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faced children ; the good, the wicked, the gay, the sad. Everybody. And even in the streets, those who saw nothing, hearing the laughter, laughed also. The laughter finished in clapping of hands and stamping of feet.
The curtain dropped, Gwynplaine was recalled with frenzy. From that time the success was enormous. Have you seen “Chaos Vanquished ?" They ran after Gwynplaine. The listless came to laugh, the melancholy came to laugh, the evil consciences came to laugha laugh so irresistible, that it seemed almost like a malady. But there is a pestilence from which men do not fly, and that is the contagion of joy. The success, it must be admitted, did not get beyond the populace. A large crowd means a crowd of nobodies. They could see “Chaos Vanquished" for a penny. Fashionable people never go where a penny admits them.
Ursus thought a good deal of his work, which he had brooded over for a long time." It is in the style of one Shakspeare," he said, modestly.
The juxta-position of Dea, added to the indescribable effect of Gwynplaine. This white figure, by the side of the gnome, represented what might have been called divine astonishment. The audience regarded Dea with a sort of mysterious anxiety. She had in her aspect the dignity of a virgin and of a princess, not knowing man, and knowing God. They saw that she was blind and felt as if she could see. She seemed to stand on the threshold of the supernatural. The light that beamed on her seemed half earthly and half heavenly. She had appeared on earth, moving as they move in heaven in the radiance of morning. She found a hydra, and formed a soul. She had the air of a creative power satisfied, but astonished, at the result of her creation; and they fancied they could see in the divine surprise of that face, the expression of desire for the cause, and wonder at the result. They felt that she loved this monster, Did she recognise that he was one? Yes; since she touched him. No; since she accepted him.
This depth of night and this glory of day united formed in the mind of the spectator a clear obscure in which appeared endless perspectives. How much of divinity existed in the germ, in what manner the penetration of the soul into matter was accomplished, how the disfigured is transfigured, how the deformed becomes heavenly, all these glimpses of mysteries, made part of an almost cosmical emotion—the convulsive hilarity produced by Gwynplaine. Without going too deed, for spectators like not the fatigue of seeking below the surface, something more was understood than
Vol. IV., N. S. 1869.
was perceived. And this strange spectacle had the transparency of an avatar.
As to Dea, what she felt cannot be expressed by human words; she felt in the midst of a crowd, and knew not what a crowd was. She heard a murmur, that was all. For her the crowd was but a breath. Generations are bygone breaths. Man respires, aspires, and expires. In this crowd Dea felt alone, and shuddered as one suspended over a precipice.
All at once, in this trouble of innocence in distress, prompt to accuse the unknown, in her dread of a possible fall, Dea, serene notwithstanding, and superior to the vague agonies of peril, but inwardly shuddering at her isolation, found confidence and support. She had seized her thread of safety in the universe of shadows; she put her hand on the powerful head of Gwynplaine.
Joy unspeakable! she places her rosy fingers on this forest of crisp hair. The curls touched give an idea of softness. Dea touched a lamb which she knew to be a lion. All her heart poured out an ineffable love. She felt out of danger, she had found her saviour. The public believed that they saw the contrary. To the spectators the being loved was Gwynplaine, and the saviour was Dea. “ What matters,” thought Ursus, to whom the heart of Dea was visible; and Dea reassured, consoled, and delighted, adored the angel whilst the people contemplated the monster, and endured, fascinated also, though in an inverse sense, that dread Promethean laugh. True love is never weary. Being all soul it cannot cool. A brazier becomes covered with cinders; not so a star. These exquisite impressions were renewed every evening for Dea, and she was ready to weep with tenderness whilst the audience were in .contortions of laughter. Those around her were but joyful; she, she was happy.
The effect of the gaiety due to the sudden shock caused by the rictus of Gwynplaine was evidently not intended by Ursus. He would have preferred more smiles and less laughter, and more of a literary triumph. But triumph consoles. He reconciled himself every evening to his excessive success, as he counted how many piles of farthings made shillings, and how many piles of shillings made pounds, and besides, he said, after all, now that the laugh is forgotten and “Chaos Vanquished” has reached the depths of their minds, something of it will remain there.
Perhaps he did not altogether deceive himself; the foundations of a work settle down in the public mind. The truth is, that this populace, attentive to this wolf, this bear, to this man, then to this music, to these howlings governed by harmony, to this night
dissipated by dawn, to this chant releasing the light, accepted with a confused, dull sympathy, and with a certain emotional respect, this dramatic poem of “Chaos Vanquished,” this victory of spirit over matter, ending with the joy of man. Such were the vulgar pleasures of the people.
They sufficed them. The people had not the means of going to the noble matches of the gentry, and could not, like lords and gentlemen, bet a thousand guineas on Helmsgail, against Phelim-ghemadone.
AN OUTSIDER'S VIEW OF MEN AND THINGS.
MAN has a notion of revenging himself on that which has pleased him. Thence the contempt felt for the comedian.
This being charms me, diverts, distracts, teaches, enchants, consoles me, flings me into an ideal world, is agreeable and useful to me. What evil can I return him for this ? Humiliation. Disdain is a blow at a distance. Let us strike this blow. He pleases me, therefore he is vile. He serves me, therefore I hate him. Where can I find a stone to throw at him? Priest, give me yours. Philosopher give yours. Bossuet, excommunicate him. Rousseau, insult him. Orator, spit pebbles from your mouth on him. Bear, fling thy stone. Let us cast stones at the tree, break off the fruit and eat it. Bravo! and down with him! To repeat poetry is to be infected with the plague. Playactor, go! Let him be pilloried for his success. Let him achieve his triumph with hisses. Let him collect a crowd, and create for himself a solitude. It is thus that the wealthy, termed the higher classes of society, have invented for the actor this form of isolation, applause. The crowd are less brutal.' They neither hated nor despised Gwynplaine. Only the meanest caulker of the meanest crew of the meanest Indiaman, anchored in the meanest English seaport considered himself immeasurably superior to this amuser of the “scum," and believed that a caulker is as superior to an actor as a lord is to a caulker.
Gwynplaine was therefore, like all comedians, applauded and kept at a distance. Truly, all success in this world is a crime, and must be expiated. Who obtains the medal has its reverse also. For Gwynplaine there was no reverse. In this sense, both sides of his medal pleased him. He was satisfied with his applause, and content with his isolation. In Applause, he was rich. In Isolation, happy.
To be rich in this low estate meant to be no longer wretchedly
poor, to have no holes in one's clothes, nor cold at one's hearth, nor emptiness in one's stomach. It is to eat when hungry, and drink when thirsty. It is to have all things necessary, comprising the power of giving a penny to a poor man. This indigent wealth, enough for liberty, was possessed by Gwynplaine. So far as his soul was concerned, he was opulent. He had love. What more could he want? He wanted nothing.
You may think that had the offer been made to him to remove his deformity he would have grasped at it. Yet he would have refused it emphatically. What! to throw off this mask and regain his former face, be the creature he had been perchance created, handsome and charming? He never would have consented to it. For with what could he have supported Dea? what would have become of that poor child, that sweet blind girl who loved him ? Without this rictus, which made him a clown without parallel, he would have been a mountebank, like
any other; a common athlete, a picker up of pence between the chinks of the pavement, and Dea might probably not have had bread every day. It was with deep and tender pride he felt himself the protector of this helpless and heavenly creature. Night, solitude, nakedness, feebleness, ignorance, hunger, and thirst-seven yawning jaws of misery-were raised around her, and he was the St. George fighting the dragon. He triumphed over poverty. How?
By his deformity. By his deformity he was useful, helpful, victorious, grand. He had but to show himself, and money poured in. He was a master of crowds; and sovereign of the mob. He was able to do everything for Dea. Her wants he foresaw; her desires, her tastes, her fancies, in the limited sphere in which wishes are possible to the blind, he fulfilled. Gwynplaine and Dea were, we have already shown, Providence to each other. He felt himself raised on her wings, she felt herself carried in his arms. To protect that which loves you, to give what is necessary to her who shines on you, there can be nothing sweeter. Gwynplaine had this supreme happiness, and he owed it to his deformity. This deformity had raised him above all. By it he had gained the means of life for himself and others; by it he had gained independence, liberty, celebrity, internal satisfaction, and pride. In this deformity he was inaccessible. The Fates could do no more beyond this blow in which they had spent their force, and which he had turned into a triumph. This lowest depth of misfortune had become the summit of Elysium. Gwynplaine was imprisoned in his deformity; but with Dea, it was as we have already said, to live in a dungeon in paradise. A wall existed between them and living men. So much the better. This wall
protected whilst it enclosed them. What could affect Dea, what could affect Gwynplaine, with such a fortress around them? To take from him his success would be impossible. They would have had to deprive him of his face. Take from him his love. Impossible ! Dea could not see him. The blindness of Dea was divinely incurable.
What harm did his deformity do Gwynplaine ? None. What advantage did it give him ? Every advantage.
He was beloved, notwithstanding this horror, and perhaps for its cause. Infirmity and deformity had been by instinct drawn towards and coupled with each other. To be beloved, was it not all ? Gwynplaine thought of his disfigurement with gratitude. He was blest in this stigma. With joy he felt that it was irremediable and eternal. What a blessing that it was so! Whilst there were highways and fair grounds, and journeys to take, the people below, and the heavens on high, they would be sure to live, Dea would want nothing, and they should have love. Gwynplaine would not have changed faces with Apollo. To be a monster was to him another form of happiness. Thus, as we said before, destiny had given him all, even to overflowing. He who had been rejected had been preferred. He was so happy that he pitied the men around him. He compassionated the rest of the world.
It was, notwithstanding, his instinct to look about him, because no one is always consistent, and a man's nature is not always theoretic. He was delighted to live within an enclosure ; but from time to time he lifted his head above the wall. Then he retreated again with more joy into his loneliness with Dea, after having made comparisons. What saw he around him?
What were these living creatures of which his wandering life showed him all the specimens, each day replaced by others. Always new crowds, always the same multitude, ever new faces, ever the same miseries. A jumble of ruins. Every evening all social misfortune came and made a circle round his happiness.
The Green Box was popular.
Those who came were the weak, the poor, the little. They went to Gwynplaine as they went to gin. They came to buy a pennyworth of forgetfulness. From the height of his platform Gwynplaine passed these unhappy people in review. His spirit was enwrapt in the contemplation of all the successive apparitions of intense misery. The human physiognomy is modelled by conscience, and by the tenor of life, and is the result of a crowd of mysterious excavations. There was not a suffering, not an anger, not a shame, not a despair, of which