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vol. 3, p. 54
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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< Hugo's "Art of Being a Grandfather" (continued from page 3-53) >

In each forest vista a fire glows.
A graveyard is seen on the mountain-height ;
Where does God find all the gloom that He throws
O’er the broken heart and the falling night ?

Silver flakes tremble along the sands ;
The chalky cliff with gold is lined ;
The shepherd the flight of monstrous bands
Of devils follows athwart, the wind.

Each chimney dons a hodden plume ;
With his faggot the woodman hastes to house ;
You hear o'er the rush of the rivulet’s flame
The shiver and moan of the wind-swayed boughs.

Gaunt wolves, morose, howl in hungry dreams ;
The river races, the clouds have fled ;
Behind the pane the lamp-light gleams
On a little child with a flaxen head.

Je ne sais plus quand, je ne sais plus où,
Maître Yvon soufflait dans son biniou.

“ La Lune ’’ concludes with a very pretty thought and phrase, à propos of a child's wish for the moon :

Peut-étre la-haut, il est, dans l'ignoré.
Un dieu supérieur aux dieux que nous rêvâmes
Capable de donner des astres à des âmes.

“ Le poeme du Jardin des Plantes ” is a very pretty little thing, beginning

Le comte de Buffon fut bonhomme, il créa
Ce jardin imité d’Évandre et de Rhéa
Et plein d’ours plus savants que ceux de la Sorbonne,
Afin que Jeanne y puisse aller avec sa bonne.

It is, however, more notable for an angry verse.

God, says the poet, is capable of all,
Liu qui fait balayer
Le bon goût, ce ruisseau, par Nisard, ce concierge,
Livre au singe excessif la forêt, cette vierge,
Et permet à Dupin de ressembler aux chiens.
(Pauvres chiens) !

The stanzas dedicated “ To George,” and containing an invitation to visit the menagerie, are a little like Dickens's rhyme on a similar subject, but have some good lines, such as the comparison of a tiger’s head to a mask of ebony with two flaming holes through which hell is seen, and the concluding verse :

Il est bon quand on vient d entendre parler l’homme,
D aller entendre un peu rugir le grand lion !

In the second poem, “Jeanne Eudormie ” is repeated the effect in the first, the poet sitting by the cradle and reading in the pious papers denunciations of him as a Communard, a drinker of blood, a being; who could not have been much worse if Napoleon bad taken him into the Cabinet, and in the midst of his consequent rage feeling the sleeping child’s hand tighten round his finger. The foes of France, Rome, the basilisk, these spiders the Jesuits, and that vulture. Bismarck, come in for their punishment in due course. With as much vigor and egotism there is combined in “Une Tape” an unusual airiness. The little one has slapped the poet, who does not scold, for after seeing the world and righting immense wrongs, and fighting gigantic battles, one enters the house a little tired and prepared to submit to domestic indignities.

Bah ! do we fight against Aurora should she come !
The thunder ought to be good company at home !

There should not here be passed over a bizarre little ronde, not very easy to translate off-hand, acceptably :

Grand bal sous le tamarin.
On danse et l'on tambourine.
Tout bas parlent, sans chagrin,
Mathurin à Mathurine,
Mathurine à Mathurin.

Sous l'armeau le pèlerin
Demaude à la pèlerine
Un baiser pour un quatrain.
Mathurin à Mathurine,
Mathurine h Mathurin.

In “ Le Pot Cassé ” Hugo develops his idea of an amiable anarchy under grandfatherly rule, which contains a couple of characteristic allusion’s :

* * * J’irais clignant de la paupière
Rendre aux pauvres leurs sous dans le dire à Saint Pierre
Je dirais à liabbé Dupanloup : Moins do zèle !
Vous voulez à là Vierge ajouter, la Pucelle,
C’est cumuler. Monsieur 1’ Evêque ; apaisez vous!

Contrasted immediately and strongly with the gentille “ Chanson de Grand-Père,” published in THE WORLD on Sunday—

Dansez, les petites filles,
Toutes en rond.
En vous voyant si gentilles,
Les bois riront—

^s a stately and severe “ Chanson d'Ancêtre,” recalling and praising the lofty courage and civic virtue of the Gauls. Its burden is somewhat of a blemish, but there are some strong passages, as :

Rien n'est plus sublime
Que l'océan avec ses profonds ouragans,
Si ce n'est l'homme avec ses sombres épopées.

There is a very jolly little bit where Charles, wearied with studying Juvenal, sets to drawing caricatures on the margins, and is ignominiously given as a pœna a thousand lines of Latin to write out. The unhappy Nisard comes in for it again :

Un âne, qui ressemble à Monsieur Nisard, brait
Et s’achève en hibou dans l'obscure forêt.

The great satirist himself appears to the schoolboy, consoles him with the reflection that he als^ caught it heavily for drawing caricatures in Rom^ and cancels the punishment.

This poem is followed by " Graudpa’s Boy Fli^tarions," a romance in Hugo’s oddest style and wit^ -a ^ng of De Musset at times.


Comme elle avait la-résille,
D’abord la rime hésita.
Ce devait être Inesille. . .
Mais non, c'était Pépita.

Sixteen. Tall and stately she—
[ Out again in my rhyming—Psha !]
Rhymer—“ It must Inez be ;”
Rhyme—[“ But it was Pepita.”]

Twas in Spain [Spain I adore,]
In the spring, at peep of day,
Ere I was, where I’m no more ;
I was eight and she, in play,

Said to me : “ Pepa is my
Name ; my father's agrandee."
I felt manly, and pray why
Not ? For conquerors were we !

In her net of silken mesh
Pepa used doubloons to hang,
At each movement a flame afresh
From her chestnut tresses sprang.

Danced her silken petticoat,
Jacket of toréador,
Velvet blue, black lace at throat,
Gold in the sunshine on the floor.

Almost then a woman grown
Was my Pépita, my goddess ;
She hid my heart with her own
’Neath her azure velvet bodice.

How I fluttered in her chamber
As chicks when near the falcons be ;
She a necklace wore of amber,
A rose grew on her balcony.

Every day, in sun or shower,
Came a beggar to the fence ;
A bold dragoon at the same hour
Would arrive, I know not whence.

By her rose-tree leaning down,
With the ambergauds on her,
Pepa gave alms to the clown,
Gave too to the officer !

Prouder this, less wretched that,
Off their several ways they took ;
One a coin bore in his hat,
T’other in his heart a look !

There, the window near, stood I,
Trembling ; to look out too small.
Amorous, not knowing why ;
Pool, not understanding all !

Then she’d say to me with charms :
“ Marry me.” To choose she meant
As her love the man-at-arms,
As her lord the innocent !

Love I whispered, little fool !
Pepa answered, “ Not so loud !”
As I warmed, so she grew cool.
Meanwhile, o’er the way a crowd

Of our soldiers quaffed their wine,
And were playing dominoes
In a palace great and fine—
It was Duke Masserano's.

If space allowed us we should like to give a few verses from “ Le Trouble-Fète,” for the sake of their melody, but the poem must be passed. "With “ The Epic of the Lion,” readers of THE WORLD are familiar from the translations published on Tuesday. A sweet little thing succeeds, “ To Spirits Plown,” which is full of the bubbling, exulting life that characterizes all Hugo's simple lyrics :

Nous avions sous los tonnelles
Une maison près Saint-Leu.
Comme les fleurs étaient belles !
Comme le ciel était blen !

We laughed in that hearty way,
Was of old in Eden bred ;
Having always that to say,
That we had already said.

Mother Goose I told about.
Happy ? Yes ; God knows we were ;
In sheer ecstasy we’d shout
At birds passing in the air.

The concluding section of the hook, “ Que les petits liront quand ils seront grands," probably will be regarded as containing its highest poetry and some of its best literary workmanship, though, on the other hand, there are many Hugonians who will hold with us that it is in his less pretentious pieces that the poet is always at his best. In “ Progrès " a few lines may be quoted. Of God, says the author in a characteristic comparison :

From the same emerald he flings
The green upon the hum-bird's wings,
The green upon the dragon’s scale.

Traverse the seas, O, Man ! Fling now
All of the past time overboard,
Make into torch to light thy prow
The rank hemp of the gibbet-cord.
Surmount the mountains. Bruise the head
Of monsters in their slimy bed ;
Be as Apollo was of old.
When the sword’s just the sword is pure.
Go, then ! The hydra’s blood tits your
Proud forehead better far than gold.

The last poem of the concluding section describes the flight of the soul after truth. Any reader of Hugo can imagine how with the nervous measure above indicated and with such a subject the poem sweeps through some three hundred lines starred with vigorous phrases and pictures. As when the shadow taunts humanity with age after age creating the same gods from the same materials :

You get you some ideal power
Some old dream of humanity.
Give him the thunder for his dower,
For aureole, Eternity !
You make, you alter, you renew,
Trembling reveal him unto you
And shudder at your own creation ;
His life who else than you supplies ?
You make him bounteous, great and wise—
And warm you at his desolation !

You think a wider dawn, a new,
Beneath the firmament is growing,
Because some god set fire to
By your dream, for an instant’s glowing,
No, all is frigid in a trice.
It is the same old shrine of ice :
Delphos deserted ; Bethel lone.
Yes, hardly does your idol fine
When burned upon his proper shrine
A moment warm the altar-stone !

With the poet’s answer we may conclude these f^stily-made selections. Is it for nothing, he asks,

For nought, O graves that open lie.
That we hear towards discovery
Whinny the horses of our thought ?

* * * What then would be this world immense
Were it not given conscience,
For light, and attribute, and soul ?
Grim sable ladder would it be
Of new births without memory
In an ascension to no goal.

Larva by spectre dogged in strife :
That would be all ! What, then, 0, Fate ?
I’d have a duty in my life,
But Death of rights be desolate !
Up from the stone to heaven’s Kings,
What meaning’s in this mist of things,
Of beings in the whirlwind's gloom?
Is the dawn true or false ? Is birth
Liviug ? The furrow in the earth,
Wherein does’t differ from the tomb ?

* * * Death-Life, enigmata austere,
Realities beneath you lie ;
Here halt the Kants, the Voltaires here,
The Euclids ; but not so halt I !
I go, and onward press I shall
Till having pierced the double wall
Of dogma and of tempie through,
I find torn veil and broken bar ;
Behind their Jupiter the Star,
Beyond their Elohim the Blue !


And thus spake on that ancient man

A Curiosity of Crime

How a Sensitive French Boy Objected to Being Named After the Assassins Billoir and Magaux

Louis Jacquin, a boy of fifteen, has been on trial at the Court of Assizes of the Seine, Paris for the murder of his brother, a lad of fourteen. The murder occurred on the 5th of May last, and is certainly a truly French curiosity of crime.

The two boys worked in common in a cabinetmaker's shop. One morning, in the course of certain jocular exchanges of conversation, Alexander Jacquin, the murdered boy, called his brother “Bolloir and Magaux,”

“Why do you name me after those infamous assassins ?” insisted Louis.

“Because I choose,” returned his brother, laughing. “You are not foolish enough to get angry, are you ?”

“But there is Clemence [their employer’s daughter] laughing at me ” demanded Louis.

“ Pshaw ! who would not laugh ?” returned Alexander. “You arc a goose. Go on with your work. ”

Louis complied, muttering and grumbling constantly: –

“Magaux and Billoir, eh! Oh, I am to be called an assassin, am I ? Then I will be one. One might as well be a murderer as have people call one so.”

The next morning, while Alexander was planing down a plank, Louis came up to him and asked sharp]y :—

“What is it I am called ?”

“Buloir and Magaux,” answered his brother.

“Then I will be Them !” yelled the young assassin, and before his brother could defend himself he plunged a long knife into his abdomen with such force as to literally disembowel him.

Alexander rolled on the floor and the murderous boy again and again drove the knife into his body until, when aid arrived, his victim was at the last gasp.

The precocious assassin gave no reason for his crime other than that noted above.

“He called me Billoir and Magaux,” he said, “and made Clemence laugh at ... So I might as well have the crime as the rcputa^.”

After a long trial he was acquitted on the ground of insanity.—Shanandoah Herald.

Editor's notes

  1. And thus spake on that ancient man by unknown author
  2. A Curiosity of Crime by unknown author (signed as Shanandoah Herald)