Imagens das páginas

leave them to die—perhaps cut them down. I am about to preserve nothing on the earth. In bidding adieu to the woods of Aulnay, I recal that which I formerly said to the woods of Combourg. All my days are adieux.

The taste for poetry with which Lucile inspired me, was oil thrown upon fire. My sentiments took a new degree of force : I was filled with a desire for the vanity of reputation ; for a moment I believed in my talents, but having soon returned to a just distrust of myself, I looked upon my work as an evil temptation. I was vexed with Lucile, for having given birth in me to an unfortunate inclination. I ceased to write, and betook myself to weeping over my glory to come, as others weep over their glory departed.

Having resumed my former indolence, I felt more what was wanting to my youth. I became a mystery to myself. I could not see a woman without being troubled : I blushed if one spoke to me. My timidity, already excessive towards every one, became so great with a woman, that I would have preferred any torment whatsoever to that of remaining alone with

She was no sooner gone, than I would have recalled her with all my heart. The descriptions of Virgil, Tibullus and Massillon readily recurred to my memory; but the image of my mother and my sister, sheltering everything under its purity, added thickness to the veil which nature was endeavouring to lift : filial and fraternal affection deceived me with respect to tenderness less disinterested. Had any one delivered to me the most beautiful slaves of the seraglio, I should not have known what to say to them : accident enlightened me.

A neighbour of ours at Combourg had come to pass some days at the castle, bringing his wife, who was very handsome. I do not remember what it was which was taking place in the village. We ran to one of the windows of the drawing-room to look at what was going on.

I reached the window first; the stranger came close upon my footsteps—I wished to give place to her—and turned towards her ; she involuntarily barred my way, and I felt myself pressed between her and the window. I was no longer conscious of what was passing around me.


From that moment, I began to feel that to love, and to be loved in a manner which was unknown to me, must be supreme happiness. Had I done as other men do, I should sooner have learned the pains and the pleasures of the passion, the germ of which I carried in myself; but everything in me assumed an extraordinary character. The warmth of my imagination, my bashfulness and solitude, instead of prompting me to seek sympathy from without, caused me to turn back upon myself; for want of a real object, by the power of my vague desires I evoked a phantom which never quitted me

I know not whether the history of the human heart furnishes another example of this kind.



I pictured then to myself an ideal beauty, moulded from the various charms of all the women I had seen : she had the figure, the hair, and the smile of the stranger who had pressed against me; I gave her the eyes of one young village girl, and the

rosy freshness of another. The portraits of noble ladies of the times of Francis I. Henry IV. and Louis XIV., with which the saloon was hung, furnished me with other features, and I even stole graces from the different representations of the Virgin to be found in the churches.

This invisible enchantress constantly attended me, I communed with her as with a real being; she varied at the will of my wandering fancy-now she was Aphrodite unveiled, now Diana clothed in azure and dew, now Thalia with her laughing mask, now Hebe bearing the cup of eternal youthand often she appeared in the guise of a powerful fay, bringing nature into subjection to my power. I touched and retouched my canvas ; I took one attraction from my ideal beauty to replace it by a superior one : I changed her costume in a thousand ways, borrowing my ideas from every country and age, from every art and religion. Then, when I had made a chef-d'æuvre, I again scattered my drawings and colours ; my single ideal being was remodelled into a number of beautiful women, in whom I idolized separately the charms which I had adored when united in one object.

Pygmalion was not so enamoured of his statue as I of this creation of my fancy; my difficulty was how to make myself pleasing to her. Not recognising in my real self any of the qualities fitted to inspire love, I lavished on my imaginary self what appeared to me wanting. I rode like Castor and Pollux ; I swept the lyre like Apollo; Mars wielded his arms with less strength and address ; as a hero of romance or history, what fictitious adventures of my own did I not add to those related ! the shades of the daughters of Morven, the Sultanas of Bagdad and Granada, the mysterious ladies of old manors ; baths, perfumes, Asiatic delights—all were appropriated to myself by a magic wand.

A young Queen approaches, brilliant with diamonds and flowers (this was always my sylph); she seeks me at midnight, amidst orange groves, in the corridors of a palace washed by the waves, on the balmy shore of Naples or Messina, under a sky like love itself, bathed in the soft light of Endymion's


comes nearer, gliding among motionless statues, herself like an animated statue from the chisel of Praxiteles, among shadowy pictures, and frescoes silent and pale in the rays of the moon ; the light sound of her steps on the mosaic floor mingles with the scarcely heard murmur of the waves. The royal lattice encircles us; I fall at the feet of the sovereign of Enna’s plains; the silken waves of her unbound tresses caress my brow, when she bends her head, beauteous in the freshness of sixteen summers, over my face, and her hands rest on my breast, palpitating with ecstacy and reve

star ;


Awaking from these dreams, and finding myself a poor little obscure Breton, without fame, beauty, or talent, who would attract the eyes of no one, would pass through the world entirely unknown, and would never gain the love of woman, despair seized upon me; I no longer dared to raise my eyes to the brilliant phantom which I had attached to my every step.


This delirium lasted for two whole years, during which the powers of my mind reached the highest pitch of exaltation. I spoke little, I ceased to speak at all ; I studied—I threw away my books; my taste for solitude redoubled. I showed all the symptoms of a violent passion ; I became emaciated ; my eyes were sunken ; I could not sleep; I was absent, sad, ardent, savage. My days passed on in a wild, extravagant, mad fashion-which nevertheless had a peculiar charm.

To the north of the cháteau lay a plain strewn with druidical stones; at sunset I wandered thither, and seated myself on one of these masses. Gazing thence on the gilded summits of the woods, the beauty of the earth, the star of evening gleaming through rosy clouds, I fell back into my reveries ; I longed to enjoy this spectacle with the ideal object of my passion. I followed the star of day in thought; I gave up my ideal beauty to his guidance, that he might present her with himself, all-radiant, to receive the homage of the universe. The evening breeze breaking the net-work woven on the blades of grass by the insects, the lark alighting on a pebble, brought me back to reality ; I took my way to the manor ;

my heart oppressed, my countenance despondent.

On days of summer storm, I ascended the large western tower ; the reverberation of the thunder beneath the timber. work of the cháteau, the torrents of rain falling with an angry noise on the pyramidal roofs of the towers, the lightning furrowing the cloud and lighting up the copper vanes with an electric flaine, all roused my enthusiasm. Like Ismeno on the ramparts of Jerusalem, I invoked the lightning ; I hoped it would bring Armida to my arms. If the sky were serene, I crossed the great Mall, around which lay meadows divided by hedges, planted with willows. I had made a seat, resembling a nest, in one of these willows ; there, isolated, suspended between earth and sky, I passed whole hours with the linnets. My nymph was by my side. Her image was equally associated with the beauty of those spring nights, so filled with the freshness of the dew, the sighs of the nightingale and the murmur of the zephyrs.

At other times, I followed a wild path, a brook fringed with its water plants. I listened to the sounds which issue from unfrequented localities ; I lent an ear to every tree. The light of the moon in the woods seemed to pour forth a voice of music; I attempted to utter these pleasures, and the words died on my lips. I heard my goddess, I know not how, even in the accents of a voice, the tremblings of a harp, in the full sounds of a horn, or the liquid tones of a harmonicon. It would be too long a tale were I to recount the delightful journeys which I took with my blossom of love ; how, hand in hand, we visited the celebrated ruins, Venice, Rome, Athens, Jerusalem, Memphis, Carthage ; how we crossed seas; asked happiness of the Palms of Otaheite, of the perfumed groves of Amboyna and Timor ; awakened the dawn on the summit of Himalaya ; floated down the sacred rivers, whose spreading waves surround pagodas crowned by golden globes ; and slept by the shores of the Ganges, whilst the bengali, perched on the mast of a little boat, formed of bamboo, chaunted his Indian barcarole.

Earth and heaven became matter of indifference to me, the latter especially faded from my remembrance; but if I no longer lifted my thoughts heavenward, Heaven turned an ear to the voice of my secret misery; for I suffered - and suffering prays.


The sadder and more gloomy the season, the more congenial was it with my frame of mind; the frosts, by rendering communication less easy, isolate the inhabitants of the country ; one feels more at ease when secure from the intrusion of men.

A moral character is attached to autumnal scenes ; the leaves falling like our years, the flowers fading like our hours, the clouds fleeting like our illusions, the light diminishing like our intelligence, the sun growing colder like our our affections,

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