Alphonse Daudet.

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IBRARY

HIV£ol!Y OF
CAUIO.HIA

\H DIEGO



JUN I 9 1973



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This edition is limited to 0?ie Thousand
Copies, of which this is




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/ ZitiU', Brffton, Sb Cf



'He became animated, for his heart was hot.*'



THE NO F ELS, ROMANCES
AND 31 E M O I R S OF

ALPHONSE DAUDET

PR o r E X (; A L E 1) I T I X



THE EVANGELIST



SOCIETY OF ENGLISH AND FRENCH
LITERATTTRE • • NEW YORK



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



All rights reserved.



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



INTRODUCTION.



It Is not a little curious that Daudet's most pessi-
mistic, not to say tragical, story should have fol-
lowed immediately upon his greatest success in the
sphere of pure comedy. Ntima Roumestan, which
contains so much pf the true spirit of MoHere,
appeared in 1881 ; U Evangiliste was published in
the early part of 1883. The more sombre story, as
critics have not failed to observe, gave proof of
Daudet's marked growth in psychological analysis
as well as in artistic power. He had, of course,
taken great interest in his characters since the
writing oi Fromont Jeune et Risler Aine, but he had
also been greatly interested in their setting and in
the special scenes in which his faculty of descrip-
tion was given full play. A certain idealization
and a desire to balance good and bad characters,
tragic and idyllic scenes, had also been apparent.
In other words, his gravitation toward the Natural-
istic School had been slow; he had written
poems, dramas, stories, romances, loosely con-
structed novels, rather than studies. He had been
a scenic and dramatic artist rather than a psychol-
ogist with a mission to reform mankind.



vi Introduction.

V Evangelists, however, was expressly intended
by its author to be an " observation " in morbid
psychology, and was appropriately dedicated to the
illustrious Charcot. The humorist and Provencal
poet in Daudet had for the time been entirely sub-
merged — there was not even a trace of the ebul-
Hent South in the story — and he had apparently
thrown in his lot with Zola and the Naturalists for
good and all. Sapho, which appeared the next
year (1884), left no doubt as to the new affiliation,
which not even the humor of Tartarin sur les
Alpes could seriously disturb. Then came the
period of nervous breakdown when satire began to
supplant humor, even in the Tartarin series, and
genial good nature was exchanged for the utterly
alien ferocity of V Imniortel ( 1 889) — that truculent
and undeserved attack upon the French Academy.
Thus we see that L Evangeliste marked a new
period in Daudet's art — a period which disease
did not allow to culminate naturally. If he had
had fifteen years of good health given him after
1883, there is no telling what, with all his varied
powers and his essentially wholesome sweet nature,
he might not have made of his studies in realistic
psychology, for he had already shown himself a
past master of observation. But fortune was
uhkind to him and what promised to be a period
of fresh and purposeful activity became rather one
of decadence and morbidity.

Perhaps to many English readers decadence and
morbidity are to be found in full measure in



Introduction. vii

V £vangeliste and Sap ho. We need not try to say
a good word here for the latter story, but we must
protest that such a verdict with regard to the
powerful book we are now examining would be
distinctly unjust. That L' Evangeliste is to a great
extent pessimistic, that it is extremely sad, that it
contains not a single thoroughly noble character,
and hence lacks positive inspiration toward the
higher side of life and conduct must be frankly
admitted. It must be granted, on the other hand,
that the moral indignation that prompted Daudet
to write his book kept him from making it a mor-
bid or a decadent one. A governess of his own
son had been made the victim of hypnotic influ-
ences used for religious purposes and he had
known of other cases. With such data and with
his natural hatred of all hypocrisy and other anti-
social vices it is no wonder that his fervid imagi-
nation should have worked out the sad story as we
have it, and that he should not have endeavored
to correct the one-sided impression it was almost
sure to produce. Profound moral indignation
joined with great literary art may not suffice to
make a book that will please every one, but the
combination cannot fail to make a book that the
capable reader will profit by.

The chief profit to be derived from a careful
perusal of V Evangdiste is easy to specify. No
thoughtful reader of the story is ever likely to
develop in his own person a spirit of exaggerated
" other worldliness," or to tolerate its development



viii Introduction.

in others. For it is extreme " other worldliness,"
not a normal and warranted religious zeal, much
less genuine piety, that is the object of Daudet's
wrath. The finest character in his book, the old
clergyman Aussandon — who would be truly noble
were he not represented as being absurdly hen-
pecked — not only stands for genuine religion and
proves that Daudet has no quarrel with it, but is
also a Protestant, and thus relieves Daudet of the
charge of unfairness toward a faith not strong in
France. The English or the American Protestant
need not therefore see in U Evangiliste an attack
upon cherished principles, unless either of them is
inclined to espouse the cause of that most odious
of religious fanatics, Mme. Autheman. Nor need
the Roman Catholic think that Daudet is unfair to
him in his delineation of the weak, religious sen-
sualist, Henrietta Briss. Whatever his own private
views in such matters, Daudet was too tolerant a
man and too thorough an artist to have under-
taken to write a book attacking Christianity itself.
He wished instead to expose religious fanaticism,
and he was impartial enough to show that weak
and bad characters could be produced within the
Catholic as well as within the Protestant fold.

In one important respect, however, he failed to
be impartial. If he had treated human life fairly
instead of looking fixedly at certain unpleasant
features of it, he would have balanced his detestable
characters by at least a few personages worthy of
our thorough admiration. This he has not done,



Introduction. ix

and he has thereby weakened the artistic effect of
his book, because he has not given us a full and
rounded view of life. It is true that Aussandon
does rise to heroism, that Mme. Ebsen is a pathetic
figure, that Lorie-Dufresne is amiable, that Romain
and Sylvanire are faithful servants; but, taken
together, they do not produce one-tithe of the
impression made by that iron-willed fanatic, Mme.
Autheman, while the weakness of filine, the hero-
ine, serves to bring into still fuller relief the un-
pleasant dominant conception of the book. But
while all this may be unfair to human nature as
well as to true art, it adds to the effectiveness of the
story as a warning and deterrent. Daudet exag-
gerates, yet so did Mrs. Stowe in the great novel
that led to the downfall of slavery. The main
desideratum in all such fiction with a purpose is
that the reader should be made to think that the
specific injustice can exist, and that he should be
stimulated to the resolve that he will do his best to
counteract its evil influences.

From this point of view it is idle to deny that
U Evangeliste is a great and moving book. Our
sympathies are first aroused for the simple house-
hold formed by filine and her mother, and they are
subsequently extended to Lorie and his mother-
less children. Then, slowly but surely, the hard,
resolute character of that conqueror of souls,
Mme. Autheman, is set before us, and we foresee
the fatal results of the influence she is destined
to exert upon filine. If for a moment the idea



X Introduction.

of a religious association of a peculiar character
in the midst of modern Paris makes us think of
Balzac's L 'Envers de I 'Histoire Contemporaijie, we
soon perceive that Daudet has discovered a more
realistic and absorbing theme. We follow each
step of the sad drama with breathless interest, and
when all the poor mother's efforts to retain her
child have been thwarted by the gold of the
Authemans, when the religious hypnotist is left
master of the situation and secure of the reputa-
tion of a saint, when finally we close the book with
the last parting of poor, broken-down Mme. Ebsen
and her misguided daughter, we do not stop to ask
whether such things often happen, but we search
our own hearts in order to discover and expel even
the least trace of fanaticism and we resolve that
we will do our best to drive it from the hearts of
others. But this is merely to say that Daudet has
not only written a book with lifelike characters
and a closely knit plot, a book that impresses the
imagination profoundly, but that he has also writ-
ten a moral book that impresses the heart.

Space is waiting for comment on special scenes
or passages, nor can we dwell on the subordinate
characters, some of whom are interesting. It is
worth while to notice, however, that although
L' Evangiliste undoubtedly marks the beginning
of a new period of artistic development for its
author, it also holds by his previous works in
many interesting particulars. Although its plot
is more closely knit than usual it contains such



Introduction. xi

a specially worked up scene as that in which
Aussandon refuses the communion to Mme. Au-
theman, and we thus perceive that the author of
Le Nabab has not lost his cunning. Again the
toilsome journey of Mme. Ebsen reminds us of
similar pilgrimages made by Claire Fromont and
by Jack. More striking still is the fact that
Daudet must have his fling at the unsuccessful —
the failures. Lorie-Dufresne, the under-prefect
who has lost his place, takes his stand by Delo-
belle and Argenton, and even rivals the latter by
insisting upon bringing up his son for a calling for
which the boy obviously has no aptitude. Other
touches there are that remind us of this book and
that — for example the quiet household of the
Ebsens suggests that of the Delobelles in Fromojit
Jeune et Risler Aine and this novel is further
recalled by the description of the banking house
of the Authemans, by the brief reference to the
housekeeper whose monomania is neatness, and by
the slight recrudescence of Daudet's prejudice
against the dramatic profession. Suggestions of
Jack are almost as frequent, but, after all, such
suggestions are more curious than important, for
while Daudet unquestionably had certain fixed
prejudices which he felt called upon to exploit
whenever he got a chance, no novelist of our
times has had more of that affluence of genius
that makes it unnecessary for a writer to repeat
himself.

In estimating the extent of this affluence we



xii Introduction.

shall find ourselves, in conclusion, compelled
to take no little account of L' Evang^liste. It
is probably, as has been indicated, his most
tragical book, at least it is one of his strongest,
and while some of us may prefer the variety and
charm of the Leitres de mon Moulin or the irre-
pressible gaiety of the first two Tartarin books,
or the pure comedy of Nwna Roumestan, we have
no right to let our preferences blind us to the
fact that the addition of so powerful a book as
L'Evange'liste to the charming novels just enum-
erated gives Daudet a fair claim to be considered
the most comprehensive genius that the annals of
French fiction have been able to display since the
untimely death of Balzac. For in endeavoring to
determine an author's place in literature we must
consider the range as well as the quality of his
work. L' EvangHiste, opening up as it does a
series of important " problem novels " marks a
decided widening of the range of Daudet's artistic
interests and efforts, while at the same time it
perhaps reveals the development of a more or
less new quality in his work — that of moral
intensity. Thus it is a very important book
to the careful student of Daudet, and is also so
interesting and powerful in itself that it ought
to appeal strongly to the thoughtful general
reader.

W. P. TRENT.



CONTENTS.



STfje lEbangelist.

Pagb

I. Grandmother i

II. A Functionary ii

III. Eline Ebsen 29

IV. Morning Hours 47

V. The Autheman Hotel 66

VI. The Lock 89

VII. Port-Sauveur 107

VIII. Watson's Testimony 123

IX. On the Hill- Top 147

X. The Retreat 169

XI. An Abduction 1S7

XII. ROMAIN AND SyLVANIRE 209

XIII. Too Rich 223

XIV. The Last Letter 242

XV. At the Oratory 259

XVI. Gabrielle's Seat 274

XVII. "Let us love each other dearly . . let us

NEVER part" 298



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

From Drawings by C. Bourgain.

" He became animated, for his heart was hot " Frontispiece

" She began to translate, readily " 130

" As she worked, the busy little woman chatted " . . 284



THE EVANGELIST.



I.

GRANDMOTHER.

They have returned from the cemetery, at night-
fall, to a little house in the Rue du Val-de-Grace,
Grandmother has just been buried ; and now, with
friends gone, and door closed, alone in the small
home which, during the last few hours, has seemed
to become larger, and where the slightest object
reminds them of the absent one, Mme, Ebsen
and her daughter feel most keenly all the horror
of their sorrow. Even yonder, at Montparnasse,
when the earth opened and swallowed their loved
one, they had no such keen sense of their irrepar-
able loss, nor realization of the anguish of eternal
separation as comes to them now when they see
the vacant chair in the window corner. It is as if
Grandmother had just died a second time.

Mme. Ebsen has dropped into a chair, from
which she does not stir, weighed down in her heavy
mourning gown, and without even the strength to
remove her shawl and bonnet, the splendid crepe
veil of which bristles stiffly above the kindly, tear-
stained face. Using her handkerchief vigorously,



2 The Evangelist.

and mopping her swollen eyes, she begins to enu-
merate the many virtues of the departed, her kind-
ness, her gayety, her courage, and relates so many
episodes from her own and her daughter's life,
that a stranger admitted to this simple vocero'^
would have been thoroughly acquainted with the
history of these three women. He would have
learned that M. Ebsen, an engineer from Copen-
hagen, who had been ruined by his inventions,
had come to Paris twenty years before to obtain
a patent on an electric clock, that it had never
succeeded as they wished, and that the inventor
had died, leaving his wife alone in the hotel \\\\}!\ her
old Mamma, and so poor that she did not know
what to do during her approaching confinement.

Ah ! without Grandmother, what would have
become of them, without Grandmother and her
brave little crochet needle, that flew faster and
faster day and night, as she made table covers,
and pieces of handmade guipure, at that time very
slightly known in Paris, and which the old Danish
woman pluckily offered for sale in the fancy shops.
In this way she had been able to keep the house
going, and to give the little Eline a good nurse ;

1 Vocero. It is the custom in Corsica when a man dies, and
especially when he has been assassinated, for some of the women of
his family, or, in their absence, for friends to improvise beside the
body, in the presence of all the members of the family, and their
intimate friends, verses which recall the virtues of the deceased,
and, in the event of his assassination, call upon his family to
avenge the untimely death. These verses, in the dialect of the
country, are recited in a monotone, in simple, impetuous language
most exciting to the fierce blood of the audience. Such an im-
provisation is called a vocero. — Translator.



Grandmother. 3

but in making those circles, and that delicate lace,
she had sacrificed her eyesight. Dear, dear Grand-
mother ! And the vocero is unfolded, broken by
sobs, by childish words that come back to the
good woman in her orphan's grief, and to which
the foreign accent, her heavy Copenhagen French,
which twenty years in Paris have not been able to
correct, impart a certain something ingenuous and
touching.

Her daughter's sorrow is less expansive. Very
pale, with teeth clenched, Eline busies herself
about the house in her quiet way, with movements
steady and deliberate. Her full, Uthe figure is
draped in funereal black, the gloom of which is
somewhat relieved by the heavy, blond tresses,
and by the bloom of her nineteen summers.
Noiselessly, like a skilful manager, she has revived
the fire, which was covered and dying out in their
long absence, drawn the curtains, lighted the lamp,
and rescued the little parlor from the chill and
cheerlessness in which they had found it. Then,
while the mother still talks and sobs, she relieves
her of her bonnet and shawl, puts warm slippers
on her feet in place of the boots all soaked and
heavy with cemetery mud, and leading her by the
hand, as she would have done a little child, seats
her at the table, where the flowered tureen stands
smoking hot between two dishes brought in from
the restaurant. Mme. Ebsen resists. Eat? Ah!
well ! yes. But she is not hungry. Then at the
sight of the little table, and the third place which
is vacant :



4 The Evangelist,

" No, Lina. Please don't."

" Yes, yes, you must."

filine has insisted on dining there from the first
evening, and on making no change in their habits,
reaHzing that they would be more painful to resume
the next day. And how wisely she has acted, this
sweet and sensible Lina ! Already the combined
brightness of the lamp and the fire have brought
warmth into the room, and it is penetrating this
poor, chilled heart. As always happens after such
exhausting crises, Mme. Ebsen eats with ravenous
appetite ; and, little by little, her thoughts, with-
out changing their object, are modified and lose
their bitterness. Certainly, everything possible was
done for Grandmother's happiness, and up to her
last hour she had lacked no comfort. And then,
what a solace it must have been in that dreadful
moment to feel that she was surrounded by so
much sympathy and love ! How many people
there were in the modest funeral procession ! The
street was quite black with them. There were her
old pupils, Leonie d'Arlot, the Baroness Gerspach,
Paule and Louise de Lostrande, — not one was
absent. Besides, they had what not even the rich
can obtain to-day, for love or money, an address
from Pastor Aussandon the Dean of the Theo-
logical Society, — Aussandon, the great orator of
the Reformed Church, who for fifteen years had
not been heard in Paris. How beautiful was what
he had said about the family, and how affected he
had been when he spoke of that brave grand-
mother, who, in her old age, had exiled herself to



Gra7idmother. 5

follow her children, unwilling to be separated from
them for even one day.

" No, not for a single day," sighs Mme. Ebsen,
to whom the memory of the pastor's words
bring fresh tears. And, taking in her arms her
tall daughter, who has approached the mother,
and is endeavoring to comfort her, she embraces
her fondly, and cries :

" Let us love each other dearly, my Linette, and
let us never part."

With arms thrown around the sobbing form,
and pressing a lingering caress on the gray hair,
£line answers, but in a low voice, for she is trying
to hold back the tears :

" Never ! you know it, mother, never ! "

The warmth of the room, the hearty meal, the
three sleepless nights, and the tears, have ex-
hausted the poor mother, and now she is sleeping.
Eline comes and goes quietly, clears the table,
and sets in order the house, which had been upset
by that frightful, sudden departure. This is her
way of benumbing her grief — by engaging in
some active work. But when she comes to that
window corner, where the curtain was always
raised, where the old lady used to sit all day
long, Eline's heart fails her. She cannot disturb
those little objects which preserve the trace of a
habit, and the marks of the trembling fingers that
used to handle them, — the scissors, the spectacles,
fallen from their case, and marking the page in a
volume of Andersen, the crochet-needle sticking in
a piece of work already begun, and hanging out



6 The Eva7igelist.

of the open drawer, the lace cap with its violet
strings untied and dangling from the window
fastening.

Eline stops and meditates.

All her childhood is associated with this corner.
It is here that Grandmother taught her to read
and sew. While Mme. Ebsen was out giving
her German lessons, the little Lina would sit on
this stool at the feet of the old Danish woman,
who talked to her of her native land, told her
legends of the North, and sang to her that sea-
song " King Christian," for her husband had been
the captain of a vessel.

After a while, when Eline in her turn was able
to earn her living, it was still in this corner that
she used to establish herself on coming home in
the evening and Grandmother continued to talk to
the young girl with the same protecting tenderness
that the little Lina had enjoyed. And, during
these later years, when the mind of the old lady
had begun to weaken a little, it happened that she
sometimes confused her daughter with her grand-
daughter, and called Lina " Elisabeth," which was
Mme. Ebsen's name, and spoke to her of her
deceased husband, thus blending their two person-
alities, which in her heart were but one and the
same affection, a double maternity. It needed but
a word to recall her to herself, and then, how she
would laugh ! Oh ! that angelic laugh, that child-
like laugh, that rippled from between the bows of
the little cap. It is all over now. filine will
never again see it. At this thought, all her



Grandmother. 7

courage breaks down. Her tears, which for her
mother's sake she had restrained all day, and
also from a feeling of modesty and delicacy, for
she was embarrassed by so many expressions of
sympathy, — her tears now flow impetuously, and,
choked with sobs and cries, she escapes into the
next room.

Here the window is open wide. The night
comes in, with gusts of damp wind, which toss
the March moonlight, scattering its white light on
the unmade bed and the two chairs, still standing
face to face. It was here that the coffin had
rested that morning, during the pastor's address,
delivered, according to the Lutheran rite, at the
house. There is no disorder in this little chamber
of death, none of the surroundings to indicate a
long illness, nothing to show the horrors of disease.
Grandmother, who scarcely ever entered this room
except to sleep, had found here a deeper sleep, a
longer night, that is all ! She did not like this
room. " It is too gloomy," she used to say. And
from it one could see only trees, M. Aussan-
don's garden, beyond, that of the Deaf-Mutes,
and the belfry of Saint-Jacques-du-Haut-Pas, —
nothing but verdure against the stones. This is
the real charm of Paris, but the Danish woman
preferred her little window-corner, from which she
could enjoy the movement and life of the street.

Is it these thoughts, or the effect of the profound
sky, in places rough and billowy like the sea?
Eline no longer weeps. Through the open window
her grief seems to ascend into the sky, and she is



8 The Evangelist.

soothed. By that path the dear soul must have
taken its flight, and her gaze seeks the distant
heavens, where fleecy clouds are sailing, and
where pale vistas open in the sky.

" Grandmother, are you there? Can you see
me?"

And, softly, she continues to call her, speaking
in accents of prayer. Then the clock strikes the
hour on Saint-Jacques, and on the Val-de-Grace,
the leafless trees shiver in the night wind, there is
a whistle from a railway engine, the sound of a
tramway horn rises above the continuous roar of
Paris. Eline leaves the balcony, by which she has
been kneeling in prayer, closes the window, and
returns to the room where her mother is still sleep-
ing, her childlike slumber shaken by deep sighs.
Before that honest face, with its wrinkles of kindli-
ness, with its tear-swollen eyes, Eline thinks of
the self-sacrifice, the devotion, of this excellent
woman, of the heavy family burden borne so
bravely, so cheerfully, the child to rear, the house
to provide for, responsibilities that belong to a
man, yet with never a word of anger, never a
complaint. The young girl's heart overflows with
tenderness and gratitude. She, also, will devote
herself to her mother, and once again she promises


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