun or even planned without consulting an oracle, or at least performing a sacrifice or pouring a libation, but the ceremonies connected with the Eleusinian mysteries were distinct from those of ordinary worship, and were inspired by thoughts and sentiments of a different kind.
In the centuries that had passed since the Homeric times the Greeks had advanced in civilization and culture. With this advance some change and progress in religious ideas was naturally connected, and something of this progress must be understood before we can understand the conditions of religious thought under which AEschylus was educated. In the Homeric poems we find the gods portrayed as human beings with enlarged Early status of the powers, but human in all their passions, caprices, and frailties. These gods. gods do not always agree one with another, and their treatment of human beings is the result of personal considerations, not of any general laws or principles. There is, to be sure, the restraining power of Zeus, who is stronger than the other gods, but Zeus is himself subject to the same passions and caprices as the rest. Themis, or abstract right, and Fate, or destiny, were not unknown to the Homeric age, but they were relegated to the background of religious consciousness, or rather they had not yet come forward as clear or important ideas. The gods were worshiped, but there was no logical or rational scheme of the universe in which the gods played a ruling part, nor was there any general rule - of human conduct which the gods enforced by rewards and punishments, either in this world or the next. As regards the next world, the Homeric conceptions were peculiarly vague, involving hardly a hint of
future requital for good or bad conduct in this life. Changes in religious Such crude and imperfect beliefs could not continue to satisfy the ideas. Greeks as they advanced in civilization, but must themselves be changed, revised, and improved as time went on. The Hesiodic poets did much to systematize mythology and to give it a consistent form, which was accepted in its main features throughout Greece. Then, too, as men felt more strongly than in former times the burden of the sense of sin and the fear of an offended deity, rites of purification were introduced, partly through the influence of the Delphic oracle, which tended to strengthen the feelings to which they owed their origin and to impress upon all the need of refraining from wrong-doing, and of appeasing the gods when wrong had been done. These changes had taken place in the public religion, and at the same time there seems to have been, in connection with the worship of deceased ancestors, an increase in the strength of the belief in the future life. But the gods still retained their former character, and there
*This is the seventh CHAUTAUQUAN study of the Inner Life of Historic Figures in France and Greece. Fénelon appeared in October; Pascal was published in November; Madame Guyon appeared in December; Corot's life was studied in January; The Chevalier Bayard was the character studied in February; in March Odysseus was the subject.
was still little in the religion of the ordinary man to raise him above the
Stirring times in