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BERKELEY \

UNIVIRSITY OF
GAUPORNfA




ABBE MOURET'S TRANSGRESSION.



A REALISTIC NOVEL.



UNABRIDGED TRANSLATIONS OF

ZOLA'S POWEI'FUL EEALISTIC NOVELS.

In Crown Svo, price 6s. each, or without the Illustrations, 5s.



HIS MASTERPIECE?

OB, Claude Lantier's Struggle for Fame.

(L'ŒUVRE.)
With a Portrait of the Author, etched by Bocourt.



-^ABBE MOURET'S TRANSGRESSION,

FROM THE 34th FRENCH EDITION.

Illustrated with Eight Page Engravings.



THE LADIES' PARADISE.

(The Sequel to " Piping Hot !")

FROM THE 50TH FRENCH EDITION.

Jllustrated with Eight Tinted Page Engravings.



f^



THÉRÈSE RAQUIN.

ÏTTustrated with Svcteen Page Engravings, hy CastelU.

THE RUSH FOR THE SPOIL.

("LA CUREE.")

FROM THE 35th FRENCH EDITION.

Illustrated with Twelve Page Engravings.



PIPING HOT!

("POT-BOUILLE.")

FROM THE 63rd FRENCH EDITION.

Illustrated with Sixteen Page Engravings, by French Artists.



GERMINAL; or, MASTER AND MAN.

FROM THE J:7tH FRENCH EDITION.

Illustrated with Sixteen Page Engravings, from designs by J. Férat.



^N ANA.

FROM THE 127th FRENCH EDITION.

Illustrated with Twenty-Four Tinted Page Engravings, by French Artists.



V THE "ASSOMMOIR."

(The Prelude to " Nana.")

FROM THE 97th FRENCH EDITION.

Illustrated with Sixteen Tinted Page Engravings, by French Artists.



SHORTLY WILL BE PUBLISHED,



now JOLLY LIFE IS !
A LOVE EPISODE.



THE FORTUNE OF THE ROUGONS.
THE CONQUEST OF PLASSANS.



HIS EXCELLENCY EUGÈNE ROUGON.



'-^^S5*



-^ §1di^^' '■■■ . '^r:^






?:iii»>'










:s>TK.1'n^ Tin.



THE ABBK, AFTER A LOx\G ILLNESS, AWAKES AND FINDS ALBLVE '

BESIDE HIM.



p. 114.



ABBÉ MOUEET'S TRANSGEES8I0N.




jj • » y y c t s c .



AL15IXE IMPLOltlNG 'JlIE AlllîE TO IIETUHN' AVITH IIEll TO LE PAKADOl'.

p. 2SG.

J3Y KISIILE ZOLA..



ABBÉ MOURETS



TRANSGRESSION.



A REALISTIC NOVEL.



BY

EMILE ZOLA,



TRANSLATED WITHOUT ABEIDGMENT FEOM THE 34tH FRENCH EDITION.



ïUitstvïtteïi toith €tgltt îOage Êngrabings.



LONDON :
VlZETELLY ^ Co., ^J.2 CATHERINE STREET, StRAND,

1886.



liJertï):

s. COWAN AND CO., STEATHMORE PRINTING WORKS.



NOTE.






"Abbé Mouret's Transgression" (La Fmite de VAhhé 3fouret),
Avritten in 1874, is perhaps the most powerful and poetic of all
M. Zola's tales ; it is that in which fantasy bears the greatest
part, and in which naturalisme for a while disappears. The
opening chapters describe a profligate and almost pagan village
in Provence, and here naturalisme is at home, and in its proper
place. In a " land of ruin and sand," or on arid, bare, and burn-
ing soil, there is planted a little community of people relapsing
into something worse than savagery. The peasants are all
close kin, so close that, among real savages, love and inter-
marriages would have been forbidden under pain of death.
But the peasants see things differently —

" Year by year
They serve their senses with less shame. "

England has many such villages. The priest among these
miserable hinds is Serge Mouret, great-grandson of Adélaïde
Fouque. He and his sister Désirée are the children of a
marriage of cousins : François Z\Iouret married Marthe Rougon,
who inherited somewhat of the shaken intellect of Adélaïde
Fouque. In Serge Mouret, the half insane temperament of the
family has turned to intense asceticism and devotion. His
sister Désirée is an " innocent," as people say in the north, a

139



vi ABBÉ IMOURET'S TRANSGRESSION

grown-up woman with the character of a child of eight, and
with a half-mad love of. all sorts of animals. There are few
things in literature more excellently wrought than the descrip-
tion of this strange pair, of the gentle devotee, at once pure
and tolerant among his bestial people ; of his foil, the coarse
and brutal ascetic priest, Archangias ; of the old gouvernante
who waits on Serge and Désirée.

To my mind, the most impressive passage in M. Zola's
novels is the mass celebrated by the Abbé Mouret in the
empty, ruinous church, which to him is the very House of
God. The old housekeeper brings the sacred vessels — with no
more respect than if they were her household pots and pans —
and hobbles about the church, snuffing the candles. A mis-
chievous chorister boy repeats the responses, and is lost in the
unintelligible Latin which he tries to spell. Orate, Fratres,
cries the priest aloud, turning with uplifted hands to the
empty benches. Then he prays at the altar, while the yellow
morning sun floods the church, leaving the great daub of
the Christ crucified alone in shadow. The rickety old furni-
ture of the confessional creaks, the sounds of the waking world
come in ; a great tree has thrust its boughs through a broken
window ; the long weedy grass of the untrodden court peeps
through the chinks of the door, and threatens to encroach on
the nave. From the boughs of the service tree and through
the open window the sparrows begin to peer ; they flit in and
fly away again, and at last grow bold, and march up the floor
to the altar, as when St. Francis preached to the birds. It
was Désirée, the idiot girl, who strewed crumbs about the
church, that the birds might fly in and have their part, as it
werC; in the sacrifice rejected by the people. Last, Désirée



ABBE MOURET'S TEANSGKESSION. vii

herself enters, breaking in upon the celebration with her apron
full of chickens. The brown hen has just hatched her brood.

Under the sun of the south, where all life is going on repro-
ducing herself, and men and women have no more shame than
the beasts, the purity of the Abbé Moure t is overcome by a
strange artifice of his enemy, Nature. A beautiful girl lives
in " Le Paradou," the deserted and overgrown park of a Legiti-
mist family. Here the Abbé suffers an injury which deprives
him, for a time, of all but the natural man in him, and in the
Paradise he lives with the beautiful girl, as our first parents
lived in the Garden between the four rivers. " lis cédèrent
aux exigences du jardin ; " and M. Zola, too, soon yields to the
temptation to spoil his fantastic idyll. We need not follow the
scene back into full naturalisme, nor watch the scene of the
punishment of the bad priest, Archangias. For this book
M. Zola compiled " a mountain of notes," and during many
months his table was covered with books of devotion. He
also attended flower-shows, and "got up" his description of
Paradise at these harmless entertainments. — Andrew Lang, in
the Fortnightly Review.



Signor De Amicis, in recording a conversation which he had
with M. Zola on the subject of the present work, says : — The
idea of the monk Archangias, in La Faute de VÂhhé Mouret, of
that comical hooded villain who preached religion in the language
of an intoxicated porter, was taken by Zola from a provincial
paper, where he read the account of a certain monk, a school-
master, who had been condemned for abuse of — force. Certain



^dii ABBÉ MOURET'S TRANSGRESSION.

queer replies wliicli the accused had given the judges presented
the character perfectly complete. While M. Zola was talking
of that novel, I could not refrain from expressing to him my
great admiration of those splendid pages m which, he described
the religious ecstacies of the young priest before the image of
the Virgin, pages worthy of a great poet.

*' You cannot imagine," he replied, " the trouble that that
wretched Abbé Mouret cost me. In order to be able to
describe him at the altar, I went several times to hear mass at
Notre Dame. For his religious education I consulted man}^
priests. No one, however, could give me all the explanations
that I needed. I overturned shops of Roman Catholic books,
devoured immense volumes on religious ceremonies and
manuals for priests in the country, but I still seemed to lack
sufficient material for my work. A priest who had abandoned
his orders, gave me the necessary information."



AEBE MOIJEET'S TEANSGEESSION.



BOOK I.



La Teuse, as she entered the church, rested her broom and her
feather-brush against the altar. She had made herself late by
starting her half-yearly wash. She wenc down the church to
ring the Angelus, limping more than ever in her haste and
hustling up against the benches. The bell-rope hung from the
ceiling near the confessional, bare, worn, ending in a big knot
greasy from handling; and on it she swung her whole bulk
Avith even jumps, and then let herself go with it, whirling in
her petticoats, her cap awry, her broad face crimsoned with the
heated blood.

Having set her cap straight with a slight pat. La Teuse,
breathless, returned to give a hurried sweep before the altar.
The dust settled there persistently every day, between the
badly fitted boards of the sanctuary floor. Her broom
rummaged out the corners with an angry rumble. Then she
lifted the altar cover and w^as sorely vexed to find that the
large ujjper altar-cloth, already darned in a score of places,
showed another hole w^orn through in the very middle ; tlic
second cloth, folded in two, was visible, itself so worn, so thin,
as to allow the consecrated stone, embedded in the painted
w^ood of the altar, to be seen through it. She dusted the altar
linen, 3'ellow with wear, used her feather-brush energeticalh^
along the shelf which bore the candlesticks, and against which
she leaned the liturgical altar-cards. Then, getting up on a
chair, she took their yellow chintz covers oft the crucifix and two
of the candlesticks. The brass was all tarnished



10 ABBÉ MOURET'S TRANSGRESSION.

"Ah well!" softly muttered La Teuse, " they do want a clean
badly ! I must give them a polish up ! "

Starting off on one leg, stumping and shaking enough to
drive in the stone flags, she went to the sacristy to find the
Missal, which she placed unopened on its stand on the Epistle
side with its edge to the middle of the altar. Then she lit the
two candles. As she went off with her broom, she gave a glance
round to make sure that God's house was well kept. The
church was drowsily still ; the bell-rope only, near the con-
fessional, was still swinging between roof and floor with a long
and sinuous motion.

The Abbé Mouret had just come down to the sacristy, a small
and chilly apartment, which only a passage separated from his
dining-room.

*' Good-morning, your reverence," said La Teuse, laying her
broom aside. " Oh ! you have been lazy this morning ! Do you
know it's a quarter past six % "

And without allowing the smiling young jjriest time to reply :
" I have got a scolding to give you," she went on. " There's
another hole in the cloth again. There's no sense in it. We
have only one other, and that I have been ruining my eyes over
these three days to mend it. You will leave our poor Lord
quite bare, if you go on like this."

The Abbé Mouret, still smiling, said brightly : '' Jesus needs
not so much linen, my good Teuse. He is always warm and
royally received, when He is well beloved."

Stepping towards a small tap, he asked : " Is my sister up
yet % I have not seen her."

" Oh, Mademoiselle Désirée has been down a long time,"
answered the servant, kneeling before an old kitchen dresser in
which the sacred vestments were kept. " She is already with her
fowls and her rabbits. She was expecting some chicks to be
hatched yesterday, and it didn't come off'. You can guess her
excitement." She broke off here saying :

" The gold chasuble, eh % "

The priest who had washed his hands and was now standing
absorbed in the praj^cr which his lips were murmuring, nodded
his head affirmatively. The parish had only three chasubles :
a violet one, a black one, and one in cloth-of-gold. The last,
used on the days on which white, red or green were prescribed,
was therefore in extraordinary esteem. La Teuse lifted it
reverently from the shelf covered with blue paper, upon which
she laid it after each service : she placed it on the dresser,



ABBE MOUKET'S TKANSGEESSION. 11

cautiously taking off the fine cloths which protected its em-
broidery. A golden lamb slumbered there on its golden cross,
surrounded by broad rays of gold. The gold tissue, frayed at
the folds, broke out in little slender tufts ; the embossed orna-
ments were getting tarnished and worn. The house w^as ia 9
perpetual state of anxiety, of fluttering concern, at seeing it
thus going thread by thread. The priest had to put it on almost
every day. How on earth could it be re23laced — how could they
buy the three chasubles it took the place of, when the last gold
threads should be worn out 1

La Teuse next laid out on the chasuble the stole, the maniple,
the girdle, the alb and the amice. But still her tongue ran on
while occupied in crossing the stole with the maniple, and in
wreathing the girdle so as to trace the venerated initial of the
holy name of Mary.

"It is not up to much now, that girdle," she muttered ; "you
will have to make up your mind to buy another, your rever-
ence. That will not be very hard ; I could plait you one myself
if I only had some hemp."

The Abbé Mouret made no answer. He was dressing the
chalice at a small table, a large old silver-gilt chalice, with a
bronze foot, which he had just taken from the bottom of a deal
cupboard, in which w^ere kept the sacred vessels and linen, the
Holv Oils, the Missals, the candlesticks and the crosses. Over
the cup he laid a clean purificator, and on this cloth laid the
silver-gilt paten, with a host in it, which he covered over with a
small lawn pall. As he was hiding the chalice by pinching
the two folds in the veil, made of gold to match with the
chasuble. La Teuse exclaimed :

"Stop, there is no corporal in the burse. Last night I took all
the dirty purificators, palls^ and corporals to wash tliem —
separately, of course, not with the house-wash. By-thebye,
your reverence, I didn't tell you : I have just started it. A
fine fat one it will be ! Better than the last one."

And while the priest slipped a corporal into the burse and
laid the burse on which a gold cross was worked on a gold
ground, on the veil, she went on quickly :

" By-the-bye, I forgot ! that gadabout Vincent hasn't come.
Do you wish me to serve your mass, your reverence 1 "

The young priest eyed her sternly.

" Well, it isn't a sin," she continued, with her genial smile.
" I did serve a mass once, in Monsieur Caffin's time. I serve it
better than ragamuffins who laugh lilve heathens at only a fly



12 ABBÉ MOURET'S TEANSGRÉSSION.

buzzing about the church. I may wear a cap, I may be sixty
years' old, and as round as a tub, but I have more respect for
our Lord than those imps of boys whom I caught only the other
day playing at leap-frog behind the altar."

The priest was still looking at her with disapproving shakes
of his head.

'' What a hole, this village ! " she grumbled. " Not a hundred
and fifty people in it ! There are days, like this one, when
you wouldn't find a living soul in Les Artaud. Even the babies in
swaddling clothes are gone to the vineyards ! And goodness
knows what they do among such vines — vines that grow under
the pebbles, as dry as thistles ! A perfect wilderness, three miles
from any highway ! Unless an angel comes down to serve
your mass, your reverence, you've only got me, on my honour !
or one of Mademoiselle Désirée's rabbits, no offence to your
reverence ! "

But, just at that moment, Vincent, the Brichets' younger
son, gently opened the door of the sacristy. His shock head of
red hair and his narrow, glistening, grey eyes exasperated La
Teuse.

"Oh ! the wi'etch ! " she cried out. " I bet he's just been
up to some piece of mischief ! Qome on, then, you scamp, since
his reverence is afraid I shall dirty our Lord ! "

On seeing the lad, the Abbé Mouret had taken up the amice.
He kissed the cross embroidered in the centre, and for a second
laid the cloth upon his head ; then lowering it over the collar-
band of his cassock, he crossed it and fastened the tapes, the
right one over the left. He next put on the alb, the sj^mbol of
purity, beginning with the right sleeve. Vincent stooped down
and went all round him, adjusting the alb, and taking care that
it should fall evenly all round to a couple of inches from the
ground. Then he presented the girdle to the priest, who girded
it on tightly round his loins, as a reminder of the bonds where-
with the Saviour was bound in His Passion.

La Teuse remained standing, jealous, wounded, struggling to
be silent ; but so great was the itching of her tongue, that she
soon broke out once more :

" Brother Archangias has been. He won't have a single child
at the school to-day. He went off again like a whirlwind to
pull the brats' ears in the vineyards. You had better see him.
I believe he has got something to say to you."

The Abbé Mouret silenced her with a motion of his hand.
He had not again opened his lips. He repeated the usual



ABBE MOUKET'S TEANSGRESSI0Î7. 13

prayers while he took the maniple, which he kissed before slip-
ping it over his left forearm, as a symbol of the practice of good
works, and while crossing on his breast the stole, also kissed, be-
forehand, the symbol of his dignity and power. La Teuse had
to help Vincent in adjusting the chasuble, which sbe fastened
with slender tapes, so that it should not slip off behind.

"Holy Virgin! I have forgotten the cruets!" she stammered,
rushing to the cupboard. "Come, look sharp, lad ! "

Vincent filled the cruets, phials of coarse glass, while she
liastened to get a clean finger-cloth from a drawer. The Abbé
Mom^et, holding the chalice by its stem in his left hand, the
fingers of his right resting on the burse, bowed profoundly
without taking off his beretta before a black wooden crucifix
hanging over the dresser. The lad bowed too, and then led the
way out of the sacristy, bearing the cruets covered with the
finger-cloth, followed by the priest, who w^alked along with down-
cast eyes, absorbed in devout meditation.



14



IT.

The church, quite empty, struck the eye with itf? staring white-
ness on this May morn. The bell-rope near the confessional
once more hung motionless. The little bracket light, in its
stained glass vase, burned like a crimson spot against the wall
on the right of the tabernacle. Vincent, having put the cruets
on the credence, came back and knelt down below the altar
step, while the priest, after paying homage to the Holy Sacra-
ment by a genuflexion on the chancel-step, went up to the altar
and spread on it the corporal, on the centre of which he then
stood the chalice. Then, having opened the Missal, he came
down again. Another bend of the knee, and, after crossing
himself, aloud, with hands joined before his breast, he began the
great divine drama, with a countenance blanched with faith and
love.

" Tntroiho ad altare Dei."

" Ad Deum qui lœtificat juventutem meam^'' gabbled Vincent,
squatted on his heels, mumbling the responses of the antiphon
and the psalm, while his eyes followed La Teuse as she roved
about the church.

The old servant was gazing at one of the candles with a
troubled look. Her anxiety seemed redoubled, as the priest,
bowing down lowly and his hands once more joined before his
breast, recited the Confiteor. She restrained herself, and in her
turn struck her breast, her head bowed, but still keeping a
watchful eye on the taper. For a minute more the priest's
voice and the server's stammering tones alternated :

'^ Domimts vobiscum."

" Et cum spiritu tuo."

And the priest, parting his hands and again rejoining them,
said with tender compunction :

" Oremus^

La Teuse could stand it no longer. She stepped behind the



ABBE MOUEET'S TRANSGRESSION. 15

altar and reached the candle, which she trimmed with the point
of her scissors. Two large blobs of wax had been ah^eady
w^asted. When she came back again, putting the benches
straight and making sure that the holy-w^ater stoups were not
empty, the priest was at the altar, his hands resting on the edge
of the cloth, praying in subdued tones. He kissed the altar.

Behind him, the little church still looked bleak in the pale
light of early morn. The sun, as yet, was only level with the
gutter. The Kyrie Eleisoiis rang quiveringly through this soi-t
of white-washed stable with its flat ceiling w^hose plastered
beams caught the eye. On either side, three lofty windows of
plain glass, most of them cracked or smashed, let in a raw,
chalky light.

The free air of heaven poured in bleakly — laid bare the
naked poverty of the God who dwelt in this forlorn village.
At the bottom of the church, and above the big door which
was never opened and w^hose threshold w^as green with weeds,
a boarded gallery — reached by a common miller's ladder —
stretched from w^all to wall. Dire were its creakings on
festival days beneath the wooden shoes. Near the ladder
stood the confessional, with its open panels, painted a staring
lemon colour. Facing it, beside the little door, stood the
font — an ex-holy water stoup resting on a stonework pedestal.
To the right and to the left, half-way down the church, two
narrow altars stood against the wall, surrounded by a wooden
balu^^trade. On the left hand one, dedicated to the Blessed
Virgin, stood a large gilded plaster statue of the Mother of God,
wdth a regal crown of gold upon her chestnut hair ; seated on
her left arm she bore the Divine Child, unclothed and smiling,
in whose little hand was poised the star-spangled orb of the
universe ; her feet were moving in the midst of clouds and
below them peeped wânged angel heads. The right hand altar,
used for masses for the dead, was surmounted by a crucifix of
painted card-board — a pendant as it were to the Virgin's effigy.
The figure of Cln'ist, as large as a child of ten years old, was a
terrible representation of His death-throes, the head thrown
back, the ribs projecting, the abdomen hollowed, the limbs
distorted and besmeared with blood. There was a pulpit, too
— a square box ascended by a five-step block — standing near a
clock with running weights, enclosed in a case of walnut
w^ood, whose thuds throbbed through the church like the beat-
ings of an enormous heart concealed somewhere beneath the
stone flags. All along the nave the fourteen Stations of the



16 ABBE MOURET'S TRANSGRESSION.

Cross, fourteen coarsely illuminated daubs, framed with black
rods, blotched the staring whiteness of the walls with their
yellow, blue, and scarlet scenes from the Passion.

'' Deo gratias,^^ stuttered out Vincent at the end of the
Epistle.

The mystery of love, the immolation of the Holy Victim,
was about to begin. The server took the Missal up and bore
it round to the left, or Gospel-side, of the altar, taking careful
heed not to touch the pages of the book. Each time he passed
before the tabernacle he dropped a sort of slanting genuflexion
which seemed to throw him all askew. Returning to the right
hand side once more, he stood upright with crossed arms
during the reading of the Gospel. The priest, first making
the sign of the cross upon the Missal, next crossed himself :
upon his forehead — to declare that he would never blush for
the divine word ; on his mouth — to show his unchanging
readiness to confess his faith ; and on his heart — to mark that
that heart belonged to God alone.

" Dominus vohiscum,^^ said he, turning round and facing the
cold, Avhite church.

" JSt cîim spiritu tuo^" answered Vincent, once more on his
knees.

The Offertory recited, the ' priest uncovered the chalice.
One moment he held before his breast the paten containing
the host, which he offered up to God for himself, for those
present, for all the faithful, living and dead ; and then, slipping
it on to the edge of the corporal without touching it with his
fingers, he took up the chalice and carefully wiped it with the
purificator. Vincent had in the meanwhile fetched the cruets
from the credence-table, and now presented them in turn, first
the wine and then the water. The priest then ofl:"ered up on
behalf of the whole world the half-full chalice, which he re-
placed upon the corporal and covered with the pall. Another
prayer, and he returned to the side of the altar where the
server dribbled water over his thumbs and forefingers to purify
him from the slightest sinful stain. When he had dried
them on the finger cloth. La Teuse — who stood there wait-
ing — emptied the cruet-salver over a zinc pail at the corner of
the altar.

^' Orate, fratres,'' exclaimed the priest aloud as he faced the
empty benches, extending and reclasping his hands in a gesture



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