Page images
[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

laudable desire of "cornering" his friend, gave him the following to wriggle through: "Femme," "Catilina," ame, fouina, jongle, citoyen, ongle, paien, mirabelle, Mirabeau, belle, flambeau, "Orestie," Gabrio (a pet name for the Countess Dash, a collaborator and guest, whose name was Gabrielle), répartie. agio, figue, faisan, ligue, parmesan, moisette, pâté, grisette, bâté! Such a motley crowd of words probably never came together in the French language before!

Méry at once wrote a perfectly coherent poem to these bouts-rimés, and the poem was signed "Méry and Dumas." When on the poet's death the verse was returned to the romancer, Dumas conceived the idea of offering the autograph MS. to the reader of the Petit Journal, for which he was then writing, who could compose the best set of new lines to the endings. No less than two hundred and twenty poems were sent in, whereupon Dumas offered to make a book of them, if poets and public would subscribe 500 francs for the expenses, promising at the same time to add his autograph to each copy.

[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]


[graphic][merged small]


[ocr errors]
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][subsumed][subsumed][merged small][merged small]

The prize went to one M. Mouzin, but to our thinking, the one signed G. Dorval not only makes easy use of the boutsrimés, but contains an ingenious and comprehensive eulogy of Dumas himself. We translate it as a literary curio, without attempting to make English verse of it:

Dumas is subtle, kindly, and charming as a woman;

His genius created Kean and Catilina;
All who love him do so with heart and soul,
For his brilliant wit never plays truant.
King of jesters, with words he truly can

He pictures Pitou for us, the good citoyen, And d'Artagnan, who bravely clipped the wings

Of Richelieu, the priest with soul of pagan.
His supple talent, rich and ripe as plum,
In a most moving tale showed Mirabeau,
And bade us hear his voice so grand, so sweet,
Illuminating all minds like a torch.

In lines of beauty carved he, too, Orestie,
For in that play he wrought the heart of

M. Court's YALOU


The skill of Méry, wit and repartee,
Of which he stands the king, sans aid or

One reads his books as one would eat a fig,
A cream-tart or a slice of tasty pheasant;
Be 't a romance of days of Fronde or Ligue,
Or how to make a dish with parmesan;
For he knows all: the modest table-nut
Inspires his pow'rs as quickly as a pâté,
And he can paint you a demure grisette
As truly as a queen-or beaten ass!


The accompanying illustration from the Chronique Illustré of twenty-five years ago is à propos of Les Blancs et les Bleus, the aging dramatist's last play, taken from his last romance. We reproduce here the most effective tableau of the drama, in which the young Royalist heroine, forced by a Republican Terrorist, who has just arrived in the city, to marry him as the price of her father's life, makes a sudden frantic appeal to St. Just, a member of the Government, pleading successfully for justice and pity. At the same time Le Monde pour Rire published an only too significant cartoon

[graphic][merged small]

respecting the play. A stage failure, in the slang of the Parisian stage, is called a four (oven), and Dumas is depicted as about to populate the Chatelet Theatre's oven with his figures, painted blue and white, the while d'Artagnan (his thenexistent journal) is praying for the poor damned!

The unveiling of the Doré statue of the romancer in 1883 called forth many interesting articles never republished, and, therefore, unknown, by "the maestro's" old assistants and friends. In an old copy of the Univers Illustré there is a paragraph in the "leader" which gives one a vivid idea of the Herculean task which Dumas was wont to accomplish at the height of his fame of

course, with the help of the invaluable Maquet:


There were mornings when Dumas, opening his letter-bag, would find, let us say, a letter from Dr. Véron, asking for the fifth volume of The Lady of Monsoreau for the Constitutional; one from M. Lefloch, requesting the fourth volume of The War of Women for the Patrie; one from M. Bertin, clamouring for the fifteenth volume of Monte Cristo for the Journal des Debats; one from M. Considerant on behalf of the Démocratie Pacifique, begging for the fifth volume of the Chevalier de Maison Rouge; another from M. Zabban, desiring the end of Agénor de Mauléon for the Espagnol; and lastly, one from Émile de

« PreviousContinue »