Théophile Gautier

IT is certain that Théophile Gautier has taken a high place in French literature, and it seems probable that his reputation will be a permanent one. The permanency of any literary reputation is, indeed, a question as to which the oracles are dumb, or send an uncertain answer. Nothing is more melancholy than to see that authors famous in their own day are but a short time known ; they heap up books and cannot tell who shall read them. First the works are forgotten, and then even the name of him who wrote them goes out of men’s minds.

But it is possible that some few, at least, will still read what was written by Gautier, when a hundred years shall have passed away. Within a somewhat restricted range of literary endeavor, he attained very nearly to artistic perfection : he was the most brilliant representative of a school of thought and style; he was one of the most active and most influential leaders in a literary revolution.

It was as a lieutenant in the great contest between classicism and romanticism that Gautier first gained prominence ; it was as one of the intellectual body-guard of Victor Hugo that he pledged himself to art and to the literature of the future. The battle is long over, and has gone into history as much as Nancy and Bunker Hill. All now admit that in the early part of the century French literature was held in bonds, and that the revolt was a just uprising for freedom. Tt was crowned with success ; it is no longer called a rebellion, but is recognized as a revolution.

The romantic movement was largely one for freedom of style; but so intimate is the relation between the words in which thoughts are uttered and the thoughts that seek utterance, that a freer style brought with it the fruits of a richer imagination, a more artistic sense, a deeper insight into life and passion. The laws of the French drama had become as strict and unchangeable as those of the Medes and Persians ; what had been a garment of beauty was now the cerement of death. The romanticists claimed that a literature which was to life what Chinese painting was to nature could not be the ultimate expression of human thought. The conflict was between effete traditions and a fresh and vigorous school.

It is curious that amid all the havoc of the French Revolution, when thrones and governments and social classes and religious beliefs were involved in a common overthrow, the traditions of literature should have remained unquestioned. The revolution swept over France and French life, but a deviation from certain rules of prosody was still regarded as a mortal sin. The Napoleonic era was not fertile in literary genius, and at its close formalism in poetry and on the stage sought to atone for the invention which was lacking.

Châteaubriand would, perhaps, be claimed as the first apostle of romanticism in France, had not the gift of verse been denied him. But both from Germany and from England, from Goethe, Scott, and Byron, more than all from the eager study of Shakespeare, came the intoxicating breezes of a more vigorous literature. Before a body of ardent and artistic young Frenchmen there seemed to open a new world, rich in thought, passion, and expression. But to Victor Hugo belongs the chief glory of the revolt against literary methods that had become inane and dead, devoid of color or originality.

In his play of Hernani, Hugo set at defiance the established rules of the drama, and its representation became one of the great battle-grounds between the followers of the classic and those of the romantic schools. Though this piece is still represented, its glory has somewhat waned, and to us it seems hardly to have deserved the prodigious reputation which it gained. Perhaps the success of the romantic movement dulls our ears to what once were thought rare and extraordinary beauties.

Its first representation at the Français was to be on the 25th of February, 1830. There it was expected that the factions would meet: the classicists to damn the play, the romanticists to applaud it and insure its success. Among the former were found the conservatives, the middleaged, the men of established reputation, all those who were execrated by their opponents as bourgeois and Philistines.

The band that formed around Victor Hugo was composed of very different material. In the army of romanticism, as in the army of Italy, all were young. Victor Hugo was but twenty-eight, and few of those who gathered to defend Hernani had reached their majority. There were among them painters, sculptors, poets, architects, dramatists, youths of every taste and every vagary, but all united by a common contempt for the rules by which ordinary men were bound, and united also by a love for poetry and art, which was always sincere, even if its manifestations sometimes seemed eccentric and excessive. Many a youth, on that first night, swore to devote himself to the fearless pursuit of the ideal in art and of truth in literature, and kept his vow well.

It would have been difficult to find another body of young men possessing so much brilliancy and so much genius, and it would have been impossible to find another body of young men so badly dressed. In length of hair and lack of shirt collar they stood unequaled. To heighten the contrast between themselves and the bald heads of self-satisfied Academicians and prosperous bourgeois, they cultivated a “ Merovingian prolixity of hair.” A youth upon whom no spot of linen could be seen might claim high rank in the scale of romantic elegance. Hats à la Rubens, doublets à la Van Dyck, garments such as were worn in Spain a century back, or in Hungary or Bohemia before Paris tailors had conquered the world delighted the hearts of those who, in dusky taverns, drank confusion to the bourgeois, and rejoiced to style themselves the brigands of thought. It was from such enthusiasts that the recruits were gathered who were to defend the cause of romanticism. No hired stipendiaries — the curse then, as now, of Paris theatres — were to give purchased applause to the sentiments of Don Carlos and Doña Sol. The claqueurs, said Gautier, like the Academicians, were all classicists.

Gautier was then a youth under twenty, and was engaged in his studies as a painter, but he received from Gérard de Nerval six tickets for the representation, with instructions to choose for his associates bold and trusty men, who would give no quarter to the Philistines. He selected five who would gladly have breakfasted on broiled Academician, and they joined their comrades of battle at the appointed time. They were admitted to the theatre some hours before the play began, and they occupied the long interval with singing ballads of Victor Hugo, and feasting on rolls and Bologna sausage. At last the hour drew near. The youths stationed themselves in various parts of the theatre, where danger to the cause might be apprehended. From the wildness of their dress and the ferocity of their countenances, they were easily recognized among the amiable gentlemen, in correct Parisian toilet, who thronged the house. The brigands of thought worshiped beauty, whether found in life or poetry, and when any lady entered who pleased their artistic taste she was received with tumultuous acclamation. Such manifestations were condemned as in the worst of taste, but not by those who were the objects of them. They blushed, frowned, and forgave. When she who afterwards became Madame de Girardin appeared in her box, a triple salvo of applause greeted her superb beauty.

Every eccentricity of costume marked the romantic youth, but among them all Gautier appeared preeminent and gained fame in a night. He thought the revolt against effete usages should speak in the trousers and the waistcoat, as well as in the rhythm of poetry or the construction of Alexandrines. He was arrayed in a coat richly trimmed with velvet, an overcoat of gray faced with green satin, trousers of a faded green, a ribbon about his neck answering for collar and cravat, and a red waistcoat cut after the fashion of a Milan cuirass. At that time, to appear in a red waistcoat at the Français required courage equal to that of him who seeks reputation at the cannon’s mouth; but Gautier chose the color as one rich, hold, full of life and light and warmth, dear to art and hateful to Philistines. Those bourgeois bulls, he swore, should see the red flag and listen to the verses of Hugo. In later life he sadly admitted that on this dress chiefly rested his fame. If his name were pronounced before any Philistine, who had never read a line of his writings, he would at once say, with a satisfied air, “ Oh, yes, the young man with the red waistcoat and the long hair.” His poetry would be forgotten, but his waistcoat would go down to posterity.

At last the play began, and the battle of applause and condemnation was fought at every passage. The advocates of the rival school, were almost ready to come to blows. An early line ran : —

. . . “ C’est bien à l’escalier Dérobé.”

The completion of the sense in the next line, in this manner, was a daring violation of the rules of dramatic verse, and the battle at once began. No ground was yielded on either side. The line, “ Est-il minuit ? Minuit bientôt,” was contested for three days. The opponents of Hugo said it was trivial and vulgar, — a king asking the hour like a shopkeeper, and being answered in words that would be appropriate for the shopboy. His admirers found in this, as in all the play, life, nature, and lyric art.

In thirty hard-fought representations such as this Gautier won his spurs, and was thought worthy of presentation to the demi-god of romanticism. Victor Hugo was then in the first glow of fame and genius, and his followers regarded him with an idolatry which seems excessive to those for whom his great achievements are somewhat obscured by much that is unworthy of his name. But he was deemed then, and justly deemed, one who had breathed into the body of French poetry a soul of fire, who had touched the cold ashes and quickened them into life and beauty. Gautier’s courage forsook him when he was to meet the great leader of a triumphant cause. Twice he mounted the stairway with tremulous step, and fled away in a panic when he had reached the door. But at the third attempt the door was open, and he saw the great poet. Gautier’s speech failed him when he was presented, and the lyrical apostrophes with which he had planned to hail the chief remained unspoken. His mute admiration was perhaps more flattering to the great man, and the friendship thus begun was never interrupted.

Gautier soon abandoned his palette for literature. He sometimes professed to regret that he had ceased the portrayal of crimsons and yellows, the gorgeousness of Eastern palaces and fiery clouds, only to put black upon white. But the traces of his studies as a painter can be found in his writings. It is hardly a metaphor to say that his is a pictorial style. His love for color speaks on the page, as it would have done on the canvas. With his pen he has depicted all things that the eye can see, with a vividness that the brush could not excel, in words that produce upon the mind an impression of varied tints and harmonious colors, such as glow from the paintings of Correggio and Del Sarto.

Gautier’s wealth of style drew attention to him from the first. One of his earliest articles was shown to SainteBeuve, the best judge of style in France, and the great critic was at once interested by the extraordinary variety and richness of expression appearing in a novice. Albertus, Gautier’s first poem of importance, appeared when he was twentytwo, and though not a perfect nor a very pleasing production according to our tastes, it is full of power. But the publication of Mademoiselle de Maupin, three years later, was a literary sensation. It seems strange to us to read that Gautier’s parents kept him at his task, and would lock him in his room until he had finished his daily ten pages. Most American parents would think a son en route for perdition who was engaged in the announcement of views so pernicious, and would fear lest they should accompany him, if they encouraged his labors. The romanticists of the day were not lacking in courage, but the boldness of Mademoiselle de Maupin frightened some of the long-haired applauders of Hernani. The critics indulged in vigorous reprobation ; the general public was scandalized; the book ran through edition after edition, and made its author famous.

There is much in Mademoiselle de Maupin that is unpleasant, and is saved only by beauty of expression from being vulgar. Though Gautier’s style reached in this novel its full perfection, it is far from his best work, and it is unfortunate that it is probably the one best known. Much of its offensiveness should be attributed to the effervescence of an exuberant and unrestrained youth, and the views which Gautier advanced with the confidence of twenty-five did not deserve the attention which his critics gave them. They were, indeed, of sufficient boldness, and lost nothing in the presentation. The young author disclaimed any hostility towards religion or virtue, but he announced that they were hardly worth much consideration; their advocates were canting Philistines, and the critics who prated and groaned about an immoral literature were themselves the bourgeoisie of letters and the eunuchs of thought. After a preface in which he defended these views with vigor, Gautier wrote a novel which was constructed in accordance with them.

In fact, Gautier was neither a very irreligious nor a very immoral man. Undoubtedly, he did not resemble closely either St. Augustine or St. Francis, but an amiable and æsthetic indifference as to religious questions was the extent of his revolt, and his long life was for the most part characterized by social and domestic virtues. He viewed a follower of Voltaire with quite as much aversion as he could have felt towards a disciple of Loyola, and he inclined rather to a mild and semi-contemptuous sympathy for every form of religion, with an artistic preference for the faiths which were best fitted to retard modern civilization. His friend, Gérard de Nerval, claimed that he believed in seventeen religions, and that while he was respectful towards Jehovah he always had a good word for Jupiter. Gautier, perhaps, had the same elasticity of faith, and clung to his beliefs with equal looseness.

His newly earned reputation soon resulted in his choosing journalism as a regular profession. For the remaining thirty-six years of his life he gained his living by constant and assiduous writing, as a critic of art and literature for the Paris journals. The work which he did for the papers far exceeds in volume that which was published in book form. He wrote with untiring industry, and poured out a copious and ever-pleasing stream of amiable though discriminating criticism. If all Gautier’s writings were gathered together, it is said they would fill three hundred volumes. Life is too short to read three hundred volumes of any man, but there is buried in old Paris newspapers a vast amount of valuable and brilliant criticism on the art and the literature of almost forty years.

It would, perhaps, have been better for Gautier’s fame if he had devoted his time to the production of work less in amount and less ephemeral in character. But so rich was the quality of his style that the articles which he turned off almost daily, written in haste, and sent to the journals without an interlineation or a change, without even a punctuation mark, — for the poet regarded punctuation as an ignoble detail, fit only for type setters, — were as full of imagery, as finished in their style, as marked by a varied, copious, and exquisite choice of words, as if the writer had corrected and labored with painful elaboration. He is one of many illustrations that the great masters of style can work at their best with ease and swiftness. With tedious toil, some that write poorly by nature make their labors pleasing at last, but genius has often little need to be painstaking.

Gautier is also one of the writers who prove how largely the form of expression gives literature its charm and ideas their interest. When the French say that the style is all important, they come much nearer the truth than a class of English writers who regard it as unimportant. Gautier was a critic of much delicacy and justness of feeling, but he had no new ideas to bring into the realm of art or thought. No man had less claim to be regarded as a philosopher or a sage. His views of life were often intended to be amusing, and when not so intended they usually furnish amusement from their naïveté and their simplicity. They please us, as the sayings of children please us, by the ignorance of life which they display. Gautier looked at life with the glance of a child, who finds in it much that is pretty, and is wholly unconcerned as to whether there is aught to existence but picking flowers and chasing butterflies.

But the style made every page that he wrote full of charm. He said of himself that his was a style of adjectives. He thought that the complications of modern life demanded a supple and complex mode of expression, that should seek words in all dictionaries, colors from all palettes, harmonies from all lyres; his should be like the light of the setting sun, that reflects through burning clouds its varied hues. Few men knew or used so many words. He had studied the contents of the dictionaries from A to Z. With an eye that saw all things, and a command of words that few could equal, he excelled in a gorgeous richness of description. The things which the eye could see, he saw more clearly, he described more vividly, than any other writer of his day. Of the things not visible to the eye, the whole world could show no one else so oblivious. His power of perception was the more intense, because he had no conception of the things which were beyond his observation. He never dealt with the thoughts of men, their inner life, their mental or moral development, with the mysteries of life or the problems of the future. For him such questions had no existence. But all things in life, of which the impression could strike the optic nerve, were to him things of joy. Spanish muleteers singing over the passes of the Pyrenees, Russian princes wrapped in sables amidst the snows that enveloped far-rolling steppes, the minarets of St. Sophia, the sun setting over the lagoons of the Adriatic, where the cry of the gondolier breaks upon the traveler standing in the shadow of St. Mark’s, — such things he could describe with a vividness and richness which no one else could equal.

He possessed also the two qualities which are found in almost all literature that can hope to survive its author, imagination and humor. His imagination was a pictorial imagination, one that was excited by subtle resemblances of form more than of feeling; but it gave life to every line he wrote, from a poem on love to a government report. Men like to be amused, and wit, more than thought, keeps books alive. Gautier’s writings have not the wit of the great works, which are read forever because they forever entertain, but he had the humor which delights in the delicate congruities and incongruities of words and things, — the humor that always pleases and never pierces.

However fierce Gautier’s zeal had been to assist other red-breasted and long-haired youths in the overthrow of literary traditions, his own style showed the virtues of the new régime, and was little affected by its abuses. Moderation and calm came when the struggle was over, and the despotism of classicism had been succeeded by a free government. But the exuberance of a freed literature has not always been pleasing. The lurid intensity of a diseased genius like Baudelaire has been succeeded by the squalid and unlovely delineations of a diseased imagination like Zola’s.

Alfred de Musset, whose genius was not controlled by the tenets of any school, has noted that while the classicists feared calling a spade a spade, their successors sometimes dwelt too fondly on the sordid and revolting phases of life. In the old school, the stately marching and remarching of words choked the struggling idea, but in the new school, a deluge of adjectives weighed down the overloaded noun with shades of meaning as mingled as the variegated hues of the rainbow.

It is in his poetry that the finish of Gautier’s style and the delicacy of his imagination are best seen. In the little poems where he tells of marbles mingling under Attic suns their white dreams, or obelisks amid the pale hues of Paris weeping tears of granite for the skies and sphinxes of the Nile, there is the perfection of a certain kind of literary art.

Among Gautier’s strongest passions was a love of travel. He rejoiced in strange sights and strange peoples ; new visions for the eye brought new happiness to the mind. He has written of his wanderings in Spain, Russia, Italy, and the East, and his books of travel are among the most delightful of their class. In them are seen all the eccentricities of his bizarre character. In each country where he travelled, he sought to become one of the people ; he followed the national customs, he ate of the national dishes. He watched with special interest the national millinery, when this indulged in bright colors, and eschewed broadcloth and trousers. Nothing in what he styled our pretended civilization disturbed him so much as the fact that men wore black coats and gray trousers instead of crimson cloaks and slashed yellow breeches. “ Our efforts in 1830 were in vain,” he wrote ; “ the black coat has triumphed over romanticism.”

The picturesque phases of national life, the provincial customs, whatever possessed local color, he described with never failing zeal and never ceasing charm. But forms of government, religious beliefs, industrial development, all that constitutes the strength and greatness of a people, possessed no interest for him. He thought the skill with which the matadore planted the sword in the neck of an infuriated bull more important than the decay of the Spanish monarchy ; the contortions of a dervish excited his attention more than the fate of Constantinople or the destinies of Greece; he was moved by the new decorations at the opera house, but not by the question of Italian unity. Few men are more unlike than the author of the Stones of Venice and the author of Mademoiselle de Maupin, but they show a common dislike towards the phases of modern life, and from a similar feeling that these are lacking in picturesqueness. Ruskin, indeed, bewails the fate of the operative, who has become a soulless machine in some factory with starry-pointing chimneys, while Gautier would have been indifferent to his lot, if only his rags had been yellow and red instead of grimy and gray.

All feelings of scorn and hatred were for Gautier embodied in the word “ bourgeois ; ” yet no Parisian shop-keeper gave less heed to the deep problems of life, to the fate of nations or the growth of ideas, than this apostle of romanticism. The bourgeois cared for his shop and his money chest, and Gautier cared for picturesque bull-fighters and Russian palaces with traces of Cossack taste. The bourgeois liked his wife and children, and Gautier liked the ballet dancer who could accomplish the most rhythmical pas.

In the long lifetime which he devoted to literature and art criticism, he was always brilliant, always pleasing, and always hovering about the surface of things. Perhaps, indeed, we who are absorbed in material advancement need not look down upon one whose existence was given to the study of what was beautiful and artistic in the work of the brush, the chisel, and the pen. There are so many who are interested in the question of suffrage, the condition of the laborer, and the extension of railroads, that it is well that there should be some who care only for the development of new schools of painting and the establishment of new rules of rhythm. While democrats talked of progress and Saint Simonians planned new social contracts, Gautier listened only to the murmur of art. He said that he lived with a constant homesickness for another age ; that his lot should have been cast in Venice in the sixteenth century, or in the remote East in its days of splendor.

The merit of his novels lies in the exhibition of the literary qualities of which we have spoken, rather than in any interest they excite in the characters or their development. His women have beauty, which is so portrayed that they stand before us like the Venuses of the Tribune. His heroes are blessed with unlimited wealth and strength ; they live in palaces such as are not made with hands, they are clad in clothes such as are not made by tailors. Everything is bizarre, picturesque, and delicious, and through the varied descriptions the story meanders in its little rivulet.

Gautier began his literary life as one of the youngest in the revolutionary school, but he came to he regarded as a patriarch and a sage by a later generation of enthusiastic young Frenchmen. He maintained his influence among them by his talk, as well as by his writings. His conversation was brilliant, and every phase of life was discussed from the standpoint of dogmatic paradox. In some peculiarities there is a certain resemblance between him and the great English talker. Not in their talk, for Gautier’s was as full of whimsey and fantasy as Johnson’s was of pith and common sense. But the famous believer in the Cock Lane Ghost was surpassed in credulity by the leader of the romanticists. Gautier claimed to believe in every religion ; he certainly believed in every superstition. He attached importance to lots, and spells, and omens ; he had faith in magic and in dreams; he avoided crossed knives ; he fled from an overturned salt-cellar ; he grew pale with terror before three lighted candles. He greatly admired Offenbach, but he would not speak his name nor even put it on paper, for Offenbach was possessed of the evil eye. Another journalist had to write for the Moniteur the criticisms on the Grande Duchesse and Belle Hélène. Gautier broke his arm during his journey in Egypt, and he said that was because he must needs play the esprit fort, and begin his trip on a Friday. He thrilled his auditors as be told of his listening in Paris to the fateful croaking of a mysterious crow, and how the same bird met his friend Gérard de Nerval on the plains of Syria, and cast a terrible enchantment over his mind.

Superstition is out of vogue among sound modern thinkers, and that fact, perhaps, strengthened the superstitious beliefs of one who regarded rational views as bourgeois modes of thought. Voltaire had sneered at superstitions, and though the romanticists discarded Christianity they disdained Voltairism, and Gautier himself regarded its disciples as mere imbeciles.

Gautier’s appetite, like that of Dr. Johnson, was a thing long to be remembered. He traveled in Spain, where the people practice the abstinence common among southern nations. His gastronomic feats were viewed there, he tells us, with wonder mingled with respectful admiration. His appetite was prodigious and even gigantic, ever fresh and never weary. The quality as well as the amount of his fare was to him a subject of careful thought. He invented rare and curious dishes, and pointed with pride to his spinach flavored with pounded apricot stones. Bread he declared to be a stupid and dangerous invention, unfit for a carnivorous animal, and which served only as a rallying word for rioters and communists.

His talents for aesthetic gourmandizing commanded the respect of the greatest masters in Europe. The chef of the Emperor of Russia was among his admirers, and was conquered by a stroke of genius. A favorite dish of the Czar, which was usually flavored with pounded almonds, was served at the imperial table. The other guests were loud in their admiration, hut Gautier remained stern and silent. The chef at last asked for his opinion. “ My friend,” said the great poet to the great cook, “ I looked for a flavor of almonds, and I find a flavor of macaroons. Sir, you abuse the confidence of the Czar.”

The fear of death haunted Gautier as it did Dr. Johnson. There was always about him, he said, an odor of dissolution, and death, and nothingness. But Johnson’s fear was largely a religious fear, a shrinking from the dreadful problems of the future life, from the mystery that lies beyond the grave. Gautier’s dread was that of the child who plays in the sunlight, and is afraid to be taken away to a dark chamber. He dreaded the hour when he should no longer walk the Boulevard des Italiens, when the door of the Français should no longer open to him, when the pages of the Moniteur should no longer be filled with his wit. He clung to the sensuous things of life, and beyond them there was nothing that he desired. He lived for the day that was. In literature and the theatre, in the sculptures of the Louvre and the paintings of the Salon, in the familiar sights of Paris streets and the strange sights of foreign lands, in light and color, in beauty of face and form, by pyramids and sphinxes resting forever under a cloudless sky, or by mediæval towers and cathedrals rich in the endless variety of the Middle Ages, he found the bliss of life. He wished for no other existence, he sighed for no mysterious future, he harbored no spiritual longings for something that could not be found in French boulevards or Spanish piazzas.

The ugliness of death, also, offended him. He had for beauty in the human form a love which exceeded that of the Greeks. It was horrible to think of himself as an object hideous to the eye and revolting to his fellow-men, and the terror of this idea clung about his mind.

We have suggested that, with all the eccentricities of Gautier’s character and the artistic devotion of his nature, he had many qualities which might have been found in a disciple of Philistinism. Among these, perhaps, should be classed his great desire to be chosen a member of the Academy. If that body wished to include the chief names of literature, Gautier would certainly have been numbered among the Immortals. But he was left, with Dumas and Balzac, outside of the sacred circle. It is said that Mademoiselle de Maupin was the cause of his rejection, and that, though the French are not prudish, the Academicians would not admit its author into their midst. Its youthful faults might well have been overlooked in one who had so enriched French prose and verse, and who ranked among the great masters of style in this century.

Many of the immortal names of French literature are not found on the official list, but Gautier lamented his rejection in a manner one would expect in a bourgeois, rather than in a romanticist. He sought consolation in attributing his misfortune to the decrees of fate. Men were predestined to be Academicians, he said ; they were born Academicians, as they were born poets, archbishops, or cooks. Thirty-nine ballots, he felt certain, bore his name when they were dropped into the box, but when they were opened his rival was found to have been unanimously elected.

It is not strange that one so devoid of political beliefs should have been well content with the era of imperialism. If the government was corrupt, it did not concern him. The end of government was to furnish plenty of money for the encouragement of art, the support of authors, and the building of opera houses, and in these respects Napoleon III. did much better than could be expected from a republic controlled by bourgeois.

Gautier’s private life was tranquil and free from incident. He lived in Paris, writing industriously, and surrounded by a circle whose tastes were like his, and whom he delighted by his brilliant and exuberant conversation. His little house at Neuilly was furnished with the objects which appealed to his sensibilities, and every phase of luxury was felt by him as are the chemical rays of light by a plant. His beauty as a young man, of which he delighted to boast, was not wholly destroyed by years. He lived with his sisters and daughters, and guests at his table found also the black cat, who had her chair at dinner, like any other member of the family. He delighted in cats, and praised their tender, silent, feminine caresses, their phosphorescent eyes, and their mysterious and cabalistic manners, which suggested meetings with phantoms and sorcerers, and companionship with Mephistopheles and the Evil One.

The siege of Paris made a terrible inroad into Gautier’s peaceful life, and swept away much of the moderate property which he had slowly acquired ; but he bore his misfortunes with philosophic equanimity, and displayed his powers of description in his vivid Pictures of the Siege. He did not long survive its calamities. His superstitious dread of death and its cold unloveliness haunted him to the last, and he was almost frightened out of a life which could not, however, have been long continued. His family wished to conceal from him the existence of a disease of the heart, and sought to remove the newspapers in which he might see any reference to his condition. But he stumbled upon one which told the nature of his malady, and from that day he resigned himself to death. On the 23d of October, 1872, he died, at the age of sixty-one. His individuality was such that, though he had many disciples, he could have few imitators; and while this century in France has been rich in literary genius, Gautier will be remembered as one of its rarest products.

James Breck Perkins.