Alphonse Daudet.

The novels, romances, and memoirs of Alphonse Daudet (Volume 15) online

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P R O r /; .V f J L K I) I T I O X



Copyright, 1899, 1900,
By Little, Brown, and Company.

All rights reserved.

SSnibcrsttg Press

John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, U.S.A.



Pages from My Life and My Books:

I. The Arrival I

11. Villemessant . 15

III. My First Coat 29

IV. History of My Books. — "Little What's-His-

Name " 42

V. The Literary Salons 57

VI. My Drummer 74

VII. History of My Books. — Tartarin of Tarascon . . 90

VIII. History of My Books. — Letters From My Mill . 103

IX. My First Play 117

X. Henri Rochefort 1:5

XI. Henry Monnier 143

XII. The End of a Mountebank and of Murger's

Bohemia 149

XIII. History of My Books. — Jack 165

XIV. lie des Moineaux. — A Meeting on the Seine . lS6
XV. History of My Books. — Fromont and Risler . . 192

XVI. Turgenieff 207


Ultima - 3


Alphonse Daudet and his Secretary .... Frontispiece

Henri Rochefort 125

Ivan TurgdniefE 207


When this volume of fugitive articles, mainly
reminiscent, was given to the public, in 1888,
almost exactly thirty years had passed since the
epoch-marking incident in Daudet's life to which
the opening article is devoted. Ernest Daudet
fixes for us the time of his brother's arrival in
Paris as the early part of November 1857, when he
was about seventeen and a half years old ; ^ and
his first appearance in print — the publication of
Les Amoiireiiscs, the volume of verses many of
which he had brought with him from the provinces
— did not take place until the following year.
His journey to Paris and his arrival Daudet had
already described in the first chapter of the second
part of Little What ' s-His-Name — the chapter
called Mes Caoutchoucs, with which the quasi-auto-
biographical part of that story ends. If we read
Ernest Daudet's affectionate and admiring tribute
to his brother in connection with the " history" of
Little What' s-His-Name in this volume, and with
that story itself, we cannot fail, it seems to me,
to be convinced that there have been few auto-

1 My Brother and I, Chap. XVI.

X Introduciio7i.

biographies in the guise of fiction in which the
general outline of the narrative is so closely in
accord with actual fact, as in this case of Daniel
Eyssette and Alphonse Daudet ; and the result is
that we have — the three supplementing one
another — an extremely full and satisfactory biog-
raphy of the novelist down to the beginning of his
literary career. The first few years in Paris are
described very briefly by the older brother, who
has almost nothing to say of his brother's life after
his marriage ; and, as his little book was published in
1 88 1, the last sixteen years of Alphonse Daudet's
life are left untouched by him. He feels bound,
he says, not to forestall the account which Alphonse
may give for himself, either in his memoirs or in
the story of his works. It is to be regretted that
he exercised this self-restraint, for the only memoirs
which his brother has left behind, so far as appears,
are contained, with the histories of his books, in
this volume and its companion — Me7Jiories of a
Man of Letters, — and, vastly entertaining as these
reminiscences are, and most illuminating as to his
character and temperament and methods of work ;
and though they are written, as has been said, with
infinite talent and with his unfailing humor, they
are sadly lacking in material for anything like an
adequate biography of the man.

Les Amoureuses, already referred to, was pub-
lished in 1859, when Daudet was not yet twenty
years of age, and many of the poems had been
written long before; his next volume, La Double

Introduction, xi

Conversion, a "tale in verse," appeared in 1861.
These, with the exception of some fugitive pieces,
pubHshed in newspapers or written in albums,
were his only ventures in the field of poetry,
and the volumes are principally sought by

During the interval between the publication of
Les Amoiireitses and that of La Double Conversion,
a very marked change had taken place in Daudet's
position and prospects ; he was no longer the timid,
diffident Little What 's-His-Name ; he had become
acquainted with Villemessant, had made his mark in
the columns of Le Figaro, which, says M. Ernest
Daudet, " was a sort of consecration for an author,
a brevet accorded to talent; " and he had, in i860,
accepted a position in the office of the Due de
Morny, President of the Corps Legislatif, then and
until his death one of the most powerful men in
France, Although Daudet had not then seen the
last of his Bohemian days, he had gone beyond
the point where, if ever, he was in danger of falling
to the level of many of those with whom he was
thrown in contact; he had passed among them
and come forth unscathed, " having lost none of
his talent, having left behind none of the bloom of
his youth, the freshness of his soul, the uprightness
of his heart." ^

The publication of Les Amoureuses called forth
an extremely eulogistic article in Le Moiiiteur by
M. Edouard Thierry, and may be said to have

1 My Brother attd /, Chap. XVI.

xii hitrodnction,

opened the columns of the newspapers to its
author. It was not long after that Le Figaro
(November 24, 1859) published his first article as
cJironiqiieiir fantaisiste, a study entitled Les Gueux
de Province, in which he described the miseries of
provincial school ushers. " This page, glowing
with reminiscences of his personal experience and
written with great emotion," says an anonymous
writer in Larousse, " placed Daudet in full com-
munication with the public."

In 1862, Daudet's third volume was issued by
the house of Michel Levy Freres. It contained,
under the general title of The Romance of Red
Riding Hood, Scenes and Fancies, six sketches : The
Romance of Red-Riding-Hood, The Souls of Para-
dise, The Trumpet and the Trumpeter, The Eight
Mrs. Bluebeards, An Examination for Charenton,
The Nightingales of the Cemetery. In some subse-
quent editions, the Adventures of a Butterfly and
a Beetle ^ was included with these sketches.

" What other than that incorrigible poet Little
What 's-His-Name would be capable of writing
stories so chimerical, so intangible as The Adven-
iures of a Butte) fly, etc.. The Romance of Red-Rid-
ing-Hood, and The Souls of Paradise?" asks M.
Jules Lemaitre ; and, after a very brief resume' of
the last-named sketch, he continues :

" There you have a mystery which smells a little
of heresy ; for the Church teaches not only that
the elect will forget the damned, but that the
1 From Little What 's-His-Name, Part 2, Chap. VIII.

Introduction. xlii

damned will abhor the elect (I do not commend
this as an amiable dogma). But there is in this
heterodox fantasy, so compromising to St. Peter,
an altogether appetizing mixture of ingenuousness,
grace and passion." ^

It was in the office of the President of the Corps
Legislatif that Daudet met M. Ernest I'l^pine, who
" managed M. de Morny's office," and in collabora-
tion with whom he wrote the next of his published
works, in a hitherto untried field. In 1862 Michel
Levy Freres issued the " Last Idol, drama in one
act, in prose, by MM. E. I'Epine and A. Daudet."
The play, was first performed at the Odeon Feb-
ruary 4, 1862, and the occasion is described by M.
Ernest Daudet.^ Alphonse had been compelled to
leave Paris because of the condition of his health,
and had passed the winter in Algiers, where, as he
tells us in this volume,^ he received the news of
the first performance and was so stirred thereby
that he forgot health and prudence in his longing
to see Paris once more. While the play was not
an absolute failure, it achieved no marked success ;
a succh de douces larmes is the most emphatic ex-
pression I have seen applied to it, and the douces
larmes of the masqueraders on their way to Bullier
seem to have impressed the author most vividly at
the performance he witnessed on the night of his
arrival in Paris: Mardi Gras, 1862.

^ Les Contemporains, Etudes et Portraits Littiraires, 2d Series.
a My Brother and I, Chap. XVIII.
8 Chapter entitled " My First Play."

XIV Introduction.

In 1863 The Absent made its appearance from
the press of Dupray de la Maherie. This thin
volume of 43 pages is very rare, and is highly
valued by collectors. A copy presented by the
author is inscribed :

"This is the copy of Paul Ar^ne, my little Abbd Galiani.

" Alphonse Daudet."

In 1865 The Absent, which in its original form
was called a proverb, was published by Levy as a
comic opera in one act, words by M. Alphonse
Daudet, music by M. Ferdinand Poise. There are
divers variations between the two, and the denoue-
vtent is not the same.

The opera was first performed at the Opera-
Comique, October 26, 1864.

The second of the plays written by Daudet and
I'Epine in collaboration was published by Levy in
1865, under the title of The White Carnation,
comedy in one act, in prose. The play had
originally been called the Lily, but both the title
and the denoueme7it — an emigre shot by a platoon
of soldiers and shouting " Vive le Roi! " the while — ■
failed to please the censorship of the Empire,
so that the Lity, momentarily a White Dahlia,
finally became the White Carnation, and as such
was performed at the Comedie-Franqaise, April 8,

The Elder Brother, the last of the joint produc-
tions of Daudet and I'Epine, was published by
Levy in 1868. The play, a "drama in one act"

Introdnctiou. xv

had been produced at the Vaudeville, December
19, 1867, but obtained only a succcs iVestime.

The same year (1868) was marked by the pub-
hcation in book form of the first of those master-
pieces upon which Daudet's fame rests secure.
Little What 's-His-Name} the Story of a Child
had appeared in serial form in the Petit Moniteur
Universel, beginning with the number of the 27th
November, 1866. The volume was published by

In 1881 MM. Dentu and Charpentier under-
took an octavo edition of the " Complete Works "
of Daudet, with illustrations, the publication con-
tinuing slowly until 1887, when the eighth, which
proved to be the last, volume was issued. Each
work was preceded by its history, written by the
author especially for this edition. The first volume,
/v'^;«<?«/tf«^i?w/t'r, was published in 1881 ; Jack,
Jack (conclusion) and Robert Helmont in one
volume, and Little What ' s-His-Name in 1882 ; Tar-
tarin de Tarascon and Letters from My Mill in one
volume, in 1884 ; Kings iii Exile in 1885, The Nabob
in 1886, and Niima Roumestan in 1887. The
" histories" written for this edition are to be found
in the present volume and its companion, with two
exceptions, namely that of the Nabob, and that
of Robert Helmont, which latter has become a
preface and occupies its appropriate place as such.

It is impossible to exaggerate the charm of these
histories, which are absolutely unique and by the

1 Le Petit Chose.

xvi Introduction.

aid of which we seem actually to see the author at
work. I venture to suggest that it is the very-
noticeable presence of that distinguishing quality
of all Daudet's work which has been well called
the " personal note," ^ which makes these papers,
all things considered, the most entertaining and
absorbing of the contents of this volume, which
has itself been declared by some critics to be the
most entertaining of all Daudet's works.

Little What' s-His-Name, we are told, is "an
echo of my childhood and my youth." A purely
bibliographical introduction is not perhaps a proper
place to make or to answer criticisms of the quality
of Daudet's work, but I cannot forbear a protest
against the criticism that the autobiographical
element in Little What 's-His-Name is a blemish,
" because the real incidents of the author's life are
presented too much as they actually occurred." ^
Who could say, without the assistance furnished by
Daudet himself and his brother, what incidents are
told as they actually occurred ? And does the in-
formation given by them go beyond this : that the
first part oi the History of a Child x"-,, in its gejieral
ontline, and only therein, the history of a particular
child named Alphonse Daudet, even as the Per-
sonal History atid Experience of David Copperfield
the Younger was " an echo of the childhood and
youth" of Charles Dickens?^

1 Henry James in Partial Portraits, p. 2io.

2 Adolphe Cohn in the Bookman.

8 On this point Daudet's own testimony cannot fail to be inter-
esting, if not conclusive. On Monday, September 25, 1886,

Introduction. xvii

The original edition oi Little What' s-His-Name,
without an indication of the impression (of which
there were some seven or eight), is very rare.
" M. Daudet gave some complimentary copies to
his friends. One was inscribed : ' To my friend Cladet,
alias Popis, alias La Bataille.' When this copy
was offered for sale, some ten years ago, there was
a rumor that it had been stolen. On another copy
we read : ' Copy belonging to my friend Duchesne,
who did not steal it.' Strangely enough — but it
is a fact — these two copies are to-day in the same
hands ; the collector who owns them paid an
average of 25 francs each." ^

This first extended work of M. Daudet was re-
printed by Hetzel in 1878, in the form of a special
edition for children, with numerous illustrations.
It also formed volume two of the Works of Alphonse
Daudet, which Lemerre began to publish as an

Edmond de Goncourt writes in his Journal : " To-day in our daily
ante-breakfast chat, Daudet deplored the fact that he wrote Le
Petit Chose when he was too young. He told me all that he
would put in it to-day, and added : ' I was unfortunate enough to
meet some one to whom I read the beginning of my book, and
who told me that it was childish. That impelled me to stuff it
with imaginary details, and adventures, and prevented me from
putting into it the whole of my real childhood in the Lyonnais.' "
1 M. Jules Brivois, Essai de B ibliographie des CEuvres de M.
Alphonse Daudet, avec Fragments Inedits. In the Preface to this
little book, which is invaluable to all those who are interested in
its subject, M. Brivois says : " I have tried to supplement, by a
work of pure bibliography, the works of M. Alphonse Daudet
— Thirty Years in Paris and Memories of a Man of Letters,
published in 1888 — bringing my investigations down to the
present day." Unluckily the present day was December, 1S94.

xvIII Introduction.

Edition definitive in 1879, two years before the
appearance of the first volume of the Dentu-Char-
pentier edition referred to above. This Lemerre
edition was much more complete than the Char-
pentier edition ; it extended to eighteen volumes,
the last of which ^ appeared in 1891.

Little What 's-His-Name was followed in 1869
by Letters from My Mill ; Lmpressiotis and Memo-
ries, whose " history," as it appeared in the Char-
pentier edition, will be found in this volume.

The original edition contained nineteen letters or
tales. Subsequent reprints — Volume I. of the
Lemerre edition (1879), Volume V. of the Dentu-
Charpentier edition (1884), and a later duodecimo
edition (Charpentier, 1887), contain, in addition,
five tales originally published w'xth. Robert He Imont,
in the series entitled Etudes et Paysages, namely
The Stars, The Oranges, The Locusts, Custom-House
People and Ln Camargue, and one, The Three Low
Masses, which had first appeared in the second
edition of Monday Tales (Charpentier, 1876).^

The Letters from My Mill were dedicated to
Mme. Daudet (Mile. Julie AUard), to whom the
author had been married two years before.^

1 Thirty Years in Paris, including much of the first edition of
Memories of a Man of Letters.

■^ The Three Low Masses was afterward published with La
Belle Nivernaise (1886) ; in this edition it is restored to tlie Mon-
day Tales.

8 "They (the Letters from My Mill) had to my mind an extra-
ordinary charm," says Mr. Henry James ; " they put me quite on
the side of Alphonse Daudet, whatever he might do in the future.'

Introduction. xix

In this same year (1869) The Sacrifice wz.^ per-
formed at the Vaudeville. With the exception of
the unimportant comic opera, the Absent (1863),
it was Daudet's first essay as a dramatist without
the collaboration of I'Epine, and it was also the
first play in which he had ventured beyond one
act. It was published in the Nouvelle Bibliothkque
Dramatique in 1869.

The second volume of " letters," so-called, Lettres
a un Absent, was published in 1871 by Lemerre.
It contained twenty-one sketches of which five
now appear in Memories of a Matt of Letters,
namely. The Francs-Tirenrs, Les Evades de Paris
{An Escape), The Garden on Rue des Rosiers, The
Summer Palace and The Shipwreck. Of the re-
maining sixteen, seven — The Surrender, The Dic-
tators, A MnsJiroom Bed of Great Men, Ro die fort
and Rossignol, The Sentry-Box, The Knitters and A
Year of Trouble have never been reprinted in French,
while the other nine were included in the second
edition of the Monday Tales ; and this, the author's
latest arrangement, has been adhered to in this edi-
tion, only the seven sketches named above as having
never been reprinted being included under the
original title, and appended to Letters from My Mill.

The majority of the Lettres a un Absent had
appeared in Le Soir, in February, March, April
and May, 1871. A Year of Trouble, which was
written by Mme. Daudet, may be found in the
number of that journal for Sept. 23, 1871, with the
sub-title : " Notes of a Parisienne."

XX Introduction.

The Defence of Tarascon, which is one of the
most famous of all Daudet's shorter pieces, was
reprinted on Japan paper by Lahure, in 1886, in a
" d^licieuse plaquette," of about fifty pages, illus-
trated by sixteen drawings engraved by the Gillot
process and colored. Very few copies were printed
and the book was never regularly offered for

The Prodigious Adventures of Tartarin of Tar-
ascon, after the diversified experience related by
the author in his " history " of that work, were
given to the world in 1872, in a volume bearing
the imprint of Dentu. As we are told by M.
Ernest Daudet, the materials for the Algerian por-
tions of the story were gathered at the time of the
trip to Algiers in 1861-62, which was brought so
suddenly to a close by the news of the successful
performance of The Last Idol. The author tells us
that the book was not written until 1869, but in
1863 or thereabout Figaro published Chapatin the
Lion-Killer, which was nothing less than Tartarin
in embryo.

During the year 1872 Daudet made two more
ventures into the dramatic field, resulting in the
production of two plays, one of which is by com-
mon consent the worst, and the other in some
respects the best of all his efforts in that line.
Lise Taverjtier, a drama in five acts and seven
tableaux, was played at the Ambigu-Comique on
January 29, 1872, and was published by Dentu.
It can hardly be said to have obtained even what

Introdtictioit. xxi

is somewhat vaguely called a succh d'estime, and
was not deemed worthy a place in the single
volume of plays included in the Lemerre collected

V Arl^sienne ( Woman of Aries), a play in three
acts and five tableaux, with symphonies and
choruses by G. Bizet, was first performed at the
Vaudeville, October i, 1872, and was published by
Lemerre. In his history of Fromont and Risler,
Daudet has described the part played by the
Arlesienne in determining the destiny of the more
famous work ; how, as he sat listening to a rehear-
sal, he reflected that the Parisians would soon
weary of hearing him chatter about grasshoppers,
the maids of Aries, the mistral, and his mill, and
that it was time to arouse their interest by a work
that would come nearer to them and their every-
day life ; how he then and there determined to
place his next drama amid the laborious activity
of that business quarter, the Marais ; and how the
resplendent failure of the little play, despite the
" prettiest music in the world," led to his deter-
mination to write no more dramas and to transform
Fromojit, which was already mapped out in his
brain, into a novel. L' Arlesiefine did, in truth,
" score a failure," and received only three per-
formances at that time ; but Daudet's generous
appreciation of the music was not fully shared by
the public, and Bizet was partly responsible with
Daudet for the fate of the play. The judgment of

1 See My Brother and I, p. 444.

xxii Introductio7t.

1872 has been reviewed, however, in later years,
and somewhat modified, and M. Ernest Daudet's
estimate of the work seems to have been justified
in the lapse of time. It was reproduced with
more satisfactory results at the Odeon, May 5,
1885, which fact is recorded in a second edition of
the play.^ " We may safely predict," says a recent
writer, " that great renown awaits the shade of Al-
phonse Daudet by reason of the ArUsienne." ^
The play is little more than an elaboration of the
tale with the same name included among the
Letters from my Mill.

In 1873, Dentu issued, under the general title of
Monday Tales {Contes du Lundi), a volume con-
taining a collection of thirty-one short sketches,
most of which had previously appeared in one
or another newspaper. Some of these are among
the most familiar of all Daudet's works, and two,
The Last Class and The Siege of Berlin^ have
figured for several years in the list of books re-
quired to be read in preparation for admission
to Harvard College.

Monday Tales. New Edition revised and con-
siderably augmented. So reads the title-page of a

1 " My copy," says M. Brivois, " bears the following autograph
address : * To Madame la Comtesse de Chambrun the touching
and refined interpreter of Rose Mamai. Her respectful and grate-
ful Alph. Daudet: "

2 Gustave Geffroy, Le TheAtre d'Alpkonse Daudet, in La
Revue Encyclopedique, January 15, 1898.

3 The Siege of Berlin first appeared in Lettres h un Absent
(supra), to which collection it has been restored in this edition.

Introduction. xxiii

volume Issued by Charpentier in 1876. It contains
all the thirty-one tales included in the earlier
edition, nine others taken from the Lettres a tai
Absent, and two previously lenpublished ^'xtc&'s, : The
Three Low Masses and The Harvest by the Sea-
shore, both of which are included in the Monday
Tales by the present publishers. This edition was
preceded by an advertisement by the publisher,
stating in effect that, as the author did not propose
to republish the volume entitled Lettres a nn Absent,
he had borrowed therefrom a few reminiscences of
a purely anecdotal character.

Beginning in May 1873, F. Polo published a
series of fifteen livraisons under the general title
of Contes et Rccits, containing in all thirty articles,
of which only two, Le Bon Dieu de ChemilU and
the New Master'\\z.^ not been previously published.
The other twenty-eight were all taken from Lettres
a nn Absent and Contes du Lundi. Le Bon Dieu
de Chemille wdjs, reprinted with the first edition of
Robert LLehnont (1874) as one of the Etudes et
Paysagcs, printed in this edition in the volume
with Port Tarascon. The New Master was re-
printed with La Belle Nivernaise in 1886.

An interesting detail is given by Brivois : in
the first impression of the sixth livraison, at
page 93, there is an engraving after a drawing
by Gill, representing Bazaine playing billiards.
In subsequent copies, in which this engraving is
missing, we read in the middle of the page :
" Illustration prohibited by the censorship." At

xxiv Introduction.

this time Bazaine was at lie Sainte-Marguerite
under sentence of twenty years' imprisonment for
treason. He escaped in the following year.^

Artists' Wives, a collection of twelve studies of
marital infelicity from various points of view, was
the next volume from Daudet's pen to be offered
to the public. It was published by Lemerre in
1874, and, so far as I have been able to learn,
none of the twelve had previously appeared, even
in newspapers. The original edition was entitled
First Scries, but no other series has ever been

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18