[blocks in formation]




How many of the million readers at leisure, with results for which who have drawn deep draughts of lovers of romance of the rapier delight from · Les Trois Mousque- and rosette school can never be taires' have suspected that d’Ar- too grateful; but it might be tagnan and his inseparable quar- searched for elsewhere in vain. tette of friends ever had existence Dumas and his generation had except in the fertile brain of the passed away before the happy author ? They might have known thought occurred to a firm of otherwise, indeed, but for the publishers in Paris to issue a new pardonable habit of skipping pre- edition. faces to works of fiction, because Alexandre Dumas explained frank- The first thought that arises ly enough in his preface to the after perusing this extraordinary first edition of the Mousque- narrative is one of gratitude for taires' how, when he was col- having been allowed to read first lecting material in the Biblio- 'Les Trois Mousquetaires' and thèque royale for his history of the continuations, Vingt Ans

, Louis XIV., he came across the Après' and 'Le Vicomte de BrageMémoires de M. d'Artagnan,' lonne.'

lonne.' So far from being inferior printed at Amsterdam by Pierre in constant movement and thrill Rouge, was the custom of to that series of novels, this wonauthors of that epoch who desired derful autobiography, if anything, to tell the truth without undergo- excels them in those respects. ing an experience of the Bastille." D'Artagnan, like Edward Gibbon

” Dumas by no means sought to and most of those who have left conceal the source of his inspira- memorable memoirs, was turned tion; on the contrary, he recom- fifty before he began to write mended such of his readers as the strange story of his life, and appreciated contemporary portrait- of course one knows not how much ure to get hold of the book for allowance must be made for the themselves. They will find proverbial luxuriance of a Gascon's therein," said he, “portraits drawn imagination. Still, there is a by a master-hand; and, although soldierlike simplicity in his style, most of these sketches are traced and a philosophic insight into the on barrack doors and tavern walls, value of things, that convince one it is as easy as in the history of that the man is neither posing as M. Anguetil to recognise the like- a hero nor seeking to impose on ness of Louis XIII., Anne of his readers. Besides, the sevenAustria, Richelieu, Mazarin, and teenth century was prolific in most of the courtiers of the period." literature of this kind. SaintBut the Mémoires' thus Simon, Tallemant des Réaux, de earthed by M. Dumas were prac- Gourville, and others cover a good tically inaccessible to ordinary deal of the same ground as d’Arreaders. The historian of Louis tagnan, who, by the bye, had some XIV. was allowed to take the curious dealings with Bussy-Rabbook home with him and devour it utin, another writer who may be





cited to check d'Artagnan's version back; d'Artagnan, with five of his of passing events.

comrades in the King's Musketeers, Tallemant went out of his way followed so hotly in pursuit that to be scandalous, and was too they were surrounded by the wary to commit himself to print. enemy. All five were shot down, He collected all the tittle-tattle of but d’Artagnan escaped with three boudoirs and backstairs, and, lest balls through his clothes and one that should not be sufficiently through his hat. " Which proves," spiced to tickle the taste of his he piously observes, "that he is readers of both sexes, thrust in well protected whom God protects; raw junks of sheer brutality, of that one has only to commend himwhich indeed there was plenty at self to God in the morning, and hand for anybody who chose to fear nothing during the rest of the look for it. Then he circulated day.” On the very next page his manuscript among his eager d'Artagnan begins the minute defriends, and he had been dead for scription of “une nouvelle bonne two hundred years before it came fortune” which fell to his share to light again and was published. on his return to Paris. The husThe impression it leaves on one band of the lady was not one to reading it at this day is that of a suffer blemish to his honour withsociety in which honour, chivalry, out revenge. Accordingly, d’Arpublic spirit, chastity, or even tagnan having gone on duty to common decency, might be sought Amiens, the injured gentleman for in vain except as an eccentri- hired an assassin (there was never city in either man or woman. any deficiency either in the demand

But the light reflected from for, or the supply of, that article, d'Artagnan's pages is not so uni- which was technically known as formly lurid. It is true that un bretteur) to follow him. But there

are passages in his own d'Artagnan's movements career, and in the careers of others, rapid, for the Cardinal Mazarin of outrageous immorality; de- employed him on many missions, scribed, too, in terms which leave and it was some weeks before the very little work for the reader's bretteur overtook him in the imagination. But at worst, they trenches before Courtray. D'Arare only passages; told though tagnan was visiting some friends they be with unblushing audacity, in these trenches, when word was they only find a place because they brought to him that a soldier, actually happened, and they con- severely wounded by a musket

, tribute not a little to the realism shot, desired to speak to him. He of the picture. Leave them out, found the fellow at the point of and one would not receive a true death, who, forasmuch as there impression of society in Paris was no priest at hand to shrive under Louis XIII. and the Grand him, desired to make a clean breast Monarque—thatincongruous blend of it to his intended victim. For of piety and profligacy, with hardly this was none other than the hired an attempt to veil the latter and bretteur. He had followed d’Arpo shamefacedness about the tagnan from place to place for former. There is an instance of weeks, seeking his opportunity, this in the chapter wherein d'Ar- which at last he thought he had tagnan describes an incident in the found. when he watched him go siege of Bourbourg. The Spaniards alone into the trenches. had made a sortie and were driven he lay in wait for d'Artagnan's


[ocr errors]




return, “the hand of. God struck in the ante-room of M. de Tréville him " in the shape of a ball from ripens into intimate friendship, the city walls. “I pardoned him," and many a time in his early exsays d'Artagnan lightly, "and perience of Paris has d'Artagnan commended him to God, though I recourse to the magic cry—“À scarcely supposed that God would moi, mousquetaires !” But they

encumber Himself with are altogether subsidiary characcanaille of that kind.” His own ters; they disappear altogether offence which had brought him into after the first few chapters; and such peril was the undoubtedly they were literal brothers—not genteel one of adultery, which no friends sticking closer than brothers gentleman would suppose likely —which impairs the artistic effect. to raise more than a temporary D'Artagnan has to serve many difficulty between himself and his years in the Gardes of M. des Maker.

Essarts before he is allowed to don D'Artagnan's real

the baudrier of a Mousquetaire; Charles de Batz-Castelmore, but and when at last he does so, there he took the name of his mother's is no further mention of his three family. The poverty of his Béarn- friends. ais home, his departure therefrom The fact is that these three to seek his fortunes by the help of types — the noble, haughty, unM. de Tréville, his father's repeated selfish Athos, the_swaggering, injunctions never to suffer the roistering, fearless Porthos, the slightest affront to pass unavenged, refined, scheming, insincere Aramis and the events on the journey be- are creations of the novelist. tween Blois and Orléans, are all He has invested them with the set forth in his own narrative, just qualities and made them the heroes as vividly as in that of Dumas. of adventures assigned by d'ArEven the ardour with which, after tagnan to a number of other real his arrival in Paris, he set to work characters. Many of these qualito discover the Unknown who had ties and adventures must have insulted him about his bidet jaune seemed outrageously exaggerated at Meung, and the violent way he to readers of the 'Trois Mousquetwould dash from the room in pur- aires '; but the exaggeration only suit of his enemy at the most in- consists in crowding them into the congruous moments, are described personality of three individuals. in terms which show that Dumas, All of them are described in connecat least, was not guilty of over- tion with various persons in the proloading his canvas. M. de Tréville fessedly veracious biography under is there also - grave, intrepid, consideration. Take, for example,

. loyal, in the midst of a frivolous, the prodigious and wellnigh inintriguing, selfish Court-Captain- credible drinking powers ascribed Lieutenant of the Mousquetaires, by Dumas to Athos: hardly more the

corps in which it is young credible are those of the Comte de d'Artagnan's day-dream to be en- Rantzau as expatiated on by the rolled. But there is one disappoint- real d'Artagnan. This count="un ment in store for readers of these bon homme de guerre ”—would not memoirs. Athos, Porthos, and have had his equal, but for his inAramis the immortal trio-ap- tolerance of spells of inactivity. pear, it is true, very early in the At such times he would sit down, story: the acquaintance made like Athos, to a deliberate drinking with them by the raw Gascon lad bout. It took ten or twelve bottles

[ocr errors]




of champagne to make the least ling, though strictly prohibited by effect upon him ; half of that quan- the pious Louis XIII. under pain tity was as harmless to him as of a visit of indefinite length to

une goutte d'eau dans le mer.” the Bastille, was in full vogue, and Rantzau's weakness

was all the more sanguinary benearly the ruin of him once. cause of the prevalent custom Louis XII. and Richelieu had in- which imposed upon seconds the vested Arras, and Rantzau was in duty of fighting beside their princommand of a most important part cipals. The mortal rivalry beof the lines, where he had con- tween the King's Mousquetaires structed a fort. The Cardinal and Richelieu's Gardes, incredible Ferdinand d'Espagne was hovering as it may seem in the first capital outside, waiting for a favourable of Europe, existed just as Dumas moment to strike at the besieging has described it; and the famous army. Rantzau, as was his wont encounter in the Pré-aux-Clercs when on the alert, kept a severe between d’Artagnan and the three check on himself, and was con- Mousquetaires on one side, and stantly in the saddle, riding round Jussac and three of the Cardinal's his defences. But there came a men on the other, actually took time when the Spanish Cardinal place. seemed to have abandoned the idea But the most remarkable feature of raising the siege. Vigilance in Dumas' treatment of his mateslackened in the French camp, and rials is that he has carefully exRantzau, thinking he might safely punged from the original narrative indulge in a booze, invited the all, except one, of those chatouilleus chief officers of the regiments in incidents which one would have his brigade to his quarters for that expected a French novelist to purpose. But the Cardinal's spies dilate on and expand. “ Mon were alert: no sooner was the péché mignon,” explains d'Artag. company seated at table, than nan frankly enough, “était de word was carried to him of what chérir les dames ;” and he is more was going to happen. Four hours than sufficiently explicit about his did the Cardinal allow this bon numerous excursions into that homme de guerre to fuddle himself; field. Dumas has disdained to “il compta que le nombre de place the interest of his romance bouteilles vidées troublerait in- on that level. If one episode in failliblement les idées de

the whole of his series were torn homme;" but it was not enough. out—the chapters about “Ketty" Rantzau staggered to his horse, and “milady"-all three novels made a stout resistance till rein- might be put in the hands of any forced by Châtillon; and the attack English girl. It is told that was repulsed with much slaughter Dumas in after - life expressed on both sides. Rantzau, who had bitter regret that the said episode already lost an eye at the siege of had not been omitted with the rest Dôle, lost further a leg and part of of like nature; and there is evi. one hand in this camisade.

dence given by M. E. de Goncourt Extravagant as the degree to of how greatly Dumas differed in which the cut-and-thrust business taste on these matters from less seems to be carried in the romance, scrupulous French writers. M. de it is not one whit more so than it Goncourt tells us that he once appears in the matter-of-fact pages heard Victor Hugo declare that, of M. d'Artagnan himself. Duel- had he not been above filching


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

from other authors, he must have and levied blackmail with hardly yielded to the temptation to appro- an affectation of secrecy. But, priate the story of “Ketty," "et morbidly sensitive as he was to de lui donner une forme d'art.” 1 real or fancied affronts to his own “Think,” exclaimed Hugo, “of the honour or dignity (je n'ai jamais marvellously human dénoûment, far passé pour un homme,” he mildly finer than any dénoúment of the puts it, “qui souffrît qu'on lui utmost realism !” It is not diffi- marchất impuniment sur le pied "), cult to imagine to what luxuriance he felt no scruples in doing what these materials might have blos- was considered perfectly respectsomed under the florid touch of able by men of the sword, namely, Victor Hugo. Neither the fatal winning the affections-or at least fleur-de-lys on the frail dame's the favours — of a mistress, and shoulder, nor her trial and execu- then plundering her purse. Notion by the four Mousquetaires, thing can be more sordid or more has any place in the veritable cynical than the details of the story: they owe their existence to many liaisons of this nature which Dumas' imagination.

d'Artagnan formed during his early One exceedingly unpleasant years in Paris. Among the charms characteristic of the times receives of the many fair creatures who no veil in the pages of d'Artagnan. succumbed to him, he seldom fails It does not seem to have occurred to specify how much each of them to him that it required any apology, contributed to his pecuniary needs. yet it was one of a nature to taint At the same time, his code preintolerably the whole fabric of scribed that however meanly or society. Men of birth and good dishonestly money might have been position in the country flocked to come by, it was inconsistent with Paris to make their fortunes, or at a gentleman's character to be careleast to repair those incomes which ful in spending it. Cardinal the devastation of their paternal Richelieu was in office at the beestates by incessant warfare had ginning of d'Artagnan's life in caused to disappear. The most Paris ; and it was soon explained profitable expedient was to secure to the young guardsman what vast some post, civil or military, it sums he had appropriated for himmattered not which, under Govern- self out of the public revenue. ment, and to farm it to the best But d'Artagnan is never tired of advantage. The command of the praising the princely liberality Bastille was intensely coveted, for with which he spent them. As by judicious management the al- soon as Mazarin succeeded, the lowance made to the governor for chronicler changed his tone.

The the maintenance of each prisoner invincible avarice of the Italian, might well be made to yield a the astounding expedients to which handsome surplus : so was the com- he stooped to get money, only mand of a fortress or regiment, equalled by those which he emand d’Artagnan was far too good ployed to avoid spending it—his a soldier to speak without intense profusion of promises and perindignation of the way some petual want of faith in keeping officers pilfered their men. He them— form the constant theme expresses a fine scorn, also, for the of d'Artagnan's complaint. Both avaricious civilians who filched peace and war offered special op

1 Journal des Goncourt, v. 243.

« 前へ次へ »