(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The man who laughs"



BOOK 843.8.H874E v. 1 c. 1 
HUGO # MAN WHO LAUGHS 



3 T1S3 OOnoSBO 5 



' 



Ursiis and Homo. 
Photo-Etching. — From Drawing by G. Rochegrosse. 



International Limited Edition 



THE 



IN TWO VOLUMES 

VOL. I. 



BY VICTOR HUGO 




P 






MAN WHO LAUGHS \),\ 



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS 



BOSTON 

ESTES AND LAURIAT 

PUBLISHERS 




INTERNATIONAL LIMITED EDITION. 

Limited fo One Thousand Copies. 

No. .072 



TYPOGRAPHY, ELECTROTYPING, AND 
PRINTING BY JOHN WILSON AND SON, 
UNIVERSITY PRESS, CAMBRIDGE, U.S.A. 






THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 



PREFACE. 



TN England, everything is great, even what is not good, 
— even Oligarchy. The English Patriciate is the 
patriciate in the absolute sense of the word. No more 
illustrious, more terrible, or more vigorous feudality 
exists. Let us add that this feudality has been useful 
at times. It is in England that the phenomenon of 
Seigneurie must be studied, as in France the phenome- 
non of Koyalty must be studied. 

The true title of this book should be "Aristocracy." 
Another book that will follow may, perhaps, be entitled 
" Monarchy." These two books, if it is given to the 
author to finish his task, will precede and introduce 
another, to be called " Ninety-Three." 

IIautkville House, 1869. 



CONTENTS. 

Vol. I. 



PART I. — THE SEA AND THE NIGHT. 

I._TWO PRELIMINARY CHAPTERS. 

Page 

I. Ursus 1 

II. The Comprachicos 24 

BOOK I. — Night not so black as Man, 

Chapter 

I. Portland Bill 40 

II. Left Alone > . . ' 47 

III. Alone 51 

IV. Questions 57 

V. The Tree of Human Invention 60 

VI. Struggle between Death and Night 66 

VII. The North Point of Portland 73 

BOOK II. — The Hooker at Sea. 

I. Superhuman Laws . . " 78 

II. Our first Rough Sketches filled in 82 

III. Troubled Men on the Troubled Sea 88 

IV. A Cloud different from the Others enters on the 

Scene 93 

V. Hardquanonne 103 

VI. They think that Help is at Hand 106 



vi CONTENTS. 

Chapter Page 

VII. Superhuman Horrors 108 

VIII. Nix KT Nox 112 

IX. The Charge confided to a Raging Sea . . . . 116 

X. The Colossal Savage, the Storm 118 

XL The Caskets 123 

XII. Face to Face with the Rock 126 

XIII. Face to Face with Night 130 

XIV. Urtacu 132 

XV. Poktentosum Mare 134 

XVI. The Problem suddenly works in Silence . . . 140 

XVII. The Last Resource 143 

XVIIL The Highest Resource 147 

BOOK 111. — The Child in the Shadow. 

I. Chesil 155 

II. The Effect of Snow 161 

III. A Burden makes a Rough Road rougher . . . 166 

IV. Another Kind of Desert 171 

V. Misanthropy Plays its Pranks 176 

VI. The Awaking 192 



PAET II. — BY OE.DEE OF THE KING. 



BOOK I. — The Everlasting Presence of the Past- 
Man REFLECTS MaN. 

I. Lord Clancharlie 196 

II. Lord David Dirry-^Iotr 210 

III. The Duchess Josiana 218 

IV. The Leader of Fashion 229 

V. Queen Anne 238 

VI. Barkilphedro . 247 

VII. Barkilphedro gnaws his Way 254 

VIII. Inferi 260 



CONTENTS. vii 

Chapter Page 

IX. Hate is as Strong as Love 263 

X. TuE Flame which would be seen if Man were 

TRANSPARENT . . ' 271 

XI. Bakkilpiikdro in Ambuscade 280 

XII. Scotland, Ireland, and England 285 

BOOK II. GWYNPLAINE AND DeA. 

I. Wherein we see the Face of him of whom we have 

HITHERTO SEEN ONLY THE AcTS 295 

II. Dea 301 

III. " OCULOS NON HABET, ET VIDET " 304 

IV. Well-matched Lovers 307 

V. The Blue Skt through the Black Cloud . . . 311 

VI. Ursus as Tutor, and Ursus as Guardian . . . 315 

VII. Blindness gives Lessons in Clairvoyance . . . 320 

VIII. Not only Happiness, but Prosperity 324 

IX. Absurdities which Folks without Taste call 

Poetry 330 

X. An Outsider's View of Men and Things . . . 337 

XI. Gwynplaine thinks Justice, and Ursus speaks Truth 343 

XII. Ursus the Poet drags on Ursus the Philosopher 353 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 
YOL. I. 

Page 
Uiisus AND Hoiio Frontispiece 

The Storm 55 

TiiK Child at tuk (Fallows 71 

"Let us throw our crimes into the sea" 147 

Lord David Dirry-Moik 216 

Amusements of the Mohawk Club 233 

Dea 301 



THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 



PART I. 

THE SEA AND THE NIGHT. 



I. 

TWO PRELIMINARY CHAPTERS. 
URSUS. 



URSUS and Homo were fast friends. IJrsus was a 
man, Homo a wolf. Their dispositions corres- 
ponded. It was the man who had christened the wolf : 
probably he had also chosen his own name. Having 
found " Ursus " fit for himself, he had found " Homo " 
fit for the beast. Man and wolf turned their partner- 
ship to account at fairs, at village fetes, at the corners 
of streets where passers-by throng, and out of the desire 
which people seem to feel to listen to idle nonsense, and 
to buy quack medicine. The wolf, gentle and courte- 
ously subordinate, diverted the crowd. It is a pleasant 
thing to behold the tameness of animals. Our greatest 
delight is to see all the varieties capable of domestica- 
tion parade before us. It is this feeling that brings so 
many people out to view a royal cortege. 

VOL. XIX. — 1 



2 THE. MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

Ursus and Homo went about from cross-road to cross- 
road, from the High Street of Aberystwith to the High 
Street of Jedburgh, from country-side to country-side, 
from shire to shire, from town to town. One market 
exhausted, they went on to another. Ursus lived in a 
small van upon wheels, which Homo was civilized 
enough to draw by day and guard by night. On bad 
roads, up hills, and where there were too many ruts, or 
there was too much mud, the man buckled the trace 
round his neck and pulled fraternally, side by side, with 
the wolf. They had thus grown old together. They 
encamped at hap-hazard on a common, in the glade of a 
wood, on the waste patch of grass where roads intersect, 
at the outskirts of villages, at the gates of towns, in 
market-places, in public walks, on the borders of parks, 
or before the entrances of churches. When the cart 
drew up on a fair ground, where the gossips ran up 
open-mouthed and the curious formed a circle round the 
pair, Ursus harangued and Homo approved. Then Homo, 
with a bowl in his mouth, politely made a collection 
among the audience. Thus they earned their livelihood. 
The wolf was lettered, likewise the man. The wolf had 
been trained by the man, or had trained himself unas- 
sisted, to divers wolfish tricks, which swelled the re- 
ceipts. " Above all things, do not degenerate into a 
man," his friend would say to him. 

The wolf never bit: the man did, now and then. At 
least, that was his intention. He was a misanthrope, 
and to increase his misanthropy he had made himself a 
juggler : to live, also ; for the stomach has to be con- 
sulted. Moreover, this juggler-misanthrope, whether 
to add to the complexity of his being or to perfect it, 
was a doctor. To be a doctor is nothing : Ursus was 
also a ventriloquist. You could hear him speak with- 
out his moving his lips. He counterfeited, so as to 



URSUS. 3 

deceive you, any one's accent or pronunciation. He 
imitated voices so exactly that you believed you heard 
the people themselves. All alone he could simulate 
the murmur of a crowd ; and this gave him a right to the 
title of Engastrimythos, which he took. He reproduced 
the notes of all kinds of birds, — as of the thrush, the 
wren, the pipit lark, otherwise called the grey cheeper, 
and the ring ousel, — all travellers like himself ; so that 
at times, when the fancy struck him, he made you aware 
either of a public thoroughfare filled with the uproar of 
men, or of a meadow loud with the voices of beasts, — 
at one time stormy as a multitude, at another fresh and 
serene as the dawn. Such gifts, although rare, exist. 
In the last century a man called Touzel, who imitated 
the mingled utterances of men and animals, and who 
counterfeited all the cries of wild beasts, was attached 
to the person of Buffon, — to serve as a menagerie. 

Ursus was sagacious, contradictory, odd, and inclined 
to the singular expositions which we call fables. He 
even pretended to believe in them ; and this impudence 
was a part of his humour. He read people's hands; 
opened books at random and drew conclusions ; told for- 
tunes ; taught that it is dangerous to meet a black mare, 
and still more dangerous, as you start on a journey, to 
hear yourself accosted by one who does not know 
whither you are going. He called himself a dealer in 
superstitions. He used to say : " There is one difference 
between me and the Archbishop of Canterbury : I avow 
what I am. " Hence it was that the archbishop, justly 
indignant, summoned him before him one day ; but 
Ursus cleverly disarmed his Grace by reciting a sermon 
he had composed upon Christmas-day, which the de- 
lighted archbishop learned by heart, and delivered from 
the pulpit as his own. In consideration thereof, the 
archbishop pardoned Ursus. 



4 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

As a doctor, Ursus wrought cures by varied means. 
He made use of aromatics ; he was versed in simples ; 
he made the most of the immense power which lies in 
a heap of neglected plants, such as the hazel, the cat- 
kin, the white alder, the white briony, the mealy-tree, 
the traveller's joy, the buckthorn. He treated phthisis 
with the sun-dew; at opportune moments he would use 
the leaves of the spurge, which plucked at the bottom 
are a purgative, and plucked at the top an emetic. He 
cured sore throat by means of the vegetable excrescence 
called " Jews' ear. " He knew the rush which cures the 
ox, and the mint which cures the horse. He was well 
acquainted with the beauties and virtues of the herb 
mandragora, which, as every one knows, is of both 
sexes. He had many recipes. He cured burns with 
salamander wool, — of which, according to Pliny, Nero 
had a napkin. Ursus possessed a retort and a flask ; he 
effected transmutations ; he sold panaceas. It was said 
that he had once been for a short time in Bedlam ; they 
had done him the honour to take him for a madman, but 
had set him free on discovering that he was only a poet. 
This story was probably not true ; we all have to submit 
to some such absurd reports about ourselves. 

The fact is, Ursus was a bit of a savant, a man of 
taste, and an old Latin poet. He was skilled in two 
forms of verse, — he Hippocratized and he Pindarized. 
He could have vied in bombast with Eapin and Vida. 
He could have composed Jesuit tragedies in a style no 
less successful than that of Father Bouhours. It fol- 
lowed from his familiarity with the venerable rhythms 
and metres of the ancients that he had peculiar figures 
of speech, and a whole family of classical metaphors at 
his command. He would say of a mother followed by 
her two daughters, "There is a dactyl;" of a father 
preceded by his two sons, " There is an anapaest ; " and 



URSUS. 5 

of a little child walking between its grandmother and 
grandfather, " There is an amphimacer. " So much 
knowledge could only end in starvation. The school of 
Salerno says, " Eat little and often. " Ursus ate little 
and seldom, thus obeying one half the precept and dis- 
obeying the other ; but this was the fault of the public, 
who did not always flock to hear him, and who did not 
often buy. 

Ursus was wont to say : " The expectoration of a sen- 
tence is a relief. The wolf is comforted by its howl, the 
sheep by its wool, the forest by its finch, woman by her 
love, and the philosopher by his epiphomena. " Ursus at 
a pinch composed comedies, which he all but acted in 
recital ; this helped to sell the drugs. Among other 
works, he composed an heroic pastoral in honour of Sir 
Hugh Middleton, who in 1608 brought a river to Lon- 
don. The river was lying peacefully in Hertfordshire, 
twenty miles from London : the knight came and took 
possession of it. He brought a brigade of six hundred 
men, armed with shovels and pickaxes ; set to breaking 
up the ground, scooping it out in one place, raising it 
in another, — now thirty feet high, now twenty feet 
deep; made wooden aqueducts high in air ; and at differ- 
ent points constructed eight hundred bridges of stone, 
bricks, and timber. One fine morning the river entered 
London, which was short of water. Ursus transformed 
all these vulgar details into a fine Eclogue between the 
Thames and the New River, in which the former in- 
vited the latter to come to him, saying, " I am too old to 
please women, but I am rich enough to pay them, " — 
an ingenious and gallant conceit to indicate how Sir 
Hugh Middleton had completed the work at his own 
expense. 

Ursus was great in soliloquy. Of a disposition at 
once unsociable and talkative, desiring to see no one, 



6 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

yet longing to converse with some one, lie solved the 
difficulty by talking to himself. Any one who has lived 
a solitary life knows how deeply seated monologue is in 
one's nature. Speech imprisoned longs to find a vent. 
To harangue space is an outlet. To talk out loud when 
one is alone is as it were to have a dialogue with the 
divinity within. It was, as is well known, a habit 
with Socrates ; he declaimed to himself. Luther did 
the same. Ursus took after those great men. He had 
the hermaphrodite faculty of being his own audience. 
He questioned himself, answered himself, praised him- 
self, blamed himself. You heard him in the street 
soliloquizing in his van. The passers-by, who have 
their own way of appreciating clever people, used to 
say, " He is an idiot. " As we have just observed, he 
abused himself at times ; but there were times also 
when he did himself justice. One day, in one of these 
allocutions addressed to himself, he was heard to cry 
out : " I have studied vegetation in all its mysteries, — 
in the stalk, in the bud, in the sepal, in the stamen, in 
the carpel, in the ovule, in the spore, in the theca, and 
in the apothecium. I have thoroughly sifted chroma- 
tics, osmosis, and chymosis ; that is to say, the formation 
of colours, of smell, and of taste. " There was some- 
thing fatuous, doubtless, in this certificate which Ursus 
gave to Ursus ; but let those who have thoroughly sifted 
chromatics, osmosis, and chymosis cast the first stone at 
him. 

Fortunately, Ursus had never gone into the Low 
Countries ; there they would certainly have weighed 
him, to ascertain whether he was of the normal weight, 
above or below which a man is a sorcerer. In Holland 
this weight was sagely fixed by law. Nothing was sim- 
pler or more ingenious. It was a clear test. They put 
you in a scale, and the evidence was conclusive. Too 



URSUS. 7 

heavy, you were hanged ; too light, you were burned. 
To this day the scales in which sorcerers were weighed 
may be seen at Oudewater ; but they are now used for 
weighing cheeses. How religion has degenerated ! Ursus 
would certainly have had a crow to pluck with those 
scales. In his travels he kept away from Holland, and 
he was wise. Indeed, we believe that he never roved 
beyond the limits of Great Britain. 

However this may have been, he was very poor and 
morose ; and having made the acquaintance of Homo in 
a wood, a taste for a wandering life came over him. So 
he took the wolf into partnership, and with him went 
forth on the highways, living in the open air the great 
life of chance. He had a great deal of industry and 
caution, and great skill in everything connected with 
healing operations, restoring the sick to health, and 
working wonders peculiar to himself. He was consid- 
ered a clever mountebank and a good doctor. As may 
be imagined, he passed for a wizard as well : not much 
indeed, — only a little; for it was unwholesome in those 
days to be considered a friend of the devil. To tell the 
truth, Ursus, by his passion for pharmacy and his love 
of plants, laid himself open to suspicion, seeing that he 
often went to gather herbs in rough thickets where Luci- 
fer's salads grew, and where, as has been proved by the 
Counsellor Ue I'Ancre, there is a risk of meeting in the 
evening mist a man who comes out of the earth, " blind in 
the right eye, bare-footed, without a cloak, and with a 
sword by his side. " But for the matte-r of that, Ursus, 
although eccentric in manner and disposition, was too 
good a fellow to invoke or disperse hail, to make faces 
appear, to kill a man with the torment of excessive dan- 
cing, to suggest dreams fair or foul and full of terror, 
and to cause the birth of cocks with four wings. He 
had no such mischievous tricks. He was incapable of 



8 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

certain abominations, — such for instance as speaking 
German, Hebrew, or Greek, without having learned 
them, which is a sign of unpardonable wickedness, or 
of a natural infirmity proceeding from a morbid humour. 
If Ursus spoke Latin, it was because he knew it. He 
would never have allowed himself to speak Syriac, 
which he did not know. Besides, it is asserted that 
Syriac is the language spoken in the midnight meetings 
at which uncanny people worship the devil. In medi- 
cine, he justly preferred Galen to Cardan, — Cardan, al- 
though a learned man, being but an earthworm in com- 
parison with Galen. 

To sum up, Ursus was not one of those persons who 
live in fear of the police. His van was long enough and 
wide enough to allow of his lying down in it on a box 
containing his not very sumptuous apparel. He owned 
a lantern, several wigs, and some utensils suspended 
from nails, among which were musical instruments. He 
possessed, besides, a bearskin with which he covered 
himself on his days of grand performance. He called 
this putting on full dress. He used to say, " I have two 
skins : this is the real one, " pointing to the bearskin. 

The little house on wheels belonged to himself and to 
the wolf. Besides his house, his retort, and his wolf, 
he owned a flute and a violoncello on which he played 
prettily. He concocted his own elixirs. His wits yielded 
him enough to sup on sometimes. In the top of his van 
was a hole, through which the pipe of a cast-iron stove 
passed so close to his box as to scorch the wood of it. 
The stove had two compartments : in one of them Ursus 
cooked his chemicals, and in the other his potatoes. At 
night the wolf slept under the van, amicably secured by 
a chain. Homo's hair was black, that of Ursus grey. 
Ursus was fifty, — unless, indeed, he was sixty. He ac- 
cepted his destiny to such an extent that, as we have 



URSUS. 9 

just seen, he ate potatoes, — the trash on which at that 
time pigs and convicts were fed. He ate them sadly, 
but resignedly. He was not tall, — he was long. He 
was bent and melancholy. The bowed frame of an old 
man is the settlement in the architecture of life. Na- 
ture had formed him for sadness. He found it difficult 
to smile, and he had never been able to weep ; so that 
he was deprived of the consolation of tears, as well as of 
the palliative of joy. An old man is a thinking ruin; 
and such a ruin was Ursus. He had the loquacity of a 
charlatan, the leanness of a prophet, the irascibility of 
a charged mine ; such was Ursus. In his youth he had 
been a philosopher in the house of a lord. 

This was a hundred and eighty years ago, when men 
were more like wolves than they are now. Not so very 
much though. 



11. 

Homo was no ordinary wolf. From his appetite for 
medlars and potatoes he might have been taken for a 
prairie wolf ; from his dark hide, for a lycaon ; and from 
his bark prolonged into a howl, for a Chilian dog. But 
no one has as yet examined the eyeball of a Chilian dog 
sufficiently to determine whether he be not a fox ; and 
Homo was a real wolf. He was five feet long, which is 
a fine length for a wolf, even in Lithuania ; he was very 
strong ; he looked at you askance, which was not his 
fault ; he had a soft tongue, with which he occasionally 
licked Ursus ; he had a narrow brush of short bristles 
on his backbone, and he was lean with the wholesome 
leanness of a forest life. Before he knew Ursus and had 
a carriage to draw, he thought nothing of doing his fifty 
miles a night. Ursus meeting him in a thicket near a 
stream of running water had conceived a high opinion 



10 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

of him from seeing the skill and sagacity with which he 
fished out crawfish, and welcomed him as an honest and 
genuine Koupara wolf of the kind called crab-eater. 

As a beast of burden, Ursus preferred Homo to a don- 
key. He would have felt a repugnance to having his 
hut drawn by an ass ; he thought too highly of the ass 
for that. Moreover, he had observed that the ass, a 
four- legged thinker little understood by men, has a habit 
of cocking his ears uneasily when philosophers talk 
nonsense. In life the ass counts as a third person be- 
tween our thoughts and ourselves, and acts as a restraint. 
As a friend, Ursus preferred Homo to a dog, considering 
that the love of a wolf is more rare. 

Hence it was that Homo sufficed for Ursus. Homo 
was for Ursus more than a companion, he was an ana- 
logue. Ursus used to pat the wolf's empty ribs, and 
say, " I have found the second volume of myself ! " 
Again he said, " When I am dead, any one wishing to 
know me need only study Homo. I shall leave him as 
a true copy behind me. " 

The English law, which is not very lenient to beasts 
of the forest, might have picked a quarrel with the wolf, 
and punished him for his assurance in going freely about 
the towns ; but Homo took advantage of the immunity 
granted by a statute of Edward IV. to servants : " Every 
servant in attendance on his master is free to come and 
go. " Besides, a certain relaxation of the law had re- 
sulted with regard to wolves, in consequence of its being 
the fashion of the ladies of the Court under the later 
Stuarts to have, instead of dogs, little wolves, called 
" adives, " about the size of cats, which were brought 
from Asia at great cost. 

Ursus had taught Homo a portion of his accomplish- 
ments, — such as to stand upright, to restrain his rage 
into sulkiness, to growl instead of howl, etc. ; and on 



URSUS. 11 

his part, the wolf had taught the man what lie knew, 

— to do without a roof, without bread and fire, — and 
to prefer hunger in the woods to slavery in a palace. 

This van, which served both as a dwelling and a 
vehicle, and which had travelled so many different roads 
without ever leaving Great Britain, had four wheels, 
with shafts for the wolf and a cross-bar for the man. 
The cross-bar came into use when the roads were bad. 
The van was strong, although it was built of light 
boards like a dove-cote. In front there was a glass door 
with a little balcony used for orations, whicli had some- 
thing of the character of the platform tempered by the 
air of a pulpit. At the back there was a panelled door. 
By lowering three steps, whicli turned on a hinge below 
the door, access was gained to the hut, which at night 
was securely fastened with bolt and lock. Kain and 
snow had fallen plentifully on it ; it had been painted, 
but in what colour it was difficult to say, changes of sea- 
son being to vans what changes of reign are to courtiers. 
In front, outside, was a board, — a kind of frontispiece, 

— on which the following inscription might once have 
been deciphered ; it was in black letters on a white 
ground, but by degrees the characters had become con- 
fused and blurred: — 

''By friction, gold loses every year a fourteen hundredth 
part of its bulk. This is what is called the Wear. Hence 
it follows that on fourteen hundred millions of gold in circu- 
lation throughout the world, one million is lost annually. 
This million dissolves into dust, flies away, floats about, is 
reduced to atoms, drugs, weighs down consciences, amalga- 
mates with the souls of the rich whom it renders proud, and 
with those of the poor whom it renders brutish." 

The inscription, rubbed and blotted by the rain and 
by the kindness of Nature, was fortunately illegible, for 



12 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

it is possible that the philosophical remarks coucerniug 
the circulation of gold might not have been to the taste 
of the sheriffs, the provost-marshals, and other big-wigs 
of the law. English legislation did not triHe in those 
days. It did not take much to make a man a felon. 
The magistrates were ferocious by tradition, and cruelty 
was a matter of routine. The judges of assize increased 
and multiplied. Jefferies had become a breeder of 
whelps. 

III. 

In the interior of the van there were two other in- 
scriptions. Above the locker, on a whitewashed plank, 
a hand had written in ink as follows : — 

The Only Things Necessary to Know. 

The baron, peer of England, wears a cap with six pearls. 
The coronet begins with the rank of viscount. The viscount 
wears a coronet of which the pearls are without number. 
The earl, a coronet with the pearls upon points, mingled 
with strawberry leaves placed low between. The marquis, 
one with pearls and leaves on the same level. The duke, 
one with strawberry leaves alone, — no pearls. The royal 
duke, a circlet of crosses and fleurs-de-Us. The Prince of 
Wales, crown like that of the king, but unclosed. 

The duke is ''most high and most puissant prince," the 
marquis and earl "most noble and puissant lord," the vis- 
count ''noble and puissant lord," the baron "trusty lord." 
The duke is "his Grace ; " the other Peers their "Lordships." 
"Most honourable" is higher than "right honourable." 

Lords who are peers are lords in their own right. Lords 
who are not peers are lords by courtesy : — there are no real 
lords, excepting such as are peers. 

The House of Lords is a chamber and a court, Co7iciUum 
et Curia, legislature and court of justice. The Commons, 



URSUS. 13 

wlio are the people, when ordered to the bar of the Lords, 
humbly present themselves bareheaded before the peers, who 
remain covered. The Commons send up their bills by forty 
members, who present the bill with three low bows. Tlie 
Lords send their bills to the Commons by a mere clerk. In 
case of disagreement, the two Houses confer in the Painted 
Chamber, the Peers seated and covered, the Commons stand- 
ing and bareheaded. 

Peers go to Parliament in their coaches in file; the Com- 
mons do not. Some peers go to Westminster in open four- 
wheeled chariots. The use of these and of coaches embla- 
zoned with coats-of-arms and coronets is allowed only to 
Peers, and forms a portion of their dignity. 

Barons have the same rank as bishops. To be a baron 
peer of England, it is necessary to be in possession of a 
tenure from the king per Baroniam integram, by full barony. 
The full barony consists of thirteen knights' fees and one 
third part, each knight's fee being of the value of twenty 
pounds sterling, which makes in all four hundred marks. 
The head of a barony {caput haronice) is a castle disjwsed 
by inheritance, as England herself, — that is to say, descend- 
ing to daughters if there be no sons, and in that case going 
to the eldest daughter, cceteris fiUabus aliunde satisfactis.^ 

Barons have the degree of lord, — in Saxon, la ford; dom- 
imcs in high Latin; Lordus in low Latin. The eldest and 
younger sons of viscounts and barons are the first esquires in 
the kingdom. The eldest sons of peers take precedence of 
knights of the garter. The younger sons do not. The 
eldest son of a viscount comes after all barons, and precedes 
all baronets. Every daughter of a peer is a ''Lady." Other 
English girls are plain "Mistress." 

All judges rank below peers. The sergeant wears a lamb- 
skin tippet; the judge one oi vair, de minuto vario, made up 
of a variety of little white furs, always excepting ermine. 
Ermine is reserved for peers and the king. 

^ As much as to say, the other daughters are provided for as best may 
be. (Note by Ursus on the margin of the wall.) 



14 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

A lord never takes an oath, either to the crown or the law. 
His word suffices ; he says, " Upon my honour," 

By a law of Edward the Sixth, peers have the privilege of 
committing manslaughter. A peer who kills a man without 
premeditation is not prosecuted. 

The persons of peers are inviolable. A peer cannot be 
held in durance, save in the Tower of London. A writ of 
supplicavit cannot be granted against a peer. A peer sent 
for by the king has the right to kill one or two deer in the 
royal park. A peer holds in his castle a baron's court of 
justice. It is unworthy of a peer to walk the street in a 
cloak, followed by two footmen; he should only show him- 
self attended by a great train of gentlemen of his household. 
A peer can be amerced only by his peers, and never to any 
greater amount than five pounds, excepting in the case of a 
duke, who can be amerced ten. A peer may retain six aliens 
born, any other Englishman but four. A peer can have 
wine custom-free; an earl eight tuns. A peer is alone 
exempt from presenting himself before the sheriff of the 
circuit. A peer cannot be assessed towards the militia. 
When it pleases a peer he raises a regiment and gives it to 
the king; thus have done their graces the Dukes of Athol, 
Hamilton, and Northumberland. A peer can hold only of 
a peer; in a civil cause he can demand the adjournment of 
the case, if there be not at least one knight on the jury. A 
peer nominates his own chaplains; a baron appoints three 
chaplains, a viscount four, an earl and a marquis five, a duke 
six. A peer cannot be put to the rack, even for high treason. 
A peer cannot be branded on the hand. A peer is a clerk, 
though he knows not how to read; in law he knows. 

A duke has a right to a canopy, or cloth of state, in all 
places where the king is not present; a viscount may have 
one in his house; a baron has a cover of assay, which may be 
held under his cup while he drinks. A baroness has the 
right to have her train borne by a man in the presence of a 
viscountess. 

Eighty-six tables, with five hundred dishes, are served 
every day in the royal palace at each meal. 



URSUS. 15 

If a plebeian strike a lord, his hand is cut off. 
A lord is very nearly a king; the king is very nearly a 
god. 

The eartli is a lordship. 

The English address God as ''my lord! " 

Opposite this writing was written a second one, in the 
same fashion, which ran thus : — 

Satisfaction which must Suffice those who 
HAVE Nothing. 

Henry Auverquerque, Earl of Grantham, who sits in the 
House of Lords between the Earl of Jersey and the Earl of 
Greenwich, has a hundred thousand a year. To his lordship 
belongs the palace of Grantham Terrace, built all of marble 
and famous for what is called the labyrinth of passages, — a 
curiosity which contains the scarlet corridor in marble of 
Sarancolin; the brown corridor in lumachel of Astracan; the 
white corridor in marble of Lani; the black corridor in 
marble of Alabanda; the grey corridor in marble of Sta- 
remma; the yellow corridor in marble of Hesse; the green 
corridor in marble of the Tyrol ; the red corridor, half cherry- 
spotted marble of Bohemia, half lumachel of Cordova; the 
blue corridor in turquin of Genoa; the violet corridor in 
granite of Catalonia; the mourning-hued corridor veined 
black and white in slate of Murviedro; the pink corridor 
in cipolin of the Alps; the pearl corridor in lumachel of 
Nonetta; and the corridor of all colours, called ''the courtiers' 
corridor," in motley. 

Richard Lowther, Viscount Lonsdale, owms Lowtlier in 
Westmoreland, which has a magnificent approach, and a 
flight of entrance steps which seems to invite the ingress 
of kings. 

Richard, Earl of Scarborough, Viscount and Baron Lumley 
of Lumley Castle, Viscount Lumley of Waterford in Ireland, 
and Lord Lieutenant and Vice-Admiral of the county of North- 
umberland and of Durham, both city and county, owns the 



16 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

double castleward of old and new Sandbeck, wbere you ad- 
mire a superb railing, in the form of a semicircle, surround- 
ing the basin of a matchless fountain. He has, besides, bis 
castle of Lumley. 

Robert Darcy, Earl of Holderness, has his domain of 
Holderness, with baronial towers, and large gardens laid out 
in French fashion, where he drives in his coach-and-six, pre- 
ceded by two outriders, as becomes a peer of England. 

Charles Beauclerc, Duke of St. Alban's, Earl of Burford, 
Baron Heddington, Grand Falconer of England, has an abode 
at Windsor, regal even in comparison with the king's. 

Charles Bodville Robartes, Baron Robartes of Truro, Vis- 
count Bodmin and Earl of Radnor, owns Wimpole in Cam- 
bridgeshire, which is really three palaces in one, having 
three facades, one bowed and two triangular. The approach 
is by an avenue of trees four deep. 

The most noble and most puissant Lord Philip, Baron 
Herbert of Cardiff, Earl of Montgomery and of Pembroke, 
Ross of Kendall, Parr, Eitzhugh, Marmion, iit. Quentin, and 
Herbert of Shurland, Warden of the Stannaries in the coun- 
ties of Cornwall and Devon, hereditary visitor of Jesus Col- 
lege, possesses the wonderful gardens at Wilton, where there 
are two sheaf-like fountains, finer than those of his most 
Christian Majesty King Louis XIV. at Versailles. 

Charles Seymour, Duke of Somerset, owns Somerset House 
on the Thames, which is equal to the Villa Pamphili at 
Rome. On the chimney-piece are seen two porcelain vases 
of the dynasty of Yuen, which are worth half a million in 
French money. 

In Yorkshire, Arthur, Lord Ingram, Viscount Irwin, has 
Temple Newsam, which is entered under a triumphal arch, 
and which has large wide roofs resembling Moorish terraces. 

Robert, Lord Ferrers of Chartly, Bourchier and Louvaine, 
has Staunton Harold in Leicestershire, of whicb the park is 
geometrically planned in the shape of a temple with a fayade, 
and in front of the piece of water is the great church with 
the square belfry, which belongs to his lordship. 

In the county of Northampton, Charles Spencer, Earl of 



URSUS. 17 

Suuderland, member of His Majesty's Privy Council, pos- 
sesses Althorp, at the entrance of which is a railing witli 
four columns surmounted by groups in marble. 

Laurence Hyde, Earl of Rochester, has, in Surrey, New 
Park, rendered magniticent by its sculptured pinnacles, its 
circular lawn belted by trees, and its woodland, at the ex- 
tremity of which is a little mountain, artistically rounded, 
and surmounted by a large oak, which can be seen from afar. 

Philip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield, possesses Bretby 
Hall in Derbyshire, with a splendid clock tower, falconries, 
warrens, and very fine sheets of water, long, square, and 
oval, one of which is shaped like a mirror, and has two jets, 
which throw the water to a great height. 

Charles Cornwallis, Baron Cornwallis of Eye, owns Broome 
Hall, a palace of the fourteenth century. 

The most noble Algernon Capel, Viscount Maiden, Earl of 
Essex, has Cashiobury in Hertfordshire, a country-seat which 
is in the shape of a capital H, and which rejoices sportsmen 
with its abundance of game. 

Charles, Lord Ossulston, owns Darnley in Middlesex, ap- 
proached by Italian gardens. 

James Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, has, seven leagues from 
London, Hatfield House, with its four lordly pavilions, its 
belfry in the centre, and its grand courtyard of black and 
white slabs, like that of St. Germain. This palace, which 
has a frontage two hundred and seventy-two feet in length, 
was built in the reign of James I. by the Lord High Treasurer 
of England, the great-grandfather of the present earl. To be 
seen there is the bed of one of the Countesses of Salisbury; it 
is of inestimable value and made entirely of Brazilian wood, 
which is a panacea against the bites of serpents, and which is 
called milhombres, that is to say ''a thousand men." On this 
bed is inscribed, Honi soit qui mal y pense. 

Edward Rich, Earl of Warwick and Holland, is owner of 
Warwick Castle, where whole oaks are burnt in the fire- 
places. 

In the parish of Sevenoaks, Cliarles Sackville, Baron 
Buckhurst, Baron Cranfield, Earl of Dorset and Middlesex, 

VOL. XIX. — 2 



18 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

is owner of Knowle, which is as large as a town and is com- 
posed of three palaces standing parallel one behind the other, 
like ranks of infantry. There are six gables in steps on the 
principal frontage, and a gate under a keep with four towers. 

Thomas Thynne, Baron Thynne of Warminster, and Vis- 
count Weymouth, possesses Longleat, in which there are as 
many chimneys, cupolas, pinnacles, pavilions, and turrets, 
as at Chambord, in France, which belongs to the king, 

Henry Howard, Earl of Suffolk, owns, twelve leagues from 
London, the palace of Audley End in Essex, which in grand- 
eur and dignity scarcely yields the palm to the Escurial of 
the King of Spain. 

In Bedfordshire, Wrest House and Park, which is a whole 
district, enclosed by ditches, walls, woodlands, rivers, and 
hills, belongs to Henry, Marquis of Kent. 

Hampton Court, in Herefordshire, with its strong em- 
battled keep, and its gardens bounded by a piece of water 
which divides them from the forest, belongs to Thomas, Lord 
Coningsby. 

Grimsthorp, in Lincolnshire, — with its long facade broken 
by turrets ; its park, its fish-ponds, its pheasantries, its sheep- 
folds, its lawns ; its grounds planted with rows of trees ; its 
groves, its walks, its shrubberies ; its flower-beds and borders, 
formed in square and lozenge-shape, and resembling great 
carpets; its race-courses, and the majestic sweep for carriages 
to turn in at the entrance of the house, — belongs to Robert, 
Earl Lindsey, hereditary lord of the forest of Waltham. 

Up Park, in Sussex, a square house, with two symmetrical 
belfried pavilions on each side of the great courtyard, be- 
longs to the Right Honourable Forde, Baron Grey of Werke, 
Viscount Glendale and Earl of Tankerville. 

Newnham Paddox, in Warwickshire, which has two quad- 
rangular fish-ponds and a gabled archway with a large win- 
dow of four panes, belongs to the Earl of Denbigh, who is 
also Count von Rheinfelden, in Germany. 

Wytham Abbey, in Berkshire, with its French garden in 
which there are four curiously trimmed arbors, and its great 
embattled towers supported by two bastions, belongs to Mon- 



URSUS. 19 

tague, Earl of Abingdon, who also owns Rj'cote, of which lie 
is Baron, and the principal door of which bears the device 
Virtus arlete fortlor. 

William Cavendisli, Duke of Devonshire, lias six dwelling- 
places, of which Chatsworth (two-storied, and of the finest 
order of Grecian architecture) is one. 

The Visconnt of Kinalmeak}^, who is Earl of Cork, in Ire- 
land, is owner of Burlington House, Piccadill^y, with its 
extensive gardens, reacliing to the fields outside London; 
he is also owner of Chiswick, where there are nine maguifi- 
cent corps de logls; he also owns Londesborough, which is a 
new house by the side of an old palace. 

The Duke of Beaufort owais Chelsea, which contains two 
Gothic buildings, and a Florentine one; he has also Badmin- 
ton, in Gloucestershire, a residence from which a number of 
avenues branch out like raj'^s from a star. The most noble 
and puissant prince Henry, Duke of Beaufort, is also Mar- 
quis and Earl of Worcester, Earl of Glamorgan, Viscount 
Grosmont, and Baron Herbert of Chepstow, Eagland, and 
Gower, Baron Beaufort of Caldecott Castle, and Baron de 
Bottetourt. 

John Holies, Duke of Newcastle, and Marquis of Clare, 
owns Bolsover, with its majestic square keeps; his also, is 
Haughton, in Nottinghamshire, where a round pyramid, 
made to imitate the Tower of Babel, stands in the centre 
of a basin of water. 

William, Earl of Craven, Viscount Uffington, and Baron 
Craven of Hamstead Marshall, owns Combe Abbey in War- 
wickshire, where is to be seen the finest water-jet in Eng- 
land; and in Berkshire two baronies, Hamstead IMarshall, 
on the fa(;ade of which are five Gothic lanterns sunk in the 
wall, and Ashdown Park, which is a country-seat situate at 
the point of intersection of jcross-roads in the forest. 

Linnaeus, Lord Clancharlie, Baron Clancharlie and Hun- 
kerville, Marquis of Corleone in Sicily, derives his title from 
the Castle of Clancharlie, built in 912 by Edward the Elder, 
as a defence against the Danes. Besides Hunkerville House, 
in London, which is a palace, he has Corleone Lodge at 



20- THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

Windsor, which is another, and eight castlewards, one at 
J3urtoii-on-Trent, with a royalty on the carriage of plaster of 
Paris; then Grumdaith, Humble, Moricambe, Trewardraith, 
Hell-Kesters (where there is a miraculous well), Phillinmore, 
with its turf bogs, Reculver, near the ancient city Vagniac, 
Vinecaunton, on the Moel-eulle Mountain; besides nineteen 
boroughs and villages with reeves, and the whole of Pen- 
neth chase, all of Vv'hich bring his lordship 40,000Z. a year. 

The one hundred and seventy-two peers enjoying their 
dignities under James II. possess among them altogether 
a revenue of 1,272,000^. sterling a year, which is the eleventh 
part of the revenue of England. 

In the margin, opposite the last name (that of Lin- 
naeus, Lord Clancharlie), there was a note in the hand- 
writing of Ursus : — 

''Rebel; in exile; houses, lands, and chattels seques- 
trated. It is well." 



IV. 

Uesus admired Homo. One admires one's counter- 
part. That is a universal law. 

To be always raging inwardly and grumbling out- 
wardly was the normal condition of Ursus. He was the 
malcontent of creation. By nature he was a man ever 
in opposition. He took the worl-d unkindly ; he gave 
his approval to no one and to nothing. The bee did 
not atone for its sting by its honey-making ; a full- 
blown rose did not absolve the sun for yellow fever and 
black vomit. It is probable that in secret Ursus criti- 
cised Providence a good deal. " Evidently, " he would 
say, " the devil works by a spring, and the mistake that 
God made is having let go the trigger. " He approved of 
none but princes, and he had his own peculiar way of 



URSUS. 21 

expressing his approbation. One day, when James II. 
made a gift to the Virgin in a Catholic chapel in Ireland 
of a massive gold lamp, Ursus, passing that way with 
Homo, who was more indifferent to such things, burst 
into loud exclamations of admiration before the crowd, 
and exclaimed : " It is certain that the blessed Virgin 
needs a lamp much more than those barefooted children 
there need shoes. " 

Such proofs of his loyalty and such evidences of his 
respect for established powers probably contributed in 
no small degree to make the magistrates tolerate his 
vagabond life and his disreputable alliance with a 
wolf. Sometimes of an evening, through friendly weak- 
ness, he allowed Homo to stretch his limbs and wander 
about. The wolf was incapable of an abuse of confi- 
dence, and behaved in society, that is to say among 
men, with all the meekness of a poodle. All the same, 
if bad-tempered officials had to be dealt with, difficulties 
might arise ; so Ursus kept the honest wolf chained up 
as much as possible. 

From a political point of view his writing about gold, 
not very intelligible in itself, and now become undeci- 
pherable, was but a smear, and gave no handle to the 
enemy. Even after the time of James II. , and under 
the " respectable " reign of William and Mary, his cara- 
van might have been seen peacefully going its rounds of 
the little English country towns. He travelled freely 
from one end of Great Britain to the other, selling his 
philtres, and phials, and performing, with the assis- 
tance of his wolf, his quack mummeries ; and he passed 
with ease through the meshes of the nets which the 
police of that period had spread all over England in or- 
der to catch wandering gangs, and especially to stop the 
progress of the Comprachicos. 

This was right enough. Ursus belonged to no gang. 



22 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

Ursus lived with Ursus, a tete-a-tete, into which the 
wolf gently thrust his nose. If Ursus could have had 
his way, he would have heen a Caribhee ; that being 
impossible, he preferred to be alone. The solitary man 
is a modified savage, accepted by civilization. He who 
wanders most is most alone ; hence his continual change 
of place. To remain anywhere long, suffocated him 
with the sense of being tamed. He spent his life in 
moving on. The sight of towns increased his taste for 
brambles, thickets, thorns, and caves. His home was 
the forest. He did not feel much out of his element in 
the murmur of crowded streets, which is so like the 
rustling of trees. The crowd to some extent satisfies 
our taste for the desert. What he disliked most in his 
van was its having a door and windows, and thus re- 
sembling a house. He would have realized his ideal 
had he been able to put a cave on four wheels and travel 
in a den. 

Ursus did not smile, as we have already said, but he 
used to laugh, — sometimes, indeed frequently, a bitter 
laugh. There is consent in a smile, while a laugh is 
often a refusal. His chief business was to hate the 
human race. He was implacable in this hatred. Hav- 
ing satisfied himself that human life is a dreadful thing; 
having observed the superposition of evils, — kings on 
the people, war on kings, the plague on war, famine on 
the plague, folly on everything ; having proved a certain 
degree of chastisement in the mere fact of existence ; 
having recognized that death is a deliverance, — when 
they brought him a sick man he cured him; and he had 
cordials and beverages to prolong the lives of the old. 
He put lame cripples on their legs again, and hurled 
this sarcasm at them : " There, you are on your paws 
once more ; may you walk long in this vale of tears ! " 
When he saw a poor man dying of hunger, he gave him 



URSUS. 23 

all the pence he had about him, growling out : " Live on, 
you wretch ! eat ! last a long time ! It is not I who 
would shorten your penal servitude. " After which, he 
would rub his hands and say, " I do men all the harm I 
can. " 

Through the little window at the back, passers-by 
could read on the ceiling of the van these words, written 
within in big letters, but visible from without, — 
" Uksus, Philosophek. " 



II. 

THE COMPRACHICOS. 
I. 

WHO ever hears the word " Comprachicos" now, 
and who knows its meaning ? 

The Comprachicos, or Comprapequenos, were a hide- 
ous and nondescript association of wanderers, famous in 
the seventeenth century, forgotten in the eighteenth, 
unheard of in the nineteenth. The Comprachicos are 
like the " succession powder, " an ancient social charac- 
teristic detail. They are part of old human ugliness. 
To the great eye of history, which sees everything col- 
lectively, the Comprachicos are closely connected with 
the colossal evil of slavery. Joseph sold by his brethren 
is one chapter in their history. The Comprachicos have 
left their traces in the penal laws of Spain and England. 
You find here and there in the dark confusion of English 
laws the impress of this horrible truth, like the foot- 
print of a savage in a forest. 

Comprachicos, the same as Comprapequenos, is a com- 
pound Spanish word signifying " Child-buyers. " The 
Comprachicos traded in children. They bought and sold 
them. They did not steal them ; the kidnapping of 
children is another branch of industry. And what did 
they make of these children ? Monsters. Why mon- 
sters ? To laugh at. The populace must needs laugh ; 
and kings too. The mountebank is wanted in the 



THE COMPKACHICOS. 25 

streets ; the jester at the Louvre. The first is called a 
Clown ; the other, a Fool. The efforts of man to pro- 
vide himself with amusement are at times worthy of the 
attention of the philosopher. 

What are we sketching in these few preliminary 
pages? A chapter in the most terrible of books, — a 
book which might be entitled, " The Farming of the 
Unhappy by the Happy. " 



11. 

A CHILD destined to be a plaything for men, — such a 
thing has existed ; such a thing exists even now. In 
simple and savage times such a thing constituted a spe- 
cial trade. The seventeenth century, called the great 
century, was of those times. It was a century very 
Byzantine in tone. It combined corrupt simplicity 
with delicate ferocity, — a curious variety of civiliza- 
tion ; a tiger with a simper. Madame de Sdvignd minces 
on the subject of the fagot and the wheel. That cen- 
tury traded a good deal in children. Flattering histo- 
rians have concealed the sore, but have divulged the 
remedy, — Vincent de Paul. 

In order that a human toy should prove a success, he 
must be taken in hand early. The dwarf must be fash- 
ioned when young. We play with childhood. But a 
well-formed child is not very amusing ; a hunchback is 
better fun. 

Hence grew an art. There were trainers who took a 
man and made him an abortion ; they took a face and 
made a muzzle ; they stunted growth ; they distorted the 
features. The artificial production of teratological cases 
had its rules. It was quite a science ; what one can 
imagine as the antithesis of orthopedy. Where God had 



26 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

put a look, tlieir art put a squint ; where God had made 
harmony, they made discord ; where God had made a 
perfect picture, they made a caricature ; and in the eyes 
of connoisseurs it was the caricature that was perfect. 
They debased animals as well ; they invented piebald 
horses. Turenne rode a piebald horse. In our own 
days do we not dye dogs blue and green ? Nature is our 
canvas. Man has always wished to add something to 
God's work. Man retouches creation, sometimes for 
better, sometimes for worse. The Court butibon was 
nothing but an attempt to lead man back to the mon- 
key. It was a move in the wrong direction ; a master- 
piece in retrogression. At the same time they tried to 
make a man of the monkey. Barbara, Duchess of Cleve- 
land and Countess of Southampton, had a marmoset for 
a page. Frances Sutton, Baroness Dudley, eighth peeress 
in the bench of barons, had tea served by a baboon clad 
in gold brocade, which her ladyship called My Black. 
Catherine Sedley, Countess of Dorchester used to go and 
take her seat in parliament in a coach with armorial 
bearings, behind which stood, with muzzles high up in 
the air, three Cape monkeys in grand livery. A Duchess 
of Medina-Celi, at whose toilet Cardinal Pole assisted, 
had her stockings put on by an ourang-outang. These 
monkeys thus raised in the social scale were a counter- 
poise to men brutalized and bestialized. This promis- 
cuousness of man and beast, desired by the great, was 
especially prominent in the case of the dwarf and the 
dog. The dwarf never quitted the dog, which was al- 
ways bigger than himself ; the dog was the pair of the 
dwarf, — it was as if they were coupled with a collar. 
This juxtaposition is authenticated by a mass of historic 
records ; and notably by the portrait of Jeffrey Hudson, 
dwarf of Henrietta of France, daughter of Henri IV., 
and wife of Charles I. 



THE COMPRACHICOS. 27 

To degrade man tends to deform him. The degrada- 
tion of his condition was completed by disfigurement. 
Certain vivisectors of that period succeeded marvellously 
well in effacing from the human face the divine effigy. 
Doctor Conquest, member of the Amen-street College, 
and judicial visitor of the chemists' shops of London, 
wrote a book in Latin on this pseudo-surgery, the pro- 
cesses of which he describes. If we are to believe Jus- 
tus of Carrickfergus, the inventor of this branch of 
surgery was a monk named Avonmore, — an Irish word 
signifying Great Eiver. 

The dwarf of the Elector Palatine, Perkeo, whose 
effigy (or ghost) springs from a magical box in the cave 
of Heidelberg, was a remarkable specimen of this sci- 
ence, which was very varied in its applications. It 
fashioned beings the law of whose existence was hide- 
ously simple ; it permitted them to sutler, and com- 
manded them to amuse. 



III. 

The manufacture of monstrosities was practised on a 
large scale, and comprised various branches. The Sultan 
wanted them ; so did the Pope, — the one to guard his 
women, the other to say his prayers. These were of a 
peculiar kind, incapable of reproduction. Scarcely hu- 
man beings, they were useful to voluptuousness and to 
religion. The seraglio and the Sistine Chapel utilized 
the same species of monsters ; fierce in the former case, 
mild in the latter. 

They knew how to produce things in those days which 
are not produced now ; they had talents which we lack, 
and it is not without reason that some good folk cry out 
that the decline has come. We no longer know how to 



28 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

sculpture living human flesh ; this is consequent on the 
loss of the art of torture. Men were once virtuosos in 
that respect, but are so no longer ; the art has become 
so simplified that it will soon disappear altogether. In 
cutting off the limbs of living men, in opening their 
bellies and dragging out their entrails, phenomena were 
grasped on the moment and discoveries made. We are 
obliged to renounce these experiments- now, and are thus 
deprived of the progress which surgery made by the 
aid of the executioner. 

The vivisection of former days was not limited to the 
manufacture of phenomena for the market-place, of 
buffoons for the palace, and eunuchs for sultans and 
popes. It abounded in varieties. One of its triumphs 
was the manufacture of cocks for the King of England. 

It was the custom, in the palace of the kings of Eng- 
land, to have a sort of watchman who crowed like a 
cock. This watcher, awake while all others slept, 
ranged the palace, and raised from hour to hour the cry 
of the farmyard, repeating it as often as was necessary, 
and thus supplying the place of a clock. This man had 
in childhood undergone an operation of the pharynx, 
which was part of the art described by Dr. Conquest. 
Under Charles II. the salivation caused by the operation 
having disgusted the Duchess of Portsmouth, the ap- 
pointment was indeed preserved, so that the splendour of 
the crown should not be impaired ; but they got an un- 
mutilated man to represent the cock. A retired officer 
was generally selected for this honourable employment. 
Under James II. the functionary was named William 
Sampson, Cock, and received for his crow 9/. 2s. 6d. 
annually.^ The memoirs of Catherine II. inform us 
that at St. Petersburg, scarcely a hundred years since, 

^ See Chamberla3'ne's " Present State of England," part i. chap, xiii., 
p. 179. 1688. 



THE COMPRACHICOS. 29 

whenever the czar or czarina was displeased with a Rus- 
sian prince, he was forced to squat down in the great 
ante-chamber of the palace, and to remain in that pos- 
ture a certain number of days, mewing like a cat or 
clucking like a sitting hen, and pecking his food from 
the floor. These fashions have passed away ; but not so 
much, perhaps, as one might imagine. Nowadays, cour- 
tiers slightly modify their intonation in clucking to 
please their masters. More than one picks up from the 
ground — we will not say from the mud — what he eats. 

It -is very fortunate that kings cannot err. Hence their 
contradictions never perplex us. In approving always, 
one is sure to be always right, — which is pleasant. 
Louis XIV. would not have liked to see at Versailles 
either an officer acting the cock, or a prince acting the 
turkey. That which enhanced the royal and imperial 
dignity in England and Eussia would have seemed to 
Louis the Great incompatible with the crown of St. 
Louis. We know how intense was his displeasure when 
Madame Henriette forgot herself so far as to see a hen 
in a dream, — which was, indeed, a grave breach of good 
manners in a lady of the Court. When one is of the 
Court, one should not dream of the courtyard. Bossuet, 
it may be remembered, was nearly as much scandalized 
as Louis XIV. 

IV. 

The traffic in children in the seventeenth century, as 
we have already explained, was connected with a trade. 
The Comprachicos engaged in the traffic and carried on 
the trade. They bought children, worked a little on 
the raw material, and re-sold them afterwards. 

The vendors were of all kinds, — from the wretched 
father, getting rid of his family, to the master, utilizing 



30 THE MAX WHO LAUGHS. 

his stud of slaves. The sale of men was a simple mat- 
ter. In our own time we have had fighting to maintain 
this right. Eemember that it is less than a century ago 
that the Elector of Hesse sold his subjects to the King 
of England, who required men to be killed in America. 
Kings went to the Elector of Hesse as we go to the 
butcher to buy meat. The Elector had food for powder 
in stock, and hung up his subjects in his shop : " Come, 
buy ! they are for sale ! " In England, under Jefferies, 
after the tragical episode of Monmouth, there were many 
lords and gentlemen beheaded and quartered. Those 
who were executed left wives and daughters, widows 
and orphans, whom James II. gave to the queen, his 
wife ; the queen sold these ladies to William Penn. 
Very likely the king had so much per cent on the trans- 
action. The extraordinary thing is, not that James II. 
should have sold the women, but that William Penn 
should have bought them. Penn's purchase is excused, 
or explained, by the fact that having a wilderness to 
sow with men, he needed women as farming imple- 
ments. Her Gracious Majesty made a handsome sum 
out of these ladies. The young sold dear. We can im- 
agine, with the uneasy feeling which a complicated 
scandal arouses, that probably some old duchesses were 
thrown in cheap. 

The Comprachicos were also called the Cheylas, — a 
Hindoo word, which conveys the idea of harrying a nest. 
For a long time the Comprachicos made only a pretence 
of concealing themselves. Tlierc is sometimes a favour- 
ing shadow thrown over iniquitous trades, in which thej 
thrive. In our own day we have seen an association of 
this kind in Spain, under the direction of the ruffian 
Ramon Selles, continue from 1834 to 1866, and keep 
three provinces in terror for thirty years, — Valencia, 
Alicante, and Murcia. Under the Stuarts, the Com- 



THE COMPRACHICOS. 31 

prachicos were by no means in bad odour at Court. On 
occasions they were used for reasons of State. For 
James II. they were almost an instrumentum regni. It 
was a time when families, which were refractory or in 
the way, were dismembered ; when a descent was cut 
short ; when heirs were suddenly suppressed. At times 
one branch was defrauded for the profit of another. The 
Comprachicos had a genius for disligurement which rec- 
ommended them to State policy. To disfigure is better 
than to kill. There was, indeed, the Iron Mask, but 
that was a dangerous measure. Europe could not be 
peopled with iron masks, while deformed mountebanks 
ran about the streets without creating any surprise. 
Besides, the iron mask is removable ; not so the mask 
of flesh. You are masked forever by your own flesh : 
what can be more ingenious ? 

The Comprachicos worked on man as the Chinese 
work on trees. They had their secrets, as we have said ; 
they had tricks which are now lost arts. A sort of fan- 
tastic stunted thing left their hands ; it was ridiculous 
and wonderful. They could touch up a little being with 
such skill that its father would not have recognized it. 
Sometimes they left the spine straight and remade the 
face. Children destined for tumblers had their joints 
dislocated in a masterly manner; you would have said 
they had been boned. Thus gymnasts were made. The 
Comprachicos not only deprived a child of his natural 
lineaments, not only took away his face from the child, 
but they also took away his memory. At least they 
took away all they could o-f it ; the child had no con- 
sciousness of the mutilation to which he had been sub- 
jected. The frightful operation left its traces on his 
countenance, but not on his mind. The most he could 
recall was that one day he had been seized by men ; that 
next he had fallen asleep ; and then that he had been 



32 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

cured. Cured of what, lie did not know. Of burnings 
with sulphur and incisions with the iron he remembered 
nothing. The Comprachicos deadened the little patient 
by means of a stupefying powder which was thought to 
be magical, and which suppressed all pain. This pow- 
der has been known from time immemorial in China, 
and is still employed there. The Chinese have been in 
advance of us in all our inventions, — printing, artil- 
lery, aerostation, chloroform. The difference is that the 
discovery which at once takes life in Europe and be- 
comes a prodigy and a wonder, in China remains a 
chrysalis and is preserved in a deathlike state. China 
is a museum of embryos. 

As we are in China, let us linger a moment to note 
another peculiarity. In China, from time immemorial, 
they have displayed a marvellous refinement in industry 
and art. It is the art of moulding a living man. They 
take a child two or three years old, put him in a more 
or less grotesque porcelain vase, which is made without 
top or bottom to allow egress for the head and feet. 
During the day the vase is set upright, and at night is 
laid down to allow the child to sleep. Thus the child 
thickens without growing taller, filling up with his 
compressed flesh and distorted bones the depressions in 
the vase. This development in a bottle continues many 
years. After a certain time it becomes irreparable. 
When they consider that this is accomplished, and the 
monster made, they break the vase. The child comes 
out, — and, behold, there is a man in the shape of a 
mug! 

This is convenient ; by ordering your dwarf betimes, 
you are able to have him of any shape you wish. 



THE COMPRACHICOS. 33 



V. 

James II. tolerated the Comprachicos for the very 
good reason that he found them useful ; at least it hap- 
pened that he did so more than once. 

We do not always disdain to use what we despise. 
This low trade, an excellent substitute sometimes for 
the higher one which is called State policy, was cen- 
sured but not persecuted. There was no surveillance, 
but a certain amount of attention. Sometimes the king 
went so far as to avow his complicity ; such is the au- 
dacity of monarchical terrorism. The disfigured one 
was marked with the fleur-de-lis ; they took from him 
the mark of God, and put on him the mark of the king. 
Jacob Astley, knight and baronet, lord of Melton Con- 
stable, in the county of Norfolk, had in his family a 
child who had been sold, upon whose forehead the 
dealer had branded a fleur-de-lis with a hot iron. In 
certain cases in which it was considered desirable to 
record for some reason the royal origin of the new 
position made for the child, they used such means. 
England has always done us the honour to utilize the 
fleur-de-lis for her personal use. 

The Comprachicos, allowing for the shade of difference 
which distinguishes a trade from a fanaticism, were 
analogous to the Stranglers of India. They lived in 
gangs, and to facilitate their operations affected some- 
what of the Merry- Andrew. They encamped here and 
there, but were grave and religious, bearing no affinity 
to other nomads, and were incapable of theft. The peo- 
ple for a long time wrongly confounded them with the 
Moors of Spain and the Moors of China. The Moors of 
Spain were counterfeiters ; the Moors of China were 
thieves. There was nothing of the sort about the Com- 

VOL. XIX. — 3 



34 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

prachicos ; they were honest folk. Whatever you may 
think of them, they were sometimes sincerely scrupu- 
lous. They pushed open a door, entered, bargained 
for a child, paid, and departed. All was done with 
propriety. 

They were of all nationalities. English, French, 
Castilians, Germans, Italians fraternized under the 
name of Comprachicos. A unity of idea, a unity of 
superstition, and the pursuit of the same calling make 
such fusions. In this roving fraternity those of the 
Mediterranean seaboard represented the East, those of 
the Atlantic seaboard the West. Many Basques held 
converse with many Irishmen. The Basque and the 
Irishman understand each other, they speak the old 
Punic jargon ; add to this the intimate relations of 
Catholic Ireland with Catholic Spain, — relations such 
that they resulted in bringing to the gallows in London 
one who was almost King of Ireland, the Celtic Lord 
de Brany. 

The Comprachicos were rather a fellowship than a 
tribe ; rather a residuum than a fellowship. They were 
all the riff-raff of the universe, having a crime for their 
trade. They were a sort of harlequin people, all com- 
posed of rags. To gain a recruit was to sew on another 
tatter. To appear and disappear, to wander about, was 
the Comprachicos' law of existence. What is barely 
tolerated cannot take root. Even in kingdoms where 
their business supplied the Courts, and occasionally 
served as an auxiliary to the royal power, they were 
often ill-treated. Kings made use of their art and then 
sent the artists to the galleys. These inconsistencies 
belong to the ebb and flow of royal caprice, — " For such 
is our good will and pleasure. " 

A rolling stone and a roving trade gather no moss. 
The Comprachicos were poor. They might have said 



THE COMPRACHICOS. 35 

what the lean and ragged witch said, when she saw 
them setting fire to the stake : " Le jeu n'en vaut pas la 
chandelle. " It is possible, nay probable (their chiefs 
remaining unknown), that the wholesale contractors in 
the trade were rich. After the lapse of two centuries 
it would be difficult to throw any light on this point. 

They were, as we have said, a fellowship. They had 
their laws, their oaths, their f ormuhe, — almost their 
cabala. Any one nowadays wishing to know all about the 
Comprachicos, need only go into Biscaya or Galicia ; there 
were many Basques among them, and it is in those 
mountains that one hears their history. To this day 
the Comprachicos are spoken of at Oyarzun, at Urbis- 
tondo, at Leso, at Astigarraga. " Aguardate niiio, que 
voy a llamar al Comprachicos " (Take care, child, or I'll 
call the Comprachicos) is the cry with which mothers 
frighten their children in that country. 

The Comprachicos, like the Zigeuner and the Gipsies, 
had appointed places for periodical meetings. Their 
leaders conferred together from time to time. In the 
seventeenth century they had four principal points of 
rendezvous, — one, the pass of Pancorbo in Spain ; one, the 
glade called the Wicked Woman, near Diekirsch, in 
Germany, where there are two strange bas-reliefs, repre- 
senting a woman with a head and a man without one ; 
one in France, the hill where the colossal statue of 
Massue-la-Promesse stood in the old sacred wood of Borvo 
Tomona, near Bourbonne les Bains ; and one in England, 
behind the garden wall of William Challoner, Squire of 
Gisborough in Cleveland, Yorkshire. 



36 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 



VI. 



The laws against vagabonds have always been very 
rigorous in England. In her Gothic legislation England 
seemed to be inspired with this principle, Homo errans 
fera errante pejor. One of the special statutes classifies 
the man without a home as " more dangerous than the 
asp, dragon, lynx, or basilisk " {citrocior aspide, dracone, 
lynce, et basilica). For a long time England troubled 
herself as much concerning the Gipsies, of whom she 
wished to be rid, as about the wolves of which she had 
been cleared. In that the Englishman differed from the 
Irishman, who prayed to the saints for the health of the 
wolf, and called him " my god-father. " 

Nevertheless, in the same way that English law (as 
we have just seen) tolerated the wolf, which was tamed, 
domesticated, and become in some sort a dog, so it toler- 
ated the regular vagabond, become in some sort a subject. 
It did not trouble itself about either the mountebank or 
the travelling barber, the quack doctor, the peddler, or 
the open-air scholar, as long as they had a trade to live 
by. Further than this, and with these exceptions, the 
kind of freedom which exists in the wanderer terrified 
the law. A tramp was a possible public enemy. That 
modern thing, the loafer, was then unknown ; that an- 
cient thing, the vagrant, was alone understood. A sus- 
picious appearance, that indescribable something which 
all understand and none can define, was sufficient reason 
why society should seize a man by the collar and de- 
mand, " Where do you live ? How do you get your liv- 
ing ? " And if he could not answer, harsh penalties 
awaited him. Iron and fire were in the code : the law 
practised the cauterization of vagrancy. Hence, through- 
out English territory a veritable loi des suspects was 



THE COMPRACHICOS. 37 

applicable to vagrants (who, it must be owned, readily 
became malefactors), and particularly to Gipsies, whose 
expulsion has erroneously been compared to the expul- 
sion of the Jews and the Moors from Spain, and the 
Protestants from France. As for us, we do not confound 
a battue with a persecution. 

The Comprachicos, we insist, had nothing in com- 
mon with the Gipsies. The Gipsies were a nation ; the 
Comprachicos were a compouad of all nations, — the 
lees of a horrible vessel full of filthy waters. The Com- 
prachicos had not, like the Gipsies a vernacular of their 
own ; their jargon was a promiscuous collection of idioms ; 
all languages were mixed together in their language; 
they spoke a medley. Like the Gipsies, they had come 
to be a people winding through the peoples ; but their 
common tie was association, not race. At all epochs in 
history one finds in the vast liquid mass which consti- 
tutes humanity some of these streams of venomous men 
exuding poison around them. The Gipsies were a tribe ; 
the Comprachicos, a freemasonry, — a masonry havinf^ 
not a noble aim, but a hideous handicraft. Finally, 
their religions differed : the Gipsies were Pagans ; the 
Comprachicos were Christians, and more than that, good 
Christians, as became an association which, although a 
mixture of all nations, owed its birth to Spain, a devout 
land. They were more than Christians, they were Cath- 
olics ; they were more than Catholics, they were Eoman- 
ists ; and they were so devoted in their faith, and so pure, 
that they refused to associate with the Hungarian no- 
mads of the comitat of Pesth, commanded and led by an 
old man, having for sceptre a wand with a silver ball, 
surmounted by the double-headed Austrian eagle. It is 
true that these Hungarians were schismatics, to the ex- 
tent of celebrating the Assumption on the 29th of 
August, which is an abomination. 



38 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

In England, so long as the Stuarts reigned, the con- 
federation of the Comprachicos was (for motives of which 
we have already given a glimpse) to a certain extent pro- 
tected. James 11. , a devout man, who persecuted the 
Jews and trampled out the Gipsies, was a good prince 
to the Comprachicos. We have seen why. The Com- 
prachicos were buyers of the human wares in which he 
was a dealer. They excelled in disappearances. Disap- 
pearances are occasionally necessary for the good of the 
State. An inconvenient heir of tender age whom they 
took in hand lost his original shape. This facilitated 
confiscation ; the transfer of titles to favourites was sim- 
plified. The Comprachicos were, moreover, very dis- 
creet, and very taciturn. They bound themselves to 
silence and kept their word, which is very necessary in 
affairs of State. There is scarcely an instance of their 
having betrayed the secrets of the king. This was, it is 
true, greatly to their interest ; for if the king had lost 
confidence in them, they would have been in great dan- 
ger. They were thus of use in a political point of view. 
Moreover, these artists furnished singers for the Holy Fa- 
ther. The Comprachicos were useful for the " Miserere " 
of Allegri. They were particularly devoted to the Virgin 
Mary. All this pleased the Stuarts. James II. could 
not be hostile to men who carried their devotion to the 
Virgin to the extent of manufacturing eunuchs. In 1688 
tliere was a change of dynasty in England : Orange 
supplanted Stuart ; William III. replaced James II. 

James II. went away to die in exile ; miracles were 
performed on his tomb, and his relics cured the Bishop 
of Autun of fistula, — a worthy recompense for the 
Christian virtues of the prince. 

William, having neither the same ideas nor the same 
practices as James, was severe to the Comprachicos. He 
did his best to crush out the vermin. A statute of the 



THE COMPRACHICOS. 39 

early part of William and Mary's reign hit the associa- 
tion of child-buyers hard. It was as the blow of a club 
to the Comprachicos, who were from that time pulver- 
ized. By the terms of this statute, those of the fellow- 
ship taken and duly convicted were to be branded with 
a red-hot iron, imprinting " E " on the shoulder, signi- 
fying rogue ; on the left hand " T, " signifying thief ; 
and on the right hand " M, " signifying man-slayer. 
The chiefs, " supposed to be rich, although beggars in 
appearance, " were to be punished in the collistrigium, 
that is, the pillory, — and branded on the forehead with 
a " P, " besides having their goods confiscated and the 
trees in their woods rooted up. Those who did not in- 
form against the Comprachicos were to be punished by 
confiscation and imprisonment for life, as for the crime 
of misprision. As for the women found among these 
men, they were to be punished by the cucking-stool. 
This is a sort of see-saw, the name of which is derived 
from the French word coquine, and the German stuhl. 
English law being endowed with remarkable longevity, 
this punishment for quarrelsome woinen still exists in 
English legislation. The cucking-stool is suspended 
over a river or a pond ; the woman is seated upon it. 
The chair is then allowed to drop into the water, and 
then pulled out. This dipping of the woman is re- 
peated three times, " to cool her anger, " says the com- 
mentator, Chamberlayne. 



BOOK I. 

NIGHT NOT SO BLACK AS MAN. 



CHAPTER I. 

PORTLAND BILL. 

ASTEONG north wind blew continuously over the 
mainland of Europe, and yet more roughly over 
England, during the entire month of December, 1689, 
and also the month of January, 1690. Hence the terri- 
ble cold weather which caused that winter to be noted 
as " memorable to the poor " on the margin of the old 
Bible in the Presbyterian chapel of the Non-jurors in 
London. Thanks to the lasting qualities of the old 
monarchical parchment employed in official registers, 
long lists of poor persons, found dead of famine and 
cold, are still legible in many local repositories, — par- 
ticularly in the archives of the Liberty of the Clink, in 
the borough of Southwark, of Pie Powder Court (which 
signifies Dusty Feet Court), and in those of Whitechapel 
Court, held in the village of Stepney by the bailiff of 
the Lord of the Manor. The Thames was frozen over, 
— a thing which does not happen once in a century, as 
ice forms on it with difficulty owing to the action of the 
sea. Coaches rolled over the frozen river, and a fair was 
held upon it with booths, bear-baiting and bull-baiting. 



PORTLAND BILL. 41 

An ox was roasted whole on the ice. This thick ice 
lasted two months. The year 1690 exceeded in sever- 
ity even the famous winters at the heginning of the sev- 
enteenth century so minutely observed by Dr. Gideon 
Delane, — the same who was, in his quality of apothe- 
cary to King James, honoured by the city of London 
with a bust and a pedestal. 

One evening, towards the close of one of the most 
bitter days of the month of January, 1690, something 
unusual was going on in one of the numerous inhospita- 
ble coves of the Bay of Portland, which caused the sea- 
gulls and wild geese to scream and circle round its 
mouth, not daring to re-enter. In this cove, the most 
dangerous of all which line the bay during the continu- 
ance of certain winds, and consequently the most lonely 
(well suited, by reason of its very danger, for ships in 
hiding), a little vessel, almost touching the cliff, so 
deep was the water, was moored to a point of rock. We 
are wrong in saying, " The night falls ; " we should say 
" The night rises, " for it is from the earth that darkness 
comes. It was already night at the bottom of the cliff; 
it was still day at the top. Any one approaching the 
vessel's moorings would have recognized a Biscayan 
hooker. The sun, concealed all day by the mist, had 
just set. That deep and sombre melancholy which 
might be called longing for the absent sun already per- 
vaded the scene. As there was no breeze from the sea, 
the water of the creek was calm. This was, especially, 
in winter, a lucky exception. Almost all the Portland 
creeks have sand-bars ; and in heavy weather the sea 
becomes very rough, and, to pass in safety, much skill 
and practice are necessary. These little ports (ports 
more in appearance than fact) are of small advantage. 
They are hazardous to enter, dangerous to leave. This 
evening, for a wonder, there was no danger. 



42 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

The Biscay hooker is of an ancient model, now fallen 
into disuse. This kind of craft, which has done service 
even in the navy, was stoutly built in its hull, — a boat 
in size, a ship in strength. It figured in the Armada. 
Sometimes the war-hooker attained to a high tonnage ; 
thus the "Great Griffin," bearing a captain's flag, and 
commanded by Lopez de Medina, measured six hundred 
and fifty good tons, and carried forty guns. But the 
merchant and contraband hookers were very feeble speci- 
mens. Sea-folk held them at their true value, and con- 
sidered the model a very sorry one. The rigging of the 
hooker was made of hemp, sometimes with wire inside, 
which was probably intended as a means, however un- 
scientific, of obtaining indications, in the case of mag- 
netic tension. The lightness of this rigging did not 
exclude the use of heavy tackle, the cabrias of the Span- 
ish galleon, and the cameli of the Eoman triremes. The 
helm was very long, which gives the advantage of a 
long arm of leverage, but the disadvantage of a small 
arc of effort. Two wheels in two pulleys at the end of 
the tiller corrected this defect, and compensated to some 
extent for the loss of strength. The compass was well 
housed in a perfectly square case, and well balanced by 
its two copper frames placed horizontally, one inside 
the other, on little bolts, as in Cardan's lamps. There 
were both science and cunning in the construction of the 
hooker, but untutored science and barbarous cunning. 
The hooker was primitive, like the praam and the 
canoe; was akin to the praam in stability and to the 
canoe in swiftness ; and, like all vessels born of the in- 
stinct of the pirate and fisherman, it had remarkable sea- 
going qualities, and was equally well suited to land-locked 
and to open waters. Its system of sails, complicated in 
stays and very peculiar, allowed of its navigating the 
close bays of Asturias (which are little more than 



PORTLAND BILL. 43 

enclosed basins, as Pasages for instance) as well as the 
open sea. It could sail round a lake, and sail round 
the world, — a strange craft, as good for a pond as for a 
storm. The hooker is among vessels what the wagtail 
is among birds, — ■ one of the smallest and yet one of the 
boldest. The wagtail perching on a reed scarcely bends 
it, and flying away crosses the ocean. 

The hooker of the poorest Biscayan was gilded and 
painted. Tattooing was also one of the accomplish- 
ments of these people, who are still to some extent 
savage in their tastes. The superb colouring of their 
mountains, varied by dazzling snows and emerald 
meadows, teaches them the wonderful charm that orna- 
mentation exerts. They are poverty-stricken and yet 
magnificent ; they put coats-of-arms on their cottages ; 
they have huge asses, which they bedizen with bells, 
and huge oxen, on which they put gay head-dresses of 
feathers. Their coaches, the wheels of which you can 
hear creaking two leagues off, are illuminated, carved, 
and decked with ribbons. A cobbler has a bas-relief on 
his door ; it is only St. Crispin and an old shoe, but it 
is in stone. They trim their leathern jackets with lace. 
They do not mend their rags, but they embroider them. 
The Basques are like the Greeks, children of the sun ; 
while the Valencian wraps himself, bare and sad, in his 
mantle of russet wool, with a hole to pass his head 
through, the natives of Galicia and Biscay delight in 
fine linen shirts, bleached in the dew. Their thresholds 
and their windows teem with fair and fresh faces, laugh- 
ing under garlands of maize; a joyous and proud seren- 
ity shines out in their ingenious arts, in their trades, in 
their customs, in the dress of their maidens, in their 
songs. The mountain, that colossal ruin, is all aglow 
in Biscay: the sun's rays penetrate every nook and 
crevice. The wild ja'izqitivel is full of idylls. Biscay 



44 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

is Pyrenean grace as Savoy represents Alpine grace. 
With dangerous bays, with storms, with clouds, with 
flying spray, with the raging of the waves and winds, 
with terror, with uproar, are mingled boat-women 
crowned with roses. He who has seen the Basque coun- 
try once longs to see it again. It is a favoured land, — 
two harvests a year ; villages resonant and gay ; a stately 
poverty ; all Sunday the sound of guitars, dancing, cas- 
tanets, love-making ; houses clean and bright ; storks in 
the belfries. 

But let us return to Portland, that rugged mountain 
in the sea. 

The peninsula of Portland, viewed geometrically, pre- 
sents the appearance of a bird's head, of which the bill 
is turned towards the ocean, the back of the head towards 
Weymouth; the isthmus is its neck. Portland exists 
now only for trade. The value of the Portland stone 
was discovered by quarrymen and plasterers about the 
middle of the seventeenth century. Ever since that 
period what is called Eoman cement has been made of 
the Portland stone, — a useful industry, enriching the 
district but disfiguring the bay. Two hundred years 
ago these coasts were being eaten away as a cliff; to- 
day, as a quarry. The pick bites meanly, the wave 
grandly ; hence a diminution of beauty. To the magnifi- 
cent ravages of the ocean have succeeded the measured 
strokes of men. These measured strokes have annihi- 
lated the creek where the Biscay hooker was moored. 
To find any vestige of the little anchorage, now de- 
stroyed, the eastern side of the peninsula should be 
searched, towards the point beyond Folly Pier and 
Dirdle Pier, beyond Wakeham even, between the place 
called Church Hope and the place called Southwell. 

The creek, walled in on all sides by cliffs much taller 
than its width, was becoming more and more veiled in 



PORTLAND BILL. 45 

shadow. The misty gloom, usual at twilight, became 
thicker ; it was like the growth of darkness at the bot- 
tom of a well. The opening of the creek seaward, a 
narrow passage, traced on the almost night-black interior 
a pallid rift where the waves were moving. You must 
have been quite close to perceive the hooker moored to 
the rocks, and, as it were, hidden by the great mantle 
of shadow. A plank extending to a low and level pro- 
jection of the cliff, the only point on which a landing 
could be made, placed the vessel in communication with 
the land. Dark figures were passing and repassing one 
another on this tottering gangway, and in the shadow 
beyond several persons could be dimly discerned stand- 
ing on the deck. 

It was less cold in the creek than out at sea, thanks 
to the screen of rock rising to the north of the basin, 
which did not, however, prevent the people from shiver- 
ing. They were hurrying. The effect of the twilight 
defined the forms as though they had been punched out 
with a tool. Certain indentations in their clothes were 
visible, and showed that they belonged to the class 
called in England, " The ragged. " The windings of the 
pathway could be vaguely distinguished on the side of 
the cliff. This pathway, full of curves and angles, al- 
most perpendicular, and better adapted for goats than 
men, terminated at the platform where the plank was 
placed. The pathways of cliffs ordinarily imply a not 
very inviting declivity; they plunge downward rather 
than slope. This one — probably some ramification of a 
road on the plain above — was disagreeable to look at, 
so steep was it. From below you saw it attain by a 
series of zig-zags the summit of the cliff where it passed 
out on to the high plateau through a cut in the rock ; 
and the passenger.s for whom the vessel was waiting 
must have come by this path. 



46 PORTLAND BILL. 

No step, no noise, no breath was heard except the stir 
of embarkation which was being made in the creek. At 
the other side of the roads, at the entrance of Eingstead 
Bay, you could just distinguish a fleet of shark-fishing 
boats, which were evidently out of their reckoning. 
These polar boats had been driven from Danish into 
English waters by the whims of the sea. Northerly 
winds play these tricks on fishermen. They had just 
taken refuge in the anchorage of Portland, — a sign of 
bad weather expected and danger out at sea. They were 
now engaged in casting anchor. The principal boat was 
placed in front after the old custom in Norwegian flo- 
tillas, all her rigging standing out black, above the sea ; 
while in front might be seen the iron rack, loaded with 
all kinds of hooks and harpoons destined for the Green- 
land shark, the dog-fish, and the spinous shark, as well 
as the nets to pick up the sun-fish. Except a few other 
craft, all driven into the same corner, the eye beheld 
nothing on the vast horizon. Not a house, not a ship. 
The coast in those days was not inhabited, and the 
roads, at that season, were not safe. 

In spite of the ominous indications of the weather, 
the persons who were going to sail away in the Biscayan 
urea, hastened on the hour of departure. They formed 
a busy and confused group. To distinguish one from 
another was difficult ; to tell whether they were old or 
young was impossible. The dim evening light inter- 
mixed and blurred them ; the mask of shadow was over 
their faces. There were eight of them, and there were 
apparently one or two women among them whom it was 
hard to distinguish under the rags and tatters in which 
the group was attired, — clothes which were no longer 
either man's or woman's. Kags have no sex. A smaller 
shadow, flitting to and fro among the large ones, indi- 
cated either a dwarf or a child. It was a child. 



CHAPTER II. 

LEFT ALONE. 

A CLOSE observer might have noticed that all wore 
long cloaks, torn and patched, but covering them, 
and if need be concealing them up to the very eyes, — 
useful alike against the north wind and curiosity. They 
moved with ease under these cloaks. The greater num- 
ber wore a handkerchief tied round the head, — a sort of 
rudiment which marks the commencement of the turban 
in Spain. This head-dress was nothing unusual in Eng- 
land. At that time the South was in fashion in the 
North ; perhaps this was connected with the fact that 
the North was beating the South. It conquered and 
admired. After the defeat of the Armada, Castilian was 
considered in the halls of Elizabeth as the court lan- 
guage. To speak English in the palace of the Queen of 
England was deemed almost an impropriety. To adopt 
partially the manners of those upon whom we impose 
our laws is very common. It was thus that Castilian 
fashions penetrated into England ; while as an offset, 
English interests crept into Spain. 

One of the men in the group embarking appeared to 
be a chief. He had sandals on his feet, and was bediz- 
ened with gold-lace tatters and a tinsel waistcoat, shin- 
ing under his cloak like the belly of a fish. Another 
pulled down over his face a huge piece of felt, cut like 
a sombrero ; this felt had no hole for a pipe, thus indi- 
cating the wearer to be a man of letters. 



48 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

On the principle that a man's vest is a child's cloak, 
the child was clad in a sailor's jacket, which reached to 
his knees. By his height you would have supposed 
him to be a boy of ten or eleven ; his feet were bare. 

The crew of the hooker was composed of a captain and 
two sailors. The hooker had apparently come from 
Spain, and was about to return thither. She was be- 
yond a doubt engaged in a stealthy service from one 
coast to the other. The persons embarking in her whis- 
pered among themselves. The whisperings interchanged 
by these creatures was a composite sound, — now a word 
of Spanish, then of German, then of French, then of 
Gaelic, at times of Basque. It was either a patois or a 
slang. They appeared to be of all nationalities, and yet 
to belong to the same band. The motley group ap- 
peared to be a company of comrades, perhaps a gang of 
accomplices. The crew probably belonged to the same 
brotherhood. 

If there had been a little more light, and if one could 
have seen more distinctly, one might have perceived 
under the rags of these people rosaries and scapulars 
half-hidden. One of the women in the group had a 
rosary almost equal in the size of its beads to that of a 
dervish, and easy to recognize for an Irish one made at 
Llanymthefry, which is also called Llanandriffy. One 
might also have seen, had it not been so dark, a gilded 
figure of Our Lady and Child on the bow of the hooker. 
It was probably that of the Basque Notre Dame, — a 
sort of Panagia of the old Cantabri. Under this image, 
which occupied the position of a figurehead, was a lan- 
tern, which at this moment was not lighted, — an ex= 
cess of caution which implied an extreme desire of 
concealment. This lantern was evidently for two pur- 
poses : when lighted, it burned before the Virgin, and 
at the same time illumined the sea, — a beacon doing 



LEFT ALONE. 49 

duty as a taper. Under the bowsprit the cut-water, 
long, curved, and sharp, projected in front like the horn 
of a crescent. At the top of the cut- water, and at the 
feet of the Virgin, a kneeling angel, with folded wings, 
leaned her back against the stem, and gazed out through 
a spy-glass at the horizon. The angel was gilded like 
Our Lady. In the cut-water were holes and openings 
to let the waves pass through, which afforded an oppor- 
tunity for more gilding and arabesques. Under the 
figure of the Virgin was written, in gilt capitals, the 
word " Matutina, " — the name of the vessel, invisible 
just now on account of the darkness. 

Amid the confusion of departure there were thrown 
down in disorder, at the foot of the cliff, the goods 
which the voyagers were to take with them, and which, 
by means of the plank serving as a bridge across, were 
being passed rapidly from the shore to the boat. Bags 
of biscuit, a cask of fish, a case of portable soup, three 
barrels (one of fresh water, one of malt, one of tar), four 
or five bottles of ale, an old portmanteau buckled up by 
straps, trunks, boxes, a ball of tow for torches and 
signals, — such was the lading. These ragged people had 
valises, which seemed to indicate a roving life. Wan- 
dering rascals are obliged to own something ; at times 
they would prefer to fly away like the birds, but they 
cannot do so without abandoning the means of earning 
a livelihood. They necessarily possess boxes of tools 
and instruments of labour, whatever their trade may be. 
Those of whom we speak were taking their baggage with 
them. No time was lost ; there was one continued pas- 
sing to and fro from the shore to the vessel, and from 
the vessel to the shore. Each one did his share of the 
work ; one carried a bag, another a chest. Those of the 
promiscuous company who were possibly or probably 
women, worked like the rest. They overloaded the child. 



50 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

It was doubtful if the child's father or mother were 
in the group, for no sign of interest was vouchsafed 
him. They made him work ; but that was all. He 
appeared not a child in a family, but a slave in a tribe. 
He waited on every one, and no one even spoke to him. 
Still he laboured diligently, and like all the other 
members of this strange party he seemed to have but one 
thought, — to embark as quickly as possible. Did he 
know why ? Probably not ; he hurried mechanically be- 
cause he saw the others hurry. 

The stowing of the cargo in the hold was soon fin- 
ished, and the moment to put off arrived. The last case 
had been carried over the gangway, and nothing was 
left on shore but the men. The two persons in the 
group who seemed to be women were already on board ; 
six persons, the child among them, were still on the low 
platform of the cliff. Preparations for immediate de- 
parture were apparent on the vessel ; the captain seized 
the helm, a sailor took up an axe to cut the hawser : to 
cut is an evidence of haste ; when there is time it is 
unknotted. 

" Andamos, " said, in a low voice, he who appeared to 
be chief of the six, and who had the spangles on his tat- 
tered clothes. The child rushed towards the plank in 
order to be the first aboard. As he placed his foot on 
it, two of the men hurried by, at the risk of throwing 
him into the water, got in before him, and passed on ; 
the fourth drove him back with his fist, and followed 
the third ; the fifth, who was the chief, bounded into 
rather than sprang aboard the vessel, and as he jumped 
in kicked the plank, which fell into the sea ; a stroke of 
the hatchet cut the moorings, the helm was put up, the 
vessel left the shore, and the child remained on land. 



CHAPTER III. 

ALONE. 

THE child remained motionless on the rock, with his 
eyes fixed ; no calling out, no appeal. Though 
this was unexpected by him, he uttered not a word. 
The same silence reigned in the vessel. No cry from 
the child to the men ; no farewell from the men to the 
child. There was on both sides a mute acceptance of 
the widening distance between them. It was like a 
separation of ghosts on the banks of the Styx. The 
child, as if nailed to the rock, up which the tide was be- 
ginning to creep, watched the departing bark. It seemed 
as if he realized his position. What did he realize ? 
Darkness. 

A moment more, and the vessel had reached the mouth 
of the creek, and entered it. Against the clear sky the 
masthead was visible, rising above the split blocks be- 
tween which the strait wound as between two walls. 
Then it was seen no more ; all was over ; the bark had 
reached the sea. 

The child watched its disappearance; he was aston- 
ished but thoughtful. His stupefaction was increased 
by a sense of the grim reality of existence. It seemed 
as if there were experience in this youthful being. Did 
he, perchance, already exercise judgment? Experience 
coming too early constructs, sometimes, in the depths of 
a child's mind some dangerous balance, in which the 
poor little soul weighs God. Feeling himself innocent. 



52 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

he submitted. There was no complaint; the irreproach- 
-able does not reproach. His rough expulsion drew from 
him no sign ; he suffered a sort of internal stiffening. 
The child did not bow under this sudden blow of fate, 
which seemed to put an end to his existence ere it had 
well begun ; he received the thunderstroke standing. It 
would have been evident to any one who could have 
seen his astonishment unmixed with dejection, that, in 
the group which abandoned him, there was no one who 
loved him, and no one whom he loved. 

Brooding, the child forgot the cold. Suddenly the 
wave wetted his feet, — the tide was flowing ; a gust 
passed through his hair, — the north wind was rising. 
He shivered. There came over him, from head to foot, 
the shudder of awakening. He glanced about him. He 
was alone. Up to this time there had never existed for 
him any other men than those who were now in the 
hooker, — those men who had just stolen away. Strange 
to say, those men, the only ones he knew, were really 
strangers to him. He could not have told who they 
were. His childhood had been passed among them, 
without his having the consciousness of being one of 
them. He was in juxtaposition to them, nothing more. 
He had just been forgotten by them. He had no money 
about him, no shoes on his feet, scarcely a garment on 
his body, not even a piece of bread in his pocket. It 
was winter ; it was night. It would be necessary to 
walk several miles before a human habitation could be 
reached. He did not know where he was. He knew 
nothing, unless it was that those who had come with 
him to the brink of the sea had gone away without him. 
He felt himself put outside the pale of life. He felt 
that man had failed him. He was ten years old. 

The child was in a desert, between heights from 
which he saw the night descending, and depths where 



ALONE. 53 

he heard the waves murmuring. He stretched out his 
little thin arms and yawned. Then, suddenly, with 
the agility of a squirrel, or perhaps of an acrobat, he 
turned his back on the creek, and set to work to climb 
the clifit'. He escaladed the path, left it, then returned 
to it, quick and venturesome. He was hurrying inland, 
as though he had a destination marked out ; nevertheless 
he was going nowhere. He hastened on without an ob- 
ject, — a fugitive before Fate. To climb is the function 
of a man ; to crawl is that of an animal ; he did both. 

As the clifi's of Portland face southward, there was 
scarcely any snow on the path ; the intensity of cold 
had, however, frozen that snow into dust very trouble- 
some to the walker. The child freed himself of it. 
His jacket, which was much too big for him, compli- 
cated matters, and got in his way. Now and then on 
an overhanging crag or in a declivity he came upon a 
little ice, which caused him to slip. Then, after hang- 
ing some moments over a precipice, he would catch hold 
of a dry branch or projecting stone. Once he came on 
a vein of slate, which suddenly gave way under him, 
letting him down with it. Crumbling slate is treach- 
erous. For some seconds the child slid like a tile on a 
roof ; he rolled to the extreme edge of the chasm ; a tuft 
of grass which he clutched at the right moment saved 
him. He was as mute on the verge of the abyss as he 
had been in the company of the men ; he gathered him- 
self up and re-ascended silently. The slope was steep ; 
so he had to zig-zag in ascending. The precipice seemed 
to grow in the darkness, and the summit to recede far- 
ther and farther in proportion as the child ascended; 
but at last he reached the top. He had scarcely set foot 
on the summit when he began to shiver. The wind 
cut his face like a whip-lash, for the bitter northwester 
was blowing. He tightened his rough sailor's jacket 



54 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

about his chest. It was a good coat, called in ship- 
language a " sou '-wester, " because made of a sort of stuff 
that allows little of the south-westerly rain to penetrate. 

The child, having gained the table -land, stopped, 
planted his feet firmly on the frozen ground and looked 
about him. Behind him was the sea; in front the land; 
above, the sky, — but a sky without stars ; an opaque 
mist hid the zenith. On reaching the summit of the 
rocky wall he found himself facing the interior, and he 
gazed at it attentively. It stretched before him far as 
the eye could reach, flat, frozen, and covered with snow. 
A few tufts of heather shivered in the wind. No roads 
were visible, — no dwelling, not even a shepherd's cot. 
Here and there, pale, spiral vortices might be seen, 
which were whirls of fine snow, snatched from the 
ground by the wind and blown away. Successive un- 
dulations of ground suddenly became misty and disap- 
peared from view. The great dull plains were lost in 
the white fog. A deep silence reigned, far-reaching as 
infinity, hushed as the tomb. 

The child turned again towards the sea. The sea, 
like the land, was white, — the one with snow, the other 
with foam. There is nothing so melancholy as the light 
produced by this double whiteness. The sea was like 
steel, the cliff like ebony. From the height where the 
child was, the bay of Portland appeared almost like a 
geographical map in a semicircle of hills. There was 
something dreamlike in that nocturnal landscape, — a 
wan disk belted by a dark crescent; the moon some- 
times has a similar appearance. From cape to cape, 
along the whole coast, not a single spark indicated a 
hearth with a fire; not a lighted window, not an in- 
habited house, was to be seen. On earth as in heaven 
there was no light, — not a lamp below, not a star above. 
Here and there came sudden elevations in the broad ex- 



., The Storm. 

Photogravure by Goupil et Cie. — From Painting 
by Emile Vernier. 




Pi-U,tf,ar Ent.lr Vr, 



ALONE. 55 

panse of water, as the wind disturbed and wrinkled the 
vast sheet. The hooker was still visible in the bay, 
looking like a black triangle gliding over the water. 
The " Matutiua " was making rapid headway ; she seemed 
to grow smaller every minute. Nothing can compare 
in rapidity with the ilight of a vessel disappearing in 
the distance. Suddenly she lighted the lantern at her 
prow. Probably the darkness closing in around her 
made those on board uneasy, and the pilot thought it 
necessary to throw light on the waves. This luminous 
point, a spark seen from afar, clung like a spectral light 
to the tall black form. 

There was a storm in the air ; the child took no notice 
of it, but a sailor would have trembled. It was one of 
those moments when it seems as if the elements were 
changing into persons, and that one was about to wit- 
ness the mysterious transformation of the wind into the 
windgod. The sea becomes Ocean ; its power reveals 
itself as Will : hence the terror. The soul of man fears 
to be thus confronted with the soul of Nature. Chaos 
was about to appear. The wind rolled back the fog, 
and making a stage of the clouds behind set the scene 
for that fearful drama of wave and winter, which is 
called a snow-storm. Vessels putting back hove in 
sight. For some minutes past the roads had no longer 
been deserted ; every moment anxious barks hastening 
towards an anchorage appeared from behind the capes ; 
some were doubling Portland Bill, the others St. Alban's 
Head. From afar ships were running in. It was a race 
for life. Southwards the darkness had thickened, and 
clouds full of menace bordered the sea. The weight of 
the tempest hanging overhead made a dreary lull on the 
waves. It certainly was no time to set sail. 

Yet the hooker had sailed. She was steering due 
south. She was already out of the gulf, and in the 



56 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

open sea. Suddenly there came a gust of wind. The 
" Matutina, " which was still clearly in sight, put on all 
sail, as if resolved to profit by the hurricane. It was 
the nor'-wester, a wind sullen and angry. Its weight 
was felt instantly. The hooker, caught broadside on, 
stagrsered, but recovering held her course to sea. This 
indicated a flight rather than a voyage, less fear of sea 
than of land, and greater dread of pursuit from man than 
from the wind. The hooker, passing through every de- 
gree of diminution, sank into the horizon. The little 
star which she carried paled into shadow, then disap- 
peared, — this time for good and all. 

At least the child seemed to understand it so, for he 
ceased to look at the sea. His gaze reverted to the 
plains, the moor, the hills, where it might be possible 
to find some living creature. Towards this unknown 
region he now directed his steps. 



CHAPTEE IV. 

QUESTIONS. 

WHAT kind of a band was it that had left the 
child behind in its flight. Were those fugitives 
Comprachicos ? 

We have already noted the measures taken by William 
III., and passed by Parliament against the malefac- 
tors, male and female, called Comprachicos, othervv^ise 
Comprapequenos, otherwise Cheylas. There are laws 
which scatter people to the four corners of the earth. 
The law enacted against the Comprachicos determined, 
not only the Comprachicos, but vagabonds of all sorts 
on a general flight. It was the devil take the hind- 
most. A large number of Comprachicos returned to 
Spain, many of them, as we have said, being Basques. 
The law for the protection of children had at first this 
strange result, — it caused many children to be aban- 
doned. The immediate effect of the penal statute was 
to produce a crowd of children, found, or rather lost. 
The reason is evident. Every wandering gang contain- 
ing a child was liable to suspicion. The mere fact of 
the child's presence was in itself a denunciation. " They 
are probably Comprachicos. " This was the very first 
idea of the sheriff, of the bailiff, and of the constable. 
Hence arrest and inquiry. People simply unfortunate, 
reduced to wander and to beg, were seized with a terror 
of being taken for Comprachicos, although they were 



58 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

nothing of the kind ; for the weak have grave fears of 
possible errors in justice. Besides, these vagabonds are 
very easily scared. 

The charge against the Comprachicos was that they 
traded in other people's children. But the promiscu- 
ousuess caused by poverty and indigence is such that at 
times it might have been difficult for a father and 
mother to prove a child their own. How came you by 
this child ? How were they to prove that they had 
received it from God ? The child became a danger : 
they got rid of it ; to fly unencumbered was easier. The 
parents resolved to leave it, — now in a wood, now on 
a beach, now down a well. Many children were found 
drowned in cisterns. 

Let us add that in imitation of England all Europe 
henceforth hunted down the Comprachicos. The im- 
pulse of pursuit was given. There is nothing like bell- 
ing the cat. From that time on the desire to capture 
Comprachicos caused much rivalry between the police of 
the different countries, and the alguazil was no less 
watchful than the constable. 

One could still see, twenty-three years ago, on a stone 
of the gate of Otero, an untranslatable inscription, — 
the words of the code outraging propriety. In it, how- 
ever, the difference which existed between the buyers 
and kidnappers of children is very strongly marked. 
Here is part of the inscription in somewhat rough Cas- 
tilian : " Aqui quedan las orejas de los Comprachicos, 
y las bolsas de los robaniiios, mientras que se van ellos 
al trabajo de mar." The confiscation of ears, etc., did 
not prevent their owners from going to the galleys. 
Hence ensued a general rout among all vagabonds. 
They started frightened ; they arrived trembling. On 
every shore in Europe their furtive advent was closely 
watched. It was impossible for such a band to em- 



QUESTIONS. 59 

bark with a child, since to disembark with one was so 
dangerous. To lose the child was a much easier matter. 

And this child, of whom we first caught a glimpse in 
the shadow of the Portland cliffs, by whom had he been 
abandoned ? To all appearance by Comprachicos. 



I 



CHAPTEE V. 

THE TEEE OF HUMAN INVENTION. 

T was about seven o'clock in the evening. The wind 
was diminishing, — a sign, however, of a violent 
recurrence later on. The child was on the table-land at 
the extreme south end of Portland. 

Portland is a peninsula ; but the child did not know 
what a peninsula was, and had never even heard the 
name of Portland. He knew only one thing ; that was 
that one could walk until one drops. An idea is a 
guide ; but he had no idea. They had brought him 
there, and left him there. They and there. These two 
enigmas represented his doom. They were humankind ; 
there was the universe. For him in all creation there 
was absolutely no basis to rest upon but the little piece 
of hard, frozen ground where he set his naked feet. In 
the great twilight world, open on all sides, what was 
there for him ? Nothing. Around him was the vast- 
ness of human desertion. 

The child crossed the first plateau diagonally, then 
a second, then a third. At the end of each plateau 
the child came to a break in the ground. The slope 
was sometimes steep, but always short ; the high, 
bare plains of Portland resemble great flagstones over- 
lapping one another. The south side seems to enter 
under the protruding slab, the north side laps over the 
next one ; this made ascents, which the child stepped 
over nimbly. From time to time he stopped, and seemed 



THE TREE OF HUMAN INVENTION. Gl 

to hold counsel with himself. The night was becoming 
very dark ; his radius of sight was contracting. He 
could now see only a few steps before him. Suddenly 
he stopped and listened for an instant ; then with an al- 
most imperceptible nod of satisfaction he turned quickly 
and directed his steps towards an eminence of moderate 
height, which he dimly perceived on his right, at the 
end of the plain nearest the cliff. There was on the 
eminence a shape which in the mist looked like a tree. 
The child had just heard a noise in this direction, which 
was neither the noise of the wind nor of the sea ; nor 
was it the cry of an animal. He thought that some one 
was there, and a few strides brought him to the foot of 
the hillock. 

Some one was there. That which had been indistinct 
on the top of the eminence was now plainly visible. It 
looked something like a great arm thrust straight out of 
the ground ; at the upper extremity of the arm a sort of 
forefinger, supported from beneath by the thumb, pointed 
out horizontally ; the arm, the thumb, and the forefinger 
formed a triangle against the sky. At the point of junc- 
ture of this peculiar finger and this peculiar thumb there 
was a line, from which hung something black and 
shapeless. The line moving in the wind sounded like a 
chain. 

This was the noise the child had heard. Seen closely, 
the line proved to be that which the sound indicated, — 
a chain; a single chain cable. By that mysterious law 
which throughout Nature causes appearances to exagger- 
ate realities, the place, the hour, the mist, the mournful 
sea, the angry clouds on the distant horizon, added to 
the effect of this figure, and made it seem enormous. 
The mass appended to the chain presented the appear- 
ance of a huge scabbard. There was a round knot at the 
top, about which the end of the chain was fastened. 



62 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

The scabbard was riven asunder at the lower end, and 
long shreds hung between the rents. A faint breeze 
stirred the chain, and that which was appended to it 
swayed gently to and fro. 

It was altogether an object to inspire indescribable 
dread. Horror, which disproportions everything, in- 
creased its dimensions, without changing its shape. It 
was a condensation of darkness into a definite form. 
Twilight and moon- rise, stars setting behind the cliff, 
the clouds and winds, seemed to have entered into the 
composition of this visible nonentity. The sort of log 
hanging in the wind partook of the impersonality dif- 
fused over sea and sky, and the darkness completed this 
phase of the thing which had once been man. I-t was 
that no longer. 

To be naught but a remainder ! — such a thing it is 
beyond the power of language to express. To exist no 
more, yet to persist in existing; to be in the dread 
abyss, yet out of it; to reappear after death as if indis- 
soluble, — all this makes it inexpressible. There is a 
certain amount of impossibility mixed with such a real- 
ity. This being, — was it a being? This black witness 
was a remainder, and an awful remainder. A remainder 
of what ? Of Nature first, and then of society ; zero, and 
yet total. The wild inclemency of the weather held it 
at its will ; the deep oblivion of solitude environed it. 
It was given up to unknown chances ; it was without 
defence against the darkness, which did with it what it 
willed. It was forever the patient ; it submitted ; the 
hurricane (that ghastly conflict of winds) was upon it. 
The spectre was given over to pillage. It underwent the 
horrible outrage of rotting in the open air; it was an 
outlaw of the tomb. There was no peace for it even in 
annihilation ; in the summer it fell away into dust, in 
the winter into mud. Death should be veiled, the grave 



THE TREE OF HUMAN INVENTION. 63 

should have its reserve. Here was neither veil nor re- 
serve, but cynically avowed putrefaction. It is effron- 
tery in death to display its work ; it offends all the 
calmness of shadow when it does its task outside its 
laboratory, the grave. 

This dead thing had been stripped. To strip one 
already stripped, — relentless act ! His marrow was no 
longer in his bones ; his entrails were no longer in his 
body ; his voice was no longer in his throat. A corpse 
is a pocket which death turns inside out, and empties. 
If he ever was an I, where was that I ? There still, 
perchance ; and this was fearful to think of. Something 
wandering about something in chains, — can one imag- 
ine a more mournful lineament in the darkness ? 

Eealities exist here below which serve as issues to the 
unknown, which seem to facilitate the egress of specula- 
tion, and at which hypothesis snatches. Conjecture has 
its compelle infrare. In passing by certain places and 
before certain objects one cannot help stopping, — a prey 
to dreams into the realms of which the mind enters. In 
the invisible there are dark portals ajar. No one could 
have met this dead man without meditating. In the 
vastness of dispersion he was wearing silently away. 
He had had blood which had been drunk, skin which 
had been eaten, flesh which had been stolen. Nothing 
had passed him by without taking somewhat from him. 
December had borrowed cold of him ; midnight, horror ; 
the iron, rust ; the plague, miasma ; the flowers, per- 
fume. His slow disintegration was a toll paid to all, 
— a toll of the corpse to the storm, to the rain, to the 
dew, to the reptiles, to the birds. All the dark hands 
of night had rifled the dead. He was, indeed, an inex- 
pressibly strange tenant, — a tenant of the darkness. He 
was on a plain and on a hill, and he was not ; he was 
palpable, yet vanished ; he was a shadow accruing to the 



64 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

night. After the disappearance of day into the vast of 
silent obscurity, he became in lugubrious accord with 
all around him ; by his mere presence he increased the 
gloom of the tempest and the calm of the stars. The 
unutterable which is in the desert was condensed in 
him ; waif of an unknown fate, he commingled with all 
the wild secrets of the night. Tliere was in his mys- 
tery a vague reverberation of all enigmas ; about him 
life seemed sinking to its lowest depths ; certainty and 
confidence appeared to diminish in his environs. The 
shiver of the brushwood and the grass, a desolate melan- 
choly, an anxiety in which a conscience seemed to lurk, 
appropriated with tragic force the whole landscape to 
that black figure suspended by the chain. The pres- 
ence of a spectre in the horizon is an aggravation of 
solitude. 

This spectre was a Sign. Having unappeasable winds 
around him, he was implacable. Perpetual shuddering 
made him terrible. Fearful to say, he seemed to be a 
centre in space, with something immense leaning on 
him, — perhaps that equity, half seen and set at defi- 
ance, which transcends human justice. There was in 
his unburied continuance the vengeance of men and his 
own vengeance. He was a testimony in the twilight 
and the waste ; he was in himself a disquieting sub- 
stance, since we tremble before the substance which is 
the ruined habitation of the soul. For dead matter to 
trouble us, it must once have been tenanted by spirit. 
He denounced the law of earth to the law of heaven. 
Placed there by man, he there awaited God. Above him 
floated, blended with all the vague distortions of the 
cloud and the wave, boundless dreams of shadow. 

Who could tell what sinister mysteries lurked behind 
this phantom ? The illimitable circumscribed by naught 
— nor tree, nor roof, nor passer-by — was around the 



THE TREE OF HUMAN INVENTION. 65 

dead man. When the unchangeable broods over us, 
when heaven, the abyss, the life, grave, and eternity- 
appear patent, tlien it is we feel that all is inacces- 
sible, all is forbidden, all is sealed. When infinity 
opens to us, terrible indeed is the closing of the gate 
behind. 



VOL. XIX. — 5 



CHAPTER VI. 

STRUGGLE BETWEEN DEATH AND NIGHT. 

THE child stood before this thing with staring eyes, 
dumb and wondering. To a man it would have 
been a gibbet; to the child it was an apparition. Where 
a man would have seen a corpse, the child saw a spectre. 
Besides, he did not understand. 

The attractions of mysterious horrors are manifold. 
There was one on the summit of that hill. The child 
took one step, then another ; he ascended, wishing all 
the while to descend; and he approached, wishing all 
the while to retreat. When he got close under the gib- 
bet, he looked up and examined the spectre. It was 
tarred, and here and there it shone. The child could 
distinguish the face. That too was coated with pitch ; 
and this mask, which appeared viscous and sticky, 
varied its aspect even in the night shadows. The child 
saw the mouth, which was a hole ; the nose, which was 
a hole ; the eyes, which were holes. 

The body was wrapped, and apparently corded up, in 
coarse canvas, soaked in naphtha. The canvas was 
mouldy and torn. A knee protruded through it ; a rent 
disclosed the ribs. The face was the colour of earth ; 
slugs, wandering over it, had traced across it vague 
ribbons of silver. The skull, cracked and fractured, 
gaped like a huge rotten apple. The teeth were still 
human, for they retained a laugh ; the remains of a cry 
seemed to linger in the open mouth. There were a few 



STRUGGLE BETWEEN DEATH AND NIGHT. 67 

hairs of beard on tlie cheek. The inclined head had an 
air of attention. Some repairs had recently been made ; 
the face had been tarred afresh, as well as the ribs and 
the knee which protruded from the canvas. The feet 
hung out below. Just underneath, in the grass, were 
two shoes, which snow and rain had rendered shapeless. 
These shoes had fallen from the dead man's feet. The 
barefooted child looked at the shoes. 

The wind, which had become more and more restless, 
was now and then interrupted by those pauses which 
foretell the approach of a storm. For the last few min- 
utes it had altogether ceased to blow. The corpse no 
longer stirred ; the chain was as motionless as a plumb 
line. Like all new-comers into life, and taking into 
account the peculiar influences of his fate, the child no 
doubt felt within him that awakening of ideas charac- 
teristic of early years, which endeavours to open the 
brain and which resembles the pecking of the young 
bird in the egg. But all that there was in his little 
consciousness just then was resolved into stupor. Ex- 
cess of sensation has the effect of too much oil, and ends 
by putting out thought. A man would have put himself 
questions ; the child put himself none ; he only looked. 
The tar gave the face a wet appearance ; drops of pitch, 
congealed in what had once, been the eyes, produced the 
effect of tears. However, thanks to the pitch, the rav- 
ages of death, if not annulled, had been greatly retarded. 
That which hung before the child was a thing of which 
great care was taken. The man was evidently precious ; 
and though they had not cared to keep him alive, they 
had cared to preserve him dead. The gibbet was old 
and worm-eaten, although strong, and had been in use 
many years. 

It was the custom in England to tar smugglers. 
They were hanged on the seaboard, coated over with 



68 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

pitch an left swinging. Examples must be made in 
public, and tarred examples last longest. The tar was 
a fine thing ; by renewing it they were spared the neces- 
sity of making too many fresh examples. In those days 
they placed gibbets from point to point along the. coast, 
as nowadays they do beacons. The hanged man did 
duty as a lantern. After his fashion, he guided his 
comrades, the smugglers, who from far out at sea per- 
ceived the gibbets. There is one, first warning ; another, 
second warning. It did not however stop smuggling; 
but public order is made up of such things. The fashion 
lasted in England up to the beginning of the present 
century. In 1822 three men could still be seen hanging 
in front of Dover Castle. But, for that matter, the pre- 
serving process was employed not with smugglers alone. 
England treated robbers, incendiaries, and murderers in 
the same way. Jack Painter, who set fire to the govern- 
ment storehouses at Portsmouth, was hanged and tarred 
in 1776. L'Abbd Coyer, who calls him Jean le Peintre, 
saw him in 1777 ; Jack Painter was still hanging above 
the ruin he had made, and was re-tarred from time to 
time. His corpse lasted (I had almost said lived) nearly 
fourteen years. It was still doing good service in 1788 ; 
in 1790, however, they were obliged to replace it by 
another. The Egyptians used to value the mummy of 
the king; a plebeian mummy can also be of service, 
it seems. 

The wind, having great power on the hill, had cleared 
it of all snow. Herbage was now reappearing on it, 
interspersed here and there with a few thistles ; the hill 
was covered with that close, short grass which grows by 
the sea, and makes the tops of cliffs resemble green 
cloth. Under the gibbet, on the very spot over which 
hung the feet of the executed criminal, was a long thick 
tuft, uncommon on such poor soil. Corpses, crumbling 



STRUGGLE BETWEEN DEATH AND NIGHT. 69 

there for centuries past, accounted for the beauty of the 
grass. Earth feeds on man. 

A dreary fascination hekl the child spell-bound. He 
only dropped his head a moment when a nettle, which 
felt like an insect, stung his leg; then he looked up 
again, — looked up at the face which was looking down 
on him. It appeared to regard him the more steadfastly 
because it had no eyes. It was a comprehensive glance, 
having an indescribable fixedness, in which there was 
both light and darkness, and which emanated from the 
skull and teeth as well as from the empty arches of the 
brow. The whole head of a dead man seems to have 
vision, and this is awful ; no eyeball, yet we feel that 
we are being looked at. 

Little by little the child himself was becoming petri- 
fied. He no longer moved. A deadly torpor was steal- 
ing over him. He did not even perceive that he was 
losing consciousness, though he was becoming benumbed 
and lifeless. Winter was silently delivering him over 
to night. There is something of the traitor in winter. 
The child was all but a statue. The coldness of stone 
was penetrating his bones ; darkness, that insidious rep- 
tile, was creeping over him. The drowsiness resulting 
from snow steals over one like a dim tide. The child 
was being slowly invaded by a stagnation resembling 
that of the corpse. He ^yas on the point of falling 
under the gibbet. He no longer knew whether he was 
standing upright or not. 

The end always impending, no transition between to 
be and not to be, the return to the crucible, the slip pos- 
sible every minute, — such is life! Another instant, 
and the child and the dead would be victims of the same 
obliteration. 

The spectre seemed to understand this, and not to 
wish it. Suddenly it moved : one would have said it 



70 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

was warning the child. The wind was beginning to 
blow again. Nothing stranger than this dead man in 
motion could be conceived of. The corpse at the end of 
the chain, swayed by the invisible gust, assumed an 
oblique position ; rose on the left, then fell back ; re- 
ascended on the right, and then fell and rose with slow 
and mournful precision. A weird game of see-saw ; it 
seemed as though one saw in the darkness the pendulum 
of the clock of Eternity. 

This continued some time. The child felt himself 
waking up at the sight; for even through his increasing 
numbness he experienced a keen sensation of fear. The 
chain with every oscillation made a creaking sound, 
with hideous regularity. It seemed to take breath, and 
then to resume. This creaking was like the cry of a 
grasshopper. An approaching squall is heralded by 
sudden gusts of wind ; all at once the breeze increased 
into a gale. The corpse quickened its dismal oscilla- 
tions ; it no longer swung, it tossed. The chain, which 
had been creaking, now shrieked; it seemed as if its 
shriek was heard. If it was a call, it was obeyed. 
From the depths of the horizon came a rushing sound : 
it was the sound of wings. 

An incident now occurred, one of the weird incidents 
peculiar to graveyards and solitudes. It was the arrival 
of a flock of ravens. Black flying specks pricked the 
clouds, pierced the mist, increased in size, came nearer, 
all hastening towards the hill and uttering shrill cries. 
It was like the approach of a Legion. The winged ver- 
min of darkness alighted on the gibbet; the child drew 
back in terror. The birds crowded on the gibbet ; not 
one was on the corpse. They were talking among them- 
selves ; the croaking was frightful. The howl, the 
whistle, and the roar are signs of life ; the croak is a 
pleased announcement of putrefaction ; in it you can 



The Child at the Gallows. 

Etched by H. Lefort.-From Drawing- 
hy Francois FJameng-. 



STRUGGLE BETWEEN DEATH AND NIGHT. 71 

fancy you hear the grave speak. The child was even 
more overcome with terror than with cold. 

Then the ravens were silent. Finally one of them 
flew down upon the skeleton. This was the signal : 
they all precipitated themselves upon it. There was a 
cloud of wings, then their ranks closed up, and the 
skeleton disappeared under a swarm of black objects 
struggling in the darkness. Just then the corpse moved. 
Was it the corpse, or was it the wind ? It made a 
frightful bound. The hurricane, which was increasing, 
came to its aid. The skeleton fell into convulsions. 
The squall, already blowing fiercely, seized hold of it, 
and dashed it about in all directions. It became horri- 
ble ; it began to struggle, — an awful puppet, with a 
gallows' chain for a string. It seemed as if some one 
had seized the string, and was playing with the mummy ; 
it leaped about as if it would fain dislocate itself. The 
birds frightened, flew off; it was as if an explosion had 
scattered the unclean creatures. Then they returned and 
a fresh struggle began. 

The dead man seemed endowed with hideous vitality. 
The winds lifted him as though they meant to carry him 
away. He seemed to be struggling and to be making 
efforts to escape, but his iron collar held him fast. The 
birds adapted themselves to all his movements, retreat- 
ing, then striking again, — . scared but desperate. The 
corpse, moved by every gust of the wind, had shocks, 
starts, fits of rage : it went, it came, it rose, it fell, 
driving bnck the scattered swarm. The fierce, assailing 
flock would not let go their hold, and grew stubborn ; 
the spectre, as if maddened by their attacks, redoubled 
its blind chastisement of space. At times the corpse 
was covered by talons and wings ; then it was free. 
There were disappearances of the horde; then sudden 
furious returns. The birds seemed frenzied. Thrust- 



72 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

ing of claws, thrusting of beaks, croakiugs, rendings of 
shreds which were no longer flesh, creakings of the gib- 
bet, shudderings of the skeleton, rattlings of the chain, 
the voices of the storm and tumult, — what conflict more 
fearful ? A hobgoblin warring with devils, a combat 
with a spectre ! 

At times, the storm redoubling its violence, the 
hanged man revolved as if upon a pivot, turning every- 
way at once, as if trying to run after the birds. The 
wind was on his side, the chain against him. It was as 
if dark-skinned deities were mixing themselves up in 
the fray. The hurricane took part in the battle. As 
the dead man turned himself about, the flock of birds 
wound round him spirally. It was a whirl in a whirl- 
wind. A great roar was heard from below, — it was the 
sea. 

As the child was gazing at this nightmare, he sud- 
denly trembled in every limb ; a shiver traversed his 
frame ; he staggered, tottered, nearly fell ; recovered 
himself, pressed both hands to his forehead, as if he 
felt his forehead a support. Then, with hair streaming 
in the wind, he descended the hill with long strides, 
his eyes closed, himself almost a phantom, leaving that 
horror of the night behind him. 



CHAPTEK VII. 

THE NORTH POINT OF PORTLAND. 

THE child ran until he was breathless, at random, 
desperate, over the plain into the snow, into space. 
His flight warmed him. He needed it. Without the 
run and the fright he would have died. When his 
breath failed him, he stopped, but he dared not look 
back. He fancied that the birds would pursue him, 
that the dead man had undone his chain and was per- 
haps hurrying after him, that possibly the very gibbet 
itself was descending the hill, running after the dead 
man ; he feared that he should see these things if he 
turned his head. When he had somewhat recovered his 
breath, he resumed his flight. 

To account for facts does not belong to childhood. 
This child had received impressions which were magni- 
fied by terror, but he did not link them together in his 
mind, nor form any conclusion on them. He was going 
on., no matter how or where ; he ran in agony and diffi- 
culty as one in a dream. During the three hours or so 
since he had been deserted, his onward progress, still 
vague, had changed in character. At first it was a 
search ; now it was a flight. He was no longer con- 
scious of hunger or cold ; he felt only fear. One instinct 
had given place to another. To escape was now his one 
desire, — to escape. From what ? From everything. 
On all sides life seemed to enclose him like a horrible 
wall. If he could have fled from everything, he would 



74 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

have done so. But children know nothing of that 
breaking from prison which is called suicide. He was 
running; he ran on for an indefinite time. But fear 
dies with lack of breath. 

All at once, as if seized by a sudden accession of en- 
ergy and intelligence, he stopped. One would have said 
he was ashamed of running away. He drew himself up, 
stamped his foot, and with head erect looked round him. 
There was no hill, no gibbet, no flying crows visible 
now. The fog had resumed possession of the horizon. 
The child continued his way ; but now he no longer ran, 
but walked. To say that this meeting with a corpse 
had made a man of him was not far from the truth. 
The gibbet which had so terrified him still seemed to 
him an apparition ; but terror overcome is strength 
gained, and he felt himself stronger. Had he been of 
an age to probe self, he would have discovered a thou- 
sand other germs of meditation ; but the reflection of 
children is shapeless, and the most they feel is the bit- 
ter aftertaste of that which, obscure to them, the man 
later on calls indignation. Let us add that a child has 
the faculty of promptly accepting the conclusions of a 
sensation ; the distant boundaries which amplify painful 
subjects escape him. A child is protected by the very 
limit of his understanding from emotions which are too 
complex. He sees the fact, and little else. The diffi- 
culty of being satisfied with half-formed ideas does not 
exist so far as he is concerned. It is not until later 
that experience comes, with its brief, to conduct the 
lawsuit of life. Then he confronts groups of facts which 
have crossed his path ; the understanding, cultivated 
and enlarged, draws comparisons ; the memories of youth 
reappear like the traces of a palimpsest after erasure; 
these memories form the bases of logic, and that which 
was a vision in the child's brain becomes a syllogism in 



THE NORTH POINT OF PORTLAND. 75 

the man's. Experience is varied, however, and leads to 
good or evil according to natural disposition. 

The child had run quite a quarter of a league, and 
walked another quarter, when suddenly he felt the crav- 
ings of hunger. A thought which altogether eclipsed 
the hideous apparition on the hill occurred to him, — 
that he must eat. Happily there are in man brute 
instincts wliich serve to lead him back to reality. 
But what to eat, where to eat, how to eat ? He felt 
in his pockets mechanically, well knowing that they 
were empty. Then he quickened his pace, without 
knowing whither he was going. He was hastening 
towards a possible shelter. This faith in a shelter is 
one of the convictions rooted by God in man ; to believe 
in a shelter is to believe in God. 

On that snow-clad plain, however, there was nothing 
resembling a roof. Yet the child went on, and the 
waste continued bare as far as eye could reach. There 
had never been a human habitation on the table-land. 
It was at the foot of the cliff, in holes in the rocks, 
that the aboriginal inhabitants had dwelt long ago, — 
men who had slings for weapons, dried cow-dung for 
fuel, for a god the idol Heil standing in a glade at 
Dorchester, and for a trade the fishing of that grey coral 
which the Gauls called plin, and the Greeks Isidis 
plocamos. The child made his way along as best he 
could. Destiny is made up of cross-roads ; an option of 
path is sometimes dangerous. This little creature had 
an early choice of doubtful chances. He continued to 
advance, but although the muscles of his thighs seemed 
to be of steel, he began to tire. There were no tracks 
in the plain, or if there were any the snow had obliter- 
ated them. Instinctively he directed his course east- 
wards. Sharp stones had wounded his heels ; had it 
been daylight, blood-stains might have been seen in tlie 



76 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

foot-prints he left in the snow. He recognized no land- 
marks ; for he was crossing the plain from south to 
north, and it is probable that the band with which he 
had come, to avoid meeting any one, had crossed it from 
east to west. They had probably sailed in some fisher- 
man's or smuggler's boat from a point on the coast of 
Uggescombe (such as St. Catherine's Cape), or Swancry, 
to Portland, to find the hooker which awaited them ; and 
they must have landed in one of the creeks of Weston, 
and re-embarked in one of the creeks of Easton. That 
route intersected the one the child was now following ; 
but it was impossible for him to recognize the road. 

On the plain of Portland there are here and there oc- 
casional strips of elevated land, ending abruptly at the 
shore, where they plunge straight down into the sea. 
The wandering child had now reached one of these cul- 
minating points and stopped on it, hoping that a broader 
view might furnish some helpful indications. He tried 
to see around him. Before him, in place of an horizon, 
was a vast livid opacity. He looked at this attentively, 
and under the intentness of his gaze objects became less 
indistinct. At the base of a distant eminence to the 
eastward (a moving and wan sort of precipice, which re- 
sembled a cliff of the night) crept and floated some dim 
black specks, some mere shreds of vapour. The pale 
opacity was fog, the black shreds were smoke. Where 
there is smoke there must be men. The child turned 
his steps in that direction. He saw some distance off a 
descent, and at the foot of the descent, among shapeless 
conformations of rock, blurred by the mist, what seemed 
to be either a sandbank or a tongue of land, probably 
connecting the plains in the horizon with the table-land 
he had just crossed. It was evident he must pass that 
way. He had, in fact, arrived at the Isthmus of Port- 
land, a diluvian alluvium which is called Cheshil. 



TUE NORTH POINT OF PORTLAND. 77 

The child hegan now to descend the side of the plateau. 
The descent was difficult and rough. It was (with less 
ruggedness, however) the reverse of the ascent he had 
made on leaving the creek. Every ascent is balanced 
by a decline ; after having clambered up, he now crawled 
down. He leaped from one rock to another at the risk 
of a sprain, and at the risk of falling into the vague 
depths below. To save himself when he slipped on the 
rock or on the ice, he caught hold of tufts of weeds and 
furze, thick with thorns, the points of which ran into 
his fingers. Sometimes he came to an easier declivity, 
where he took breath as he descended ; then came to a 
precipice again, where each step was fraught with peril. 
In descending precipices every movement is a problem. 
One must be skilful under penalty of death. These 
problems the child solved with an instinct which would 
have won him the admiration of apes and mountebanks. 
The descent was steep and long. Nevertheless he was 
nearing the Isthmus, of which from time to time he 
caught a glimpse. Now and then, as he bounded or 
dropped from rock to rock, he pricked up his ears, his 
head erect the while like a listening deer. He was 
hearkening to a diffused and faint uproar, far away to 
the left, like the deep note of a clarion. It was the 
roar of the winds, preceding that fearful northern blast, 
which is heard rushing from the pole, like an invasion 
of trumpets. At the same time the child felt on his 
brow, on his eyes, and on his cheeks something which 
was like the palms of cold hands being placed on his 
face. These were large frozen flakes, sown at first softly 
in space, then eddying wildly and heralding a snow- 
storm. The child was soon covered with them. The 
snow-storm, which for the last hour had been raging 
on the sea, had now reached the land, and was slowly 
invading the plains. 



BOOK II. 
THE HOOKER AT SEA. 



CHAPTEE I. 

SUPERHUMAN LAWS. 

THE snow-storm is one of the greatest mysteries of 
the ocean. It is the most obscure of things mete- 
orological ; obscure in every sense of the word. It is a 
mixture of fog and storm ; and even in our own day we 
cannot well account for the phenomenon. Hence many 
disasters. 

We try to explain all things by the action of wind 
and wave ; yet in the air there is a force which is not 
the wind, and in the waters a force which is not the 
wave. That force, both in the air and in the water, is 
effluvium. Air and water are two nearly identical liq- 
uid masses, entering into the composition of each other 
by condensation and dilatation, so that to breathe is to 
drink. Effluvium alone is fluid. The wind and the 
wave are only impulses; effluvium is a current. The 
wind is visible in clouds, the wave is visible in foam ; 
effluvium is invisible. Erom time to time, however, it 
says, " I am here. " Its " I am here " is a clap of 
thunder. 

The snow-storm offers a problem analogous to the dry 
fog. If the solution of the callina of the Spaniards, and 
the quobar of the Ethiopians be possible, assuredly that 



SUPERHUMAN LAWS. 79 

solution will be achieved by attentive observation of 
magnetic effluvium. 

But for effluvium a host of circumstances would remain 
unexplained. Strictly speaking, the changes in the 
velocity of the wind, varying from three feet per second 
to two hundred and twenty feet, would explain the 
variations of the waves rising from three inches in a 
calm sea to thirty-six f6et in a raging one. Strictly 
speaking, the horizontal direction of the winds, even in 
a squall, enables us to understand how it is that a wave 
thirty feet high can be fifteen hundred feet long. But 
why are the waves of the Pacific four times higher near 
America than near Asia ; that is to say, higher in the 
East than in the West ? Why is the contrary true of 
the Atlantic ? Why, at the Equator, are they highest 
in the middle of the sea ? Wherefore these deviations 
in the swell of the ocean ? This is something which 
magnetic effluvium, combined with terrestrial rotation 
and sidereal attraction, can alone explain. 

Is not this mysterious complication needed to explain 
an oscillation of the wind veering, for instance, by the 
west from southeast to northeast, then suddenly return- 
ing in the same great curve from northeast to southeast, 
so as to make in thirty-six hours a prodigious circuit of 
five hundred and sixty degrees ? Such was the preface 
to the snow-storm of March 17, 1867. 

The storm-waves of Australia reach a height of eighty 
feet ; this fact is connected with close proximity of the 
Pole. Storms in those latitudes result less from dis- 
order of the winds than from submarine electrical dis- 
turbances. In the year 1866 the transatlantic cable was 
disturbed at regular intervals in its workings for two 
hours in the twenty-four, — from noon to two o'clock, 
— by a sort of intermittent fever. Certain compositions 
and decompositions of forces produce certain phenomena 



80 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

which force themselves on the calculations of the seaman 
under penalty of shipwreck. The day that navigation, 
now a routine, shall become a branch of mathematics ; the 
day we shall, for instance, seek to know why it is that hot 
winds sometimes come from the north, and cold winds 
from the south ; the day when we shall understand that 
diminutions of temperature are proportionate to oceanic 
depths ; the day when we shall realize that the globe is a 
vast load-stone polarized in immensity, with two axes 
(an axis of rotation, and an axis of effluvium, intersecting 
each other at the centre of the earth), and that the mag- 
netic poles turn the geographical poles ; when those who 
risk life will choose to risk it scientifically ; when the 
captain shall be a meteorologist, and the pilot a chemist, 
— then will many catastrophes be avoided. The sea is 
as magnetic as it is aquatic ; a host of unknown forces 
float in its liquid waves. To behold in the sea only a 
mass of water is not to behold it at all. The sea is an 
ebb and flow of fluid, complicated by magnetic and 
capillary attractions even more than by hurricanes. 
Molecular adhesion manifested among other phenomena 
by capillary attraction, although microscopic, takes in 
the ocean its place in the grandeur of immensity ; and 
the wave of effluvium sometimes aids, sometimes coun- 
teracts, the wave of the air and the wave of the waters. 
He who is ignorant of electric law is ignorant of 
hydraulic law ; for the one intermixes with the other. 
It is true there is no study more difficult nor more ob- 
scure ; it verges on empiricism, just as astronomy verges 
on astrology ; and yet without this study there is no 
such thing as real navigation. Having said this much, 
we will pass on. 

One of the most dangerous components of the sea is 
the snow-storm. The snow-storm is above all things 
magnetic ; the pole produces it as it produces the aurora 






K 



SUPERHUMAN LAWS. 81 

borealis. Storms are the nervous attacks and delirious 
frenzies of the sea. The sea has its ailments. Tem- 
pests may be compared to maladies. Some are fatal, 
others are not; some may be escaped, others cannot. A 
snow-storm is considered extremely dangerous on the 
sea. Jarabija, one of the pilots of Magellan, termed 
it " a cloud issuing from the devil's sore side. " ^ Sur- 
couf said : " II y a du trousse-galant dans cette tempete- 
ia. " The old Spanish navigators called this kind of 
squall, la nevada when it came with snow ; la helada, 
when it came with hail. According to them, bats fell 
from the sky with the snow. Snow-storms are charac- 
teristic of polar latitudes ; nevertheless, at times they 
glide, one might almost say tumble, into our climates. 

The " Matutina, " as we have seen, plunged resolutely 
into the perils of the night, — perils greatly increased by 
the impending storm. She braved them with a sort of 
tragic audacity, for it must be remembered that she had 
received due warning. 

1 Una nube salida del malo lado del diablo. 



VOL. XIX. — 6 



CHAPTER II. 

OUR FIRST ROUGH SKETCHES FILLED IN. 

WHILE the hooker was in the gulf of Portland, 
there was very little sea; the ocean, though 
gloomy, was almost still, and the sky was yet clear. 
The wind was very little felt on the vessel, for the 
hooker hugged the cliff as closely as possible, it serving 
as a screen to her. 

There were ten on board the little Biscayan felucca, 
three men in the crew, and seven passengers, two of 
whom were women. In the light of the open sea (which 
changes twilight into day) all the figures on board were 
clearly visible. Besides, they were not hiding now ; 
they were all at ease ; each one resumed his natural 
manner, spoke in his own voice, showed his face : de- 
parture was to them a deliverance. 

The motley nature of the group was apparent. The 
women were of an uncertain age. A wandering life 
produces premature old age, and indigence is made up 
of wrinkles. One of the women was a Basque of the 
Dry-ports ; the other, with the large rosary, was an Irish 
woman. They wore that air of indifference common to 
the wretched. They had squatted down close to each 
other when they got on board, on chests at the foot of 
the mast. They talked to each other. Irish and Basque 
are, as we have said, kindred languages. The Basque 
woman's hair was scented with onions and basil. The 



OUR FIRST ROUGH SKETCHES FILLED IN. 83 

skipper of the hooker was a Basque of Guipuzcoa. One 
sailor was a Basque from the northern slope of the Pyr- 
enees ; the other was from the southern slope, — that is 
to say, they were of the same race, although the first 
was Trench and the latter Spanish. The Basques ac- 
knowledge no official country. " My mother is called 
the mountain, " ^ as Zalareus, the muleteer, used to say. 
Of the five men on the hooker, one was a Frenchman of 
Languedoc, one a Frenchman of Provence, one a Genoese ; 
one, the old man who wore a sombrero without a hole for 
a pipe, appeared to be a German. The fifth, the chief, 
was a Basque of the Landes from Biscarrosse. It was 
he who had with a kick of his heel cast the plank into 
the sea just as the child v/as going aboard the hooker. 
This man, robust, agile, quick in movement, covered, as 
may be remembered with trimmings, slashings, and glis- 
tening tinsel, could not keep still, but sat down, rose 
up, and continually walked to and fro from one end of 
the vessel to the other, as if debating uneasily on what 
had been done and what was going to happen. 

This chief of the band, the captain, and the two sailors, 
all four Basques, spoke sometimes Basque, sometimes 
Spanish, sometimes French, — these three languages be- 
ing common on both slopes of the Pyrenees. But gener- 
ally speaking, all except the women talked something 
like French, which was the foundation of their slang. 
The French language, about this period, began to be 
chosen by the peoples as a happy medium between the 
excess of consonants in the north and the excess of 
vowels in the south. In Europe, French was the lan- 
guage of commerce, and also of felony. It will be re- 
membered that Gibby, a London thief, understood 
Cartouche. 

The hooker, a fine sailer, was making rapid progress ; 
^ Mi madre se llama Montana. 



84 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

still, ten persons, besides their baggage, were a heavy 
cargo for a vessel of such light draught. 

The fact of the vessel's aiding the escape of a band 
did not necessarily imply that the crew were accom- 
plices. It was sufficient that the captain of the vessel 
was a Yascongado, and that the chief of the band was 
another. Among that race mutual assistance is a duty 
which admits of no exception. A Basque, as we have 
said, is neither Spanish nor French ; he is a Basque, and 
always and everywhere he must succour a Basque. Such 
is Pyrenean fraternity. 

While the hooker was in the gulf, the sky, although 
threatening, did not frown enough to cause the fugitives 
any uneasiness. They were flying swiftly along, they 
were escaping, and they were noisily gay. One laughed, 
another sang ; the laugh was dry but free, the song was 
low but careless. The Languedocian cried, " Caoucagno ! " ^ 
He was a longshore-man, a native of the waterside vil- 
lage of Gruissan, on the southern side of the Clappe, — 
a bargeman rather than a mariner, but accustomed to 
navigate the inlets of Bages, and to draw the drag-net 
full of fish over the salt sands of St. Lucie. He was of 
the race that wears a red cap, makes complicated signs 
of the cross after the Spanish fashion, drinks wine out 
of goat-skins, eats scraped ham, kneels down to blas- 
pheme, and adjures his patron saint with threats : 
" Great saint! grant me what I ask, or I'll throw a stone 
at thy head, — ou U feg un pic ! " He might at need 
prove a useful addition to the crew. 

The Proven(jal in the caboose was punching a turf fire 
under an iron pot, and making broth. The broth was a 
kind of puchero, in which fish took the place of meat, 
and into which the Provencal threw peas, little bits of 
bacon cut in squares, and pods of red pimento, — con- 

1 Cocagne expresses the highest pitch of satisfaction in Narbonne. 



OUR FIRST ROUGH SKETCHES FILLED IN. 85 

cessions made by the eaters of bouillabaisse to the eaters 
of olla podrida. One of the bags of provisions lay be- 
side him unpacked. Over his head he had lighted an 
iron lantern, glazed with talc, which swung on a hook 
from the ceiling ; near it from another hook swung the 
weather-cock halcyon. ^ While he made the broth, the 
Proveu(;al put the neck of a gourd into his mouth, and 
now and then swallowed a draught of aguardiente. It 
was one of those gourds covered with wicker, broad and 
flat, with handles, which used to be hung at the side by 
a strap, and which were then called hip-gourds. Be- 
tween each gulp he mumbled one of those country songs 
about nothing in particular. One needs, to make such 
a song, no more than to see (even in imagination) a hol- 
low road, a hedge ; in a meadow, through a gap in the 
bushes, the shadow of a horse and cart, elongated in 
the sunset, and from time to time, above the hedge, 
the end of a fork loaded with hay appearing and 
disappearing. 

According to the state of one's mind, a departure is 
either a relief or the reverse. All seemed lighter in 
spirits except the old^ man of the party. This old man, 
who looked more German than anything else, although 
he had one of those unfathomable faces in which nation- 
ality is lost, was bald; and he was so grave that his 
baldness might have been a tonsure. Every time he 
passed the Virgin on the prow he raised his felt hat, so 
that you could see the swollen and senile veins of his 
skull. A sort of full gown, torn and threadbare, of 
brown Dorchester serge, half hid his closely fitting coat, 
tight, compact, and hooked up to the neck like a cas- 
sock. His hands seemed inclined to cross each other, as 

^ There was a popular belief in those days that a dead halcyon hung by 
the beak always turned its breast to the quarter whence tlie wind was 
blowing. 



86 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

if habituated to an attitude of prayer. He had what 
might be called a wan countenance ; for the countenance 
is above all things a reflection, and it is an error to be- 
lieve that an idea is colourless. That countenance was 
evidently the reflection of a strange mental state, the 
result of a composition of contradictions, — some tend- 
ing to drift away in good, others in evil ; and to an ob- 
server it was the revelation of one who was less and 
more than human, capable of falling below the scale of 
the tiger or of rising above that of man. Such chaotic 
souls exist. There was something inscrutable in this 
old man's face. In his impassibility, which was per- 
haps only on the surface, there was portrayed a twofold 
petrifaction, — the petrifaction of heart proper to the 
hangman, and the petrifaction of mind proper to the 
mandarin. One might have said (for the monstrous has 
its mode of being complete) that all things were possible 
to him, even emotion. In every savant there is some- 
thing of the corpse, and this man was a savant. One 
saw science imprinted in the gestures of his body and in 
the folds of his dress. His was a fossil face, the serious 
cast of which was counteracted by that wrinkled mobil- 
ity of the polyglot which verges on grimace. But he 
was a severe man withal, — nothing of the hypocrite, 
nothing of the cynic ; a tragic dreamer also. He was 
one of those men whom crime leaves pensive. He had 
the brow of an incendiary tempered by the eyes of an 
archbishop ; his sparse grey locks had turned to white 
over his temples. The Christian was evident in him, 
complicated with the fatalism of the Turk. Chalkstones 
deformed his fingers, which were skeleton-like in their 
thinness. The stiffness of his tall frame was grotesque. 
He had his sea-legs on ; he walked slowly about the 
deck, not looking at any one, with an air at once stern 
and sinister. His eyeballs were filled with the fixed 



OUR FIRST ROUGH SKETCHES FILLED IN. 87 

stare of a soul groping in darkness and afflicted with 
violent compunctions of conscience. From time to time 
the chief of the band, abrupt and alert, and making 
sudden turns about the vessel, came to the old man and 
whispered in his ear. He answered with a nod. It 
might have been the lightning consulting the night. 



CHAPTER III. 

TROUBLED MEN ON THE TROUBLED SEA. 

TWO men on board the craft were absorbed in thought, 
— the old man, and the captain of the hooker, who 
must not be mistaken for the chief of the band. The 
captain was occupied by the sea; the old man by the 
sky. The former did not lift his eyes from the waters ; 
the latter kept close watch of the firmament. The cap- 
tain's anxiety was the state of the sea; the old man 
seemed to distrust the heavens. He scanned the stars 
through every break in the clouds. 

It was the hour when day still lingers, but when a 
few stars begin to pierce the twilight. The horizon was 
singular, the mist upon it varied. A haze predominated 
on land, clouds at sea. The captain, noting the rising 
billows, had everything made taught before he got outside 
Portland Bay. He would not delay so doing until he 
should pass the headland. He examined the rigging 
closely, and satisfied himself that the lower shrouds 
were well set up, and that they supported firmly the fut- 
tock-shrouds, — precautions of a man who means to 
carry a press of sail at all hazards. The hooker was not 
trimmed, being two foot by the head ; this was her weak 
point. The captain passed every minute from the bin- 
nacle to the standard compass, taking the bearings of 
objects on shore. The " Matutina " had at first a wind 
which was not unfavourable, though she could not lie 
within five points of her course. The captain took the 



TROUBLED MEN ON THE TROUBLED SEA. 89 

helm as often as possible, trusting no one but himself to 
prevent her from dropping to leeward, the effect of the 
rudder being influenced by the steerage-way. 

The difference between the true and apparent course 
being considerable, the hooker seemed to lie closer to 
the wind than she really did. The breeze was not 
a-beam,nor was the hooker close-hauled; but one cannot 
ascertain the true course made, except when the wind is 
abaft. When one perceives long streaks of clouds meet- 
ing in a point on the horizon, one may be sure that the 
wind is in that quarter. But this evening the wind was 
variable ; the needle fluctuated. The captain distrusted 
the erratic movements of the vessel. He steered care- 
fully but resolutely, luffed her up, watched her coming- 
to, prevented her from yawing and from running into 
the winds' eye ; noted the leeway, the little jerks of the 
helm ; was observant of every roll and pitch of the ves- 
sel, of the difference in her speed, and of the variable 
gusts of wind. For fear of accidents, he was constantly 
on the lookout for squalls from off the land he was hug- 
ging ; and above all he was cautious to keep her sails 
full, — the indications of the compass being uncertain 
from the small size of the instrument. The captain's 
eyes, frequently lowered, remarked every change in the 
waves. Once, however, he raised them towards the sky, 
and tried to make out the three stars of Orion's belt. 
These stars are called the three magi, and an old proverb 
of the ancient Spanish pilots declares that, " He who 
sees the three magi is not far from the Saviour. " 

This glance of the captain tallied with an aside 
growled out, at the other end of the vessel, by the old 
man : " We don't even see the pointers, nor the star 
Antares, red as he is. Not one of them is visible. " 

No fears troubled the other fugitives. Still, wlien the 
first hilarity they felt at their escape had passed away, 



90 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

they could not help remembering that they were at sea 
iti the month of January, and that the wind was freez- 
ing cold. It was impossible to establish themselves in 
the cabin ; it was much too narrow and too encumbered 
with bales and baggage. The baggage belonged to the 
passengers, the bales to the crew ; for the hooker was 
no pleasure-boat, and was engaged in smuggling. The 
passengers were obliged to remain on deck, a state of 
things to which these wanderers easily resigned them- 
selves. Open-air habits make it easy for vagabonds to 
settle themselves for the night. The open air (la belle 
etoile) is their friend, and the cold helps them to 
sleep, — sometimes to die. But to-night, as we have 
seen, there was no belle etoile. 

The Languedocian and the Genoese, while waiting for 
supper, rolled themselves up near the women, at the 
foot of the mast, in some tarpaulins which the sailors 
had thrown them. The old man remained at the bow 
motionless, and apparently insensible to the cold. The 
captain of the hooker, from the helm where he was 
standing, uttered a sort of guttural call somewhat like 
the cry of the American bird called the Exclaimer. At 
his call the chief of the band drew near, and the cap- 
tain addressed him thus : — 

" Etcheco jalina. " These two words, which mean 
" tiller of the mountain, " form with these old Cantabri 
a solemn preface to any subject which should command 
attention. Then, the captain having pointed the old 
man out to the chief, the dialogue continued in Spanish ; 
though it was not a very correct dialect, being that of 
the mountains. Here are the questions and answers : 

" Etcheco jaiina, que es este hombre ? " 

" Un hombre. " 

" Que lenguas habla ? " 

" Todas. " 



TROUBLED MEN ON THE TROUBLED SEA. 91 

" Que cosas sabe ? " 

" Todas. " 

" Qual pais ? " 

" Ningun, y todos. ' 

" Qual dios ? " 

« Dios. " 

" Como le llamas ? " 

" El tonto. " 

" Como dices que le llamas ? " 

" El sabio. " 

" En vuestre tropa que esta ? " 

" Esta lo que esta. " 

" El gefe ? " 

" No. " 

" Pues que esta ? " 

" La alma. " i 

The chief and the captain parted, each to continue his 
own meditation, and a little while afterwards the 
" Matutina " left the gulf. 



1 " Tiller of the mountain, who is that man f " 
" A man." 

" What tongue does he speak 1 " 
"All." 

" What things does he know 1 " 
" All." 

" What is his country ? " 
" None and all." 
" Who is his God 1 " 
" God." 

" What do you call him ■* " 
" The madman." 

" What do you say you call him 1 " 
"The wise man." 
" In your band, what is he ? " 
"He is what he is." 
" The chief 1 " 
" No." 

" Then what is he 1 " 
" The soul." 



92 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

Now came the great rolling of the open sea. The 
ocean in the spaces between the foam was slimy in ap- 
pearance. The waves seen through the twilight in 
indistinct outline somewhat resembled splashes of gall. 
Here and there a level space between the waves showed 
cracks and stars, like a pane of glass broken by stones ; 
and in the centre of these stars, as in a revolving orifice, 
trembled a phosphorescent gleam, like that feline reflec- 
tion of vanished light which shines in the eyeballs of 
owls. 

Proudly, like a strong, bold swimmer, the " Matu- 
tina " crossed the dangerous Shambles shoal. This 
bank, a hidden obstruction at the entrance of Portland 
roads, is not a barrier but an amphitheatre, its benches 
cut out by the circling of the waves. An arena, round 
and symmetrical, as high as a Jungfrau, only submerged ; 
an oceanic coliseum, seen by the diver in the vision-like 
transparency which ingulfs him, — such is the Shambles 
shoal. There hydras fight, leviathans meet. There, 
says the legend, at the bottom of the gigantic shaft, are 
the wrecks of ships, seized and sunk by the huge Kraken, 
also known as the devil-fish. These spectral realities, 
unknown to man, are indicated at the surface only by a 
slight ripple. 

In this nineteenth century the Shambles bank is in 
ruins ; the breakwater recently constructed has over- 
thrown and mutilated, by the force of its surf, that 
high submarine structure, just as the jetty built at 
the Croisic in 1760 changed, by a quarter of an hour, 
the courses of the tides. And yet the tide is eternal. 
But eternity is more subservient to man than man 
imagines. 



CHAPTER lY. 

A CLOUD DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHERS ENTERS ON 
THE SCENE. 

THE old man whom the chief of the band had called 
first the Madman, then the Sage, now never left 
the forecastle. Since they crossed the Shambles shoal, 
his attention had been divided between the heavens and 
the waters. He looked down, he looked upwards, and 
above all watched the northeast. The captain gave the 
helm to a sailor, stepped over the aft hatchway, crossed 
the gangway, and went on to the forecastle. He ap- 
proached the old man, but not from the front ; he passed 
a little behind him, with elbows resting on his hips, 
with outstretched hands, his head on one side, with open 
eyes and arched eyebrows, and a smile in the corners of 
his mouth, — an attitude of curiosity hesitating between 
mockery and respect. The old man, either because it 
was his habit to talk to himself, or because hearing 
some one behind him incited him to speech, began to 
soliloquize while he looked into space : — 

" The Meridian from which the right ascension is cal- 
culated is marked in this century by four stars, — the 
Polar, Cassiopeia's Chair, Andromeda's Head, and the 
star Algenib, which is in Pegasus. But not one of them 
is visible. " 

These words followed one another mechanically, and 
were scarcely articulated, as if he did not care to pro- 
nounce them. They floated out of his mouth and dis- 
])ersed. Soliloquy is the smoke exhaled by the inmost 
fires of the soul. 



94 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

The captain broke in : " Senor ! " 

The old man, perhaps rather deaf as well as very- 
thoughtful, went on : " Too few stars, and too much 
wind. The breeze continually changes its direction and 
blows inshore ; thence it rises perpendicularly. This 
results from the land being warmer than the water. 
Its atmosphere is lighter. The cold, dense wind of the 
sea rushes in to replace it. From this cause, in the 
upper regions the wind blows towards the land from 
every quarter. It would be advisable to make long tacks 
between the real and apparent parallel. When the lati- 
tude by observation differs from the latitude by dead 
reckoning, by not more than three minutes in thirty 
miles or by four minutes in sixty miles, you are in the 
true course. " 

The captain bowed, but the old man saw him not. 
The latter, who wore what resembled an Oxford or Got- 
tingen university gown, did not relax his haughty and 
rigid attitude. He observed the waters as a critic of 
waves and of men. He studied the billows, but almost 
as if he was about to demand his turn to speak amidst 
their turmoil, and teach them something. There was in 
him both pedagogue and soothsayer. He seemed an ora- 
cle of the deep. He continued his soliloquy, which was 
perhaps intended to be heard : — 

" We might try, if we had a wheel instead of a helm. 
With a speed of twelve miles an hour, a force of twenty 
pounds exerted on the wheel produces three hundred 
thousand pounds' effect on the course. And more, too; 
for in some cases, with a double block and runner, they 
can get two more revolutions. " 

The captain bowed a second time, and said, " Senor ! " 

The old man's eye rested on him; he had turned his 
head without moving his body. " Call me Doctor. " 

" Master Doctor, I am the captain. " 



A DIFFERENT CLOUD ENTERS ON TIIE SCENE. 



95 



" Just so, " said the doctor. The doctor, as hencefor- 
ward we shall call him, appeared willing to converse : 
" Captain, have you an English sextant ? " 

"No." , ,^. 

" Without an English sextant you cannot take an alti- 
tude at all. " 

" The Basques, " replied the captain, ' took altitudes 

hefore there were any English." 

" Be careful you are not taken aback. " 

" I keep her away when necessary. " 

" Have you tried how many knots she is running ? " 

" Yes. " 

" When ? " 

" Just now. " 

" How ? " 

" By the log. " 

" Did you take the trouble to look at the triangle ? " 

" Yes. " 

" Did the sand run through the glass in exactly thirty 

seconds ? " 
" Yes. " 
" Are you sure that the sand has not worn the hole 

between the globes ? " 
" Yes. " 
" Have you proved the sand-glass by the oscillations 

of a bullet ? " 

" Suspended by a rope-yarn drawn out from the top ot 
a coil of soaked hemp ? Undoubtedly. " 

" Have you waxed the yarn lest it should stretch ? " 

" Yes. " 

" Have you tested the log ? " 

" I tested the sand-glass by the bullet, and checked 
the log by a round shot. " 

" Of what size was the shot ? " 
" One foot in diameter. " 



96 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

" Heavy enough ! " 

" It is an old round shot of our war-hooker, ' La Casse 
de Par-Grand. ' " 

" Which was in the Armada ? " 

" Yes. " 

" And which carried six hundred soldiers, fifty sailors, 
and twenty-five guns? " 

" Shipwreck knows it. " 

" How did you compute the resistance of the water to 
the shot ? " 

" By means of a German scale. " 

" Have you taken into account the resistance of the 
rope supporting the shot to the waves ? " 

" Yes. " 

" What was the result ? " 

" The resistance of the water was one hundred and 
seventy pounds. " 

" That's to say, she is running four French leagues an 
hour. " 

" And three Dutch leagues. " 

" But that is the difference merely of the vessel's way 
and the rate at which the sea is running ? " 

" Undoubtedly. " 

" Whither are you steering ? " 

" For a creek I know, between Loyola and St. 
Sebastian. " 

" Make the latitude of the harbour's mouth as soon as 
possible. " 

" Yes, as near as I can. " 

" Beware of gusts and currents. The first cause the 
second. " 

" Yes : the traitors ! " 

" No abuse ! The sea understands. Insult nothing ; 
be satisfied with watching. " 

" I have watched, and I am still watching. Just now 



A DIFFERENT CLOUD ENTERS ON THE SCENE. 97 

the tide is running against the wind; by-and-by, when 
it turns, we shall be all right. " 

" Have you a chart ? " 

" No ; not for this channel. " 

" Then you sail by rule of thumb ? " 

" Not at all. I have a compass. " 

" The compass is one eye, the chart the other. " 

" A man with one eye can see. " 

" How do you compute the difference between the true 
and apparent course ? " 

" I 've got my standard compass, and I make a guess. " 

" To guess is all very well. To know for a certainty 
is better. " 

" Christopher ^ guessed. " 

" When there is a fog and the needle revolves treach- 
erously, you can never tell on which side you should 
look out for squalls ; and the end of it is that you know 
neither the real nor apparent day's work. An ass with 
his chart is better off than a wizard with his oracle. " 

" There is no fog yet, and I see no cause for alarm. " 

" Ships are like flies in the spider's web of the sea. " 

" Just now both winds and waves are tolerably 
favourable. " 

"Black specks quivering on the billows, — such are 
men on the ocean. " 

" I dare say there will be nothing wrong to-night. " 

" You may get into a mess that you will find it hard 
to get out of. " 

" Yes ; but all goes well at present. " 

The doctor's eyes were fixed on the northeast. The 
captain continued : — 

" Let us once reach the Gulf of Gascony, and I can 
answer for our safety. Ah, I am at home there ! I 
know it well, my Gulf of Gascony ! It is a little basin, 

• Columbus. 

VOL. XIX. — 7 



98 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

often very boisterous ; but there I know every sounding 
and the nature of the bottom, — mud opposite San Cip- 
riano, shells opposite Cizarque, sand off Cape Penas, little 
pebbles off Boncaut de Mimizan ; and I know the colour 
of every pebble. " 

The captain broke off; the doctor was no longer lis- 
tening. He was gazing at the northeast. Over that icy 
face passed an extraordinary expression. All the agony 
of terror possible to a mask of stone was depicted there. 
From his mouth escaped the word, " Ha ! " 

His eyes were dilated with horror as he perceived a 
speck on the horizon. Then he added, under his breath, 
" It is well. As for me, I do not object. " 

The captain looked at him. 

The doctor went on talking to himself, or to some one 
in the deep : " Yes, I say. " Then he was silent, and 
fixed his eyes with renewed attention on that which he 
was watching, and said : " It is coming from afar off, 
but it will come none the less surely. " 

The arc of the horizon which engrossed the visual orbs 
and thoughts of the doctor, being opposite to the west, 
was illuminated by the transcendent reflection of twi- 
light, as if it were day. This arc, limited in extent, 
and surrounded by streaks of greyish vapour, was uni- 
formly blue, but of a leaden rather than cerulean blue. 
The doctor pointed to this atmospheric arc, and said : 

" Captain, do you see ? " 

" What ? " 

" That. " 

" What ? " 

" Out there. " 

" A blue spot ? Yes. " 

" What is it ? " 

" An opening in the heavens. " 

" For those who go to heaven ; for those who go else- 



A DIFFERENT CLOUD ENTERS ON THE SCENE. 99 

where it is another affair," — and the doctor emphasized 
these enigmatical words with an appalling expression 
which was unseen in the darkness. 

A silence ensued. The captain, remembering the two 
names given by the chief to this man, asked himself the 
question : " Is he a madman, or is he a sage ? " 

The stiff and bony finger of the doctor continued to 
point, like a sign-post, to the dark spot in the sky. 

The captain looked at this spot. " In truth, " he 
growled out, " it is not sky, but clouds. " 

" A blue cloud is worse than a black cloud, " said the 
doctor; " and it's a snow-cloud," he added. 

" La nube de la nieve, " said the captain, as if trying 
to understand the word better by translating it. 

" Do you know what a snow-cloud is ? " asked the doctor. 

" No. " 

" You'll know by-and-by. " 

The captain again turned his attention to the horizon. 
Continuing to observe the cloud, he muttered between 
his teeth : — 

" One month of squalls, another of wet ; January with 
its gales, February with its rains, — that 's all the win- 
ter we Asturians get. Our rain even is warm. We 've 
no snow but on the mountains. Ay, ay, look out for 
the avalanche. The avalanche is no respecter of per- 
sons ; the avalanche is a brute. " 

" And the water-spout is a monster, " said the doctor, 
adding, after a pause, " here it comes. " He continued : 
" Several winds are getting together, — a strong wind 
from the west, and a gentle wind from the east. " 

" That last is a deceitful one, " said the captain. 

The blue cloud was growing larger. " If the snow, " 
said the doctor, " is appalling when it slips down the 
mountain, think what it is when it falls from tliePole ! " 
His eye was glassy. The cloud seemed to spread over 



100 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

his face and almost simultaneously over the horizon. 
He continued, in musing tones : " Every minute the 
fatal hour draws nearer. The will of Heaven is about 
to be manifested. " 

The captain again asked himself this question, " Is he 
a madman ? " 

" Captain, " began the doctor, without taking his eyes 
off the cloud, " have you often crossed the Channel ? " 

" This is the first time. " 

" How is that ? " 

" Master Doctor, my usual cruise is to Ireland. I 
sail from Fontarabia to Black Harbour, or to the Achill 
Islands. I go sometimes to Braich-y-Pwll, a point on 
the Welsh coast. But I always steer outside the Scilly 
Islands. I do not know this sea at all. " 

" That 's unfortunate. Woe to him who is inexperi- 
enced on the ocean ! One ought to be familiar with the 
Channel : the Channel is the Sphinx. Look out for 
shoals. " 

" We are in twenty-five fathoms of water here. " 

" We ought to get into fifty-five fathoms to the west, 
and avoid even twenty fathoms to the east. " 

" We '11 sound as we get on. " 

" The Channel is not an ordinary sea. The water rises 
fifty feet with the spring tides, and twenty-five with 
neap tides. Here we are in slack water. I thought you 
looked scared. " 

" We '11 sound to-night. " 

" To sound you must heave-to, and that you cannot do. " 

" Why not ? " 

" On account of the wind. " 

" We '11 try. " 

" The squall is close upon us. " 

" We '11 sound. Master Doctor. " 

" You could not even bring-to. " 



A DIFFERENT CLOUD ENTERS ON THE SCENE. 101 

" Trust in God. " 

" Take care what you say. Do not utter that dread 
name lightly. " 

" I will sound, I tell you. " 

" Be sensible ; you will have a gale of wind presently. " 

" I say that I will try for soundings. " 

" The resistance of the water will prevent the lead 
from sinking, and the line will break. Ah, so this is 
your first experience in these waters ? " 

" My first. " 

" Very well ; in that case listen, Captain. " 

The tone of the word " listen " was so commanding 
that the captain made an obeisance : " Master Doctor, 
I am all attention. " 

" Port your helm, and haul up on the starboard tack! " 

" What do you mean ? " 

" Direct your course westward. " 

" Caramha ! " 

" Direct your course westward. " 

" Impossible ! " 

" As you will. What I tell you is for the sake of 
the others. As for myself, I am indifferent. " 

" But, Master Doctor, steer west ? " 

" Yes, Captain. " 

" The wind will be dead against us. " 

" Yes, Captain. " 

" She '11 pitch like the devil. " 

" Moderate your language. Yes, Captain. " 

" The vessel would be in irons. " 

" Yes, Captain. " 

" That means very likely the mast will go. " 

" Possibly. " 

" And yet you wish me to steer westward ? " 

" Yes. " 

" I cannot. " 



102 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

" In that case settle your reckoning with the sea. " 

" The wind ought to change. " 

" It will not change to-night. " 

"Why not?" 

" Because it is a wind twelve hundred leagues in 
length. " 

" Make headway against such a wind ? Impossible ! " 

" Steer westward, I tell you. " 

" I '11 try ; but in spite of everything she will fall off. " 

" That 's the danger. " 

" The wind is driving us towards the east. " 

" Don't go to the east. " 

" Why not ? " 

" Captain, do you know what is sure death for us ? " 

" No. " 

" Death is the east. " 

" I '11 steer west. " 

This time the doctor, having turned right round, 
looked the captain full in the face, and with his eyes 
resting on him, as though to implant the idea in his 
head, pronounced slowly, syllable by syllable, these 
words : " If to-night out at sea we hear the sound of a 
bell, the ship is lost. " 

The captain pondered in amaze : " What do you mean ? " 

The doctor did not answer. His countenance so ex- 
pressive a moment before was now reserved. His eyes 
became vacuous; he did not seem to hear the captain's 
wondering question. He was now engrossed by his own 
thoughts. His lips let fall, as if mechanically, in a low 
murmuring tone, these words : " The time has come for 
sullied souls to purify themselves. " 

The captain elevated his chin scornfully. " He is 
more madman than sage, " he growled, as he moved off. 
Nevertheless he steered westward. 

But both the wind and the sea were increasing. 



CHAPTER V. 

HAEDQUANONNE. 

THE appearance of the clouds was becoming ominous. 
In the west as in the east the sky was now nearly 
covered with dark, angry clouds, which were rapidly 
advancing in the teeth of the wind. These contradic- 
tions are part of the wind's vagaries. The sea, which 
had been clothed in scales a moment before, now wore a 
skin, — for such is the nature of this aquatic monster. 
It was no longer a crocodile, it was a boa-constrictor. 
Its lead-coloured skin looked immensely thick, and was 
crossed by heavy wrinkles. Here and there, on its sur- 
face, bubbles of froth, like pustules, gathered and then 
burst. The foam was like leprosy. It was at this 
moment that the hooker, still seen from afar by the 
child, lighted her signal. 

'^ .^acirter of an hour^ elapsed. The captain looked 
around for the doctor ; he was no longer on deck. Di- 
rectly the captain left him, the doctor bent his some- 
what ungainly form and entered the cabin, where he sat 
down near the stove, on a block. He took a shagreen 
ink-bottle and a cordwain pocket-book from his pocket ; 
extracted from the pocket-book a parchment folded four 
times, old, stained, and yellow; opened the sheet, took 
a pen out of his ink-case, laid the pocket-book flat on 
his knee and the parchment on the pocket-book, and by 
the rays of the lantern, which was lighting the cook, 
set to writing on the back of the parchment. Though 



104 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

the rolling of the waves inconvenienced him, he wrote 
on thus for some time. 

As he wrote, the doctor noticed the gourd of aguar- 
diente, which the Proven(^'al tasted every time he added 
a grain of pimento to the puchero, as if he were consult- 
ing with reference to the seasoning. The doctor noticed 
the gourd, not because it was a Hask of brandy, but be- 
cause of a name which was plaited in the wicker-work, 
with red rushes on a white background. There was 
light enough in the cabin to permit of his reading the 
name. The doctor paused and spelled it in a low voice : 
" Hardquanonne. " Then he addressed the cook : — 

" I never observed this gourd before ; did it belong to 
Hardquanonne ? " 

" Yes, " the cook answered, — " to our poor comrade, 
Hardquanonne. " 

" To Hardquanonne, the Fleming of Flanders ? " 

" Yes. " 

" The same who is in prison ? " 

" Yes. " 

" In the dungeon at Chatham ? " 

" Yes, it is his gourd, " replied the cook. " He is a 
friend of mine, and I keep it in remembrance of him. 
When shall we see him again ? It is the bottle he used 
to wear slung over his hip. " 

The doctor took up his pen again, and continued labo- 
riously tracing somewhat straggling lines on the parch- 
ment. He was evidently anxious that his hand-writing 
should be very legible. At last, notwithstanding the 
tremulousness of the vessel and the tremulousness of 
age, he finished what he wanted to write. 

It was time ; for suddenly a sea struck the craft, a 
mighty rush of waters besieged the hooker, and they felt 
her break into that fearful dance in which ships lead off 
with the tempest. 



H AKDQU ANONNE. 105 

The doctor rose and approached the stove, meeting 
the ship's motion with his knees dexterously bent, dried 
as best he could, at the stove where the pot was boiling, 
the lines he had written, refolded the parchment in the 
pocket-book, and replaced the pocket-book and the ink- 
horn in his pocket. 

The stove was not the least ingenious piece of interior 
economy in the hooker. It was judiciously isolated, yet 
the pot oscillated wildly. The Provencal watched it 
closely. 

" Fish broth, " said he. 

" For the fishes, " replied the doctor, as he went on 
deck again. 



CHAPTEK VI. 

THEY THINK THAT HELP IS AT HAND. 

THKOUGH bis growing pre-occupation, the doctor 
dreamily reviewed the situation ; and any one 
near him might have heard these words drop from his 
lips : " Too much rolling, and not enough pitching. " 
Then he again relapsed into thought, as a miner into his 
shaft. His meditation in nowise interfered with his 
watch of the sea. The contemplation of the sea is in 
itself a reverie. 

The travail of the eternally tortured waters was com- 
mencing. A wail of lamentation arose from the whole 
main. Confused and ominous preparations were going 
on in space. The doctor noted each detail, though there 
was no sign of scrutiny in his face. One does not scru- 
tinize hell. A vast commotion, as yet half latent, but 
visible through the turmoils in space, increased and 
irritated the winds, the vapours, and the waves more and 
more. Nothing is so logical and yet nothing appears 
so erratic as the ocean. Self-dispersion is the essence of 
its sovereignty, and one of the elements of its redun- 
dance. The sea is ever for or against. It knots, that it 
may unravel itself ; one of its waves attacks, the other 
relieves. There is nothing so truly wonderful as the 
waves. Who can paint the alternating hollows and 
elevations, the heaving bosoms, the majestic outlines ? 
Who can describe the thickets of foam, the blendings 
of mountains and dreams ? The indescribable is every- 



THEY THINK THAT HELP IS AT HAND. 107 

where there, in the rending, in the frowning, in the 
anxiety, in the perpetual contradiction, in the chiar- 
oscuro, in the pendants of the clouds, in the ever-chang- 
ing curves, in the disaggregation without rupture, in the 
mighty uproar caused by all that overhanging tumult ! 

The wind had just veered around to the north, and 
its violence was so favourable and useful in driving 
them away from England that the captain of the " Matu- 
tina " had made up his mind to set all sail. The 
hooker dashed through the foam at a gallop, bounding 
from wave to wave in a gay frenzy. The fugitives 
were delighted, and laughed ; they clapped their hands ; 
applauded the surf, the sea, the wind, the sails, the 
swift progress, the flight, all unmindful of the future. 
The doctor seemed not to see them, and dreamed on. 

Every vestige of day had faded away. This was the 
moment when the child, watching from the distant cliff, 
lost sight of the hooker. Up to that time his gaze had 
been riveted upon the vessel. Did that look exert any 
influence over the vessel's fate? When the hooker was 
lost to sight in the distance, and when the child could 
no longer see aught of it, he went north and the ship 
went south. Both were plunged in darkness. 



CHAPTEE VII. 

SUPERHUMAN HORRORS. 

TT was with wild rejoicing and delight that those on 
-^ board the hooker saw the hostile land recede and 
lessen behind them. By degrees the dark ring of ocean 
rose higher, dwarfing in the twilight Portland, Purbeck, 
Tineham, Kimmeridge, the Matravers, the long lines of 
dim cliffs, and the coast dotted with lighthouses. Eng- 
land disappeared. The fugitives had now nothing around 
them but the sea. 

All at once the darkness became frightful. There was 
no longer space ; the sky became as black as ink, and 
closed in round the vessel. The snow began to fall 
slowly, only a few flakes at first. They might have 
been ghosts. Nothing else was visible. A snare lurked 
in every possibility. 

It is in this cavernous darkness that in our climate 
the Polar water-spout makes its appearance. A great 
muddy cloud, resembling the belly of a hydra, hung 
over the ocean, its livid base adhering to the waves 
in some places. Some of these adherences resembled 
pouches with holes, pumping up the sea, disgorging 
vapour, and refilling themselves with water. Here and 
there these suctions raised cones of foam on the sea. 

The boreal storm hurled itself on the hooker; the 
hooker rushed to meet it. The squall and the vessel 
met as though to insult each other. In the first mad 
shock not a sail was reefed, not a jib lowered ; the mast 



SUPERHUMAN HORRORS. 109 

creaked and bent back as if in fear. Cyclones in our 
northern hemisphere circle from left to right, in the 
same direction as the hands of a watch, with a velocity 
which is sometimes as much as sixty miles an hour. 
Although she was entirely at the mercy of the storm, 
the hooker behaved as if she were out in moderate 
weather, without any further precaution than keeping 
her head to the billows, with the wind broad on the 
bow so as to avoid being caught broadside on. This 
prudential measure would have availed her nothing in 
case of the wind's shifting and taking her aback. 

A deep rumbling sound was audible in the distance. 
The roar of ocean, — what can be compared to it ? It is 
the great brutish howl of the universe. What we call 
matter, — that unsearchable organism, that amalgama- 
tion of incommensurable energies, in which can occa- 
sionally be detected an almost imperceptible degree of 
intention which makes us shudder; that blind, be- 
nighted cosmos ; that enigmatical Pan, — has a cry, a 
strange cry, prolonged, obstinate, and continuous, which 
is between speech and thunder. That cry is the hurri- 
cane. Other and different voices, songs, melodies, 
clamours, tones, proceed from nests, from broods, from 
pairings, from nuptials, from homes. This trumpet- 
blast comes out of the Naught, which is All. Other 
voices express the soul of the universe ; this expresses 
its brute power. It is the howl of the formless ; it is 
the inarticulate uttered by the indefinite ; it is a thing 
full of pathos and of terror. Those clamours resound 
above and beyond man. They rise, fall,, undulate ; form 
waves of sound ; constitute all sorts of wild surprises for 
the mind ; now burst close to the ear with the im])ortu- 
nity of a peal of trumpets, now assail us with the 
rumbling hoarseness of distance, — giddy uproar which 
resembles a language, and which in fact is a language. 



110 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

It is the effort whicli the world makes to speak; it is 
the lisping of the wonderful. In this wail is manifested 
vaguely all that the vast, dark palpitation endures, suffers, 
accepts, rejects. For the most part it talks nonsense ; 
it is like an attack of chronic sickness. We fancy that 
we are witnessing the descent of supreme evil into the 
infinite. At moments we seem to discern a reclamation 
of the elements, some vain effort of chaos to re-assert 
itself over creation. At times it is a despairing moan ; 
the void bewails and justifies itself. It is the pleading 
of the world's cause : we can fancy that the universe is 
engaged in a law-suit; we listen, we try to grasp the 
reasons given, the redoubtable for and against. Such a 
moaning among the shadows has the tenacity of a syllo- 
gism. Here is a vast field for thought; here is the 
raison d'etre of mythologies and polytheisms. To the 
terror of these wild murmurs are added superhuman out- 
lines melting away as they appear, — Eumenides which 
are almost distinct, throats of furies shaped in the 
clouds, Plutonian chimeras almost defined. No horrors 
can equal those sobs, those laughs, those tricks of tu- 
mult, those inscrutable questions and answers, those 
appeals to unknown aid. Man is utterly bewildered in 
the presence of that awful incantation ; he bows under 
the enigma of those Draconian intonations. What la- 
tent meaning have they ; what do they signify ; what do 
they threaten; what do they implore? It would seem 
as though all bonds were loosened. Vociferations from 
precipice to precipice, from air to water, from wind to 
wave, from rain to rock, from zenith to nadir, from 
stars to foam; the abyss unmuzzled, — such is this tu- 
mult, complicated by some mysterious contest with evil 
consciences. 

The loquacity of night is not less lugubrious than its 
silence. One feels in it the wrath of the unknown. 



SLTERHUMAN HORRORS. Ill 

Night is a presence. The presence of what ? For that 
matter we must distinguish between night and the 
shadowy. In the night there is the absolute ; in the 
shadowy, the multiple. The night is one, the shadowy 
is made up of many. In this infinite and indefinite 
shadowy lives something or some one ; but that which 
lives there forms part of our death. After our earthly 
career, when the shadowy will be clear to us, the life 
which is beyond will seize us ; meanwhile it appears to 
touch and try us. Obscurity is a pressure. Night is, 
as it were, a hand placed on our soul ; at certain hideous 
and solemn hours we feel that which is beyond the wall 
of the tomb encroaching on us. 

Never does this proximity of the unknown seem more 
imminent than in storms at sea. The horrible combines 
with the fantastic. The possible interrupter of human 
actions, the old Cloud-compeller, has it in his power to 
mould, in whatsoever shape he chooses, the changing ele- 
ments, the wild incoherence, and aimless force. That 
mystery the tempest is ever accepting and executing 
some unknown change of real or apparent will. Poets 
in all ages have called the waves capricious ; but there 
is no such thing as caprice. The disconcerting enig- 
mas in Nature which we call caprice, and in human 
life chance, are the results of unseen and incomprehensi- 
ble laws. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

NIX ET NOX. 

THE chief characteristic of the snow-storm is its 
blackness. Nature 's habitual aspect during a storm, 
the earth or sea black and the sky pale, is reversed : the 
sky is black, the ocean white ; foam below, darkness 
a"bove, — an horizon walled in with smoke ; a zenith 
roofed with crape. The tempest resembles a cathedral 
hung with mourning ; but there is no light in that 
cathedral, — no phantom lights on the crests of the 
waves, no spark, no phosphorescence, naught but a dense 
shadow. The polar cyclone differs from the tropical 
cyclone, inasmuch as the one sets fire to every light, and 
the other extinguishes them all. The world is suddenly 
converted into a vaulted cave. Out of the night falls 
a dust of pale spots, which hesitate between sky and 
sea. These spots, which are flakes of snow, slip, wander, 
and float. It is like the tears of a winding-sheet put- 
ting themselves into life-like motion. A mad wind 
mingles with this dissemination. Blackness crumbling 
into whiteness, the furious into the obscure, all the tu- 
mult of which the sepulchre is capable, a whirlwind 
under a catafalque, — such is the snow-storm. Under- 
neath trembles the ocean, forming and reforming over 
portentous depths. In the polar wind, which is elec- 
trical, the flakes turn suddenly into hailstones, and the 
air becomes filled with projectiles ; the water crackles, 
shot with grape. There are no thunder-claps ; the light- 



NIX ET NOX. 113 

ning of boreal storms is silent. What is sometimes said 
of the cat, " It swears, " may be applied to this light- 
ning. It is a menace proceeding from a mouth half 
open, and strangely inexorable. The snow-storm is a 
storm blind and dumb ; when it has passed, the ships 
also are often blind and the sailors dumb. 

To escape from such danger is difficult. It would be 
wrong, however, to consider shipwreck inevitable. The 
Danish fishermen of Disco and the Balesin ; the seekers 
of black whales ; Hearn, steering towards Behring Strait 
to discover the mouth of Coppermine Eiver; Hudson, 
Mackenzie, Vancouver, Eoss, Dumont d'Urville, — all 
underwent almost at the pole itself the wildest hurri- 
canes, and escaped out of them. 

It was into this description of tempest that the hooker 
had entered, triumphant and under full sail. Frenzy 
against frenzy. When Montgomery, escaping from 
Eouen, drove his galley, with all the force of its oars, 
against the chain barring the Seine at La Bouille, he 
showed similar effrontery. The " Matutina " sailed on 
fast ; she keeled over so much under her sails that at 
times she was at an angle of fifteen degrees with the 
sea; but her well-rounded keel adhered to the water as 
if glued to it. The keel resisted the grasp of the hurri- 
cane ; the lantern at the prow still cast its light ahead. 
The clouds settled down more and more upon the sea 
around the hooker. Not a gull, not a sea-mew, was to 
be seen, — nothing but snow. The expanse of waves 
w^as becoming contracted and terrible ; only three or four 
gigantic billows were visible. Now and then a tremen- 
dous flash of copper-coloured lightning broke out from 
behind the heavy masses of clouds on the horizon and in 
the zenith. This sudden burst of vermilion-flame showed 
the immense size and blackness of the clouds ; while the 
brief illumination of ocean to which the first layer of 

VOL. XIX. — 8 



114 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

clouds and the distant boundaries of celestial chaos 
seemed to adhere plainly revealed the horrors of their 
immediate surroundings. Against this fiery background, 
the snow-flakes looked so black that they reminded one 
of dark butterflies darting about in a furnace ; then, 
everything was once more veiled in gloom. The first 
explosion over, the squall, still in mad pursuit of the 
hooker, began a savage, continuous roar. Nothing could 
be more appalling than this sort of monologue of the 
tempest. The gloomy recitative seems intended to serve 
as a momentary rest for the contending forces, — a sort 
of truce maintained in the mighty deep. 

The hooker held wildly on her course. Her two 
mainsails especially were doing wonderful work. The 
sky and sea v^ere like ink compared with the jets of 
foam running higher than the mast. Every instant 
masses of water swept the deck like a deluge, and at 
each roll of the vessel the hawse-holes — now to star- 
board, now to larboard — became so many open mouths 
vomiting back foam into the sea. The women had taken 
refuge in the cabin, but the men remained on deck ; the 
blinding snow eddied round, the surge mingling with 
it. 

At that moment the chief of the band, standing abaft 
and holding with one hand to the shrouds, and with the 
other taking off the kerchief he wore round his head and 
waving it in the light of the lantern, gay and arrogant, 
with pride in his face, and his hair in wild disorder, 
cried out, — 

" We are free ! " 

" Free, free, free ! " echoed the fugitives, and the 
band, seizing hold of the rigging, rose up on deck. 

" Hurrah ! " shouted the chief. 

And the band shouted in the storm, " Hurrah ! " 

Just as this clamour was dying away in the tempest 



NIX ET NOX. 115 

a loud, solemn voice rose from the other end of the ves- 
sel, saying, " Silence ! " 

All turned their heads. The darkness was thick, and 
the doctor was leaning against the mast, so that he 
seemed part of it, and they could not see him. 

The voice spoke again : " Listen ! " 

All were silent. They distinctly heard through the 
darkness the tolling of a bell. 



CHAPTEE IX. 

THE CHAEGE CONFIDED TO A KAGING SEA. 

'T^HE captain, at the helm, burst out laughing : " A 
-■- bell, that 's good ! We are on the larboard tack. 
What does the bell prove ? Why, that we have land to 
starboard. " 

The firm and measured voice of the doctor replied : 
" You have not land to starboard. " 

" But we have ! " shouted tl c captain. 

* No ! " 

" But that bell tolls from the land. " 

" That bell," said the doctor, " tolls from the sea. " 

A shudder passed over these daring men ; the haggard 
faces of the two women appeared above the companion- 
way like two hobgoblins conjured up ; the doctor took a 
step forward, separating his tall form from the mast. 
From the gloomy depths of night again resounded the 
dreary tolling of the bell. 

The doctor resumed : " Half-way between Portland and 
the Channel Islands there is in the midst of the sea a 
buoy, placed there as a warning. The buoy is moored by 
chains to a rock, and floats on the top of the water. To 
the buoy is affixed an iron trestle, and across the trestle 
is hung a bell. In bad weather heavy seas toss the 
buoy, and the bell rings. That is the bell you hear. " 

The doctor, after pausing to allow an unusually violent 
gust of wind to subside, continued : " To hear that bell 
in a storm, when a nor'-wester is blowing, is to be lost. 



THE CHARGE CONFIDED TO A RAGING SEA. 117 

Wherefore ? For this reason : you hear the bell because 
the wiud brings the sound to you. The wind is blowing 
from the northwest, and the rocks of Alderney lie to the 
east of us. You hear the bell only because you are be- 
tween the buoy and the breakers. It is upon those 
rocks that the wind is driving you. You are on the 
wrong side of the buoy. If you were on the right side, 
you would be out at sea on a safe course, and you would 
not hear the bell ; the wind would not convey the sound 
to you, — you might pass close to the buoy without 
knowing it. We are out of our course. That bell is 
shipwreck sounding the tocsin. Listen ! " 

As the doctor spoke, the bell, soothed by a lull of the 
storm, rang out slowly, stroke by stroke ; and its dis- 
mal voice seemed to testify to the truth of the old man's 
words. It was perhaps their death-knell. All listened 
breathlessly, — now to the voice, now to the bell. 



CHAPTER X. 

THE COLOSSAL SAVAGE, THE STORM. 

IN the mean time the captain had caught up his speak- 
ing-trumpet : " Cargate todo, hombres ! Let go the 
sheets, man the down-hauls, lower ties and brails ! Let 
us steer to the west, let us regain the. high sea! Head 
for the buoy, steer for the bell; there 's an offing down 
there. We 've yet a chance. " 

" Try, " said the doctor. 

Let us remark here, by the way, that this buoy, a 
kind of bell-tower on the deep, was removed in 1802. 
There are yet alive very aged mariners who remember 
hearing it. It forewarned, but rather too late. 

The orders of the captain were obeyed. The Langue- 
docian made a third sailor. All bore a hand. Not sat- 
isfied with brailing up, they furled the sails; secured 
the clew-lines, bunt-lines, and leech-lines ; clapped pre- 
ventor-shrouds on the block-straps, which thus might 
serve as back-stays. They braced the mast ; they bat- 
tened down the ports and bulls' eyes, which is a method 
of walling up a ship. These evolutions, though exe- 
cuted in a lubberly fashion were nevertheless thoroughly 
effective. The hooker was stripped to bare poles. But 
in proportion as the vessel, stowing every stitch of can- 
vas, became more helpless, the havoc of both winds and 
waves increased. The billows ran mountains high. 



THE COLOSSAL SAVAGE, THE STORM. 119 

The hurricane, like au executioner hastening to his 
victim, began to dismember tiie craft. There came, in 
the twinkling of an eye, a dreadful crash ; the top-sails 
were blown from the bolt-ropes, the chess-trees were 
hewn asunder, the deck was swept clear, the shrouds 
were carried away, the mast went by the board ; all the 
lumber of the wreck was Hying in shivers. The main 
shrouds also succumbed, although they were turned in 
and strongly stoppered. The magnetic currents com- 
mon to snow-storms hastened the destruction of the 
riacrina ; it broke as much from the effects of these as 
from the violence of the wind. Most of the chain gear, 
fouled in the blocks, ceased to work. The bows and 
stern quivered under the terrific shocks. One wave 
washed overboard the compass and its binnacle ; a sec- 
ond carried away the boat, which like a box slung under 
a carriage had been, in accordance with the quaint Astu- 
rian custom, lashed to the bowsprit; a third breaker 
wrenched off the sprit-sail yard ; a fourth swept away 
the figure-head and signal-light. The rudder only was 
left. To replace the ship's bow-lantern they set fire to, 
and suspended at the stem, a large block of wood covered 
with oakum and tar. The broken mast, all bristling 
with splinters, ropes, blocks, and yards, cumbered the 
deck ; in falling, it had stove in a plank of the starboard 
gunwale. The captain, still firm at the helm, shouted : 
" While we can steer, we have a chance ! The lower 
planks hold good. Axes, axes! Overboard with the 
mast ! Clear the decks ! " 

Both crew and passengers worked with the excitement 
of despair. A few strokes of the hatchets, and it was 
done. They pushed the mast over the side ; the deck 
was cleared. 

"Now," continued the captain, "take a rope's end 
and lash me to the helm. " 



120 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

They bound him to the tiller. While they were fas- 
tening him he laughed, and shouted, — • 

" Bellow, old hurdy-gurdy ! bellow ! I 've seen your 
equal off Cape Machichaco ! " 

And when secured, he clutched the helm with that 
strange hilarity which danger awakens, crying out, — 

" All goes well, my lads ! Long live our Lady of 
Buglose ! Let us steer west. " 

An enormous wave came down abeam, and dashed 
against the vessel's side. There is always in storms a 
tiger-like wave, a billow fierce and decisive, which after 
attaining a certain height creeps horizontally over the 
surface of the waters for a time, then rises, roars, rages, 
and falling on the distressed vessel tears it limb from 
limb. A cloud of foam covered the entire deck of the 
" Matutina. " A loud noise was heard above the confu- 
sion of darkness and waters. When the spray cleared 
off, and the stern again rose to view, the captain and 
the helm had disappeared. Both had been swept away. 
The helm and the man they had but just secured to it 
had passed with the wave into the hissing turmoil of 
the hurricane. 

The chief of the band, gazing intently into the dark- 
ness, shouted : " Te burlas de nosotros ? " 

To this defiant exclamation there followed another 
cry : " Let go the anchor ! Save the captain ! " 

They rushed to the capstan and let go the anchor. 
Hookers carry but one. In this case the anchor reached 
the bottom, but only to be lost ; the bottom was of the 
hardest rock. The billows were raging with resistless 
force. The cable snapped like a thread ; the anchor lay 
at the bottom of the sea. At the cutwater there re- 
mained only the cable end protruding from the hawse- 
hole. From this moment the hooker became a wreck. 
The " Matutina " was irrevocably disabled. The vessel, 



THE COLOSSAL SAVAGE, THE STORM. 121 

just before in full sail and almost formidable in her 
speed, was now helpless ; all her evolutions were uncer- 
tain and executed at random ; she yielded passively and 
like a log to the capricious fury of the waves. 

The howling of the wind became more and more 
frightful. The bell on the sea rang despairingly, as if 
tolled by a weird hand. The " Matutina " drifted like 
a cork at the mercy of the waves. She sailed no longer, 
— she merely floated ; every moment she seemed about 
to turn over on her back, like a dead fish. The good 
condition and perfectly water-tight state of the hull 
alone saved her from this disaster. Below the water- 
line not a plank had started ; there was not a cranny, 
chink, nor crack ; and she had not a single drop of water 
in the hold. This was lucky, as the pump, being out 
of order, was useless. The hooker pitched and rolled 
frightfully in the seething billows. The vessel had 
throes as of sickness, and seemed to be trying to belch 
forth the unhappy crew. Helpless they clung to the 
rigging, to the transoms, to the shank painters, to the 
gaskets, to the broken planks (the protruding nails of 
which tore their hands), to the warped riders, and to all 
the rugged projections on the stumps of the masts. 
From time to time they listened : the tolling of the bell 
came over the waters fainter and fainter, — one might 
have supposed that too was in distress. Finally the 
sound died away altogether. 

Where were they, — at what distance from the buoy ? 
The sound of the bell had frightened them ; its silence 
terrified them. The northwester drove them forward 
in perhaps a fatal course. They felt themselves wafted 
on by maddened and ever-recurring gusts of wind. The 
wreck sped forward in the darkness. There is nothing 
more fearful than being hurried forward blindfold. 



122 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

They felt the abyss before them, over them, under them. 
It was no longer a run, it was a rush. Suddenly, through 
the appalling density of the snow-storm, there loomed a 
red light. 

" A lighthouse ! " cried the crew. 



CHAPTER XI 

THE CASKETS. 

TT was the Caskets Light. 

-■- A lighthouse of the nineteenth century is a high 
cylinder of masonry, surmounted by scientifically con- 
structed machinery for throwing light. The Casket 
lighthouse in particular is a white tower supporting 
three light-rooms. These three chambers revolve on 
clock- wheels, with such precision that the man on watch 
who sees them from sea can invariably take ten steps 
during their irradiation, and twenty-five during their 
eclipse. Everything is based on the focal plan and on 
the rotation of the octagon drum, which is formed of 
eight wide simple lenses in range, having above and be- 
low it two series of dioptric rings ; it is protected from 
the violence of the winds and waves by glass a milli- 
metre thick, yet sometimes broken by the sea-eagles, 
which dash themselves like great moths against these 
gigantic lanterns. The building which encloses and 
sustains this mechanism, and in which it is set, is also 
mathematically constructed. Everything about it is 
plain, exact, bare, precise, correct. A lighthouse is a 
mathematical figure. 

In the seventeenth century a lighthouse was a sort of 
ornament to the sea-shore. The architecture of a light- 
house tower was magnificent and extravagant. It was 
covered with balconies, balusters, lodges, alcoves, 



124 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

weather-cocks, — nothing but masks, statues, foliage, 
volutes, reliefs, figures large and small, medallions with 
inscriptions. " Pax in hello, " said the Eddystone light- 
house. (We may as well observe, by the way, that this 
declaration of peace did not always disarm the ocean. 
Winstanley repeated it on a lighthouse which he con- 
structed at his own expense, on a wild spot near Ply- 
mouth. The tower being finished, he shut himself up 
in it to have it tried by the tempest. The storm came, 
and carried off the lighthouse and Winstanley in it.) 
Such excessive adornment afforded too great a hold to 
the hurricane ; as generals too brilliantly equipped in 
battle, draw the enemy's fire. Besides whimsical de- 
signs in stone, they were loaded with whimsical designs 
in iron, copper, and wood. On the sides of the light- 
house there jutted out, clinging to the walls among the 
arabesques, engines of every description, useful and use- 
less, — windlasses, tackles, puUies, counterpoises, lad- 
ders, cranes, grapnels. On the pinnacle around the 
light, delicately wrought iron-work held great iron 
chandeliers, in which were placed pieces of rope steeped 
in resin, — wicks which burned doggedly, and which no 
wind extinguished; and from top to bottom the tower 
was covered by a complication of sea standards, bande- 
roles, banners, flags, and pennons, which rose from stage 
to stage, from story to story, — a medley of all hues, all 
shapes, all heraldic devices, all signals, all confusion, 
up to the light-chamber, making in the storm a gay riot 
of colour about the blaze. This insolent light on the 
brink of the abyss seemed to breathe defiance, and in- 
spired shipwrecked men with a spirit of daring. 

But the Caskets Light was not one of this kind. It 
was at that period a primitive sort of lighthouse. 
Henry I. built it after the loss of the " White Ship. " 
It was an unpretending tower perched upon a rock and 



THE CASKETS. 125 

surmounted with a brazier enclosed by an iron railing, 
— a head of hair flaming in the wind. The only im- 
provement made in this lighthouse since the twelfth 
century was a pair of forge-bellows worked by a pendu- 
lum and a stone weight, which had been added to the 
light-chamber in 1610. 

The fate of the sea-birds that chanced to fly against 
these old lighthouses was more tragic than those of our 
days. The birds dashed against them, attracted by the 
light, and fell into the brazier, where they could be seen 
struggling like black spirits in a hell ; at times they 
would fall back again between the railings upon the 
rock, smoking, lame, blind, like half-burnt flies out of 
a lamp. 

To a full-rigged ship in good trim, answering readily 
to the pilot's handling, the Caskets Light is useful; it 
cries, " Look out ! " It warns her of the shoal. To a 
disabled ship it is simply terrible. The hull, paralyzed 
and inert, with no defence against the fury of the storm 
or the mad heaving of the waves, — a fish without fins, 
a bird without wings, — can but go where the wind 
wills. The lighthouse reveals the. end, points out the 
spot where it is doomed to disappear, and casts a ghastly 
light upon the place of burial. In short, it is but a 
funeral torch to illumine the yawning chasm, to warn 
against the inevitable. What more tragic mockery ! 



CHAPTER XII. 

FACE TO FACE WITH THE EOCK. 

THE wretched people on board the " Matutina " soon 
understood the derisive character of this warning. 
The sight of the lighthouse raised their spirits at iirst, 
then overwhelmed them with despair. Nothing could 
be done, nothing attempted. What has been said of 
kings, we may say of the waves, — we are their people, 
we are their prey. All their raving must be borne. 

The nor'-wester was driving the hooker on the Caskets. 
They were nearing them ; escape was impossible. They 
were drifting rapidly towards the reef; they felt that 
they were getting into shallow waters ; the lead, if they 
could have thrown it to any purpose, would not have 
shown more than three or four fathoms. They heard 
the dull sound of the waves being sucked within the 
submarine caves of the steep rock. They made out, 
near the lighthouse, a deep cut between two granite 
walls, — the narrow passage leading into the ugly, wild- 
looking little harbour, supposed to be full of the skelc 
tons of men and carcasses of ships. It looked like 
the mouth of a cave, rather than the entrance of a port. 
They could hear the crackling of the flames high up 
within the iron grating. A ghastly purple illuminated 
the storm ; the collision of the rain and hail disturbed 
the mist. The black cloud and the red flame fought, 
serpent against serpent ; live ashes, reft by the wind, 
flew from the fire, and the sudden assaults of the sparks 



FACE TO FACE WITH THE ROCK. 127 

seemed to drive the snow-flakes before them. The ledge, 
blurred at first in outline, now stood out in bold relief, 

a medley of rocks with peaks, crests, and vertebrae. 

As they neared it, the appearance of the reef became 
more and more forbidding. One of the women, the 
Irishwoman, told her beads wildly. 

The chief was now acting as captain ; for the Basques 
are equally at home on the mountain and the sea ; they 
are bold on the precipice, and inventive in catastrophes. 
They were nearing the cliff. They were about to strike. 
Suddenly they came so close to the great rock north of 
the Caskets that it shut out the lighthouse from their 
view. They saw nothing but the rock and a red glare 
behind it. The huge rock looming in the mist was like 
a gigantic black woman with a hood of fire. This ill- 
famed rock is called the Biblet. It faces the north side 
of the reef, which on the south is faced by another ridge, 
L'Etacq-aux-giulmets. The chief looked at the Biblet 
and shouted, — 

" A man with a will to take a rope to the rock ! Who 
can swim ? " 

No answer. No one on board knew how to swim, not 
even the sailors, — an ignorance not uncommon among 
seafaring people. A beam nearly freed from its lash- 
ings was swinging loose. The chief seized it with both 
hands, crying, — 
" Help me ! " 

They unlashed the beam. They had now at their dis- 
posal the very thing they wanted. Abandoning the de- 
fensive they assumed the offensive. It was a long beam 
of solid oak, sound and strong, useful either as a sup- 
port or as a weapon, as a lever for a burden or a batter- 
ing ram against a tower. 

" Keady ! " shouted the chief. 

All six getting foothold on the stump of the mast, 



128 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

threw their weight on the spar projecting over the side, 
and aimed straight as a lance towards a projection of the 
cliff. It was a dangerous manoeuvre. To strike at a 
mountain is audacious indeed ; the six men might have 
been thrown into the water by the shock. Tliere is 
variety in struggles with storms. After the hurricane, 
the shoal ; after the wind, the rock : first the intangible, 
then the immovable, to be encountered. Several min- 
utes passed, such minutes as whiten men's hair. The 
rock and the vessel were about to come in collision ; the 
rock awaited the blow like a culprit. A relentless wave 
rushed in ; it ended the respite. It caught the vessel 
underneath, raised it, and swayed it for an instant as 
the sling swings its projectile. 

" Steady ! " cried the chief, " it is only a rock, and we 
are men ! " 

The beam was couched ; the six men were one with it ; 
its sharp bolts tore their arm-pits, but they did not feel 
them. The wave dashed the hooker against the rock. 
Then came the shock. It came under the cloud of foam 
which always hides such catastrophes. When the spray 
fell back into the sea, when the waves rolled back from 
the rock, the six men were rolling about the deck, but 
the " Matutina " was floating alongside the rock, clear 
of it. The beam had stood fast and turned the vessel 
aside. The sea was running so fast that in a few sec- 
onds the hooker had left the Caskets behind. 

Such things sometimes occur. It was a straight 
stroke of the bowsprit that saved "Wood of Largo at the 
mouth of the Tay. In the wild neighbourhood of Cape 
Winterton, and under the command of Captain Hamil- 
ton, it was the appliance of such a lever against the 
dangerous rock Branodu-um that saved the " Eoyal 
Mary " from shipwreck, although she was but a Scotch- 
built frigate. The force of the waves can be so abruptly 



FACE TO FACE WITH THE KOCK. 129 

decomposed that cliauges in direction can be easily 
effected, or at least are possible even in the most violent 
collisions. The whole secret of avoiding shipwreck, is 
to try and pass from the secant to the tangent. Such 
was the service the beam rendered to the hooker ; it had 
done the work of an oar, had taken the place of a rud- 
der. But the manoeuvre once performed could not be 
repeated. The beam was overboard ; the shock of the 
collision had wrenched it out of the men's hands, and 
it was lost in the waves. To loosen another beam would 
have been to dismember the hull. 

The hurricane swept the " Matutina " on. The light 
paled in the distance, faded, and disappeared. There 
was something mournful in its extinction. Layers of 
mist gradually sank down upon the now uncertain light ; 
its rays died in the waste of waters ; the flame floated, 
struggled, sank, and lost its form. It might have been 
a drowning creature. The brazier dwindled to the snuff 
of a candle ; then naught remained save a faint uncer- 
tain glimmer. It w^as like the quenching of light in the 
pit of night. 

The bell which had threatened was dumb ; the light- 
house which had threatened had melted away. And yet 
it was more awful now that they had ceased to threaten. 
One was a voice, the other a torch. There was some- 
thing human about them. They were gone, and naught 
remained but the mighty deep. 



VOL. XIX. — 9 



CHAPTEE XIII. 

FACE TO FACE WITH NIGHT. 

AGAIN was the hooker running with the shadow 
into immeasurable darkness. The " Matutina, " 
escaped from the Caskets, sank and rose from billow to 
billow, a respite, but in chaos. Spun around by the 
wind, tossed by all the thousand motions of the wave, 
she reflected every mad oscillation of the sea. She 
scarcely pitched at all, — a terrible symptom in a ship 
in distress. Wrecks merely roll ; pitching is a sign of 
strife. The helm alone can turn a vessel to the wind. 

Mists, whirlwinds, gales, motion in all directions, no 
shelter, gulf succeeding gulf, no horizon visible, intense 
blackness for background, — through all these the hooker 
drifted. To have got free of the Caskets, to have es- 
caped the rock, was a victory for the shipwrecked men ; 
but it was a victory which left them in a sort of stupor. 
They had raised no cheer ; at sea such an impudence is 
not repeated twice. To throw down a challenge where 
they could not cast the lead, would have been too serious 
a jest. The shipwreck averted was an impossibility 
achieved ; they were petrified by it. By degrees, how- 
ever, they began to hope again. Such are the mirages 
of the soul ! There is no distress so complete but that 
even in the most critical moments the inexplicable sun- 
rise of hope is seen in its depths. These poor wretches 
were ready to declare to themselves that they were 
saved. The words were almost on their lirs. 



FACE TO FACE WITH NIGHT. 131 

But suddenly something terrible appeared before them 
in the darkness. On the port bow arose a tall, perpen- 
dicular, opaque mass, a square tower as it were. They 
gazed at it, open-mouthed. The storm was driving them 
straight towards it. They knew not what it was. It 
was the Ortach rock emerging from the depths of ocean. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

ORTACH. 

DANGER was imminent again. After the Caskets 
comes Ortach. The storm is no artist ; brutal and 
all-powerful, it never varies its appliances. The dark- 
ness is inexhaustible ; its snares and perfidies never 
come to an end. As for man, he soon comes to the end 
of his resources. Man exhausts his strength, the abyss 
never. The shipwrecked men turned towards the chief, 
their hope. He could only shrug his shoulders. Dis- 
mal contempt of helplessness. 

The Ortach, a single huge rock, rises in a straight 
line eighty feet above the angry beating of the waves. 
Waves and ships break against it. An immovable cube, 
it plunges its rectilinear planes into the numberless 
serpentine curves of the sea. At night it looks like an 
enormous block resting on the folds of a huge black 
sheet. In time of storm it awaits the stroke of the axe, 
— that is, the thunderbolt. But there is never a thun- 
derbolt during a snow-storm. True, the ship has a 
bandage over her eyes ; she is like one prepared for 
the scaffold. As for the lightning-bolt which puts one 
quickly out of one's misery, that is not to be hoped for. 

The " Matutina, " little better now than a log upon 
the waters, drifted towards this rock, as she had drifted 
towards the other. The poor wretches on board, who 
had for a moment believed themselves saved, relapsed 
into misery. The destruction they thought they had 



ORTACH. 133 

left behind them confronted them again. The reef re- 
appeared from the bottom of the sea. Nothing had been 
gained. 

The Caskets are a goffering iron with a thousand sub- 
divisions ; the Ortach is a solid wall. To be wrecked 
on the Caskets is to be cut into ribbons ; to strike on 
the Ortach is to be crushed into powder. Nevertheless 
there was one chance. On a straight frontage like that 
of the Ortach, neither the wave nor the cannon-ball can 
ricochet. The operation is simple, — first the flux, then 
the reflux ; a wave advances, a billow returns. In such 
cases the question of life and death is balanced thus : if 
the wave carries the vessel on the rock, she breaks on it 
and is lost; if the billow retires before the ship has 
touched, she is carried back, — she is saved. 

It was a moment of intense anxiety. Those on board 
saw through the gloom the great decisive wave bearing 
down on them. How far was it going to drag them ? 
If the wave broke upon the ship, they would be carried 
on the rock and dashed to pieces. If it passed under 
the ship — The wave did pass under. They breathed 
again. 

But what of the recoil ? What would the surf do with 
them ? The surf carried them back. A few minutes 
later the " Matutina " was out of the breakers. The 
Ortach faded from their view, as the Caskets had done. 
It was their second victory. For the second time the 
hooker had verged on destruction, and had drawn back 
in time. 



CHAPTEE XV. 

POKTENTOSUM MARE. 

MEANWHILE a thickening mist had descended on 
the drifting wretches. They were ignorant of 
their whereabouts, they could scarcely see a cable's 
length around. Despite a furious storm of hail which 
forced them to bow their heads, the women had obsti- 
nately refused to go below again. No one, however 
hopeless, but wishes, if shipwreck be inevitable, to meet 
it in the open air. When so near death, a ceiling above 
one's head seems like the first outline of a cofhn. 

They were now in a short and chopping sea. A turgid 
sea indicates its constraint. Even in a fog the entrance 
to a strait may be known by the boiling appearance of 
the waves. And it was so in this case, for they were 
unconsciously skirting the coast of Alderney. Between 
the Caskets and Ortach on the west and Alderney on the 
east, the sea is cramped and hemmed in. In this un- 
comfortable position the sea suffers like anything else ; 
and when it suffers, it is irritable. Consequently, that 
channel is a thing to fear. The " Matutina " was in 
that channel now. 

Imagine under the sea a tortoise shell as big as Hyde 
Park or the Champs Elys^es, of which every striature is 
a shoal, and every embossment a reef. Such is the 
western approach of Alderney. The sea covers and con- 
ceals this shipwrecking apparatus. On this conglomera- 
tion of submarine breakers the cloven waves leap and 



POETENTOSUM MARE. lo5 

foam ; in calm weather a chopping sea, in storms a chaos 
reigns. The shipwrecked men observed this new com- 
plication without endeavouring to explain it to them- 
selves. Suddenly they understood it. A pale vista 
broadened in the zenith ; a wan tinge overspread the 
sea; the livid light revealed on the port side a long 
shoal stretching eastward, towards which the power of 
the rushing wind was driving the vessel. What was 
that shoal ? They shuddered. They would have shud- 
dered even more had a voice answered them," Alderney ! " 

No other isle is so well defended against man's ap- 
proach as Alderney. Below and above water it is pro- 
tected by a savage guard, of which Ortach is the outpost. 
To the west are Burhou, Sauteriaux, Anfroque, Niangle, 
Fond du Croc, Les Jumelles, La Grosse, La Clanque, 
Les Eguillons, Le Vrac, La Fosse -Mali^re ; to the east, 
Sauquet, Hommeau Floreau, La Brinebetais, La Ques- 
lingue, Croquelihou, La Fourche, Le Saut, Noire Puie, 
Coupie, Orbue. These are hydra-headed monsters of the 
protecting reef. One of these reefs is called Le But, — 
the Goal,— as if to imply that every voyage ends there. 
This obstruction, simplified by night and sea, looked to 
the shipwrecked men like a single dark belt of rocks, a 
sort of blot on the horizon. 

Shipwreck is the height of helplessness. To be near 
land, and unable to reach it ; to float, yet not to be able 
to do so in any desired direction ; to rest the foot on 
what seems firm and is fragile ; to be full of life, and 
yet o'ershadowed by death; to be a prisoner in space; 
to be walled in between sky and ocean ; to have the 
infinite overhead like a dungeon ; to be encompassed by 
the treacherous winds and waves ; to be seized, bound, 
paralyzed, — such a load of misfortune stupefies and 
crushes us. We imagine that in it we catch a glimpse 
of the sneer of the opponent who is beyond our reach.. 



136 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

That which holds you fast is that which releases the 
birds and sets the fishes free. It seems nothing, and is 
everything. We are dependent on the air which is 
ruffled by our mouths ; we are dependent on the water 
which we catcli in the hollow of our hands. Draw a 
glassful from the storm, and it is but a cup of bitterness ; 
a mouthful is nausea, a waveful is extermination. The 
grain of sand in the desert, the foam-flake on the sea, are 
fearful symptoms. Omnipotence takes no care to hide 
its atom ; it changes weakness into strength ; and it is 
with the infinitely little that the infinitely great crushes 
you. It is with its drops that the ocean overwhelms 
you. You feel you are a plaything. A plaything : 
ghastly epithet ! 

The " Matutina " was a little above Alderney, which 
was not an unfavourable position ; but she was drifting 
towards its northern point, which was fatal. As a bent 
bow discharges its arrow, the nor'-wester was shooting 
the vessel towards the northern cape. Off that point, a 
little beyond the harbour of Corbelets, is that which the 
seamen of the Norman archipelago call a " singe, " — 
that is, a current. The " singe " is a furious kind of 
current. A wreath of funnels in the shallows produces 
a wreath of whirlpools on the surface. You escape one 
only to fall into another. A ship caught hold of by the 
" singe " whirls round and round until some sharp rock 
cleaves her hull; then the shattered vessel stops, her 
stern rises from the waves, the bow completes the revo- 
lution in the abyss, the stern sinks in, and the entire 
wreck is sucked down. The circle of foam broadens, 
and nothing is seen on the surface of the waves but a 
few bubbles here and there. 

The three most dangerous currents in the whole Chan- 
nel are — one close to the well-known Girdler Sands; 
one at Jersey between the Pignonnet and the Point of 
Noirmont; and that of Alderney. 



PORTENTOSUM MARE. 137 

Had a local pilot been on board the " Matutina, " he 
could have warned them of their fresh peril. In place 
of a pilot, they had their instinct. In situations of ex- 
treme danger men are endowed with second sight. With- 
out knowing exactly what awaited them, they approached 
the spot with horror. How could they double that cape ? 
They had no means of doing it. Just as they had seen, 
first the Caskets, then Ortach, loom up before them, they 
now saw the point of Alderney, all of steep rock. It 
was like a number of giants rising up one after another 
to offer them battle. Charybdis and Scylla make but 
two ; the Caskets, Ortach, and Alderney make three. 
The phenomenon of the horizon, invaded by the rocks, 
was again repeated with the grand monotony of the deep. 
The battles of the ocean have the same sublime tautology 
as the* combats of Homer. Each wave, as they neared 
it, added twenty cubits to the apparent cape, already 
greatly magnified by the mist; the fast decreasing dis- 
tance seemed to render destruction more and more inevi- 
table. They were on the edge of the seething current 
already ! The first ripple that seized them would drag 
them in ; another wave surmounted, and all would be 
over! 

Suddenly the hooker was driven back, as if by a blow 
from a Titan's fist. The wave reared up under the ves- 
sel and fell back, throwing the waif back in its mane of 
foam. The " Matutina, " thus impelled, drifted away 
from Alderney. She was again on the open sea. Whence 
had come the succour ? From the wind. The breath of 
the storm had changed its direction. The wave had 
made them its toy; now it was the wind's turn. They 
had saved themselves from the Caskets. Off Ortach it 
was the wave which had been their friend ; now it was 
the wind. The wind had suddenly veered from north 
to south. A sou'-wester had succeeded the nor'-wester. 



138 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

The current is the wind in the waters ; the wind is the 
current in the air. These two forces had just counter- 
acted each other, and it had been the wind's will to 
snatch its prey from the current. 

The whims of ocean are incomprehensible ; they are, 
perhaps, an embodiment of the perpetual. When one is 
at their mercy one can neither hope nor despair. They 
do and then undo. The ocean amuses itself. Every 
shade of wild, untamed ferocity is phased in the vast 
and cunning sea, which Jean Bart used to call " that 
big brute. " To its claws and their gashings succeed soft 
intervals of velvet paws. Sometimes the storm hurries 
on a wreck, at others it works out the problem with 
care ; it might almost be said that it lingers over it. 
The sea can afford to take its time, as its victims learn 
to their cost. 

"We must own that occasionally these lulls in the tor- 
ture announce deliverance. Such cases are rare. How- 
ever this may be, men in extreme peril are quick to 
believe in rescue; the slightest cessation in the storm's 
threats is sufficient, — they tell themselves that they are 
out of danger. After believing themselves as good as 
buried, they announce their resurrection. It appears 
that their luck has turned; they declare themselves 
satisfied ; they are saved ; they cry quits with God. 

The sou '-wester set in with a whirlwind. Ship- 
wrecked men have never any but rough helpers. The 
" Matutina " was dragged rapidly out to sea by the re- 
mains of her rigging, like a dead woman trailed by the 
hair. It was like the freedom granted by Tiberius, at 
the price of violation. The wind treated with brutality 
those whom it saved ; it rendered service with fury ; it 
gave help without pity. The wreck was breaking up 
under the severity of its deliverers. Hailstones, big and 
hard enough to charge a blunderbuss, smote the vessel ; 



PORTENTOSUM MARE. 139 

at every rise and fall of the waves these hailstones rolled 
about the deck like marbles. The hooker, whose deck 
was almost even with the water was being beaten out of 
shape by the heavy sea and its clouds of spray. On 
board it each man was for himself. They clung on as 
best they could. As each sea swept over them, it was 
with a sense of surprise that they saw that all were still 
there. Several had their faces torn by splinters. Hap- 
pily despair makes stout hands. In terror a child's 
hand has the grasp of a giant ; agony makes a vice of a 
woman's fingers; a girl in her fright can almost bury 
her rose-coloured fingers in a piece of iron. With hooked 
fingers they hung on somehow, as the waves dashed over 
them ; but each wave increased their fear of being swept 
away. 

But their fears were suddenly relieved. 



CHAPTEE XVI. 

THE PEOBLEM SUDDENLY WORKS IN SILENCE. 

THE hurricane ended as abruptly as it began. In a 
minute or two there was no longer sou '-wester or 
nor'-wester in the air. The fierce clarions of space were 
mute. The whole of the water-spout had poured from 
the sky without any sign of diminution, as if it had 
slided perpendicularly into a gulf beneath. Snow-flakes 
took the place of hailstones ; the snow began to fall 
slowly. There was no more swell ; the sea quieted 
down. 

Such sudden cessations are peculiar to snow-storms. 
The electric influence exhausted, everything becomes 
still, — even the sea, which in ordinary storms often re- 
mains agitated for a long time. In snow-storms it is 
not so. There is then no prolonged disturbance in the 
deep. Like a weary worker it becomes drowsy directly, 
— thus almost giving the lie to the laws of statics, but 
not astonishing old seamen, who know that the sea is 
full of unforeseen surprises. The same phenomenon takes 
place, although very rarely, in ordinary storms. Thus, 
in our own time, on the occasion of the memorable hur- 
ricane of July 27, 1867, at Jersey the wind, after four- 
teen hours' fury, suddenly relapsed into a dead calm. 

In a few minutes the hooker was floating on sleeping 
waters. At the same time (for the last phase of these 
storms resembles the first) the crew could distinguish 
nothing ; all that had been made visible in the convul- 



THE PROBLEM SUDDENLY WORKS IN SILENCE. 141 

sions of the meteoric cloud was again dark. Pale out- 
lines were fused in vague mist, and the gloom of infinite 
space closed in around the vessel. Walls of inky black- 
ness surrounded the " Matutina, " and with the grim de- 
liberation of an encroaching iceberg were slowly but 
surely closing in around her. In the zenith nothing 
was visible ; a lid of fog seemed to be closing down upon 
the vessel. It was as if the hooker were at the bottom 
of an unfathomable abyss. The sea was like a puddle 
of molten lead. No movement was perceptible in the 
waters, — ominous immobility! The ocean is never less 
tame than when it is still as a pool. All was silence, 
stillness, darkness. Perchance the silence of inanimate 
objects is taciturnity. The deck was horizontal, with 
an insensible slope to the sides. A few broken planks 
were sliding about. The block on which they had 
lighted the tow steeped in tar, in place of the signal- 
light which had been washed away, no longer swung at 
the prow, and no longer let fall burning drops into the 
sea. "What little breeze remained in the clouds was 
noiseless. The snow fell thickly, softly, and almost 
perpendicularly. No sound of breakers could be heard. 
The quiet of midnight was over all. 

This profound peace succeeding such terrific tempests 
and frenzied efforts was, for these poor creatures so long 
tossed about, an unspeakable comfort ; it was as though 
the punishment of the rack had ceased. It seemed an 
assurance that they would be saved. They regained con- 
fidence. All that had been fury was now tranquillity. 
It appeared to them a pledge of peace. Their wretched 
hearts swelled with hope. They were able to let go the 
end of rope or beam to which they had clung, to rise, 
straighten themselves up, stand erect, and move about. 
They felt inexpressibly relieved. There are in the depths 
of darkness such phases of paradise, preparations for 



142 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

other things. It was evident that they were delivered 
from the storm, from the foam, from the wind, from the 
uproar. Henceforth all the chances were in their favour. 
In three or four hours it would be sunrise. They would 
be seen by some passing ship ; they would be rescued. 
The worst was over, they were re-entering life. The 
important feat was to have been able to keep alioat until 
the cessation of the tempest. They said to themselves, 
" It is all over now. " 

Suddenly they found that all was indeed over. One 
of the sailors, the northern Basque, Galdeazun by name, 
going down into the hold to look for a rope, came hur- 
riedly up again and exclaimed, — 

" The hold is full ! " 

" Of what ? " asked the chief. 

" Of water, " answered the sailor. 

" What does that mean ? " cried the chief. 

" It means, " replied Galdeazun, " that in half an hour 
we shall be at the bottom of the sea. " 



CHAPTEE XVII. 

THE LAST RESOUKCE. 

THERE was a hole in the keel. A leak had been 
sprung. When it happened no one could tell. 
Was it when they touched the Caskets ? Was it off 
Ortach ? Was it when they were whirled about on the 
shoal west of Alderney ? It was most probable that they 
had struck against some hidden rock, the shock of which 
they had not felt in the midst of the convulsive fury of 
the wind which was tossing them about. When one 
has tetanus who would feel a pin-prick ? 

The other sailor, the southern Basque, whose name was 
Ave Maria, also went down into the hold, and returning 
to the deck said : " There are six feet of water in the hold ;" 
and added, " In less than forty minutes we shall sink. " 

Where was the leak ? They could not find it. It was 
hidden by the water which was filling the hold. The ves- 
sel had a hole in her hull somewhere below the water-line, 
quite forward in the keel. Impossible to find it, impossi- 
ble to check it. They had a wound which they could not 
stanch. The water, however, was not rising very fast. 

The chief called out : " We must work the pump ! " 

Galdeazun replied : " We have no pump left. " 

" Then, " said the chief, " we must make for land. " 

" Where is the land ? " ^ 

"I don't know." 

" Nor I. " 

" But it must be somewhere. " 

" True enough. " 

" Let some one steer for it. " 



144 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

" We have no pilot. " 

" Take the tiller yourself. " 

" We have lost the tiller. " 

" Let 's rig one out of the first beam we can lay hands 
on. Nails — a hammer — quick — some tools. " 

"The carpenter's box went overboard; we have no 
tools. " 

" We '11 steer all the same ; no matter where. " 

" The rudder is lost. " 

" Where is the boat ? We '11 get in that and row. " 

" The boat is gone too. " 

" We '11 row the wreck. " 

" We have lost all our oars. " 

" We '11 have to depend upon our sails then. " 

" We have lost our sails, and the mast as well. " 

" We '11 rig one up with a pole and a tarpaulin. Let 's 
get out of this, and trust to the wind. " 

" There is no wind. " 

The wind, indeed, had deserted them, the storm had 
fled, and its departure, which they had believed to mean 
safety, meant in fact destruction. Had the sou '-wester 
continued, it might have driven them wildly on some 
shore, might have beaten the leak in speed, might per- 
haps have carried them to some propitious sandbank, 
and cast them on it before the hooker foundered. The 
fury of the storm, bearing them onward, might have 
enabled them to reach land ; but no wind now meant no 
hope. They were going to die because the hurricane 
was over. The end was near ! 

Wind, hail, the hurricane, the whirlwind, — these are 
wild combatants that may be overcome ; the storm can 
be taken in the weak point of its armour ; there are re- 
sources against the violence which is often off its guard, 
and often hits wide of the mark. But nothing can be 
done against a calm: there is nothing tangible which 



THE LAST RESOURCE. 145 

you can lay hold upon. The winds are like Cossacks : 
stand your ground and they will disperse. Calms re- 
mind one of an executioner's pincers. 

The water crept up higher and higher in the hold; 
and as it rose, the vessel sank, — slowly but surely. 
Those on board the wreck of the " Matutina " felt that 
most hopeless of catastrophes, — an inert catastrophe 
undermining them. The grim certainty of their fate 
petrified them. No stir in the air, no movement on the 
sea. The motionless is the inexorable. Absorption was 
sucking them down silently. Through the depths of the 
silent waters — without anger, without passion, not will- 
ing, not knowing, not caring — the fatal centre of the 
globe was drawing them downwards. It was no longer 
the wide-open mouth of the sea, the fierce jaws of the 
wind and the wave, that threatened them ; it was as if 
the wretched beings had under them the black gulf of 
the infinite. They felt themselves slowly sinking into 
oblivion. The distance between the deck and the water 
was lessening, — that was all. They could calculate 
her disappearance to the moment. It was the exact 
reverse of submersion by the rising tide. The water 
was not rising towards them, they were sinking into it. 
They were digging their own grave. Their own weight 
was their sexton. Their fate was sealed, not by the 
laws of man, but by the laws of Nature. 

The snow continued to fall, and as the wreck was now 
perfectly motionless, it was covered as with a winding- 
sheet. The hold was becoming fuller and deeper. There 
was no way of getting at the leak. They struck a light 
and fixed three or four torches in holes as best they 
could. Galdeazun brought some old leathern buckets, 
and they tried to bale the hold out, standing in a row 
to pass the buckets from hand to hand ; but the buckets 
were past use ; the leather of some was unstitched, there 

VOL. XIX. — 10 



146 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

were holes in the bottoms of others, and the buckets 
emptied themselves on the way. The difference in 
quantity between the water which was making its way 
in and that which they returned to the sea was ludi- 
crous ; for a hogshead that entered, a glassful was baled 
out ; so they did not improve their condition. It was 
like a miser trying to spend a million, half-penny by 
half-penny. 

The chief said, " Let us lighten the wreck. " 

During the storm they had lashed together the few 
chests which were on deck. These remained tied to the 
stump of the mast. They undid the lashings, and rolled 
the chests overboard through a breach in the gunwale. 
One of these trunks belonged to the Basque woman, who 
could not repress a groan as she saw it going, exclaim- 
ing.— 

" Oh, my new cloak lined with scarlet ! Oh, my poor 
open-work stockings ! Oh, my silver earrings to wear 
at Mass on May -day ! " 

The deck cleared, the cabin had next to be seen to. 
It was greatly encumbered, as the reader may remember, 
by the luggage belonging to the passengers, and by the 
bales belonging to the sailors. They took the luggage, 
and threw it over the gunwale. They carried up the 
bales, and cast them into the sea. The lantern, the 
barrels, the sacks of provisions, the bales, and the water- 
butts, even the pot of soup, — all went over into the 
waves. They unscrewed the nuts of the iron stove, in 
which the fire had long since gone out, hoisted it on 
deck, dragged it to the side of the vessel, and threw it 
overboard. They cast overboard everything they could 
pull out of the deck, — chains, shrouds, and torn rigging. 

From time to time the chief took a torch, and throw-' 
ing its light on the figures painted on the prow looked 
to see how much the wreck had settled down. 



" Let lis throw our crimes into the sea." 
Photo-Etching. — From Drawing by G. Rochegrosse. 



CHArXER XVIII. 

THE HIGHEST EESOUECE. 

THE wreck being lightened was sinking more slowly, 
but none the less surely. The hopelessness of 
their situation was without mitigation; they had ex- 
hausted their last resource. 

" Is there anything else we can throw overboard ? " 
asked one. 

The doctor, whom every one had forgotten, rose from 
the companion-way and answered : " Yes. " 

" What ? " asked the chief. 

" Our crime, " replied the doctor. 

They shuddered, and all cried out : " Amen. " 

The doctor standing up, pale as death, raised his hand 
to heaven, saying : " Kneel down. " 

They all prepared to kneel. 

The doctor went on. " Let us throw our crimes into 
the sea, they weigh us down ; it is they that are sinking 
the ship. Let us cease to think of safety ; let us think 
only of salvation. Our last crime, — the crime which 
we committed, or rather completed, just now, — O 
wretched beings who are listening to me, it is that 
which is overwhelming us! For those who leave in- 
tended murder behind them, it is the height of audacity 
to tempt the mighty deep. He who sins against a child, 
sins against God. True, we were obliged to put to sea, 
but it was certain perdition. The storm, warned by 
the shadow of our crime, came upon us. It is well. 



148 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

Eegret nothing, however. There, not far off in the 
darkness, are the sands of Vauville and Cape La Hogue 
on the coast of France. There was but one possible 
shelter for us, — that was Spain. France was no less 
dangerous to us than England. Our deliverance from 
the sea would have led only to the gibbet. We had no 
alternative but to be hanged or drowned. God has 
chosen for us ; let us give him thanks. He has vouch- 
safed us the grave which cleanses. Brethren, the hand 
of God is in it. Eemember that we just now did our 
best to send that child on high, and that at this very 
moment, as I speak, there is, perhaps, in the world above 
a soul accusing us before a Judge whose eye is upon us. 
Let us make the best use of this last respite ; let us 
make an effort, if time be granted us, to repair, as far as 
possible, the evil that we have done. If the child sur- 
vives us, let us do what we can to aid him ; if he is dead, 
let us seek his forgiveness. Let us cast our sins from 
us. Let us ease our consciences of this load. Let us 
pray that our souls be not cast out from the presence 
of Almighty God, for that is the worst of shipwrecks. 
Bodies go to the fishes, souls to the Evil One. Have 
pity on yourselves. Kneel down, I tell you. T?f' pent- 
ance is the only bark which never sinks. You h;.- e lost 
your compass ; you have gone sadly astray ; but you can 
still pray. " 

The wolves had become lambs : such transformations 
often occur at the hour of death. Even tigers lick the 
crucifix. AVhen the dark portals of the grave yawn, to 
believe is difficult, not to believe is impossible. Hoav- 
ever unsatisfactory the different religious creeds of man- 
kind may be, no matter how little they correspond with 
his conception of the life hereafter, the boldest soul 
quails when the moment of final dissolution comes. 
There must be something that begins when this life 



THE HIGHEST RESOURCE. 149 

ends. This thought impresses itself upon the mind of 
the dying. 

Death is the end of each man's term of probation. 
In that fatal hour he realizes the burden of responsibil- 
ity that rests upon every human soul. That which has 
been decides what is to be. The past returns, and en- 
ters into the future. The known becomes as terrifying 
as the unknown ; it is the confusion of the two which so 
terrifies the dying man. 

These poor wretches had abandoned all hope so far as 
this life was concerned, so they turned their thoughts to 
the other. Their only remaining chance was in its dark 
shadow, and they understood this fact perfectly. " Speak, 
speak ! " they cried out to the doctor ; " there is no one 
else to tell us. We will obey thee. What must we do I 
Speak ! " 

The doctor answered : " The question is how to pass 
over the unknown precipice and reach the shores of the 
unknown world beyond the tomb. Being the wisest 
among you, my danger is greater than yours. You do 
well to leave the choice of the bridge to him whose 
burden is the heaviest. For knowledge only increases 
one's responsibility. How much time have we left? " 

Galdeazun looked at the water-mark, and answered : 
" A little more than a quarter of an hour. " 

" Good, " said the doctor. 

The low roof of the companion-way on Vv^hich he was 
leaning served as a sort of table. The doctor took from 
his pocket his inkhorn and pen, and drew from his 
pocket-book a piece of parchment, the same on which 
he had written, a few hours before, some twenty cramped 
and crooked lines. " A light, " he said. 

The snow, falling like the spray of a cataract, had 
extinguished the torches one after another; there was 
but one left. Ave Maria took it out of the place where 



150 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

it had been stuck, and holding it in his hand, came and 
stood by the doctor's side. 

The doctor replaced his pocket-book in his pocket, 
set the pen and inkhorn on the top of the companion- 
way, unfolded the parchment, and said : " Listen. " 

Then in the midst of the sea, on the sinking deck 
(a sort of quaking flooring of the tomb), the doctor began 
a solemn reading, to which all the shadows seemed to 
listen. The doomed men bowed their heads around him. 
The flickering light of the torch intensified their pallor. 
What the doctor read was written in English. Now and 
then, when one of those woe-begone looks seemed to ask 
an explanation, the doctor would stop, and repeat, either 
in French, Spanish, Basque, or Italian, the passage he 
had just read Stifled sobs and hollow beatings of the 
breast were heard. The wreck was sinking more and 
more. 

The reading over, the doctor placed the parchment flat 
on the companion-way, seized his pen, and on a clear 
margin which he had carefully left at the bottom of 
what he had written, he signed himself : " Gerhadus 
Geestemunde : Doctor. " 

Then turning towards the others, he said : " Come, 
and sign. " 

The Basque woman approached, took the pen, and 
signed herself, " Asuncion. " She handed the pen to 
the Irish woman, who, not knowing how to write, made 
a cross. The doctor, by the side of this cross, wrote, 
" Barbara Fermoy, of Tyrrif Island, in the Hebrides. " 
Then he handed the pen to the chief of the band. The 
chief signed," Gaizdorra: Captal. " The Genoese signed 
himself under the chief's name, " Giangirate, " The 
Languedocian signed, " Jacques Quartourze : alias the 
Narbonnais. " The Provencal signed, " Luc-Pierre Cap- 
garoupe, of the Galleys of Mahon. " 



THE HIGHEST RESOURCE. 151 

Under these signatures the doctor added a note : " Of 
the crew of three men, the captain having been washed 
overboard by a sea, but tv^^o remain, and they have 
signed. " 

The two sailors affixed their names underneath the 
note. The northern Basque signed himself, " Galdeazun. " 
The southern Basque signed, " Ave Maria : Thief. " 

Then the doctor said : " Capgaroupe. " 

" Here, " said the Provencal. 

" Have you Hardquanonne's flask ? " 

" Yes. " 

" Give it me. " 

Capgaroupe drank off the last mouthful of brandy, and 
handed the flask to the doctor. 

The water was rising in the hold; the wreck was 
sinking deeper into the sea. The sloping edges of the 
ship were covered by a thin wave, which was rising. 
All were crowded on the centre of the deck. 

The doctor dried the ink on the signatures by the 
flame of the torch, and folding the parchment into a 
narrower compass than the diameter of the neck, put it 
into the flask, and called for the cork. 

" I don't know where it is, " said Capgaroupe. 

" Here is a piece of rope, " said Jacques Quartourze. 

The doctor corked the flask with a bit of rope, and 
asked for some tar. Galdeazun went forward, extin- 
guished the signal-light, took the vessel which had held 
it from the stern, and brought it, half full of burning 
pitch, to the doctor. The flask containing the parch- 
ment which they had all signed was carefully corked 
and tarred over. 

" It is done, " said the doctor. 

And from every mouth, faltered in every language, 
came as if from the tomb such dismal utterances as : 

" Ainsi soit-il ! " 



152 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

"Mea culpa!" 

" Asi sea ! " 

" Aro rai ! " 

" Amen ! " 

It was as though the gloomy voices of Babel were 
resounding through the shadows as Heaven uttered its 
awful refusal to hear them. 

Tlie doctor turned away from his companions in crime 
and distress, and took a few steps towards the gunwale. 
Eeaching the side, he looked into space, and said, in a 
deep voice : " Bist du bei mir ? " Perchance he was 
addressing some phantom. 

The wreck was sinking. All the others stood as in a 
dream. Prayer mastered them by main force. They 
not only knelt, they cowered. There was something 
involuntary in their contrition ; they wavered as a sail 
flaps when the breeze fails. And the haggard group 
took by degrees, with clasping of hands and prostration 
of foreheads, various attitudes expressive of profound 
humiliation. Some strange reflection of the deep 
seemed to soften their villainous features. 

The doctor returned towards them. Whatever his 
past may have been, the old man was truly great in the 
presence of the catastrophe. He was not a man to be 
taken unawares. Brooding over him was the calm of 
a silent horror ; on his countenance was the majesty of 
God's will comprehended. This old and thoughtful 
outlaw unconsciously assumed the air of a pontiff. 

" Listen to me, " he said solemnly. He contemplated 
the waste of water for a moment, and added : " We are 
about to die ! " 

Then he took the torch from the hands of Ave Maria, 
and waved it. A spark broke from it and flew into the 
night. Then the doctor cast the torch into the sea. It 
was extinguished : every glimmer of light had disap- 



THE HIGHEST RESOURCE. 153 

peared. Nothing remained but the dense, unfathomable 
gloom. It was like the very grave itself. 

In the darkness, the doctor was heard saying : " Let 
us pray. " 

All knelt down. It was no longer on the snow, but 
in the water, that they knelt. They had but a few 
minutes more to live. The doctor alone remained 
standing. The flakes of snow falling on him had 
sprinkled him as if with white tears, and made him 
plainly visible against the background of darkness. He 
made the sign of the cross and raised his voice, while 
beneath his feet he felt that almost imperceptible oscil- 
lation which precedes the moment in which a wreck is 
about to founder. He said ; — 

" Pater noster qui es in coelis. " 

" Notre Pfere qui etes aux cieux, " the Provencal re- 
peated in French. 

" Ar nathair ata ar neamh, " repeated the Irish woman 
in Gaelic, understood by the Basque woman. 

" Sanctificetur nomen tuum, " continued the doctor. 

"Que votre nom soit sanctifid, " said the Provencal. 

" Naomhthar hainm, " said the Irish woman. 

" Adveniat regnum tuum, " continued the doctor. 

" Que votre r^gne arrive, " said the Provene^al. 

" Tigeadh do rioghachd, " said the Irish woman. 

As they knelt, the water had risen to their shoulders. 

" Fiat voluntas tua," the doctor went on. 

" Que votre volontd soit faite, " stammered the 
Proven(jal. 

" Deuntar do thoil ar an Hhalamb, " cried the Irish 
woman and Basque woman. 

" Sicut in coelo, sicut in terra, " said the doctor. 

No voice answered him. He looked down. Every 
head was under water. They had allowed themselves 
to be drowned on their knees. 



154 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

The doctor took in his right hand the flask which he 
had placed on the companion-way and raised it high 
above his head. The wreck was going down. As he 
sank, the doctor murmured the rest of the prayer. For 
an instant his shoulders were above water; then his 
head ; then nothing remained but his arm holding up 
the flask, as if he were showing it to the Infinite. Then 
his arm disappeared ; there was no more of a ripple on 
the sea than there would have been on a cask of oil. 
The snow continued to fall. 

One thing floated, and was carried by the waves into 
the darkness. It was the tarred flask, kept afloat by its 
osier cover. 



BOOK III. 

THE CHILD IN THE SHADOW. 



CHAPTEE L 

CHESIL. 

THE storm was no less severe on land than on sea. 
The same wild strife among the elements had taken 
place around the abandoned child. The weak and inno- 
cent become their sport in the exhibitions of frantic rage 
in which they sometimes indulge. Shadows see not, 
and inanimate things have not the clemency they are 
supposed to possess. 

On the land there was but little wind ; yet there was an 
inexplicable dumbness in the cold. There was no hail; 
but the thickness of the falling snow was fearful. Hail- 
stones strike, harass, bruise, stun, crush ; snow-flakes do 
worse. Soft and inexorable, the snow-flake does its 
work in silence. Touch it, and it melts. It is pure, 
even as the hypocrite is candid. It is by tiny particles 
slowly heaped one upon - another that the snow-flake 
becomes an avalanche and the knave a criminal. 

The child continued to advance in the mist : mist, 
like snow, is full of treachery. Though ill-fitted to 
cope with all these perils, he had succeeded in reaching 
the bottom of the descent, and liad gained Chesil. With- 
out knowing it he was on an isthmus, with water on 



156 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

either side ; so that he couhl not lose his way in the 
fog, in the snow, or in the darkness, without falling 
into the deep waters of the gulf on the right hand, 
or into the raging billows of the sea on the left. He 
was travelling on, in blissful ignorance, between these 
two abysses. 

The Isthmus of Portland was at that time extremely 
sharp and rugged. No sign of its former configuration 
remains to-day. Since the idea of manufacturing Port- 
land stone into cement was first conceived, the cliffs 
have been subjected to operations which have com- 
pletely changed their original appearance. Calcareous 
lias, slate, and trap are still to be found there, rising 
from layers of conglomerate like teeth out of a gum. 
But the pickaxe has broken up and levelled those brist- 
ling, rugged peaks which were once the homes of the 
eagles. The summits no longer exist where the labbes 
and the skua gulls used to flock, soaring, like the envi- 
ous, to sully high places. In vain you seek the tall 
monolith called Godolphin, — an old British word signi- 
fying " white eagle. " In summer you may still gather on 
these cliffs (pierced and perforated like a sponge) rose- 
mary, pennyroyal, wild hyssop, and sea-fennel, which 
when infused makes a good cordial, and that herb full 
of knots, which grows in the sand and from which they 
make matting; but you no longer find grey amber or 
black tin, or that triple species of slate, — one sort 
green, one blue, and the third the colour of sage -leaves. 
The foxes, the badgers, the otters, and the martens have 
taken themselves off; on the cliffs of Portland, as well 
as at the extremity of Cornwall, where there were at one 
time chamois, none remain. The people still fish in 
some inlets for plaice and pilchards; but the shy 
salmon no longer ascend the Wey, between Micliaelmas 
and Christmas, to spawn. Nor can one see there, as 



CHESIL. 157 

durinc the reign of Elizabeth, those nameless birds as 
large as hawks, who cut an apple in two, but ate only 
the° pips. You never meet those crows with yellow 
beaks, called in English Cornish choughs (pijrrocorax 
in Latin), who mischievously drop burning twigs on 
thatched roofs; nor that magic bird the fulmar, a 
wanderer from the Scottish archipelago, dropping from 
his bill an oil which the islanders used to burn in their 
lamps. Nor do you ever find in the evening, in the 
plash of the ebbing tide, that ancient, legendary neitse, 
with the feet of a hog and the bleat of a calf. The tide 
no longer throws up the whiskered seal, with its curled 
ears and sharp jaws, dragging itself along on its nailless 
paws. On the Portland cliffs, so changed nowadays as 
to be scarcely recognizable the absence of forests pre- 
cluded nightingales ; and now the falcon, the swan, and 
the wild goose have fled. The sheep of Portland, now- 
adays, are fat and have fine wool; the few scattered 
ewes which nibbled the salt grass there two centuries 
ago were small and tough, and coarse of fleece, as be- 
came Celtic flocks brought there by garlic-eating shep- 
herds who lived to a hundred, and who at the distance 
of half a mile could pierce a cuirass with their yard-long 
arrows. Uncultivated land makes coarse wool. 

The Chesil of to-day resembles in no particular the 
Chesil of the past, so much has it been disturbed by man 
and by those furious winds which disintegrate the very 
stones. The Isthmus of Portland two hundred years ago 
was a huge mound of sand, with a vertebrated spine 
of rock. At present this tongue of land bears a rail- 
way, terminating in a pretty cluster of houses, called 
Chesilton, and there is a Portland station. Ptailway 
carriages roll where seals used to crawl. 

The child's danger had now assumed a different form. 
What he had had to fear in the descent of the cliff was 



158 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

falling to the bottom of the precipice ; in the isthmus, 
his fear was of falling into the holes. After contending 
with the precipice, he had now to contend with pitfalls. 
Everything on the sea-shore is a trap ; the rock is slip- 
pery, the strand is full of quicksands. Eesting-places 
are but snares. It is walking on ice which may sud- 
denly crack and yawn with a fissure, through which you 
will disappear. The ocean has false stages below, like 
a well-arranged theatre. 

The long backbone of granite, from which both sides 
of the isthmus slope, is difficult of access. It is hard to 
find there what, in scene-shifters' language, are termed 
" practicables. " Man need expect no hospitality from 
the ocean, — from the rock no more than from the wave; 
the sea is kind to the bird and the fish alone. Isthmuses 
are especially bare and rugged ; the wave, which wears 
and undermines them on either side, reduces them to 
the simplest form. Everywhere there were sharp 
ridges, cuttings, frightful fragments of torn stone 
yawning with many points like the jaws of a shark, 
breakneck places of wet moss, rapid slopes of rock end- 
ing in the sea. Whosoever undertakes to cross an isth- 
mus encounters at every step huge blocks of stone as 
large as houses, in the shape of shin-bones, shoulder- 
blades, and thigh-bones, — the hideous anatomy of dis- 
membered rocks. It is not without reason that these 
strim of the sea-shore are called ribs. The wayfarer 
must escape as he best can out of the confusion of 
these ruins. It is like journeying over the bones of 
an enormous skeleton. 

Imagine a child put to this Herculean task ! Broad 
daylight might have aided him ; but it was night. A 
guide was necessary ; but he was alone. All the vigour 
of manhood would not have been too much ; but he had 
onlv the feeble strength of a child. In default of a 



CHESIL. 159 

guide, a footpath might have aided him ; but there was 
none. By instinct he avoided the sharp ridge of rock, 
and kept as near the strand as possible. It was there 
that he met with the pitfalls. They were, multiplied 
before him under three forms, — the pitfall of water, the 
pitfall of snow, and the pitfall of sand. This last is the 
most dangerous of all, because the most deceptive. To 
know the peril we face is alarming ; to be ignorant of it 
is terrible. The child was fighting against unknown 
dangers ; he was groping his way through something 
which might perhaps prove to be his grave. But he 
did not hesitate. He went round the rocks, avoided 
the crevices, guessed at the pitfalls, and followed the 
twistings and turnings caused by such obstacles ; yet he 
went on. Though unable to advance in a straight line, 
he walked with a firm tread. He patiently retraced his 
steps if necessary ; he managed to tear himself in time 
from the horrid bird-lime of the quicksands ; he shook 
the snow off him ; more than once he entered the water 
up to the knees, and directly he left it his wet knees 
were frozen by the intense cold of the night ; he walked 
rapidly in his stiffened garments, yet he took care to 
keep his sailor's coat dry and warm on his chest. He 
was still tormented by hunger. 

The chances of the abyss are illimitable. Everything 
is possible in it, even salvation ; an issue may be found, 
though it be invisible. How the child, wrapped in a 
smothering winding-sheet of snow, lost on a narrow 
elevation between two jaws of an abyss, managed to 
cross the isthmus is something he could not himself 
have explained. He slipped, climbed, rolled, searched, 
walked, persevered, — that is all ; that, indeed, is the 
secret of all triumphs. At the end of less than half an 
hour he felt that the ground was rising. He had reached 
the other shore. Leaving Chesil, he had gained terra 



160 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

firma. The bridge which now unites Sandford Castle 
with Smallmouth Sands did not then exist. It is 
probable that in his gropings he had re-ascended as far 
as Wyke Eegis, where there was then a tongue of sand, 
a natural road crossing East Fleet. 

The isthmus lay behind the child now ; but he found 
himself still face to face with the tempest, with the 
cold, and with the night. Before him stretched the 
plain, shrouded in impenetrable gloom. He examined 
the ground, seeking a footpath. Suddenly he bent 
down : he had discovered in the snow something that 
looked like a track. It was indeed a track, — the im- 
print of a foot. The print was clearly cut in the white- 
ness of the snow, which rendered it distinctly visible. 
He examined it. It was a naked foot ; too small for 
that of a man, too large for that of a child. It was 
probably the foot of a woman. Beyond that mark was 
another, then another and another. The footprints 
followed one another at the distance of a step, and 
struck across the plain to the right. They were still 
fresh, and but slighty covered with snow. A woman 
had just passed that way. This woman was walking in 
the direction where the child ^rrA seen the smoke. With 
his eyes fixed on the footprintc, he set to work to follow 
them. 



CHAPTEE II. 

THE EFFECT OF SNOW. 

THE child followed in this track for some time ; but 
unfortunately the footprints became more and more 
indistinct, for the snow was falling thick and fast. It 
was at the very same time that the hooker was encoun- 
tering the furious snow-storm at sea. The child, in 
distress like the vessel, but in a dih'erent fashion, had, 
in the inextricable confusion of shadows that rose up 
before him, no guide but the footsteps in the snow, and 
he held to it as the thread of the labyrinth. 

Suddenly, whether the snow had filled them up en- 
tirely, or for some other reason, the footsteps ceased. 
All became even, level, smooth, without a stain, with- 
out an irregularity. There was now nothing buL a 
white mantle drawn over the earth, and a black one 
over the sky. It seemed as if the pedestrian must 
have flown away. The child, in despair, bent down 
and searched ; but in vain. As he arose he fancied that 
he heard some indistinct sound, but he could not be 
sure of it. It resembled a voice, a breath, a shadow ; it 
was more human than animal, more sepulchral than 
living. It was not a sound, but rather the shadow of 
a sound. He looked, but saw nothing. Solitude, wide 
and naked, stretched before him. He listened : that 
which he had thought he heard had faded away. Per- 
haps it had been only fancy. He still listened : all 

VOL. XIX. — 11 



162 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

was silent. He went on his way again, walking on at 
random, with nothing thenceforth to guide him. 

As the child moved away the noise began again. 
This time he could doubt no longer. It was a groan, 
almost a sob. He turned and peered eagerly into the 
darkness, but saw nothing. The sound arose once more. 
It was the most penetrating and piercing, yet feeble 
voice imaginable, for it certainly was a voice. It arose 
from a soul. There was a strange palpitation in the 
murmur ; nevertheless, it seemed uttered almost uncon- 
sciously. It was an appeal from some one in suffering, 
and yet from some one who was scarcely conscious of 
that suffering or the appeal for relief. The cry — per- 
haps a first breath, perhaps a last sigh — was equally 
removed from the rattle which ends life and the wail 
with which it commences. It breathed a gloomy sup- 
plication from the depths of night. The child gazed 
intently everywhere, — far, near, on high, below. There 
was no one in sight. He listened. The voice arose 
again ; he heard it distinctly. The sound somewhat 
resembled the bleating of a lamb. Then he was fright- 
ened, and thought for an instant of flight. The sound 
arose again ; this was the fourth time. It was strangely 
miserable and plaintive ; one felt that after that last 
effort, which was more mechanical than voluntary, the 
cry would probably be extinguished. It was an expir- 
ing exclamation, instinctively appealing to the amount 
of aid lying dormant in space. It was an agonized 
appeal to a possible Providence. 

The child advanced in the direction from which the 
sound seemed to proceed. Still he saw nothing. He 
advanced again, watchfully. The wail continued; in- 
articulate and confused as it was, it had become clear, 
almost vibrating. The child was near the voice ; but 
where was it ? While he was hesitating between an 



THE EFFECT OF SNOW. 163 

impulse which urged him to fly and an instinct whicli 
commanded him to remain, he perceived in the snow at 
his feet, a few steps before him, a sort of undulation of 
the dimensions of a human body, a little eminence, low, 
long, and narrow, like the mound over a grave, — a 
sepulchre in a white church-yard. At the same time 
the voice cried out again. It was from beneath the 
undulation that it proceeded. The child crouched down 
beside the undulation, and with both his hands began 
to clear it away. Beneath the snow which he removed 
the lines of a human form soon became visible, and 
suddenly in the hollow he had made a pale face 
appeared. 

The cry had not proceeded from this face, for the eyes 
were shut, and the mouth, though open, was full of 
snow. The form remained motionless; it stirred not 
under the benumbed hands of the child. He shuddered 
when he touched it. It was a woman's form. Her 
dishevelled hair was mingled with the snow; she was 
dead. 

Again the child set to work to brush away the snow. 
The neck of the dead woman appeared ; then her shoul- 
ders, clothed in rags. Suddenly he felt something move 
feebly under his touch. It was something small that 
was buried, and that stirred. The child swiftly cleared 
away the snow, revealing a wretched little body — thin, 
and icy cold, but still alive — lying naked on the dead 
woman's naked breast. It was a little girl. 

It had been swaddled up, but in rags so scanty that 
in its struggles it had freed itself from its tatters. Its 
attenuated limbs, which yet contained a little warmth, 
and its feeble breath, had somewhat melted the snow. 
A nurse would have said that the baby was live or six 
months old ; but perhaps it might be a year old, for 
growth, in poverty, suffers deplorable drawbacks, which 



164 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

sometimes even produce rachitis. When the baby's face 
was exposed to the air it gave a cry, the continuation of 
its moan of distress. For the mother not to have heard 
that sob proved her irrevocably dead. The child took 
the infant in his arms. 

The stiffened body of the mother was a fearful sight. 
A spectral light seemed to proceed from her face. Her 
parted, breathless lips seemed to be forming in the 
mysterious language of shadows her answer to the ques- 
tions put to the dead by the Invisible. The ghastly 
reflection of the icy plains was on her countenance. 
There was a youthful forehead under the brown hair, 
an almost indignant knitting of the eyebrows, pinched 
nostrils, closed eyelids, the lashes glued together by the 
rime, and from the corners of the eyes to the corners of 
the mouth extended a channel of frozen tears. The 
snow lighted up the corpse. Winter and death are not 
unlike ; the corpse is a human circle. The nakedness 
of the dead woman's breasts was pathetic. They had 
fulfilled their purpose. On them was a sublime blight 
of the life infused into one being by another from whom 
life has fled, and maternal majesty was there instead of 
virginal purity. At the point of one of the nipples was 
a white pearl. It was a drop of frozen milk. 

Let us explain at once. On the plain over which the 
deserted boy was passing a beggar woman, nursing her 
infant and searching for a refuge, had lost her way a 
few hours before. Benumbed with cold she had fallen 
on the snow, and was unable to rise again. The fall- 
inj? snow covered her. As long as she was able she 
had clasped her little girl to her bosom ; and thus she 
died. 

The infant had tried to suck the marble breast of the 
mother. Blind trust, inspired by Nature ; for it seems 
that it is possible for a woman to suckle her child even 



THE EFFECT OF SNOW. 165 

after her last sigli. But the lips of the infant had been 
unable to find the breast where the drop of milk had 
frozen, while under the snow the child, more accustomed 
to the cradle than the tomb, had wailed despairingly. 
The deserted child had heard the cry of the dying child. 
He disinterred it. He took it in his arms. 

When the infant found herself in his arms she ceased 
crying. The faces of the two children touched each 
other, and the purple lips of the infant sought the 
cheek of the boy, as it had been a breast. The little 
girl had nearly reached the moment when the congealed 
blood stops the action of the heart. Her mother had 
touched her with the chill of death, for a corpse com- 
municates death ; its numbness is infectious. The in- 
fant's feet, hands, arms, knees, seemed paralyzed by 
cold. The boy felt the terrible chill. He had on him 
one garment dry and warm, — his pilot jacket. He 
placed the infant on the breast of the corpse, took off 
his jacket, wrapped the infant in it, which he took up 
again in his arms; and then, almost naked, under the 
blast of the north wind which covered him with eddies 
of snow-flakes, carrying the infant, he continued his 
journey. The little one having succeeded in again find- 
ing the boy's cheek, again applied her lips to it; and, 
soothed by the warmth, she fell asleep. First kiss of 
those two souls in the darkness ! 

The mother lay there on her back upon the snow, her 
face turned up to the night; but perhaps at the moment 
when the boy stripped himself to clothe the little girl, 
the mother saw him from the depths of infinity. 



CHAPTER III. 

A BURDEN MAKES A ROUGH ROAD ROUGHER. 

IT was little more than four hours since the hooker 
sailed from the creek of Portland, leaving the boy 
on the shore. During the long hours since he had been 
deserted, and had been journeying onwards, he had met 
but three persons of that human society into which he 
was, perchance, about to enter, — a man (the man on 
the hill), a woman (the woman in the snow), and the 
little girl whom he was carrying in his arms. He was 
exhausted by fatigue and hunger, yet advanced more 
resolutely than ever, though with less strength and an 
added burden. He was now almost naked. The few 
rags which remained upon him, hardened by the frost, 
were sharp as glass, and cut his skin. He was colder, 
but the infant was warmer. That which he lost was 
not thrown away, but was gained by her. He found 
that the poor infant enjoyed the comfort, which to her 
was a renewal of life. He continued to advance. From 
time to time, still holding his burden securely, he bent 
down, and taking a handful of snow rubbed his feet 
with it, to prevent their being frost-bitten. At other 
times, his throat feeling as if it were on fire, he put a 
little snow in his mouth and sucked it ; this for a 
moment assuaged his thirst, but later changed it into 
fever, — a relief which proved only an aggravation. 

The storm had become appalling in its violence. 
Deluges of snow are possible ; this was one. The tern- 



A BURDEN MAKES A ROUGH ROAD ROUGHER. 167 

pest scourged the shore at the same time that it up-tore 
the depths of oceau. This was, perhaps, the very- 
moment when the distracted hooker was going to pieces 
iu its battle with the breakers. 

The boy travelled on in this cutting north wind, still 
towards the east, over wide surfaces of snow. He knew 
not how the hours passed. For a long time he had 
ceased to see the smoke. Such indications are soon 
effaced in the night; besides, it was long past the hour 
when fires are put out. He had, perhaps, made a mis- 
take, and it was possible that neither town nor village 
existed in the direction in which he was travelline. 
Doubting, he yet persevered. Two or three times the 
little infant cried, at which times he adopted in his 
gait a rocking movement, and the girl was soothed and 
silenced ; she ended by falling into a sound sleep. 
Shivering himself, he felt to see if she were warm, 
and frequently tightened the folds of the jacket round 
her neck, so that the frost could not get iu through any 
opening, and so that no melted snow should drop be- 
tween the garment and the child. The plain was un- 
equal ; in the declivities into which it sloped, the snow, 
drifted by the wind, was so deep that it almost ingulfed 
him, and he had to struggle through it, half buried. He 
walked on, however, working away the snow with his 
knees. Having passed the ravine, he reached the high 
lands swept by the winds, where the snow was thin. 
There he found the surface a sheet of ice. The little 
girl's lukewarm breath, playing on his face, warmed it 
for a moment, then froze in his hair, stiffening it into 
icicles. 

The boy now felt the approach of another danger. He 
did not dare to sit down and rest; for he knew that if 
he did so he would never rise again. He was overcome 
by fatigue, and even the weight of the snow would, as 



168 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

in the case of the dead woman, have held him to the 
ground, while the ice would have glued him alive to the 
earth. He had tripped on the sides of precipices, and 
had recovered himself ; he had stumbled into holes, and 
got out again, — but now the slightest fall would be 
death ; a false step would prove fatal. He must not slip ; 
yet everything was slippery ; everywhere there was rime 
and frozen snow. The little creature whom he carried 
made his progress fearfully difhcult ; she was not only 
a burden which his weariness and exhaustion made 
excessive, but was also an encumbrance in that she 
occupied both his arms, — and to him who walks over 
ice, arms serve as a natural and necessary balancing-pole. 
The boy was obliged to do without this balance-pole. 
He did do without it and advanced, bending under his 
burden, not knowing what would become of him. The 
infant that he carried was the drop causing the cup of 
distress to overflow; yet he advanced, reeling at every 
step, and accomplishing, without spectators, miracles 
of equilibrium. 

Without spectators ? We repeat that unseen eyes 
perhaps watched him on this perilous path, — the eyes 
of the mother and the eyes of God ! 

The boy staggered, slipped, recovered himself, tight- 
ened his hold on the infant, and drawing the jacket 
closer about her covered her head with it, and staggered 
on again. He was, to all appearance, on the plains 
where Bincleaves Farm was afterwards established, 
between what are now called Spring Gardens and the 
Parsonage House. Homesteads and cottages now stand 
upon what was then a barren waste. Sometimes less 
than a century changes a steppe into a city. 

Suddenly, a lull having occurred in the icy blast 
which was blinding him, the boy perceived, at a short 
distance in front of him, a cluster of roofs and of 



A BURDEN MAKES A ROUGH ROAD ROUGHER. 169 

chimneys, the reverse of a silhouette, — a city painted 
in white on a black horizon, something like what we 
call nowadays a negative proof. Eoofs I dwellings ! 
shelter ! He had arrived somewhere at last ; he felt 
the ineffable encouragement of hope. The watch of a 
ship which has wandered from her course feels some such 
emotion when he cries, " Land ho ! " He quickened his 
pace. He would soon be among living creatures ; there 
was no longer anything to fear. There glowed within 
him a sudden warmth, — security; his terrible ordeal 
was nearly over ; thenceforward there would be neither 
night nor winter nor tempest. It seemed to him that 
he had left all such misery behind him. The infant 
was no longer a burden ; he almost ran. His eyes were 
fixed on the roofs : there was life there ; he never took 
his eyes off them. A dead man might gaze thus on 
what was visible through the half-open cover of his 
sepulchre. There were the chimneys of which he had 
seen the smoke ; no smoke arose from them now. 

It was not long before the boy reached the houses. 
He came to the outskirts of a town, — an open street. 
At that period the barring of streets at night had been 
nearly abandoned. The street began by two houses. 
In those two houses neither candle nor lamp was visi- 
ble; nor in the whole street, nor in the whole town, 
as far as eye could reach. The house to the right was 
a roof rather than a house; nothing could be more 
squalid. The walls were of mud, the roof was of straw, 
and there was more thatch than wall. An immense 
nettle, springing from the bottom of the wall, reached 
up to the roof. The hovel had but one door, which 
was like that of a dog-kennel, and a window which was 
but a hole. Both were shut up ; but at the side an in- 
hal)ited pig-sty told that the house also was inhabited. 
The house on the left was large, high, and built entirely 



170 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

of stone, with a slated roof. That too was closed ; it 
was the rich man's home, opposite that of the pauper. 

The boy did not hesitate ; he approached the great 
mansion. The double door of massive oak, studded 
with large nails, was of the kind that leads one to 
expect that behind it there is an armory of bolts and 
locks. An iron knocker was attached to it. He raised 
the knocker with some difficulty, for his benumbed 
hands were stumps rather than hands, and knocked 
once. No answer. He knocked again, — twice this 
time ; no movement was heard in the house. He 
knocked a third time ; still there was no sound. He 
saw that they were all asleep, or did not mean to get 
up. Then he turned to the hovel. He picked a small 
stone out of the snow, and knocked with it against the 
low door ; there was no answer He raised himself on 
tiptoe, and knocked with his stone against the pane, — 
too softly to break the glass, but loud enough to be 
heard ; no voice was heard, no step moved, no candle 
was lighted. He saw that there, as well, they did not 
care to awake. The house of stone and the thatched 
hovel were equally deaf to the appeal of the wretched. 

The boy decided to push on farther, and make his 
way down the street in front of him, — a street so dark 
that it seemed more like a gulf between two cliffs than 
the entrance to a town. 



CHAPTEK IV. 

ANOTHER KIND OF DESERT. 

TT was Weymouth which the boy had just entered. 
J- Weymouth then was not the respectable and fine 
Weymouth of to-day. 

Ancient Weymouth could not boast, like the present 
one, of an irreproachable rectangular quay, with an inn 
and a statue in honour of George III., — and this owing 
to the fact that George III. had not then been born. 
For the same reason, they had not yet fashioned on the 
side of the green hill to the east, by cutting away the 
turf and leaving the chalky soil exposed to the view, 
the " White Horse, " an acre long, bearing the king 
upon his back, — still another work of art in honour of 
George III. These honours, however, were deserved. 
George III., having lost in his old age the mind he had 
never possessed in his youth, was not responsible for the 
calamities of his reign. He was little better than an 
idiot. So why not erect statues to him ? 

Weymouth, a hundred and eighty years ago, was 
about as symmetrical as a game of spillikins in confu- 
sion. In legends it is said that Astaroth travelled about 
the world, carrying on her back a wallet which con- 
tained everything, even good women in their houses. 
A goodly number of sheds thrown pell-mell from her 
bag would give an idea of quaint old Weymouth, — the 
good women in the sheds included. The Music Hall 
remains as a specimen of the buildings of that day. 



172 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

The whole town was composed of shapeless, overhanging 
buildings, — some with pillars, leaning one against the 
other for support against the sea-wind, and leaving 
between them narrow and winding lanes and passages, 
often flooded by the equinoctial tides. A heap of grand- 
mother houses crowded round a grandfather church, such 
was Weymouth ; a sort of old Norman village washed 
ashore on the coast of England. The traveller who 
entered the tavern, now replaced by the hotel, instead 
of paying his twenty-five francs for a fried sole and a 
bottle of wine, had to suffer the humiliation of eating 
a pennyworth of soup made of fish, — which soup, by- 
the-bye, was very good. Wretched fare ! 

The deserted child, carrying the foundling, passed 
through the first street, then the second, then the 
third. He raised his eyes, seeking in the upper stories 
and in the roofs a lighted window-pane ; but all were 
closed and dark. At intervals he knocked at the doors. 
No one answered. Nothing so hardens the heart as for 
its owner to be snug and warm in bed. The noise and 
the shaking had at last awakened the infant. The boy 
knew this because he felt her suck his cheek. She did 
not cry, believing him her mother. He was about to 
turn and wander through the Scrambridge lanes, where 
there were then more cultivated plots than dwellings, 
more thorn-hedges than houses ; but fortunately he 
struck into a passage which exists to this day near the 
Trinity schools. This passage led him to the water's 
edge, where there was a roughly built quay with a 
parapet, and on the right he made out a bridge. It 
was the bridge over the Wey, connecting Weymouth 
with Melcombe Regis, and under the arches of which 
the Backwater communicates with the harbour. 

Weymouth, a hamlet, was then a suburb of Melcombe 
Eegis, a city and port ; now Melcombe liegis is a parish 



ANOTHER KIND OF DESERT. 173 

of Weymouth. The village has absorbed the city. It 
was the bridge which did the work. Bridges are strange 
instruments of suction, which absorb a population, and 
often swell one river-bank at the expense of its opposite 
neighbour. 

The boy went to the bridge, which at that period was 
a covered wooden structure. He crossed it. Thanks to 
its roofing, there was no snow on the planks ; his bare 
feet had a moment's comfort as they crossed them. 
Having passed over the bridge, he was in Melcombe 
Regis. There were fewer wooden houses than stone ones 
there. He was no longer in the village, he was in the 
city. The bridge opened on a rather fine street called St. 
Thomas's Street; he entered it. Here and there were 
high carved gables and shop-fronts. He set to knocking at 
the doors again : he had no strength left to call or shout. 

At Melcombe Eegis, as at Weymouth, no one was 
stirring. The doors were all carefully locked and 
barred; the windows were covered with shutters. 
Every precaution had been taken to avoid being 
aroused by disagreeable surprises. The little wanderer 
was suffering the indefinable depression caused by a 
sleeping town. Sleep has gloomy associates beyond 
this life : the decomposed thoughts of the sleepers 
float above them in a mist and combine with the 
possible, which perhaps has also the power of thought, 
as it floats in space. Hence comes bewilderment. 
Dreams, which may be compared to clouds, interpose 
their folds and their transparencies over that star, the 
mind. Above those closed eyelids, where vision has 
taken the place of sight, a sepulchral disintegration of 
outlines and appearances dilates itself into impalpabil- 
ity. Mysterious and diffused existences amalgamate 
themselves with life in sleep, that counterpart of death. 
Even he who sleeps not, feels a medium full of sinister 



174 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

life press upon him. The surrounding chimera, in which 
he suspects a reality, impedes him. The waking man, 
wending his way amidst the sleep-phantoms of others, 
has, or imagines that he has, a vague fear of contact 
with the invisible, and feels at every moment the 
obscure pressure of a hostile encounter which immedi- 
ately dissolves. A sleeping town has something of the 
effect of a forest. 

This is what is called being afraid without cause. 
Very naturally, a child is even more susceptible to this 
feeling than a man. The uneasiness of nocturnal fear, 
increased by the spectral houses, increased the weight 
of the burden under which the boy was struggling. He 
entered Conycar Lane, and perceived at the end of that 
passage the Backwater, which he mistook for the 
ocean ; he no longer knew in what direction the sea lay. 
He retraced his steps, struck to the left by Maiden 
Street, and returned as far as St. Alban's Eow. There 
he knocked violently at any house that he happened to 
pass. His blows, on which he was expending his last 
energies, were faint and irregular, — now ceasing for a 
time, now renewed as if in irritation. One voice 
answered, — that of Time. Three o'clock tolled slowly 
behind him from the old belfry of St. Nicholas. Then 
silence reigned again. 

That no inhabitant should have opened his lattice 
may appear surprising. But we must remember that in 
January, 1790, they were just over a severe outbreak of 
the plague in London, and that the fear of receiving sick 
vagabonds caused a diminution of hospitality every- 
where. People would not even open their windows 
for fear of inhaling the poison. 

The boy felt the coldness of men more deeply than 
the coldness of the night. The coldness of men is in- 
tentional. He felt a sinking of heart which he had not 



ANOTHER KIND OF DESERT. 175 

experienced on the plain. Now he had entered into 
the midst of life, and yet remained alone. This was 
the height of misery. He had understood the pitiless 
desert, but the unrelenting town was too much to bear. 
The hour, the strokes of which he had just counted, 
had been another blow. It seemed to be a declaration 
of indifference, and as if Eternity were saying, " What 
does it matter to me ? " He stopped, and it is probable 
that in that miserable minute he asked himself whether 
it would not be better to lie down there and die ; but 
the little girl leaned her head against his shoulder, and 
fell asleep again. This blind confidence drove him on 
once more. He whom all supports were failing felt that 
he was himself a basis of support. Irresistible sum- 
mons of duty ! Neither such ideas nor such a situation 
belonged to his age. It is probable that he did not well 
understand them ; it was merely a matter of instinct. 
He set out in the direction of Johnstone Eow. But 
now he no longer walked ; he dragged himself along. 
He left St. Mary's Street to the left, made zig-zags 
through lanes, and at the end of a winding passage 
found himself in a rather wide, open space. It was 
a piece of unimproved land, — probably the spot where 
Chesterfield Place now stands. The houses ended there. 
He perceived the sea on his right, and scarcely anything 
more of the town on his left. 

What tvould become of him ? Here was the country 
again ! To the east great inclined planes of snow indi- 
cated the wide slopes of Eadipole. Should he continue 
his journey ; should he advance and re-enter the soli- 
tude i or should he turn back and re-enter the town. 
How was he to choose between the mute plain and the 
deaf city ? The poor little despairing wanderer cast a 
piteous glance around him. 

Suddenly he heard an ominous sound. 



CHAPTEE V. 

MISANTHEOPY PLAYS ITS PRANKS. 

A STRANGE and alarming grinding of teeth reached 
■^"^ the boy through the darkness. It was enough to 
drive one back ; but he advanced. To those to whom 
silence has become dreadful, even a howl is comfort- 
ing. That fierce growl reassured him ; that threat was a 
promise. There must be some creature alive and awake 
there, though it might be a wild beast. He advanced 
in the direction whence the snarl had come. 

The boy turned the corner of a wall, and, behind it, 
in the sepulchral light made by the reflection of snow 
and sea, he saw a thing placed as if for shelter. It was 
a cart ; that is, unless it was a hovel. It had wheels, 
so it was a carriage ; it had a roof, so it was a dwelling. 
Erom the roof arose a funnel, and out of the funnel 
came smoke. This smoke was red, and seemed to im- 
ply a good fire in the interior. Behind, projecting 
hinges indicated a door ; and in the centre of this door 
a square opening revealed a light inside the van. 

The boy approached. The creature that had growled 
evidently perceived his approach, and became furious. 
It was no longer a growl which he had to encounter, it 
was a roar. He heard a sharp sound, as of a chain 
violently pulled to its full length ; and suddenly under 
the door, between the hind wheels, two rows of sharp 
white teeth appeared. At the same instant a head was 
put through the window. 



MISANTHROPY PLATS ITS PRANKS 177 

Be quiet there ! " said the head. 

The mouth was silent. The head began again : — 

" Is anybody there ? " 

" Yes, " the child answered. 

" Who is it ? " 

" Me. " 

" You ? Who are you ? Where did you come from ? " 

" I am tired, " said the child. 

" What time is it ? " 

" I am cold. " 

" What are you doing here ? " 

" I am hungry. " 

" Every one cannot be as happy as a lord, " the head 
replied. " Go away. " 

The head was withdrawn and the window closed. 

The boy folded the sleeping infant closer in his arms, 
and summoned up all his strength to resume his jour- 
ney ; he had already taken a few steps, and was hurrying 
away. But as the window of the wagon closed, the 
door opened ; a step was let down, and the voice which 
had spoken to the boy cried out angrily from the interior 
of the van, — 

" Well ! why don't you come in ? " 

The boy turned back. 

" Come in, " resumed the voice. " Who ever heard of 
a fellow like this, — a fellow who is hungry and cold, 
and yet who does not come in ? " 

The boy, at once repulsed and invited, stood 
motionless. 

" You are told to come in, you young rascal, " the 
voice continued. 

The boy made up his mind, and placed one foot on 
the lowest step. There was a loud growl from under 
the van. The boy drew back; the gaping jaws had 
reappeared. 

VOL. XIX. 12 



178 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

" Be quiet ! " cried the voice of the man. 

The jaws retreated, the growling ceased. 

" Come up ! " continued the man. 

The boy with some difficulty climbed up the three 
steps, his movements being impeded by the infant that 
was so completely enveloped in the jacket that nothing 
could be distinguished of her, and she was little more 
than a shapeless bundle. He ascended the three steps ; 
and having reached the threshold, stopped. There was 
no light in the van except that which proceeded from 
the opening at the top of the stove, in which sparkled 
a peat fire. On the stove stood a porringer and a sauce- 
pan, apparently containing something to eat, for a 
savory odour was perceptible. The inside was fur- 
nished with a chest, a stool, and an unlighted lantern 
which hung from the ceiling. There were also a num- 
ber of hooks on the walls, from which all sorts of 
things hung ; and there were shelves upon which stood 
rows of glasses and bottles, a granulator, an alembic, 
and other chemical instruments, as well as cooking 
utensils. The van was oblong in shape, the stove 
being in front. It was not even a little room into 
which the boy entered, — it was only a big box. There 
was more light outside from the snow than inside from 
the stove. Everything in the van was indistinct and 
misty ; nevertheless, the reflection of the fire on the 
ceiling enabled the spectator to read in large letters, — 

URSUS, PHILOSOPHER. 

The boy, in fact was entering the abode of Homo and 
Ursus. It was the former that he had just heard growl- 
ing. Having reached the threshold, he perceived near^ 
the stove a tall, smooth-faced, thin old man dressed in 
grey, whose head, as he stood erect, touched the roof. 



MISANTHROPY PLAYS ITS PRANKS. 179 

The man could not have raised himself on tiptoe. The 
van was just his height. 

" Come in! " said the man, who was Ursus. The boy 
entered. 

" Put down your bundle. " 

The boy placed his burden carefully on the top of the 
chest, for fear of awakening and terrifying his charge. 

The man continued : " How gently you put it down ! 
You could not be more careful if it were a case of relics. 
Are you afraid of tearing a hole in your rags ? What 
are you doing in the streets at this hour, you vagabond ? 
Who are you ? Answer ! But, no ; I forbid you to an- 
swer. You are cold ; warm yourself as quick as you 
can, " and he shoved him by the shoulders in front of 
the fire. 

" How wet you are! You're frozen through! A nice 
state you are in to enter a man's house! Take off 
those rags, you villain ! " and as he hastily tore off the 
boy's rags with one hand, with the other he took down 
from a nail a man's shirt, and one of those knitted 
jackets which are up to this day called kiss-me-quicks. 
" Here are some clothes, " he added gruffly. He picked 
up a woollen rag, and chafed before the fire the limbs 
of the exhausted and bewildered child, who at that 
moment felt as if he were seeing and touching heaven. 
The limbs having been rubbed, the man next wiped the 
boy's feet. 

"You're all right!" he exclaimed. "I was fool 
enough to fancy you had frozen your hind-legs or 
fore-paws. You will not lose the use of them this 
time. Dress yourself ! " 

The boy put on the shirt, and the man slipped the 
knitted jacket over it. 

" Now — " The man pushed the stool forward and 
made the boy sit down ; then he pointed with his finger 



180 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

to the porringer which was smoking upon the stove. 
What the child saw in the porringer was again heaven 
to him, — namely, a potato and a bit of bacon. 

" You are hungry — eat ! " said the man ; and he took 
from the shelf a crust of bread and an iron fork, and 
handed them to the child. 

The boy hesitated. 

"Perhaps you expect me to lay the cloth," said the 
man, as he placed the porringer on the child's lap. 
" Gobble that up ! he exclaimed imperiously. 

Hunger overcame astonishment. The boy began to 
eat. He devoured rather than ate the food. 

" Not so fast, you horrid glutton ! " grumbled the 
man. " Is n't he a greedy scoundrel ? When such scum 
are hungry, they eat in a revolting fashion. You 
should see a lord sup. In my time, I have seen dukes 
eat; they don't eat like the common herd. They drink, 
however. Come, you pig ! stuff yourself ! " 

The deafness which is the concomitant of a hungry 
stomach caused the child to take little heed of these 
violent epithets, tempered as they were by such benefi- 
cent charity of action. For the moment he was absorbed 
by two ecstasies, — food and warmth. 

Ursus continued his imprecations, muttering to him- 
self : " I have seen King James supping in propria 
persona, in the Banqueting House, adorned with the 
paintings of the famous Eubens. His Majesty touched 
nothing. This beggar here gorges himself. What put 
it into my head to come to this Weymouth, seven times 
devoted to the infernal deities ? I have sold nothing 
since morning; I have harangued the snow; I have 
played the flute to the hurricane ; I have not pocketed 
a farthing ; and now, to-night, beggars drop in. Horrid 
place! There is battle, struggle, competition between 
the fools in the street and myself. They try to give 



MISANTHROPY PLAYS ITS PRANKS. 181 

me nothing but farthings. I try to give them nothing 
but drugs. Well! to-day I 've made nothing, — not an 
idiot on the highway; not a penny in the till. Eat 
away, hell-born boy! tear and crunch! We have 
fallen on times when nothing can equal the cynicism 
of spongers. Fatten at my expense, parasite! This 
wretched boy is more than hungry ; his is not appetite, 
it is ferocity. . Perhaps he has the plague. Have you the 
plague, you thief ? Suppose he were to give it to Homo ! 
No, never! Let the populace die, but not my wolf. 
By-the-bye, I am hungry myself. I declare, all this 
is very disagreeable. I have worked far into the night. 
There are times in a man's life when he is hard pressed ; 
I was to-night, by hunger. I was alone. I made a fire. 
I had but one potato, one crust of bread, a mouthful of 
bacon, and a drop of milk, and I put it to warm. I 
said to myself, ' How good it smells ! ' I fancy I am 
going to eat, when lo and behold ! this crocodile drops in 
at the very moment; he installs himself between my 
food and myself. See how my larder is devastated! 
Eat, pike ! eat, you shark ! How many teeth have you 
in your jaws ? Guzzle, wolf-cub ' — no, I withdraw that 
word ; I respect wolves. Swallow up my food, you boa ! 
I have worked all day, and far into the night, on an 
empty stomach; my throat is sore; my pancreas is in 
distress ; my entrails are torn ; and my reward is to see 
another eat ! 'T is all one, though. We will divide. 
He shall have the bread, the potato, and the bacon, but 
I will have the milk. " 

Just then a wail, touching and prolonged, arose in 
the hut. The man listened. " You cry, sycophant ! 
Why do you cry ? " 

The boy turned towards him ; it was evident that it 
was not he who had cried. He had his mouth full. 
Yet the cry continued. The man went to the chest. 



182 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

" So it is your bundle that wails ! Vale of Jehosha- 
pliat ! Who ever heard of a screeching parcel ! What 
the devil has your bundle got to croak about ? " 

He unrolled the jacket; an infant's head appeared, 
the mouth open and crying. 

" Well ! Who goes there ? " said the man. " Here is 
another of them. When is this to end ? Who is this ! 
To arms ! Corporal, call out the guard ! Here is another 
intruder in the camp ! What have you brought me, 
thief ? Don't you see it is thirsty ? The little one must 
have a drink. So, now, I shall not even have the milk ' " 

He took down from the things lying in disorder on 
the shelf a roll of linen, a sponge, and a phial, mutter- 
ing savagely, " What an infernal scrape this is ! " Then 
he looked at the infant. " 'T is a girl ! one can tell that 
by her scream ; and she too is drenched to the skin ! " 

He dragged off as he had done from the boy the tatters 
in which the infant was tied up rather than dressed, and 
swathed her in a rag, which though of coarse linen was 
clean and dry. This rough and hurried toilet made the 
infant angry. " How atrociously she screeches ! " he 
exclaimed. 

He bit off a long narrow piece of sponge, tore from 
the roll a square piece of linen, took the saucepan con- 
taining the milk from the stove, filled the bottle with 
milk, pushed the sponge half-way down into its neck, 
covering the protruding end with linen, tied it with a 
bit of thread, applied his cheeks to the phial to be sure 
that it was not too hot, and then seizing under his left 
arm the bewildered infant which was still crying, said : 

" Come ! take your supper, creature ! Let me suckle 
you," at the same time putting the neck of the bottle 
to its mouth. 

The little infant drank greedily. He held the phial 
at the necessary incline, grumbling, — 



MISANTHROPY PLAYS ITS PRANKS. 183 

" They are all the same, the cowards ! While they get 
all they want they are quiet ! " 

The child drank so ravenously, and seized so eagerly 
this breast offered by a cross-grained Providence, that 
she was taken with a violent fit of coughing. ^^ 

" You are going to choke ! " growled Ursus. " A fine 
gobbler this one is too ! " 

He drew away the sponge which she was sucking, 
allowed the cough to subside, and then replaced Uie 
phial to her lips, saying, " Suck ! you little wretch ! " 

In the mean time the boy had laid down his fork. 
Seeing the infant drink made him forget to eat. The 
momelit before, while he ate, the expression on his face 
was satisfaction; now it was gratitude. He watched 
the infant's renewal of life ; and the completion of the 
restoration begun by himself filled his eyes with an in- 
effable brilliancy. Ursus went on muttering angry words 
between his teeth. The boy now and then lifted to him 
eyes moist with the deep emotion which the poor little 
being felt, but was unable to express. 

« Eat, eat, I tell you ! " Ursus said to the boy, savagely. 
" And you ? " said the boy, trembling all over, and 
with tears in his eyes,-" you will have nothing!" 

" Will you be kind enough to eat it all up, you cub ( 
As there was not enough for me, there cannot be too 
much for you. " . 
The boy took up his fork, but did not eat. 
" Eat ! " shouted Ursus. " What have you to do with 
me? Who speaks of me? Wretched little barefooted 
clerk of Poverty Parish! eat it all up, I tell you : 
You are here to eat, drink,^ and sleep; eat, or I will 
kick you out, both of you." ^ tt i i 

The boy, at this threat, began to eat again. He liaa 
, not much trouble in finishing what was left in the 
porringer. 



184 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

Ursus muttered to himself now : " This building is 
badly constructed. The cold comes in through that 
window-pane. " 

A pane had indeed been broken in front, either by a 
jolt of the van or by a stone thrown by some mischiev- 
ous boy. Ursus had placed a piece of paper over the 
fracture, but it had become unpasted, letting in the 
wind again. lie was seated on the chest ; the infant, 
cradled in his arms, was sucking rapturously at the 
bottle, in the blissful somnolency of cherubim before 
their Creator and infants at their mothers' breast. 

" She is surfeited ! " said Ursus ; and he added : " After 
this, preach sermons on temperance ! " 

The wind tore from the pane the plaster of paper, and 
blew it across the van ; but this mattered little to the 
children who were entering life anew. While the little 
girl drank, and the little boy ate, Ursus grumbled to 
himself : — 

" Intemperance begins in the infant in swaddling 
clothes. What useless trouble Bishop Tillotson gives 
himself, thundering against excessive drinking ! — What 
an odious draught of wind ! and then my stove is old, 
and allows enough smoke to escape to give you trichi- 
asis. Fire has its inconveniences as well as cold ; one 
cannot see clearly. — That creature over there abuses my 
hospitality. Well, I have not been able to distinguish 
the animal's face yet. — Comfort is wanting here. By 
Jove ! I am a great admirer of exquisite banquets in well 
closed rooms ! I have missed my vocation ; I was born 
to be a sensualist. The greatest of sages was Philoxenus, 
who wished to possess the neck of a crane, in order to 
enjoy the pleasures of the table longer. — Eeceipts 
to-day, naught; nothing sold all day. Inhabitants, 
servants, and tradesmen, here is the doctor, here are the 
drugs ! You are losing your time, old friend ; pack up 



MISANTUROPY PLAYS ITS PRANKS. 185 

your physic, — every one is well, down here. Accursed 
town, where everybody is well ! The skies alone have 
diarrhoea 1 How it suows ! Anaxagoras taught that the 
snow was black ; and he was right, cold being black- 
ness : ice is night. What a hurricane ! I can fancy 
the delight of those at sea. A hurricane is like the 
passage of demons ; it is the row the tempest-fiends 
make in galloping and rolling head-over-heels over our 
bone-boxes. In the cloud this one has a tail, that one 
has horns, another a flame for a tongue, another claws 
to its wings, another a lord chancellor's paunch, another 
an academician's pate : each new gust is a fresh demon. 
Zounds ! there are folks at sea, that is certain. My 
friends, get through the storm as best you can ; I have 
enough to do to get through life. — Come now, do I keep 
an inn, or do I not ? Why should I harbour these trav- 
ellers ? The universal distress sends its spatterings even 
as far as my poverty ; into my cabin fall hideous drops 
of the far-spreading scum of mankind. I am the victim 
of the voracity of travellers ; I am a prey, — the prey of 
those dying of hunger. Winter, night, a pasteboard hut, 
an unfortunate friend below and without, the storm, a 
potato, a fire as big as my fist, the wind penetrating 
through every cranny, not a half-penny, — and bun- 
dles are brought to me which set to howling ! I open 
them, and find beggars inside ! Is this fair ? Besides, 
the laws are violated. See, a vagabond with a vagabond 
child ! Mischievous pick-pocket, evil-minded abortion !. 
so you walk the streets after curfew ? If our good king 
only knew it, would he not have you thrown into the 
bottom of a ditch, just to teach you better ? My lord 
walks out at night with my lady, with the thermometer 
at fifteen degrees below the freezing-point, bare-headed 
and bare-footed. You should understand that such 
things are forbidden. There are rules and regulations, 



186 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

you lawless wretches ! Vagabonds are punished ; honest 
folks who have houses are guarded and protected. Kings 
are the fathers of their people. I have my own house. 
You would have been whipped in the public street had 
you chanced to have been met; and quite right, too. 
Order must be maintained in a city. For my own part, 
I did wrong not to denounce you to the constable. But I 
am such a fool ! I understand what is right and do what 
is wrong. Oh, the ruffian ! to come here in such a state ! 
I did not see the snow upon them when they came in ; 
it has melted, and here's my whole house swamped. I 
have an inundation in my home. I shall have to burn 
an incredible amount of coals to dry up this lake, — and 
coals at twelve farthings, the miners' standard! How 
am I going to manage to fit three into this van ? My 
career is ended ; there is nothing left for me now but 
to become a wet-nurse. I am going to have on my 
hands the weaning of the future beggardom of England. 
It seems destined to be my employment, office, and 
function to bring up the offspring of that colossal Pros- 
titute, Misery ; to bring to perfection future gallows' 
birds, and teach young thieves the forms of philosophy. 
The tongue of the wolf is the warning of God ! And to 
think that if I had not been eaten up by creatures of 
this kind for the last thirty years, I should be rich, and 
Homo would be fat ; I should have a medicine-chest full of 
rarities, as many surgical instruments as Doctor Linacre 
surgeon to King Henry VIII. , divers animals of all kinds, 
Egyptian mummies and similar curiosities ; I should be 
a member of the College of Physicians, and have the 
right of using the library built in 1652 by the cele- 
brated Hervey, and of studying in the lantern of that 
dome whence you can see the whole of London ; I could 
continue my observations of solar obfuscation, and prove 
that a caliginous vapour arises from the planet. — Such 



MISANTHROPY PLAYS ITS PRANKS. 187 

was the opiiiiuu of John Kepler, who was born the year 
before the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, and who was 
mathematician to the emperor. — The sun is a chimney 
which sometimes smokes; so does my stove; hence my 
stove is as good as the sun. Yes, I should have made 
my fortune ; my career would have been a very different 
one. I should not be the insi<];nificant fellow I am. I 
should not degrade science in the highways ; for the 
crowd is not worthy of the doctrine, the crowd being 
nothing better than a confused mixture of all ages, 
sexes, humours, and conditions that wise men of all 
periods have not hesitated to despise, and whose absur- 
dities and passions are detested even by the most chari- 
table. Oh, I am weary of existence ! After all, one does 
not live long ; this human life is soon over. But no, 
— it is long. At intervals, in order that we may not 
become too discouraged, and that we may have the 
stupidity to consent to endure existence, and not profit. 
by the magnificent opportunities to hang ourselves 
which ropes and nails afford. Nature pretends to take 
a little care of man — not to-night, though ! The rogue 
causes the wheat to spring up, ripens the grape, gives 
song to the nightingale. From time to time we get a 
ray of sunshine or a glass of gin, — and that is what we 
call happiness ! It is a narrow border of good round a 
huge winding-sheet of evil. We have a destiny of 
which the devil has woven the stuff, and God has sewn 
the hem. In the mean time, you have eaten all my 
supper up, you thief ! " 

The infant, whom he was holding tenderly in his 
arms all the while he was vituperating it, shut its eyes 
languidly, — a sign of repletion. 

Ursus examined the phial, and grumbled : " She has 
drunk it all up, the impudent creature ! " 

He arose, and holding the infant in his left arm. 



188 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

with his right he raised the lid of the chest and drew 
out a bear-skin, — the one he called his real skin, as 
the reader may remember. While he was doing this 
he heard the other child eating, and glanced at him 
sideways. 

" I shall have my hands full if I have to feed that 
growing glutton, " he muttered. " It will be a worm 
gnawing at the vitals of my industry. " 

He spread out, still with one arm, the bear-skin on 
the chest, working his elbow and managing his move- 
ments so as not to disturb the sleep into which the 
infant was just sinking. Then he laid her down on 
the fur, on the side of the chest next the fire. Having 
done so, he placed the phial on the stove, and ex- 
claimed, " r 'm confoundedly thirsty myself ! " 

He looked into the pot. There were a few mouthfuls 
of milk left in it ; he raised it to his lips. As he was 
about to drink, his eye fell on the little girl. He re- 
placed the pot on the stove, took the phial, uncorked it, 
poured into it all the milk that remained, which was 
just sufficient to fill it, replaced the sponge and the 
linen rag over it, and tied it round the neck of the 
bottle. 

" I 'm hungry and thirsty all the same, " he observed. 
Then he added : " When one cannot get bread, one must 
drink water. " 

Behind the stove there was a jug with the spout 
broken off. He took it and handed it to the boy. " Do ■ 
you want a drink ? " 

The boy drank, and then went on eating. Ursus 
seized the pitcher again, and raised it to his mouth. 
The temperature of the water which it contained had 
been greatly modified by the proximity of the stove. 
He swallowed a mouthful and made a grimace. Then 
he said : — 



MISANTHROPY PLAYS ITS PRANKS. 189 

" Water ! pretending to be pure, thou resemblest false 
friends. Thou art warm at the top and cold at the 
bottom. " 

In the mean time the boy had finished his supper. 
The porringer was more than empty ; it was cleaned 
out. He picked up and ate pensively a few crumbs 
caught in the folds of the knitted jacket on his lap. 

Ursus turned towards him. " Now, a word with you. 
The mouth is not made only for eating ; it is made for 
speaking. Now that you are warmed and stuffed, you 
beast, give an account of yourself. You are going to 
answer my questions. Where did you come from ? " 

" I do not know, " the boy replied. 

" Why do you say you don't know ? " 

" I was abandoned this evening on the sea-shore. " 

" You little scamp ! what 's your name ? He is so 
good for nothing that even his relatives desert him. " 

" I have no relatives. " 

" Have a care ! I don't like people who sing a tune 
of fibs. You must have relatives, since you have a 
sister. " 

" She is not my sister. " 

" She is not your sister ? " 

" No. " 

" Who is she then ? " 

" It is a baby that I found. " 

" Found ? " 

" Yes. " 

" What ! did you pick her up ? " 

" Yes. " 

" Where ? If you lie I '11 thrash you within an inch 
of your life ! " 

" I found her on the breast of a woman who was lying 
dead in the snow, " 

" When ? " 



190 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

" About an hour ago. " 

" Where ? " 

" A league from here. " 

The arched brows of Ursus contracted and assumed 
that pointed shape which characterizes emotion on the 
brow of a philosopher. " Dead ! Lucky for her ! We 
had better leave her in the snow. She is better off there. 
In which direction ? " 

" In the direction of the sea. " 

" Did you cross the bridge ? " 

" Yes. " 

Ursus opened the window at the back of the van and 
looked out. The weather had not improved. The snow 
was falling thick and fast. He shut the window. Then 
he filled the broken pane with a rag, heaped the stove 
with peat, spread out as far as he could the bear-skin 
on the chest, took a large book which he had in a 
corner, placed it under the skin for a pillow, and laid 
the head of the sleeping infant on it. Then he turned 
to the boy. 

" Lie down here, " he said. 

The boy obeyed, and stretched himself at full length 
by the side of the infant. Ursus rolled the bear-skin 
over the two children, and tucked it under their feet. 
He took down from a shelf, and tied round his waist, 
a linen belt with a large pocket containing, no doubt, 
a case of instruments and bottles of restoratives. Then 
he took the lantern from where it huncc on the ceiling, 
and lighted it. It was a dark-lantern. When lighted, 
it still left the children in shadow. 

Ursus half opened the door, and said : " I am going 
out ; do not be afraid. I shall return. Go to sleep. " 

Then letting down the steps, he called Homo. He 
was answered by a loving growl. Ursus, holding the 
lantern in his hand, descended. The steps were re- 



MISANTHROPY PLAYS ITS PRANKS. 191 

placed, the door was reclosed. The children were left 
alone. 

From without, a voice, the voice of Ursus, said : 
" Say, you, boy, who have just eaten up my supper, are 
you already asleep ? " 

" No, " replied the child. 

" Well, if she cries, give her the rest of the milk. " 

The clanking of a chain was heard, and the sound of 
a man's footsteps, mingled with the soft patter of an 
animal's paws, died away in the distance. A few 
minutes after, both children were sound asleep. Such 
dreams as are prone to visit beings of that age floated 
from one to the other ; beneath their closed eyelids 
there shone, perhaps, the light of the spheres. If the 
word " marriage " were not inappropriate to the situa- 
tion, they were husband and wife after the fashion of 
the angels. Such innocence in such darkness, such pur- 
ity in such an embrace, such foretastes of heaven, are 
possible only to childhood, and no immensity ap- 
proaches the greatness of little children. The fearful 
perpetuity of the dead chained beyond life, the mighty 
animosity of the ocean to a wreck, the whiteness of the 
snow over buried bodies, do not equal in pathos two 
children's mouths meeting divinely in sleep, — a meet- 
ing which is not even a kiss : a betrothal perchance ; 
perchance a catastrophe. The unknown overhangs this 
juxtaposition. It charms, it terrifies, — who knows 
which ? It stays the pulse. Innocence is greater than 
virtue; innocence is holy ignorance. They slept; they 
were at peace ; they were warm. The nakedness of their 
interlaced bodies imaged the virginity of their souls. 
They lay there, as it were, on the bosom of the infinite 
Father of all. 



CHAPTEK VL 

THE AWAKING. 

A SAD, pale light penetrated the van. It was the 
-^"^ frozen dawn. That wan light which throws into 
relief the mournful reality of objects that are blurred 
into spectral forms by the night did not waken the 
children, so soundly were they sleeping. The van was 
warm. Their breathings alternated like two peaceful 
waves. There was no longer any hurricane without. 
The light of dawn was slowly taking possession of the 
horizon; the constellations were being extinguished, 
like candles blown out one after the other, — only a few 
large stars resisted. The deep-toned song of the Infinite 
was coming from the sea. The fire in the stove was not 
quite out. The twilight changed gradually into day- 
light. 

The boy slept less heavily than the girl. At length, 
a ray brighter than the others broke through the pane, 
and he opened his eyes. The sleep of childhood ends 
in forgetfulness. He lay in a state of semi-stupor, 
without knowing where he was or what was around 
him, and without making any effort to remember, 
gazing at the ceiling, and setting himself an aimless 
task as he dreamily surveyed the letters of the inscrip- 
tion, " Ursus, Philosopher, " which, as he did not know 
how to read, he examined without the power of de- 
ciphering. The sound of a key grating in the lock of 
the door caused him to turn his head. The door turned 



THE AWAKING. 193 

on its hinges, the steps were let down. Ursus was 
returning. He ascended the steps, his extinguished 
lantern in his hand. At the same time the patter of 
four paws was heard on the steps. It was Homo, fol- 
lowing Ursus, who had also returned to his home. 

The frightened boy gave a sudden start as the wolf 
opened his mouth, disclosing two rows of glistening 
white teeth. The animal stopped when he had got 
half way up the steps, and placed both fore-paws inside 
the van, leaning on the threshold, like a preacher with 
his elbows on the edge of the pulpit. He sniffed at the 
chest from afar, not being in the habit of finding it 
occupied as it then was. At last he made up his mind 
to enter. The boy, seeing the wolf in the van, jumped 
out of the bear-skin, and placed himself in front of the 
infant, who was sleeping as soundly as ever. 

TJrsus had just hung the lantern up on the nail in the 
ceiling. Silently, and with mechanical deliberation, 
he unbuckled the belt which held his case, and replaced 
it on the shelf. He looked at nothing, and seemed to 
see nothing. His eyes were glassy. Something had 
evidently moved him deeply. His thoughts at length 
found vent, as usual, in a rapid flow of words. 

" Better oflf, doubtless ! Dead ! stone dead ! " he 
soliloquized. 

He bent down, and put a shovelful of turf-mould into 
the stove ; and as he poked the peat, he growled out : 

" I had great trouble in finding her. She was buried 
under two feet of snow. Had it not been for Homo, 
who sees as clearly with his nose as Christopher 
Columbus did with his mind, I should still be there, 
digging at the avalanche, and playing hide-and-seek 
with Death. Diogenes took his lantern and sought for 
a man ; I took my lantern and sought for a woman. 
He found a sarcasm ; I found mourning. How cold she 

VOL. XIX. 13 



194 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

was! I touched her hand, — it was like stone! What 
silence in her eyes ! How can any one be such a fool 
as to die and leave a child behind ! It will not be con- 
venient to pack three into this box. A pretty family 
I have now ! A boy and a girl ! " 

While Ursus was speaking, Homo sidled up close to 
the stove. The hand of the sleeping infant was hang- 
ing down between the stove and the chest. The wolf 
set to licking it. He licked it so softly that he did not 
wake the little infant. 

Ursus turned round. " Well done, Homo ! I shall be 
father, and you shall be uncle. " 

Then he betook himself again to mending the fire 
with philosophical care, without pausing in his solilo- 
quy, however. 

" Adoption ! It is settled ; Homo is willing. " He 
drew himself up. " I should like to know who is re- 
sponsible for that woman's death? Is it man? or — " 
He raised his eyes, but looked beyond the ceiling, 
and his lips murmured, " Is it Thou ? " 

Then his head dropped, as if beneath a burden. Eais- 
ing his eyes a moment afterwards they met those of the 
just-awakened boy, who was listening. 

"What are you laughing at?" Ursus demanded 
abruptly. 

" I am not laughing, " replied the boy. 

Ursus looked at him intently for a few minutes. 
" Then you are frightful to look upon ! " he exclaimed. 

The interior of the van, on the previous night, had been 
so dark that Ursus had not seen the boy's face at all. 
The broad daylight revealed it. He placed the palms 
of his hands on the two shoulders of the boy, and, ex- 
amining his countenance more and more piercingly, 
exclaimed, — 

" Do not laugh any more ! " 



THE AWAKING. 195 

" I am not laughing, " said the child. 

Ursus shuddered from head to foot. " You are lau"h- 
ing, I say ! " Then seizing the boy with a grasp which 
would have been one of fury had it not been one of 
pity, he asked him, roughly : " Who did that to 
you ? " 

" I don't know what you mean, " the boy replied. 

" How long have you had that laugh ? " 

" I have always been thus, " said the child. 

Ursus turned away, saying in a low voice, " I thought 
that work was out of date now. " 

He took from under the head of the infant, very softly, 
so as not to awaken her, the book which he had placed 
there for a pillow. " Let us see Conquest, " he mur- 
mured ! 

He turned the pages with his thumb, stopped at a cer- 
tain one, and read : " ' De Denasatis, ' it is here. " And 
he continued : " ' Bucca fissa usque ad aures, gengivis 
denudatis, nasoque murdridato, masca eris, et ridebis 
semper. ' There it is for certain. " 

Then he replaced the book on one of the shelves, 
growling, " It might not be advisable to inquire too 
deeply into a case of the kind. We will remain on the 
surface ; laugh on, my boy ! " 

Just then the little girl awoke. Her good-day was 
a cry. 

" Come, nurse, give her the breast, " said Ursus. 

The infant sat up. Ursus taking the bottle from the 
stove, gave it to her to suck. Then the sun rose above 
the horizon. Its brilliant rays shone through the win- 
dow straight into the face of the infant, which was 
turned towards it. Her eyeballs, fixed on the sun, re- 
flected its light like two mirrors. The eyeballs were 
immovable, the eyelids also. 

" Look ! " exclaimed Ursus ; " she is blind ! " 



PART 11. 

BY OKDER OF THE KING. 



BOOK I. 



THE EVERLASTING PEESENCE OF THE PAST- 
MAN REFLECTS MAN. 



CHAPTER I. 

LORD CLANCHARLIE. 
I. 

THERE was, in those days, an old tradition. That 
tradition was Lord Linnaeus Claucharlie. Linnseus 
Baron Clancharlie, a contemporary of Cromwell, was one 
of the few peers of England who accepted the republic. 
The reason of his acceptance of it might, for want of a 
better, be found in the fact that for the time being the 
republic was triumphant. It was a matter of course 
that Lord Clancharlie should adhere to the republic as 
long as the republic was in power ; but after the close of 
the revolution and the fall of the parliamentary govern- 
ment. Lord Clancharlie had persisted in his fidelity to 
it. It would have been easy for the noble patrician to 
re-enter the reconstituted upper house, — the repentant 
being ever gladly welcomed at restorations, and Charles 
II. being a kind prince enough to those who returned to 
their allegiance to him ; but Lord Clancharlie had quite 



LORD CLANCHARLIE. 197 

failed to understand what one owes to circumstances. 
While the nation was overwhelming with acclamations 
the king who had come to resume possession of Eng- 
land ; while a united parliament was recording its verdict ; 
while the people were rapturously saluting the monarchy ; 
while the dynasty was rising anew amidst a glorious 
and triumphant recantation, — at the moment when the 
past was becoming the future, and the future was be- 
coming the past, that nobleman remained obdurate. He 
turned his head resolutely away from all these tempta- 
tions and voluntarily exiled himself. Though he might 
have been a peer, he preferred being an outlaw. Years 
had passed, and he had grown old in his fidelity to the 
dead republic, and was therefore loaded with the ridicule 
which is the natural reward of such folly. 

Lord Clancharlie had retired to Switzerland, where he 
inhabited a sort of lofty ruin on the banks of Lake 
Geneva. He had chosen his abode in the most rugged 
nook of the lake, between Chillon, Bonnivard's dungeon, 
and Vevay, Ludlow's burial-place. The rugged Alps, 
filled with winds and clouds, were around him : and he 
lived there, hidden in the wide shadows cast by the 
mountains. He was rarely seen by any one. The man 
was out of his country, almost out of his century. At 
that time no resistance to the established power was 
considered justifiable. England was happy. A restora- 
tion is like the reconciliation of husband and wife ; 
prince and nation return to each other, — no state of 
things can be more gracious or more pleasant. Great 
Britain beamed with joy ; to have a king at all was a 
great deal ; but it was a great deal more to have such a 
charming one. Charles II. was an amiable man, fond 
of pleasure, yet able to govern ; a great man, too, — at 
least in the opinion of Louis XIV. He was essentially a 
gentleman. Charles II. was greatly admired by his sub- 



198 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

jects. He made war upon Hanover for reasons best 
known to himself ; at least, no one else knew them. He 
sold Dunkirk to France, — a piece of State policy. The 
Whig peers, concerning whom Chamberlain says, " The 
cursed republic had infected with its stinking breath 
several of the high nobility, " had had the good sense to 
bow to the inevitable, to conform to the times, and to 
resume their seats in the House of Lords. To do so, it 
sufficed that they should take the oath of allegiance to 
the king. When one thinks of all this, the glorious 
reign, the excellent king, the august princes given back 
by divine mercy to the people's love; when one remem- 
bers that such persons as Monk, and later on Jetferies, 
had rallied round the throne ; that they had been suita- 
bly rewarded for their loyalty and zeal by the most 
splendid appointments and the most lucrative offices ; 
that Lord Clancharlie could not be ignorant of this, and 
^that it only depended on himself to be seated by their 
side, glorious in his honours ; that England had, thanks 
to her king, risen again to the summit of prosperity ; 
that London was all banquets and carousals ; that every- 
body was rich and enthusiastic ; that the court was gal- 
lant, gay, and magnificent, — if by chance, far from these 
splendours, in some melancholy, indescribable half-light, 
like nightfall, that old man, clad in the same garb as 
the common people, was observed standing on the shore 
of the lake, pale, absent-minded, heedless of the storm 
and of the winter's cold, walking as if at random, his 
eye fixed on the ground, his white hair waving in the 
wind, silent, pensive, solitary, who could forbear to 
smile ? Was not such a being nothing more or less than 
a madman ? 

Thinking of Lord Clancharlie, of what he might have 
been and what he was, one proved oneself very charita- 
ble if one only smiled. Many persons laughed aloud, 



• LORD CLANCHARLIE. 199 

others could not restrain their wrath. It is easy to un.- 
(lerstand how greatly men of sense were shocked by the 
insolence which his isolation evinced. There was one 
extenuating circumstance : Lord Clancharlie had never 
had any brains. Every one agreed on that point. 



11. 

It is disagreeable to see one's fellow-creature obsti- 
nate. Imitations of Eegulus are not popular, and public 
opinion holds them in some derision. Stubborn people 
are so many reproaches, and we have a right to laugh at 
them. Besides, to sum up, are these perversities, these 
rugged notches, really virtues ? Is there not a good deal 
of ostentation in these excessive parades of self-abnega- 
tion and honour ? Are they not mere show and pretence ? 
Why this pretence of solitude and exile? To carry 
nothing to extremes is the wise man's maxim. Oppose 
if you choose, blame if you will, but decently, — crying 
out all the while, " Long live the King ! " The greatest 
of virtues is common-sense. What falls ought to fall, 
what succeeds ought to succeed. Providence acts ad- 
visedly ; it crowns him who deserves the crown. Do 
you pretend to know better than Providence? When 
matters are settled; when one regime has replaced an- 
other; when success is the scale in which truth and 
falsehood are weighed, — then doubt is no longer possi- 
ble. The honest man goes over to the winning side; 
and although it may happen to serve his fortune and his 
family, he does not allow himself to be influenced by 
that consideration, but thinking only of the public weal, 
liolds out his hand heartily to the conqueror. 

What would become of the State if no one consented 
to serve it ? Would not evervthing come to a standstill?' 



200 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

To keep his place is the duty of a good citizen. Learn 
to sacrifice your secret preferences. Appointments must 
be filled, and some one must sacrifice himself. To yield 
prompt obedience to the powers that be is truly lauda- 
ble. The retirement of public officials would paralyze 
the State. What, banish yourself ? How weak ! Set 
yourself up as an example ? What vanity ! Defy es- 
tablished authority ? What audacity ! What do you 
set yourself up to be, I wonder? Learn that we are just 
as good as you. If we chose, we also could be intracta- 
ble and untamable, and do worse things than you ; but 
we prefer to be sensible people. Because I am a Trimal- 
cion, do you think that I could not be a Cato ? What 
nonsense ! 



Ill 



Nevek was a situation more clearly defined or more 
decisive than that of 1660. Never had a course of con- 
duct been more plainly indicated to a well-ordered mind. 
England was out of Cromwell's grasp. Under the re- 
public many irregularities had been committed. British 
preponderance had been created. With the aid of the 
Thirty-Years' war, Germany had been overcome; with 
the aid of the Fronde, France had been humiliated ; 
with the aid of the Duke of Braganza, the power of 
Spain had been lessened. Cromwell had tamed Maza- 
rin ; in signing treaties the Protector of England wrote 
his name above that of the King of France. The United 
Provinces had been forced to pay a fine of eight mil- 
lions ; Algiers and Tunis had been attacked, Jamaica con- 
quered, Lisbon humbled ; French rivalry had been encour- 
aged in Barcelona, and Masaniello in Naples ; Portugal 
had been made fast to England ; the seas had been cleared 
of Barbary pirates from Gibraltar to Crete ; maritime dom- 



LORD CLANCHARLIE. 201 

ination had been established under two forms, Victory 
and Commerce. On the 10th of August, 1653, the man 
of thirty-three victories, — the old Admiral who called 
himself the sailors' grandfather, Martin Happertz 
Tromp, who had beaten the Spanish, — was defeated by 
the English fleet. The Atlantic had been cleared of the 
Spanish navy, the Pacific of the Dutch, the Mediterra- 
nean of the Venetian ; and by the Navigation Act, Eng- 
land had taken possession of the sea-coast of the world. 
Through the ocean she commanded the world. At sea 
the Dutch flag humbly saluted the British flag ; France, 
in the person of the Ambassador Mancini, bent the knee 
to Oliver Cromwell ; and Cromwell played with Calais 
and Dunkirk as with two shuttlecocks on a battledore. 
The continent had been taught to tremble, peace had 
been dictated, war declared, the British Ensign raised 
on every pinnacle. A single regiment of the Protector's. 
Ironsides excited as much terror in Europe as an entire 
army. Cromwell used to say, " I mean the Piepublic of 
England to be respected, as the Republic of Piome was 
respected. Delusions were no longer held sacred; 
speech was free, the press was free. In the public street 
men said what they listed; they printed what they 
pleased without control or censorship. The equilibrium 
of thrones had been destroyed. The whole order of 
European monarchy, of which the Stuarts formed a link, 
had been overturned. 

But at last England had escaped from this odious or- 
der of things, and had won forgiveness for it. The 
indulgent Charles II. had issued the proclamation of 
Breda ; he had kindly consented to ignore the period of 
English history in which the son of the Huntingdon 
brewer placed his foot on the neck of Louis XIV. Eng- 
land said its med culpd, and breathed again. The cup of 
joy was, as we have just said, full; gibbets for the regi- 



202 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

cides adding to the universal delight. A restoration is 
charming, bvit a few gibbets are not out of place, and it 
is necessary to satisfy the public conscience. To be good 
subjects was thenceforth the people's sole ambition. 
The spirit of lawlessness had been expelled. Loyalty 
was re-established. Men had recovered from the follies 
of politics ; they sneered at revolution, they jeered at 
the republic ; and as to those times when such strange 
words as Bight, Liberty, Progress, had been in every 
one's mouth, why, they lauglied at such bombast! How 
admirable this return to common-sense was ! England 
had been in a dream. What joy to be free from such 
errors ! AVas ever anything so mad ? Where should we 
be if every one had his rights? Fancy every one's hav- 
ing a hand in the government ! Can you imagine a city 
ruled by its citizens ? Why, the citizens are the team, 
and the team cannot act as driver. To put to the vote 
is to throw to the winds. Would you have States driven 
like clouds ? Disorder cannot build up order. With 
chaos for an architect, the edifice would be a Babel. 
Besides, how tyrannical this pretended liberty is ! As 
for me, I v/ish to enjoy myself, not to govern. It is a 
bore to have to vote ; I want to dance. How providen- 
tial that we have a prince to take care of us all ! How 
kind the king is to take so much trouble for our sakes ! 
Besides, he is to the manner born ; he knows what 's 
what; it 's his business. Peace, war, legislation, finance, 
— what have the people to do with such things. Of 
course the people have to pay, of course the people have 
to serve ; but that should suffice. They have a place in 
policy ; from them come two essential things, — the 
army and the budget. To be liable to contribute, and 
to be liable to serve, — is not that enough ? What more 
can they want ? They are the military and the finan- 
cial arm, — a magnificent role. The king reigns for 



LORD CLANCHARLIE. 203 

them, and they must reward him accordingly. Taxation 
and the civil list are the salaries paid by the people and 
earned by the prince. The people give their blood and 
their money, in return for which they are governed. To 
wish to govern themselves, — what an absurd idea ! 
They require a guide; being ignorant, they are blind. 
Has not the blind man his dog ? Only the people have 
a lion, the king, who consents to play the dog. How 
kind of him ! Why are the people ignorant ? Because 
it is good for them to be ignorant. Ignorance is the 
<^uardian of Virtue. Where there are no possibilities of 
improvement there is no ambition. The ignorant man 
is in useful darkness, which, suppressing sight, sup- 
presses covetousness : hence innocence. He who reads, 
thinks , he who thinks, reasons. But not to reason is 
duty and happiness as well. These truths are incontes- 
table ; society is based on them. 

These sound social doctrines had been re-established 
in England. At the same time a correct taste in litera- 
ture was reviving. Shakspeare was despised, Dryden 
admired. " Dryden is the greatest poet of England, and 
of the century, " said Atterbury, the translator of " Achi- 
tophel. " This was about the time when M. Huet, 
Bishop of Avranches, wrote to Sauraaise, who had done 
the author of " Paradise Lost " the honour to refute and 
abuse him : " How can you trouble yourself about so 
mean a thing as that Milton ? " Everything was falling 
into its proper place : Dryden above, Shakspeare below ; 
Charles II. on the throne, Cromwell on the gibbet. 
England was raising herself out of the shame and the 
excesses of the past. It is a great happiness for nations 
to be led back by monarchy to good order in the State 
and good taste in letters. 

It is hard to believe that such benefits should not be 
appreciated. To turn the cold shoulder to Charles II., 



204 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

to reward with ingratitude the magnanimity which he 
disjjhiyed in ascending the throne, — was not such con- 
duct abominable ? Lord Linnseus Clancharlie had in- 
flicted this vexation upon honest men. To sulk at his 
country's happiness, — alack, what folly! We know 
that in 1650 Parliament had drawn up this form of 
declaration : " I promise to remain faithful to the repub- 
lic, without king, sovereign, or lord. " Under pretext 
of having taken this monstrous oath. Lord Clancharlie 
was living out of the kingdom, and in the face of the 
general rejoicing thought that he had the right to be 
sad. He had a profound esteem for that which was no 
more, and was absurdly attached to the former state of 
things. To excuse him was impossible ; even the most 
charitably disposed abandoned him. Some had done 
him the honour to believe that he had entered the re- 
publican ranks only to observe more closely the flaws in 
the republican armour, and to smite it the more surely 
when the day should come to strike for the sacred cause 
of the king. These lurkings in ambush for the con- 
venient hour to stab the enemy in the back are attributes 
of loyalty. Such a line of conduct had been expected of 
Lord Clancharlie, so strong was the wish to judge him 
favourably ; but, in the face of his strange persistence 
in republicanism, people were obliged to lower their 
estimate of him. Evidently Lord Clancharlie was con- 
firmed in his convictions ; that is to say, he was an 
idiot! 

The explanation given by the indulgent wavered be- 
tween puerile stubbornness and senile obstinacy. The 
severe and the just went much further; they cursed the 
name of the renegade. Folly has its rights, but it has 
also its limits. A man may be a brute, but he has no 
right to be a rebel. And, after all, who was this Lord 
Clancharlie ? A deserter. He had left his camp, that 



LORD CLANCHARLIE. 205 

of the aristocracy, for that of the enemy, the people. 
This faithful man was a traitor. It is true that he was 
a traitor to the stronger side and faithful to the weaker ; 
it is true that the camp repudiated by him was the camp 
of the conqueror, and the camp adopted by him the camp 
of the vanquished ; it is true that by his treason he lost 
everything, — his political privileges and his home, his 
title and his country. He gained nothing but ridicule, 
he attained no benefit but exile. But what does all this 
prove ? Merely that he was a fool. Plainly a fool and 
a traitor in one. Let a man be as great a fool as he 
likes, provided he does not set a bad example. Tools 
need only be civil, and in consideration thereof they 
may aim at being the basis of monarchies. 

The narrowness of Clancharlie's mind was incompre- 
hensible. His eyes were still dazzled by the phantas- 
magoria of the revolution. He had allowed himself to 
be taken in by the republic, — yes, and cast out. He 
was a disgrace to his country ; the attitude he assumed 
was downright felony. Absence was an insult. He 
held aloof from the public happiness as from the plague. 
In his voluntary banishment he merely sought a refuge 
from the national rejoicing. Over the widespread glad- 
ness at the revival of the monarchy, denounced by him 
as a lazaretto, he was the black flag. What! could he 
thus look askance at order re-established, a nation ex- 
alted, and a religion restored ? Why cast a shadow over 
such serenity? Take umbrage at England's content- 
ment ! Must he be the one blot in the clear blue sky ? 
Protest against a nation's will; refuse his Yes to the 
universal consent, — it would be disgusting, if it were 
not the part of a fool. 

Clancharlie could nob have taken into account the 
fact that it did not matter if one had taken the wronij 
turn with Cromwell, so long as one found one's way 



206 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

back into the right path with Monk. Take Monk's 
case. He is in command of the republican army. 
Charles II. , having been informed of his honesty, writes 
to him. Monk, who combines virtue with tact, dis- 
simulates at first; then suddenly at the head of his 
troops dissolves the rebel parliament, and re-establishes 
the king on the throne. Monk is created Duke of Albe- 
marle, has the honour of having saved society, becomes 
very rich, sheds a glory over his time, and is created 
Knight of the Garter, with a prospect of being buried in 
Westminster Abbey. Such is the reward of British 
fidelity ! 

Lord Clancharlie could never rise to a sense of duty 
thus carried out. He had the infatuation and obstinacy 
of an exile, he contented himself with hollow phrases ; 
he was tongue-tied by pride. The words " conscience " 
and " dignity " are but words, after all ; one must pene- 
trate to the depths. These depths Lord Clancharlie had 
not reached. His " eye was single, " and before commit- 
ting an act, he wished to observe it so closely as to be 
able to judge of it in more senses than one. Hence arose 
absurd disgust to the facts examined. No man can be a 
statesman who gives way to such overstrained delicacy. 
Excess of conscientiousness degenerates into an infirm- 
ity. Distrust scruples ; they drag you too far. Exag- 
gerated fidelity is like a ladder leading into a cavern, — 
one step down, another, then another ; and there you are 
in the dark. The clever re-ascend ; fools remain there. 
Conscience must not be allowed to practise such auster- 
ity. If it is, it is sure to relapse eventually into the 
depths of political prudery, as in Lord Clancharlie 's 
case. Such principles result in one's ruin. He was 
walking, with his hands behind him, along the shores of 
the Lake of Geneva. A fine way of getting on ! 

In London they sometimes spoke of the exile. He 



LORD CLANCHARLIE. 207 

was tried before the tribunal of public opinion. They 
pleaded for and against him. The cause having been 
heard, he was acquitted on the ground of stupidity. 
Many zealous friends of the former republic had given 
their adherence to the Stuarts ; for this they deserve 
praise. They naturally calumniated him a little. The 
obstinate are repulsive to the compliant. Men of sense, 
anxious for good places at court, and weary of his disa- 
greeable attitude, took pleasure in saying, " If he has 
not rallied to the throne, it is because he has not been 
sufficiently paid, " etc. " He wanted the chancellorship 
which the king has given to Hyde. " One of his old 
friends even went so far as to whisper, " He told me so 
himself. " 

Kemote as was the solitude of Linnaeus Clancharlie, 
a little of this talk reached him now and then through 
other outlaws whom he met, and through that old regi- 
cide, Andrew Broughton, who lived at Lausanne. Clan- 
charlie confined himself to an imperceptible shrug of the 
shoulders, a sign of profound disgust with him. On one 
occasion he added to the shrug these few words, uttered 
in a low voice, " I pity those who believe such things. " 

IV. 

Charles II., good man! scorned him. The happiness 
of England under Charley II. was more than happiness, 
it was enchantment. A restoration is like an old oil 
painting re-varnished. All the past reappeared, good 
old manners returned, beautiful women reigned and 
governed. Evelyn notices it. We read in his journal, 
" Luxury, profaneness, contempt of God ! I saw the king 
on Sunday evening with his courtesans, Portsmouth, 
Cleveland, Mazarin, and two or three others, all nearly 
naked, in the gaming-room. " We feel that there is ill- 



208 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

nature in this description, for Evelyn was a grumbling 
Puritan, tainted with republican notions. He did not 
appreciate the profitable example set by kings in those 
grand Babylonian gaieties, which, after all, provide 
employment for the poor. He did not understand the 
utility of vice. Here is a maxim : Do not extirpate vice, 
if you want to have charming women; if you do, you 
are like idiots who destroy the chrysalis while they de- 
light in the butterfly. 

Charles II. , as we have said, scarcely remembered 
that a rebel called Clancharlie existed ; but James 11. 
was more mindful of him. Charles 11. governed gently, 
it was his way ; we may add that he did not govern the 
worse on that account. A sailor sometimes makes, on a 
rope intended to baffle the wind, a slack knot which he 
leaves to the wind to tighten. Such is the stupidity of 
the storm and of a nation. The slack knot soon becomes 
a tight one. So did the government of Charles II. 

Under James II. the throttling began, — a necessary 
throttling of what remained of the revolution. James II. 
had a laudable ambition to be an efficient king. The 
reign of Charles II. was, in his opinion, but an attempt 
at restoration. James wished for a still more complete 
restoration of the old order of things. In 1660, he de- 
plored that they had confined themselves to the hanging 
of ten regicides. He was a more genuine reconstructor 
of authority. He infused vigour into serious principles. 
He installed true justice, which is superior to sentimen- 
tal declamations, and attends, above all things, to the 
interests of society. In his protecting severities we 
recognize the father of the State. He intrusted the hand ■ 
of justice to Jefferies and its sword to Kirke. That 
useful colonel one day hung and rehung the same man, 
a republican ; asking him each time : " Will you re- 
nounce the republic ? " The villain, having each time 



LORD CLANCHARLIE. 209 

said " No, " was finally despatched. " I hanged him four 
times, " said Kirke, complacently. The renewal of exe- 
cutions is a sure sign of power in the executive author- 
ity. Lady Lisle, who, though she had sent her son to 
fight against Monmouth, had concealed two rebels in her 
house, was executed ; another rebel, having been hon- 
ourable enough to declare that an anabaptist female had 
given him shelter, was pardoned, and the woman was 
burned alive. Kirke, on another occasion, gave a town 
to understand that he knew its principles to be republi- 
can, by hanging nineteen burgesses. 

These reprisals were certainly legitimate, for it must 
be remembered that under Cromwell they cut off the 
noses and ears of the stone saints in the churches. 
James IL , who had had the good sense to choose Jefferies 
and Kirke, was a prince imbued with true religion ; he 
practised mortification in the ugliness of his mistresses ; 
he listened to le Pfere la Colombifere, a preacher almost as 
unctuous as le Pfere Cheminais, but with more fire, who 
had the glory of being, during the first part of his life, the 
counsellor of James II. , and during the latter part the 
ideal of Marie Alacoque. It was probably due to this 
strong religious nourishment that later on James II. 
was enabled to bear exile with dignity, and to exhibit, 
in his retirement at Saint Germain, the spectacle of a 
king rising superior to adversity, calmly touching for 
king's evil, and conversing with Jesuits. 

It will be readily understood that such a king would 
trouble himself to a considerable extent about such a 
rebel as Lord Linnaeus Clancharlie. Hereditary peer- 
ages have a certain hold on the future, and it was evi- 
dent that if any precautions were necessary with regard 
to that lord, James II. was not the man to hesitate. 

VOL. XIX. 14 



CHAPTER 11. 

LOKD DAVID DIRRY-MOIR. 
I. 

LOED LINN^US CLANCHARLIE had not always 
been old and proscribed ; he had had his period 
of youth and passion. We know from Harrison and 
Pride that Cromwell, when young, loved women and 
pleasure, — a taste which generally (another aspect of 
the " woman question ") betrays a seditious man. Dis- 
trust the loosely clasped girdle {Male prcecinctum juvenem 
cavete). Lord Clancharlie, like Cromwell, had had his 
wild hours and his irregularities. He was known to 
have had a natural child, a son. This son was born in 
England in the last days of the republic, just as his 
father was going into exile ; hence he had never seen his 
father. This illegitimate son of Lord Clancharlie had 
grown up as page at the court of Charles II. He Avas 
styled Lord David Dirry-Moir : he was a lord by cour- 
tesy, his mother being a woman of quality. 

The mother, while Lord Clancharlie was playing the 
owl in Switzerland, made up her mind, being a beauty, 
to give up sulking, and was forgiven for that Goth her 
first lover, by one who was undeniably a polished gen- 
tleman, and at the same time a royalist, — no less a per- 
son, in fact, than the king himself. She had been the 
mistress of Charles 11. but a short time, sufficiently long, 
however, to have made his Majesty (who was delighted 
to have won so pretty a woman from the republic) be- 
stow on the little Lord David, the son of his divinity, 



LOKD DAVID DIRRY-MOIR. 211 

the office of keeper of the stick, — which made that 
young man, boarded at the king's expense, by a natural 
revulsion of feeling an ardent adherent of the Stuarts. 
Lord David was for some time one of the hundred and 
seventy sword-bearers ; afterwards, entering the corps of 
pensioners, he became one of the forty who bear the 
gilded halberd. He had, besides being one of the no- 
ble company instituted by Henry VIII. as a body-guard, 
the privilege of placing the dishes on the king's table. 
Thus it was that while his father was growing grey in 
exile, Lord David was prospering under Charles II. 
After which he prospered under James 11. The king is 
dead : Long live the king ! It is the non deficit alter, 
aureus. 

It was on the accession of the Duke of York that the 
young man obtained permission to call himself David 
Lord Dirry-Moir, from an estate which he inherited 
from his mother (who had just died) in that great forest 
of Scotland, where lives the krag, a bird which scoops 
out a nest with its beak in the trunk of the oak. 



IL 

James II. was a king, and pretended to be a great 
general. He loved to surround himself with young 
officers. He showed himself frequently in public on 
horseback, in a helmet and cuirass, with a huge project- 
ing wig hanging below the helmet and over the cuirass, 
— a sort of equestrian statue of imbecile war. He took 
a fancy to young Lord David ; he liked the royalist for 
being the son of a republican. A renegade father does 
not injure the foundation of a court fortune. The king 
made Lord David gentleman of the bedchamber, at a 
salary of a thousand a year. It was a fine promotion. 
A gentleman of the bedchamber sleeps near the king 



212 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

every night, on a bed which is made up for him. There 
are twelve gentlemen, who relieve one another. 

Lord David, while he held that post, was also head of 
the king's granary, giving out corn for the horses and 
receiving a salary of £260, Under him were the five 
coachmen of the king, the five postilions of the king, the 
five grooms of the king, the twelve footmen of the king, 
and the four chair-bearers of the king. He had the man- 
agement of the race-horses which the king kept at New- 
market, and which cost his Majesty £600 a year. He 
worked his will on the king's wardrobe, from which the 
knights of the garter are furnished with their robes of 
ceremony. The usher of the black rod bowed down to 
the earth before him. That usher, under James II., 
was the Chevalier Duppa. Mr. Baker, who was clerk 
of the crown, and Mr. Brown, who was clerk of the Par- 
liament, also bowed low before Lord David. The court 
of England, which is magnificent, is a model of hospi- 
tality. Lord David presided, as one of the twelve, at 
banquets and receptions. He had the glory of standing 
behind the king on offertory days, when the king gives 
to the church the golden hijzantium ; on collar-days, 
when the king wears the collar of his order; on com- 
munion days, when no one takes the sacrament except 
the king and the princes. It was he who, on Holy 
Thursday, introduced into his Majesty's presence the 
twelve poor men to whom the king gives as many silver 
pence as he is years old, and as many shillings as the 
years of his reign. The duty devolved on him, when 
the king was ill, to call to the assistance of his Majesty 
the two grooms of the almonry, who are priests, and to 
prevent the approach of doctors without permission from 
the council of State. Besides, he was lieutenant-colonel 
of the Scotch Regiment of Guards, the one which plays 
the Scottish march. As such, he made several cam- 



LORD DAVID DIRRY-MOIR. 213 

paigns, and with glory ; for he was a gallant soldier. He 
was a brave lord, well-made, handsome, generous, and 
majestic in look and in manner. His person was like 
his quality. He was tall in stature, as well as exalted 
in birth. At one time he stood a chance of being made 
groom of the stole, which would have given him the 
privilege of putting the king's shirt on his Majesty : 
but to hold that office it was necessary to be either 
prince or peer. Now, to create a peer is a serious thing, 
inasmuch as it is first necessary to create a peerage ; and 
that makes many people jealous. It is a favour, — but 
a favour that gains the king one friend and one hundred 
enemies, without taking into account that the one friend 
becomes ungrateful. James II. was not inclined to cre- 
ate peerages, but he transferred them freely. The trans- 
fer of a peerage produces no sensation ; it is simply the 
continuation of a name. The friendly monarch had no 
objection to raising Lord David Dirry-Moir to the upper 
house, provided he could do so by means of a substituted 
peerage. Nothing would have pleased his Majesty better 
than to transform Lord David Dirry-Moir lord by cour- 
tesy into a lord by right. 

IIL 

The opportunity occurred. One day it was announced 
that several things had happened to the old exile Lord 
Clancharlie, the most important of which was that he 
had died. Death does men this much good, — it makes 
them the subject of conversation for a time. People told 
what they knew, or what they thought they knew, about 
the last years of Lord Linnaeus. What they said was 
probably a mixture of hearsay and conjecture. If these 
tales were to be credited, Lord Clancharlie 's republican- 
ism was intensified towards the end of his days to tlie 



214 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

extent of marryiug (strange obstinacy on the part of the 
exile !) Ann Bradshaw, the daughter of a regicide : they 
were precise about the name. This lady had died, it 
was said, in giving birth to a boy. If these details 
should prove to be correct, this child would, of course, 
be the legitimate and rightful heir of Lord Claucharlie. 
These reports, however, were extremely vague in form, 
and were rumours rather than facts. Circumstances 
which happened in Switzerland in those days were as 
remote from the England of that period as those which 
take place in China from the England of to-day. Lord 
Clancharlie must have been fifty-nine at the time of his 
marriage, they said, and sixty at the birth of his son, 
and must have died shortly after, leaving his infant be- 
reft both of father and mother. This was possible, per- 
haps, but improbable. They added that the child was 
beautiful as the day, — just as we read in all the fairy 
tales. 

King James put an end to these rumours (which must 
have been entirely without foundation) by declaring, 
one fine morning, Lord David Dirry-Moir sole and posi- 
tive heir in default of legitimate issue, and by his royal 
pleasure, of Lord Linnaeus Clancharlie, his natural 
father, the absence of all other issue and descent being 
established; and patents of this grant were duly regis- 
tered in the House of Lords. By these patents the king 
instated Lord David Dirry-Moir in all the titles, rights, 
and prerogatives of the late Lord Linnseus Clancharlie, 
on the sole condition that Lord David should wed, 
when she attained a marriageable age, a certain girl who 
was at that time a mere infant a few months old, and 
whom the king in her cradle had created a duchess, no 
one knew exactly why, — or, rather, every one knew 
why. This little infant was called the Duchess Josiana. 
Spanish names were then all the rage in England. One 



LORD DAVID DIRRY-MOIR. 215 

of Charles 11. 's bastards was called Carlos Earl of Ply- 
mouth. It is likely that Josiaua was a contraction for 
Josefa-y-Ana. Josiana, however, may have been a 
name, — the feminine of Josias. One of Henri III. 's 
gentlemen was called Josias du Passage. It was to this 
little duchess that the king granted the peerage of Clan- 
charlie. She was a peeress till there should be a peer ; 
the peer was to be her husband. The peerage was 
founded on a double castleward, the barony of Clan- 
charlie and the barony of Hunkerville ; besides, the 
barons of Clancharlie were, as a reward for some ancient 
deed of prowess, and by royal license, Marquises of 
Corleone in Sicily. 

Peers of England cannot bear foreign titles. There 
are, nevertheless, exceptions ; thus Henry Arundel, 
Baron Arundel of Wardour, was, as well as Lord Clif- 
ford, a Count of the Holy Eoman Empire, of which Lord 
Cowper is a prince. The Duke of Hamilton is Duke of 
Chatelherault, in France; Basil Fielding, Earl of Den- 
bigh, is Count of Hapsburg, of Lauffenberg, and of 
Eheinfelden, in Germany. The Duke of Marlborough 
was Prince of Mindelheim in Suabia, just as the Duke 
of Wellington was Prince of Waterloo in Belgium. 
This same Lord Wellington was also a Spanish Duke of 
Ciudad Eodrigo, and Portuguese Count of Vimiera. 

There were in England, and there are still, both en- 
tailed and unentailed estates. The lands of the Lords 
of Clancharlie were all entailed. These lands, burghs, 
bailiwicks, fiefs, rents, freeholds, and domains, adher- 
ent to the peerage of Clancharlie-Hunkerville, now be- 
longed provisionally to Lady Josiana; and the king 
declared that, once married to Josiana, Lord David 
Dirry-Moir should be Baron Clancharlie. Besides the 
Clancharlie inheritance, Lady Josiana had her own pri- 
vate fortune. She possessed great wealth, much of 



216 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

which was derived from the gifts of Madame sans queue 
— in other words, Madame — to the Duke of York. 
Henrietta of England, Duchess of Orleans, the lady of 
highest rank in France after the queen, was called Ma- 
dame sans queue. 

IV. 

Having prospered under Charles and James, Lord 
David continued to prosper under William. His Jacobite 
feelings did not reach to the extent of following James 
into exile. While he continued to love his legitimate 
king, he had the good sense to serve the usurper ; he was, 
moreover, although sometimes disposed to rebel against 
discipline, an excellent officer. He exchanged from the 
land to the sea forces, and distinguished himself in the 
White Squadron ; he rose in it to be what was then 
called captain of a light frigate. Altogether he was a 
very fine fellow, extremely elegant in his vices ; a bit of 
a poet, like everybody else at that epoch ; a good servant 
of the State and a good servant to the prince ; assiduous 
at feasts, at ladies' receptions, at ceremonials, and in bat- 
tle ; servile in a gentlemanly way, and yet haughty in 
the extreme; with eyesight dull or keen, according to 
the object examined ; in manner obsequious or arrogant, 
as occasion required ; frank and sincere on first acquain- 
tance, with the power of assuming the mask afterwards ; 
very observant of the smiles and frowns of his royal 
master; careless before a sword's point; always ready 
with heroism and complacency to risk his life at a sign 
from his Majesty ; capable of any insult but of no im- 
politeness ; a man of courtesy and etiquette, proud of 
kneeling at great regal ceremonies ; of a gay valour ; 
a courtier on the surface, a paladin below; and young 
at forty-five. Lord David sang French songs charm- 



Lord David Diny-Moir. 

Photo- Etching. — From Drawing" by G. Rochegrosse. 



LORD DAVID DIRRY-MOIR. 217 

ingly, — an elegant accomplishment which had delighted 
Charles II. He loved eloquence and fine speaking, and 
was a great admirer of those celebrated discourses which 
are called the funeral orations of Bossuet. From his 
mother he had inherited almost enough to live on, — 
about £10,000 a year. He managed to get on with it, by 
running into debt. In magnificence, extravagance, and 
novelty he was without a rival. Directly he was copied, 
he changed his fashion. On horseback he wore loose 
boots of cow-hide, which turned over, with spurs. He 
had hats like nobody else's, unheard-of lace, and bands 
of which he alone had the pattern. 



CHAPTER III. 

THE DUCHESS JOSIANA. 
I. 

IN 1705, although Lady Josiana was twenty-three and 
Lord David forty-four, the wedding had not yet 
taken place, and that for the best reason in the world. 
Did they hate each other ? Ear from it ; but what can- 
not escape you inspires you with no haste to obtain it. 
Josiana wanted to remain free ; David, to remain young. 
To have no tie until as late as possible seemed to him to 
be a prolongation of youth. Middle-aged young men 
abounded in those rakish times ; they grew grey as 
young fops. The wig was an accomplice ; later on, pow- 
der became the auxiliary. At fifty-five Lord Charles 
Gerrard, Baron Gerrard, one of the Gerrards of Bromley, 
filled London with his successes ; the young and pretty 
Duchess of Buckingham, Countess of Coventry, made a 
fool of herself for love of the handsome Thomas Bellasys, 
Viscount Fauconberg, who was sixty-seven. Men quoted 
the famous verses of Corneille, the septuagenarian, to a 
girl of twenty, beginning, " Marquise, si mon visage. " 
Women, too, had their successes in the autumn of life, 
— witness Ninon and Marion. Such were the models 
of the day. 

Josiana and David were carrying on a flirtation of a 
peculiar kind. They did not love, they pleased, each 
other. To be in each other's society sufl&ced them : why 
hasten the conclusion ? The novels of those days carried 
lovers and engaged couples only to that stage which was 
the most becoming. Besides, Josiana, while she knew 



THE DUCHESS JOSIANA. 219 

herself to be a bastard, felt herself a princess, and car- 
ried her authority over him with a high hand in all their 
arrangements. She had a fancy for Lord David. He 
was handsome ; but she cared very little about that. 
She considered him elegant : that was the all-important 
thing. To be fashionable is everything. Caliban, fash- 
ionable and magnificent, would distance Ariel poor. 
Lord David was handsome ; so much the better. The 
danger in being handsome is being insipid ; and that he 
was not. He betted, boxed, ran into debt. Josiana was 
proud of his horses, his dogs, his losses at play, and 
especially of his mistresses. Lord David, on his side, 
bowed down before the fascinations of the Duchess 
Josiana, — a maiden without spot or scruple, haughty, 
inaccessible, and audacious. He addressed sonnets to 
her, which Josiana sometimes read. In these sonnets 
he declared that to possess Josiana would be to mount 
to the stars ; but this did not prevent him from post- 
poning the ascent until the following year. He waited 
patiently in the ante-chamber outside Josiana's heart; 
and this suited both of them. Every one at court com- 
mended the good taste of this delay. Lady Josiana said, 
" It is a pity that I should be obliged to marry Lord 
David, — I, who would desire nothing better than to be 
in love with him ! " 

Josiana was " the flesh " personified. It would be 
difficult to conceive of a more magnificent creature. She 
was very tall, — too tall. Her hair was of that tint 
which might be called red gold. She was plump, fresh, 
strong, and rosy, and possessed of immense boldness 
and wit. She had eyes which were too eloquent. She 
had neither lovers nor chastity. She walled herself 
around with pride. Men ! fie ! a god alone would be 
worthy of her, — a god or a monster. If virtue consists 
in impregnability, then Josiana was the most virtuous 



220 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

of women, though by no means the most innocent. She 
disdained intrigues ; but she would not have been dis- 
pleased had she been suspected of some, provided that 
they had been of a brilliant character proportionate to 
the merits of one so exalted as herself. She thought 
little of her reputation, but a great deal of her glory. 
To appear yielding, and yet be unapproachable, is per- 
fection. Josiana felt herself majestic and material. 
Hers was a cumbrous type of beauty. She usurped 
rather than charmed ; she trod upon hearts ; she was of 
the earth earthy. She would have been as much aston- 
ished to find a soul in her bosom as to see wings on her 
back. She discoursed learnedly on Locke ; she was 
polite ; she was even suspected of knowing Arabic. 

To be flesh and to be a woman are two very difi'erent 
things. Where a woman is vulnerable, — on the side of 
pity for instance, which so readily turns to love, — 
Josiana was not. Yet she was not unfeeling. The old 
comparison of flesh with marble is absolutely false. The 
beauty of flesh consists in not being marble. Its 
beauty is to palpitate, to tremble, to blush, to bleed ; to 
have firmness without hardness ; to be white without 
being cold ; to have its sensations and its infirmities. 
Its beauty is to be life, and marble is death. Flesh, 
when it attains a certain degree of beauty, has almost a 
claim to the right of nudity ; it conceals itself in its 
own dazzling charms as in a veil. He who looked upon 
Josiana nude, would have perceived her outlines only 
through a sort of halo. She would have shown herself 
without hesitation to a satyr or a eunuch. She had the 
self-possession of a goddess. To have made her nudity a 
torment to an ever-pursuing Tantalus, would have been 
a delight to her. 

The king had made her a duchess, and Jupiter a Nereid. 
In admiring her you felt yourself becoming at once a 



THE DUCHESS JOSIANA. 221 

pagan and a lackey. She seemed to have emerged from 
the foam of the ocean. In her there was something of 
the wave, of chance, of the patrician, and of the tempest. 
She was well read and accomplished. Never had a pas- 
sion approached her, yet she had sounded them all. She 
felt an instinctive loathing of their realization, and at 
the same time a longing for them. If she had stabbed 
herself, it would, like Lucretia, not have been until 
afterwards. She was a virgin stained with every defile- 
ment of an imaginary sort. She was a possible Astarte 
embodied in a real Diana. She was, in the insolence of 
her high birth, at once tempting and inaccessible. 
Nevertheless, she might find it amusing to plan a fall 
for herself. She dwelt in a halo of glory, half wishing 
to descend from it. and perhaps feeling curious to know 
what a fall was like. She was a little too heavy for her 
cloud. To err is a diversion. Princely unconstraint 
has the privilege of experiment ; and what is frailty in 
a plebeian, is only frolic in a duchess. Josiana was in 
everything — in birth, in beauty, in irony, in brilliancy 
— almost a queen. She had felt a momentary infatuation 
for Louis de Boufflors, who used to break horse-shoes 
between his fingers. She regretted that Hercules was 
dead. She lived in some undefined expectation of a 
voluptuous and supreme ideal. Morally, Josiana brought 
to one's mind the line of Horace, Desinit in piscem, — 

" Un beau torse de femme en hydre se termine.'' 

Hers was a noble neck, a splendid bosom, tranquilly 
heaving over a proud and arrogant heart, a glance full of 
life and light, a countenance pure and haughty ; but (who 
knows?) below the surface was there not, in a semi- 
transparent and misty depth, an undulating, supernatural 
prolongation, perchance deformed and dragon-like, — 
proud virtue ending in vice in the depths of dreams ? 



222 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 



II. 

With all that she was a prude. It was the fashion. 
Eemember Elizabeth. Elizabeth was of a type that pre- 
vailed in England for three centuries, — the sixteenth, 
seventeenth, and eighteenth. Elizabeth was more than 
English, she was Anglican. Hence the deep respect of 
the Episcopalian Church for that queen, — a respect re- 
sented by the Church of Eome, which counterbalanced 
it with a dash of excommunication. In the mouth of 
Sixtus V. , when anathematizing Elizabeth, malediction 
turned to madrigal : " Un gran cervello di principessa, " 
he says. Mary Stuart, less concerned with the church 
and more with the woman part of the question, had 
little respect for her sister Elizabeth, and wrote to her 
as queen to queen and coquette to prude : " Your disin- 
clination to marriage arises from your not wishing to 
lose the liberty of being made love to. " Mary Stuart 
toyed with the fan, Elizabeth with the axe. An uneven 
match. They were rivals, besides, in literature. Mary 
Stuart composed French verses ; Elizabeth translated 
Horace. The ugly Elizabeth decreed herself beautiful ; 
liked quatrains and acrostics ; had the keys of towns 
presented to her by cupids ; bit her lips, after the Italian 
fashion, rolled her eyes after the Spanish style ; had in 
her wardrobe three thousand dresses and costumes, of 
which several were for the character of Minerva and 
Amphitrite; esteemed the Irish for the width of their 
shoulders ; covered her farthingale with braids and span- 
gles ; loved roses ; cursed, swore, and stamped ; struck 
her maids of honour with her clinched fists ; used to 
send Dudley to the devil, beat Burleigh the Chancellor, 
who would cry (poor old fool !), spat on Mathew, collared 
Hatton, boxed the ears of Essex, showed her legs to 



THE DUCHESS JOSIANA. 



Ooc> 



Bassompierre, — and was a virgin. What she did for 
Bassompierre the Queen of Sheba had done for Solomon ; ^ 
consequently she was right, Holy Writ having created 
the precedent. That which is Biblical may well be 
Anglican. Biblical precedent even goes so far as to 
speak of a ciiild who was called Ebnehaquem, or Meli- 
lechet; that is to say, "the Wise Man's son." 

Why object to such manners ? Cynicism is at least as 
good as hypocrisy. Nowadays England, whose Loyola 
is named Wesley, casts down her eyes a little at the re- 
membrance of that past age ; she is vexed at the memory, 
yet proud of it. 

Amidst such manners as these, a taste for deformity 
existed, especially among women, more especially among 
beautiful women. What was the use of being beautiful 
if one did not possess a baboon ? What was the charm 
of being a queen if one could not bandy words with a 
dwarf ? Mary Stuart had " been kind " to the bandy- 
legged Ptizzio. Maria Theresa of Spain had been " some- 
what familiar " with a negro ; hence the " black abbess. " 
In the alcoves of the great century a hump was the fash- 
ion : witness the Marshal of Luxembourg; and before 
Luxembourg, Cond(^, " such a pretty little man ! " Beau- 
ties themselves might be ill-made without detriment; 
that was admitted. Anne Boleyn had one breast bigger 
than the other, six fingers on one hand, and a projecting 
tooth ; La Vallifere was bandy-legged, — which did not 
hinder Henry VIIL from going mad for the one, and 
Louis XIV. for the other. 

Morals were equally awry. There was not a woman 
of high rank who was not a sort of monster. Every 
Agnes was a Melusina at heart. They were women by 
day and ghouls by night. They sought the scaffold to 

1 Regina S.iba coram rcge crura denudavit. — Schicklardus in Prooemio 
Tarich Jersici,f. 65. 



224 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

kiss the heads of the newly beheaded on their iron 
stakes. Marguerite de Valois, the grandmother of 
prudes, wore, fastened to her belt, the hearts of her 
dead lovers in tin boxes, padlocked. In the eighteenth 
century the Duchess de Berry, daughter of the Kegent, 
was herself an obscene and royal type of all these 
creatures. 

These fine ladies, moreover, knew Latin. From the 
sixteenth century this had been accounted a feminine 
accomplishment. Lady Jane Grey had carried the 
fashion to the extent of knowing Hebrew. The Duchess 
Josiana Latinized. Then (another fine thing) she was 
secretly a Catholic, — ■ after the manner of her uncle, 
Charles IL , rather than her father, James II. James II. 
had lost his crown by reason of his Catholicism, and 
Josiana did not care to risk her peerage. Thus it was 
that while she was a Catholic among her intimate friends 
and the refined of both sexes, she was outwardly a Pro- 
testant for the benefit of the riff-raff. This is a pleasant 
view to take of religion. You enjoy all the good things 
connected with the Episcopalian Church, and later on 
you die, like Grotius, in the odour of Catholicity, with 
the glory of having a mass said for you by le Pfere 
Petau. 

Although plump and healthy, Josiana was, we repeat, 
a perfect prude. At times, her sleepy and voluptuous 
way of dragging out the end of her phrases was like the 
creeping of a tiger's paws in the jungle. When one has 
not got Olympus, one must be content with the Hotel 
de Eambouillet. Juno resolves herself into Araminta. 
A pretension to divinity not admitted, creates affecta- 
tion. Instead of thunder-claps there is impertinence. 
The temple shrivels into the boudoir. Unable to be a 
goddess, one becomes a graven image. Besides, there is 
in prudery a certain pedantry which is pleasing to 



THE DUCHESS JOSIANA. 225 

women. The coquette and the pedant are near neigh- 
bours. Their kinship is visible in the fop. The subtile 
is derived from the sensual. Gluttony affects delicacy ; 
a grimace of disgust conceals cupidity. And then 
woman feels her weak point guarded by all that casuis- 
try of gallantry which takes the place of scruples in 
prudes. It is a line of circumvallation with a ditch. 
Every prude puts on an air of repugnance ; it is a pro- 
tection. She will consent eventually, but she disdains 
— for the present. 

Josiana had an uneasy conscience. She felt such a 
leaning towards immodesty that she was a prude. The 
very pride which causes us to shrink from certain vices 
leads us into others of an entirely different character. 
It was the excessive effort to be chaste which made 
Josiana a prude. To be too much on the defensive 
evinces a secret desire for attack ; the truly modest 
woman is not strait-laced. Josiana shut herself up in 
the arrogance of the exceptional circumstances of her 
rank, meditating, perhaps, all the while some sudden 
lapse from it. 

It was the dawn of the eighteenth century. England 
was a sketch of what France was during the regency. 
Walpole and Dubois were not unlike. Marlborough was 
fighting against his former king, James II. , to whom it 
was said he had sold his sister, Miss Churchill. Boling- 
broke was in the height and Eichelieu in the dawn of 
his glory. Gallantry found a certain medley of ranks 
convenient. Men were made equal by their vices as 
they were later on, perhaps, by their ideas. Degrada- 
tion of rank, an aristocratic prelude, began what the 
revolution was to complete. It was not very far from 
the time when J^lyotte was seen sitting publicly in 
broad daylight, on the bed of the Marquise d'Epinay. 
It is true (for manners re-echo each other) that in the 

VOL. XIX. 15 



226 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

sixteenth century Smeton's nightcap had been found 
under Anne Boleyn's pillow. 

If the word woman signifies frailty, never was woman 
so womanly as then. Never, covering her frailty by 
her charms, and her weakness by her omnipotence, has 
she claimed absolution more imperiously. In making 
the forbidden the permitted fruit. Eve fell ; in making 
the permitted the forbidden fruit, she triumphs. That 
is the climax. In the eighteenth century the wife bolts 
out her husband. She shuts herself up in Eden with 
Satan. Adam is left outside. 



III. 

All Josiana's instincts impelled her to yield herself 
wantonly rather than to give herself legally. To sur- 
render one's self thus, is considered a sure indication of 
genius, recalls Menalcas and Amaryllis, and is almost 
a literary act. Mademoiselle de Scuddry, aside from the 
charm of ugliness (for ugliness has its charm), could 
have had no other motive for yielding to Pdlisson. 

The maiden a sovereign, the wife a subject, — such 
was the old English notion. Josiana was deferring the 
hour of subjection as long as she could. She must event- 
ually marry Lord David, since such was the royal pleas- 
ure. It was a necessity, doubtless ; but what a pity ! 
Josiana appreciated Lord David, and showed him off. 
There was between them a tacit agreement neither to 
conclude nor to break off the engagement. They eluded 
each other. This method of making love — one step in 
advance, and two back — is expressed in the dances of 
the period, the minuet and the gavotte. 

It is unbecoming to be married ; it fades one's ribbons, 
and makes one look old. An espousal is a dreary ab- 



THE DUCHESS JOSIANA. 227 

sorption of brilliancy. A woman handed over to you 
by a notary, how commonplace ! The brutality of mar- 
riage creates definite situations, suppresses the will, 
kills choice ; has a syntax, like grammar ; replaces in- 
spiration by orthography ; makes love a dictation; dis- 
perses all Life's mysteries; diminishes the rights both 
of sovereign and subject ; by a turn of the scale destroys 
the charming equilibrium of the sexes : the one robust 
in bodily strength, the other all-powerful in feminine 
weakness, — strength on one side, beauty on the other ; 
makes one a master, and the other a servant. While 
before marriage man is the slave, woman the queen. To 
make Love prosaically decent, how gross ! to deprive it 
of all impropriety, how dull ! 

Lord David was no longer young. Forty is an age 
that tells upon a man. He was not conscious of the 
fact, however, and really looked only a little over thirty. 
He considered it more amusing to desire Josiana than to 
possess her. He possessed others ; he had mistresses. 
On the other hand, Josiana had dreams. 

The Duchess Josiana had a peculiarity which is less 
rare than is generally supposed. One of her eyes was 
blue and the other black. Her pupils were made for 
love and hate, for happiness and misery. Night and 
day were mingled in her look. Her ambition was this : 
to show herself capable of impossibilities. One day she 
said to Swift : " You people fancy that you know what 
scorn is. " " You people, " meant the human race. She 
was a skin-deep Papist; her Catholicism did not exceed 
the amount necessary for fashion. She would have 
been a Puseyite at the present day. She wore great 
dresses of velvet, satin, or moire, some composed of 
fifteen or sixteen yards of material, with embroideries 
of gold and silver, and round her waist many knots 
of pearls, alternating with other precious stones. She 



228 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

was extravagant in gold lace. Sometimes she wore an 
embroidered cloth jacket, like a bachelor. She rode on 
a man's saddle, notwithstanding the invention of side- 
saddles introduced into England in the fourteenth cen- 
tury by Anne, wife of Eichard II. She washed her 
face, arms, shoulders, and neck in sugar dissolved in 
white of egg, after the Castilian fashion. There came 
over her face when any one talked cleverly in her pres- 
ence an appreciative smile of singular grace. She was 
free from malice, and rather good-natured than other- 
wise. 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE LEADER OF FASHION. 

JOSIANA was bored. The fact is so natural as to be 
scarcely worth mentioning. 
Lord David held the position of judge in the gay life 
of London. He was looked up to by the nobility and 
gentry. Let us mention one feat of Lord David : he 
was daring enough to wear his own hair. The reaction 
against the wig was beginning. Just as in 1824 Eugene 
Devdria was the first to allow his beard to grow, so in 
1702 Price Devereux was the first to risk wearing his 
own hair in public disguised by artful curling ; for to 
risk one's hair was almost to risk one's head. The in- 
dignation was universal, although Price Devereux was 
Viscount Hereford, and a peer of England. He was in- 
sulted ; but the deed was well worth the insult. In the 
hottest part of the row Lord David suddenly appeared 
without his wig and in his own hair. Such conduct 
shakes the foundations of society. Lord David was in- 
sulted even more grossly than Viscount Hereford ; yet 
he held his ground. Price Devereux was the first, Lord 
David Dirry-Moir was the second to do this. It is 
sometimes more difficult to be the second than the first. 
It requires less genius, but more courage. The first, in- 
toxicated by the novelty, may ignore the danger ; the 
second sees the abyss, and rushes into it. Lord David 
flung himself into the abyss of no longer wearing a 
wig. Later on these gentlemen found many imitators. 



230 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

Following the examples of these two revolutionists, 
men summoned up sufficient courage to wear their own 
hair, and powder was introduced as an extenuating 
circumstance. 

In order to establish an important period of history 
before we pass on, we should remark that the first blow 
in the war of wigs was really struck by a Queen, — 
Christina of Sweden, who wore man's clothes, and who 
appeared in 1680, with her hair of golden brown, pow- 
dered, and brushed up from her head. She had besides, 
says Misson, a slight beard. The Pope, in his turn, by 
a bull issued in March, 1694, had lessened the popular- 
ity of the wig, by taking it from the heads of bishops and 
priests, and by ordering churchmen to let their hair grow. 

Lord David, then, did not wear a wig, and he did 
wear cow-hide boots. Such deeds of prowess made him 
a mark for public admiration. There was not a club of 
which he was not the leader; not a boxing-match in 
which he was not desired as referee. The referee is the 
arbitrator. He had drawn up the rules of several aris- 
tocratic clubs. He founded several resorts of fashion- 
able society, — of which one, the Lady Guinea, was still 
in existence in Pall Mall, in 1772. The Lady Guinea 
was a club in which all the youth of the peerage con- 
gregated. They gambled there ; the lowest stake al- 
lowed was a rouleau of fifty guineas, and there was 
never less than twenty thousand guineas on the table. 
By the side of each player was a little stand, on which 
to place his cup of tea and a gilt bowl in which to put 
the rouleaux of guineas. The players, like servants 
when cleaning knives, wore leather sleeves to save their 
lace, breast-plates of leather to protect their ruffles, and 
on their heads, to shelter their eyes from the glare of 
the lamps and to keep their curls in order, broad- 
brimmed hats covered with flowers. They were masked 



THE LEADER OF FASHION. 231 

to conceal their excitement, especially when playing the 
game of quinze. All, moreover, wore their coats hind- 
side before, for luck. 

Lord David was a member of the Beefsteak Club, the 
Surly Club, and of the Splitfarthing Club ; of the Cross 
Club, and the Scratchpenny Club ; of the Sealed Knot, 
a Eoyalist Club ; and of the Martinus Scribblerus, 
founded by Swift, to take the place of the Rota, founded 
by Milton. Though handsome, he belonged to the Ugly 
Club. This club was dedicated to deformity. The mem- 
bers agreed to fight, not about a beautiful woman, but 
about an ugly man. The hall of the club was adorned 
by hideous portraits, — Thersites, Triboulet, Duns, Hudi- 
bras, Scarron ; over the chimney was ^sop, between 
two men, — Codes and Camoens, — each blind in one 
eye (Codes being blind in the left, and Camoens in the 
right eye), so arranged that the two profiles without eyes 
were turned to each other. The day that the beautiful 
Mrs. Visart caught the smallpox, the Ugly Club toasted 
her. This club was still in existence in the beginning 
of the nineteenth century, and Mirabeau was elected an 
honorary member. 

Since the restoration of Charles II., revolutionary 
clubs had been abolished. The tavern in the little 
street by Moorfields where the Calf's Head Club was 
held, had been pulled down; it was so called because 
on the 30th of January, the day on which the blood of 
Charles I. flowed on the scaffold, the members had drunk 
to the health of Cromwell out of the skull of a calf. To 
republican clubs had succeeded monarchical clubs. In 
them people amused themselves with decency. There 
was the Hell-fire Club, where they played at being 
impious. It was a joust of sacrilege ; hell was put 
up at auction there to the highest bidder in blas- 
phemy. There was the Butting Club, so called from its 



232 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

members butting folks with their heads. They found 
some street porter with a wide chest and a stupid coun- 
tenance ; they offered him, and compelled him if neces- 
sary, to accept a pot of porter, in return for which he 
was to allow them to butt him with their heads four 
times in the chest ; and on this they betted. One day 
a man, a big, stalwart Welshman named Gogangerdd, 
expired at the third butt. This looked serious. An 
inquest was held, and the jury returned the following 
verdict : " Died of enlargement of the heart, caused by 
excessive drinking. " Gogangerdd had certainly drunk 
the contents of the pot of porter. 

There was the Fun Club. Fun is like cant, and like 
humour, — a word which is untranslatable. Fun is to 
farce what pepper is to salt. To get into a house and 
break a valuable mirror, slash the family portraits, poi- 
son the dog, put the cat in the aviary, is called " having 
a bit of fun. " To give bad news which is untrue, 
whereby people put on mourning by mistake, is fun. It 
was fun to cut a square hole in the Holbein at Hampton 
Court. A member of the Fun Club would have deemed 
it a grand achievement to have broken the arm of the 
Venus of Milo. Under James II. a young millionaire 
nobleman who had during the night set fire to a thatched 
cottage, — a feat which made all London shriek with 
laughter, — was proclaimed the King of Fun. The poor 
devils in the cottage were saved in their night-clothes. 
The members of the Fun Club, all men of the highest 
rank, used to run about London during the hours when 
the citizens were asleep, pulling shutters off their hinges, 
cutting the pipes of pumps, filling up cisterns, digging 
up cultivated plots of ground, putting out lamps, saw- 
ing through the beams which supported houses, and 
breaking window-panes, especially in the poor quarters 
of the town. It was the rich who acted thus towards 



Amusements of the Mohawk Club. 
Photo-Etching. — From Drawing by G. Rochegrosse. 



THE LEADER OF FASHION. 233 

the poor. For this reason, no complaint was possible ; 
that was the best of the joke. These manners have not 
altogether disappeared. In many places in England and 
in English possessions (at Guernsey, for instance) yonr 
house is now and then somewhat damaged during tlie 
night, or a fence broken, or the knocker twisted ofl' your 
door. If it were the poor who did these things, they 
would be sent to jail; but they are done by pleasant 
young gentlemen. 

The most fashionable of the clubs was presided over 
by a so-called emperor, who wore a crescent on his fore- 
head, and was called the Grand Mohawk. The Mohawk 
surpassed the Fun. " Do evil for evil's sake " was the 
programme. The Mohawk Club had one great object, 
— to injure. To accomplish this object, all sorts of 
means were resorted to. In becoming a Mohawk, the 
members took an oath to that effect. To injure at any 
price, no matter when, no matter whom, no matter 
where, was a matter of duty. Every member of the 
Mohawk Club was bound to possess some accomplish- 
ment. One was " a dancing master ; " that is to say, he 
made the rustics frisk about by pricking the calves of 
their legs with the point of his sword. Others knew 
how to make a man sweat ; that is to say, a circle of 
gentlemen with drawn rapiers would surround a poor 
wretch, so that it was impossible for him not to turn 
his back upon some one of them ; the gentleman he 
turned his back upon chastised him for it by a prick of 
his sword, which made hini spring round ; another prick 
in the back warned the fellow that a person of noble 
blood was behind him, — and so on, each one wounding 
him in turn ; when the man, hemmed in by the circle of 
swords and covered with blood, had turned and danced 
about enough, they had him beaten by their servants in 
order to divert his mind. Others " punched the lion ; " 



234 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

that is, they gaily stopped a passer-by, broke his nose 
with a blow of the fist, and then shoved both thumbs 
into his eyes ; if his eyes were gouged out, he was paid 
for them. 

Such were the pastimes of the rich idlers of London 
about the beginning of the eighteenth century. The 
idlers of Paris also had theirs. About that time M. de 
Charolais was firing his gun at a citizen who chanced to 
be standing on his own threshold. Youth has had its 
amusements from time immemorial. 

Lord David Dirry-Moir would gleefully set fire to a 
cottage of wood and thatch, just like the others, and 
scorch the inmates a little ; but he always rebuilt their 
houses in stone. He assaulted two ladies. One was 
vmmarried, — he gave her a portion ; the other was mar- 
ried, — he had her husband appointed chaplain. Many 
praiseworthy improvements were due to him in cock- 
fighting. It was marvellous to see Lord David dress a 
cock for the pit. Cocks lay hold of each other by the 
feathers, as men seize each other by the hair. Lord 
David, therefore, made his cock as bald as possible. 
With a pair of scissors he cut off all the tail feathers, 
and all the feathers on the head and shoulders as well 
as those on the neck. " So much less for the enemy's 
beak," he used to say. Then he extended the cock's 
wings, and cut each feather, one after another, to a 
point, and thus the wings were furnished with darts. 
"That is for the enemy's eyes," he would say. Then 
he scraped its claws with a penknife, sharpened its 
nails, fitted steel gaffs on its spurs, spat on its head and 
spat on its neck, — anointing it with spittle, as they 
used to rub oil over athletes ; then set it down in the 
pit, a formidable opponent, exclaiming, " That 's the 
way to make a cock an eagle ; a bird of the poultry-yard 
a bird of the mountain. " 



THE LEADER OF FASHION. 235 

Lord David attended prize-fights, and was their liv- 
ing law. On great occasions it was he who had the 
stakes driven in and ropes stretched, and who fixed the 
number of feet for the ring. When he was a second, he 
followed his man step by step, a bottle in one hand, a 
sponge in the other; crying out to him to strike fair, 
but suggesting all sorts of stratagems ; advising him as 
he fought, wiping away the blood, raising him when 
overthrown, placing him on his knee, putting the mouth 
of the brandy bottle between his teeth, and from his 
own mouth, filled with water, blowing a fine rain into 
his eyes and ears, — a thing which revives even a dying 
man. If he was referee, he saw that there was no foul 
play ; prevented any one, whomsoever he might be, 
from assisting the combatants, excepting the seconds ; 
declared the man beaten who did not fairly face his 
opponent ; saw that the time between the rounds did not 
exceed half a minute ; prevented butting, declaring who- 
ever resorted to it beaten; and forbade a man's being 
hit when down. All this scientific knowledge, however, 
did not make him a pedant, or destroy his ease of man- 
ner in society. 

When Lord David was referee, rough, pimple-faced, 
unshorn friends of either combatant never dared to come 
to the aid of the failing man ; nor in order to upset the 
chances of the betting jump over the barrier, enter the 
ring, break the ropes, pull down the stakes, or interfere 
in any way in the contest. He was one of the few 
referees they dared not attempt to bully. 

No one could train like him. The pugilist whose 
trainer he consented to become was sure to win. Lord 
David would choose a Hercules, — massive as a rock, 
tall as a tower, — and make a child of him. The prob- 
lem was to turn that human rock from a defensive to 
an offensive state. In this he excelled. Having once 



236 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

adopted the Cyclops, he never left him. He became his 
nurse ; he measured out his wine, weighed his meat, 
and counted his hours of sleep. It was he who invented 
the athlete's admirable rules, afterwards reproduced by 
Mo^ely : in the morning, a raw egg and a glass of sherry ; 
at twelve, some slices of a leg of mutton, almost raw, 
with tea ; at four, toast and tea ; in the evening, pale 
ale and toast; after which he undressed his man, rubbed 
him, and put him to bed. In the street, he never lost 
sight of him, keeping him out of every danger, — run- 
away horses, carriage-wheels, drunken soldiers, and 
pretty girls. He watched over his virtue. This mater- 
nal solicitude was continually adding some new accom- 
plishment to the pupil's education. He taught him the 
blow with the fist which breaks the teeth, and the twist of 
the thumb which gouges out the eye. What could be 
more touching than this devotion ? In this way he was 
also preparing himself for the public life to which he 
would be called later on. It is no easy matter to be- 
come an accomplished gentleman. 

Lord David Dirry-Moir was passionately fond of open- 
air exhibitions, of shows, of circuses with wild beasts, 
of the caravans of mountebanks, of clowns, tumblers, 
merrymen, open-air farces, and the wonders of a fair. 
The true noble is he who smacks of the people. There- 
fore it was that Lord David frequented the taverns and 
low haunts of London and the Cinque Ports. In order 
to be able at need, and without compromising his rank 
in the white squadron, to be cheek-by-jowl with a top- 
man or a calker, he used to wear a sailor's jacket when 
he went into the slums. For such disguise his not 
wearing a wig was convenient ; for even under Louis 
XIV. the people clung to their hair like the lion to his 
mane. This gave him great freedom of action. The 
low people whom Lord David used to meet, and with 



THE LEADER OF FASHION. 237 

whom he mixed, held him in high esteem, without ever 
dreaming that he was a lord. They called him Tom- 
Jim-Jack. Under this name he was quite famous and 
very popular among the dregs of the people. He played 
the blackguard in a masterly style, and did not hesitate 
to use his fists if necessary. This phase of his fashion- 
able life was highly appreciated by Lady Josiana. 



CHAPTEE V. 

QUEEN ANNE. 



ABOVE this couple there was Aime, Queen of Eng- 
land. A very ordinary woman was Queen Anne. 
She was gay, benevolent, august — to a certain extent. 
No quality of hers amounted either to a virtue or to a 
vice. Her flesh was bloated, her wit heavy, her good- 
nature stupid. She was at once stubborn and weak. 
As a wife, she was both faithless and faithful, — having 
favourites to whom she gave her heart, and a husband 
for whom she kept her bed. As a Christian, she was at 
once a heretic and a bigot. She had one beauty, — the 
well-developed neck of a Niobe ; the rest of her person 
was indifferently formed. She was a clumsy coquette, 
and a chaste one. Her skin was white and fine ; she 
displayed a great deal of it. It was she who introduced 
the fashion of necklaces of large pearls clasped round 
the throat. She had a narrow forehead, sensual lips, 
fleshy cheeks, large eyes, short sight. Her short sight 
extended to her mind. Beyond a burst of merriment 
now and then, almost as ponderous as her anger, she 
lived in a sort of taciturn grumble and a grumbling si- 
lence. Words escaped from her which had to be guessed 
at. She was a mixture of a good woman and a mis- 
chievous devil. She liked surprises, which is extremely 
woman-like. She drank. She had fits of rage ; she 
was violent, a brawler. Anne was a pattern, roughly 



QUEEN ANNE. 239 

sketched, of the universal Eve. Her husband was a 
Dane, thoroughbred. 

A Tory, Anne governed through the Whigs. Nobody 
could have been more awkward tlian Anne in directing 
affairs of State. She let things happen as they would. 
Her entire policy was hare-brained. She excelled in 
bringing' about great catastrophes from little causes. 
When a desire to rule seized her, she called it giving " a 
stir with the poker. " She would say with an air of 
profound thought, " No peer can keep his hat on before 
the king except De Courcy, Baron Kingsale, an Irish 
peer. " Or, " It would be an injustice if my husband 
were not to be Lord High Admiral, since my father 
was. " And she made George of Denmark Lord Admiral 
of England and of all her Majesty's plantations. She 
was incessantly exhaling bad humour ; she did not ex- 
plain her thought, she exuded it. There was something 
of the Sphinx in this goose. 

Anne rather liked rough fun, teasing, and practical 
jokes. Could she have made Apollo a hunchback, it 
would have delighted her ; but she would have left him 
a god. Good-natured, her plan was to allow no one to 
despair, and yet to worry everybody. She often had a 
rough word in her mouth ; a little more, and she would 
have sworn like Elizabeth. From time to time she 
would take from a pocket which she wore in her skirt a 
little round box of chased silver, on which was her por- 
trait in profile, between the two letters Q. A. ; she 
would open this box, and take from it on her finger a 
little pomade, with which she reddened her lips; and 
having coloured her mouth, she would laugh. She was 
greedily fond of the flat Zealand ginger-bread cakes ; she 
was proud of being fat. 

More of a Puritan than anything else, Anne would 
nevertheless have liked to devote herself to stage plays. 



240 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

She had an absurd academy of music, copied after that 
of France. In 1700, a Frenchman named Forteroche 
wanted to build a royal circus at Paris, at a cost of four 
hundred thousand francs, which scheme was opposed by 
D'Argenson. This Forteroche went over to England, 
and proposed to Queen Anne to build in London a theatre 
finer than that of the King of France, — with which idea 
the queen was immediately charmed. Like Louis XIV., 
she liked to be driven at a gallop. Her teams and relays 
would sometimes do the distance between London and 
Windsor in less than an hour and a quarter. 



IL 

In Anne's time, no meeting was allowed without the 
permission of two justices of the peace. The convening 
of twelve persons, even if it were only to eat oysters and 
drink porter, was a felony. Under her reign, compara- 
tively mild in other respects, impressing for the navy was 
carried on with extreme violence, — a gloomy evidence 
that the Englishman is a subject rather than a citizen. 
For centuries England suffered under this kind of tyranny, 
which gave the lie to all the old charters of liberty, and 
which France considered a good cause for triumph and 
indignation. What in some degree diminishes the tri- 
umph is, that while sailors were being impressed in 
England, soldiers were being impressed in France. In 
every great town of France, any able-bodied man, going 
through the streets about his business, was liable to be 
shoved by the crimps into a house called " the oven. " 
There he was shut up with others in the same plight ; 
those fit for service were picked out, and the recruiters 
sold them to the officers. In 1695 there were thirty of 
these " ovens " in Paris. 



QUEEN ANNE. 241 

The laws against Ireland, emanating from Queen 
Anne, were atrocious. Anne was born in 1664, two 
years before the great fire in London, and the astrologers 
(there were some left ; witness Louis XIV. , who was 
born with the assistance of an astrologer, and swaddled 
in a horoscope) predicted that being the elder sister of 
fire she would be queen. And so she was, thanks to 
astrology and the revolution of 1688. She had the 
humiliation of having only Gilbert, Archbishop of Can- 
terbury, for god-father. To be the god-child of the Pope 
was no longer possible in England ; a mere primate is 
but a poor sort of god-father. Anne had to put up with 
it, however. It was her own fault; why was she a 
Protestant ? 

Denmark had paid for Anne's virginity {virginitas 
empta, as the old charters expressed it) by a dowry of 
£6,250 a year, secured on the bailiwick of Wardinburg 
and the island of Fehmarn. She followed, without con- 
viction and by routine, the traditions of William. The 
English under this regime born of a revolution enjoyed 
as much liberty as they could lay hands on between the 
Tower of London, in which the orators were incarcerated, 
and the pillory, in which the writers were placed. 
Anne spoke a little Danish in her private chats with 
her husband, and a little French in her private chats 
with Bolingbroke. Wretched gibberish ; but the height 
of English fashion, especially at court, was to talk 
French. There was never^ a hon mot but in French. 
Anne paid a deal of attention to the coinage of the 
realm, especially to the copper coins, which are the 
common and popular ones; she wanted to cut a great 
figure on them. Six different farthings were struck dur- 
ing her reign. On the back of the first three she had 
merely a throne struck ; on the back of the fourth she 
ordered a triumphal chariot; and on the back of the 

VOL. XIX. 16 



242 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

sixth a goddess holding a sword in one hand and an 
olive branch in the other, with the scroll, Bello et pace. 
Her father, James II. was blunt and cruel ; she was 
brutal. At the same time she was really mild au fond, 
— a contradiction which only appears such. A fit of 
anger metamorphosed her. Heat sugar, and it will 
boil. 

Anne was popular. England likes female rulers. 
France excludes them. Why ? One reason is apparent 
at once ; perhaps there is really no other. With English 
historians Elizabeth embodies grandeur ; Anne, good-na- 
ture. As they will ; be it so. But there is nothing deli- 
cate in the reigns of these women. The lines are heavy. 
It is gross grandeur and gross good-nature. As to their 
immaculate virtue, England is tenacious of it, and we 
are not going to oppose the idea. Elizabeth was a vir- 
gin tempered by Essex; Anne, a wife complicated by 
Bolingbroke. 

III. 

One idiotic habit of the people is to attribute to the 
king what they do themselves. They fight : whose is 
the glory? The king's. They pay : whose is the gen- 
erosity ? The king's. Then the people love him for 
being so rich. The king receives a crown from the poor, 
and gives them back a farthing. How generous he is ! 
The colossus which is really only the pedestal contem- 
plates the pygmy which is really the statue. How great 
this myrmidon is ! He is on my back. A dwarf has an 
excellent way of making himself taller than a giant : it 
is to perch himself on his shoulders. But that the giant 
should allow it, there is the wonder ; and that he should 
admire the height of the dwarf, there is the folly. Ah, 
the simplicity of mankind ! 



QUEEN ANNE. 243 

The equestrian statue, reserved for kings alone, is an 
excellent figure of royalty : the horse is the people. 
Only, the horse becomes transfigured by degrees. It 
begins as an ass ; it ends as a lion. Then it throws its 
rider; and you have 1642 in England and 1789 in 
France. Sometimes it devours him; and you have 1649 
in England, and 1793 in France. That the lion should 
relapse into the donkey is astonishing; but it is so. 
This was occurring in England. It had resumed the 
pack-saddle ; namely, idolatry of the crown. 

Queen Anne, as we have just observed, was popular. 
What was she doing to make herself so ? Nothing. 
Nothing ! — that is all that is asked of the sovereign of 
England. He receives for that nothing £1,250,000 a 
year. In 1705, England, which had had but thirteen men- 
of-war under Elizabeth and thirty-six under James I., 
counted a hundred and fifty in her fleet. The Eng- 
lish had three armies, — five thousand men in Catalonia, 
ten thousand in Portugal, fifty thousand in Flanders ; 
and besides, was paying £1,666,666 a year to monarchi- 
cal and diplomatic Europe, — a sort of prostitute which 
the English people has always had in keeping. Parlia- 
ment having voted a patriotic loan of thirty-four million 
francs of annuities, there had been a rush to the ex- 
chequer to subscribe it. England was sending a squad- 
ron to the East Indies, and a squadron to the West of 
Spain under Admiral Leake, without mentioning the 
reserve of four hundred sail under Admiral Sir Cloudes- 
ley Shovel. England had lately annexed Scotland. It 
was the interval between Hochstadt and Eamillies, and 
the first of these victories was foretelling the second. 
England, in its cast of the net at Hochstadt, had made 
prisoners of twenty-seven battalions and four regiments 
of dragoons, and deprived France of one hundred leagues 
of country, — France, who was drawing back dismayed 



244 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

from the Danube to the Ehine. England was stretching 
out her hand towards Sardinia and the Balearic Islands ; 
she was bringing into her ports in triumph ten Spanish 
line-of-battle ships, and many a galleon laden with 
gold, Hudson's Bay and Straits were already partially 
relinquished by Louis XIV. It was believed that he 
was about to give up his hold on Acadia, St. Christo- 
pher's, and Newfoundland ; and that he would be only 
too happy if England would but allow the King of 
France to catch a few cod off Cape Breton. England was 
about to inflict upon him the mortification of compelling 
him to demolish the fortifications of Dunkirk. Mean- 
while, she had taken Gibraltar, and was taking Barce- 
lona. What great things accomplished ! How was it 
possible to refuse Anne admiration for taking the trouble 
of living at the period ? 

From a certain point of view, the reign of Anne seems 
to be a reflection of the reign of Louis XIV. In that 
great race called " history, " Queen Anne certainly bears 
some resemblance to the French monarch. Like him, 
she played at a great reign ; she had her monuments, 
her arts, her victories, her captains, her men of letters, 
her privy purse to pension celebrities, her gallery of 
chefs-d'oeuvre., side by side with those of his Majesty. 
Her court, too, was a cortege, with the features of a 
triumph, an order, and a march. It was a miniature 
copy of all the great men of Versailles, who were not 
"iants themselves. In it there is enough to deceive the 
eye ; add " God save the Queen, " which might have been 
taken from Lulli, and the ensemble becomes an illusion. 
Not a personage is missing. Christopher Wren is a very 
passable Mansard; Somers is as good as Lamoignon ; 
Anne has a Eacine in Dryden, a Boileau in Pope, a Col- 
bert in Godolphin, a Louvois in Pembroke, and a Turenne 
in Marlborough. Heighten the wigs and lower the 



QUEEN ANNE. 245 

foreheads : the whole effect is solemn and pompous, and 
the Windsor of the time bears a faded resemblance to 
Marly. Still, the whole was effeminate, and Anne's 
r^re Tellier was called Sarah Jennings. However, 
there is an outline of incipient irony, which fifty years 
later was to turn to philosophy, in the literature of the 
age ; and the Protestant Tartuffe is unmasked by Swift 
just in the same way as the Catholic Tartuffe is de- 
nounced by Moliere. Although the England of that 
period quarrels and fights with France, she imitates her 
and draws enlightenment from her ; and the light on 
the facade of England is French light. It is a pity that 
Anne's reign lasted but twelve years, or the English 
would not hesitate to call it the century of Anne, — as 
we say the century of Louis XIV. Anne appeared in 
1702, as Louis XIV. declined. It is one of the curios- 
ities of history that the rise of this pale planet coincides 
with the setting of the purple planet, and that at the 
very time France had the Sun king England should have 
had the Moon queen. 

One fact is well worthy of note. Louis XIV., al- 
though they waged war upon him, was greatly admired 
in England. " He is just the kind of a king they need 
in France, " said the English. The love of the English 
for their own liberty is mingled with a certain accept- 
ance of servitude for others. Their favourable opinion 
of the chains which bind their neighbours sometimes 
amounts to enthusiasm for the despot next door. 

To sum up, Anne rendered her people hureux, as the 
French translator of Beeverell's book repeats three times, 
with graceful reiteration, in the sixth and ninth page of 
his dedication and the third of his preface. 



246 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

IV. 

Queen Anne bore the Duchess Josiana a slight grudge, 
— for two reasons. Firstly, because she thought the 
Duchess Josiana handsome. Secondly, because she 
thought the Duchess Josiana 's betrothed handsome. 
Two reasons for jealousy are sufficient for a woman ; one 
is sufficient for a queen. Let us add that she bore her 
a grudge for being her sister. 

Anne did not like women to be pretty. She consid- 
ered it contrary to good morals. As for herself, she 
was ugly, — not from choice, however. She derived a 
part of her religion from that ugliness. Josiana, beau- 
tiful and philosophical, was a cause of vexation to the 
queen. A pretty duchess is riot a desirable sister to an 
ugly queen. 

There was another grievance, — Josiana's " improper " 
birth. 

Anne was the daughter of Anne Hyde, a simple gen- 
tlewoman, lawfully but vexatiously married by James II. 
when Duke of York. Anne, having this inferior blood 
in her veins, felt herself but half royal ; and Josiana, 
having come into the world irregularly, drew closer 
attention to the incorrectness, less great, but really ex- 
isting, in the birth of the queen. The daughter of a 
mesalliance disliked to see the daughter of bastardy so 
near her. It was an unpleasant reminder. Josiana had 
a right to say to Anne, " My mother was at least as good 
as yours. " Of course at court no one said so, but they 
evidently thought it. This was a bore for her Royal 
Majesty. Why did this Josiana exist ? What had put 
it into her head to be born ? What good was a Josiana ? 
Some relationships are detrimental. 

Nevertheless, Anne smiled on Josiana. Perhaps she 
might even have liked her, had she not been her sister. 



CHAPTER VI. 

BARKILPHEDKO. 

IT is well to know what people are doing, and a certain 
surveillance is wise. 

Josiana had Lord David watched by a creature of hers, 
whom she thought she could trust, and whose name was 
Barkilphedro. Lord David had Josiana secretly watched 
by a creature of his, of whom he felt sure, and whose 
name was Barkilphedro. Queen Anne, for her part, 
kept herself secretly informed of the actions and con- 
duct of the Duchess Josiana her bastard sister, and of 
Lord David her future brother-in-law (on the left hand), 
by a creature of hers whom she trusted implicitly, and 
whose name was Barkilphedro. 

Barkilphedro had not always held the magnificent 
position of whisperer into three ears. He was an old 
servant of the Duke of York. He had tried to be a 
clergyman, but had failed. The Duke of York, an Eng- 
lish and Roman prince, compounded of royal Popery 
and legal Anglicanism, had his Catholic household and 
his Protestant household, and might have pushed Bar- 
kilphedro in one or the other hierarchy ; but he did not 
judge him to be Catholic enough to make him almoner, 
or Protestant enough to make him chaplain, — so that 
between two religions Barkilphedro found himself with 
his soul on the ground. Not a bad posture, either, for 
certain reptile souls ; and some roads are impracticable, 
so that one must crawl flat on one's belly. 



248 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

An obscure but fattening servitude had long made up 
Barkilphedro's existence. Service is something; but he 
wanted power besides. He was, perhaps, about to at- 
tain it when James II. fell ; then he had to begin all 
over again. There was no chance for him under Wil- 
liam III., a sullen prince, exercising in his mode of 
reigning a prudery which he believed to be probity. 
Barkilphedro, when his protector James II. was de- 
throned, did not lapse at once into rags. There is a 
something which survives deposed princes, and which 
feeds and sustains their parasites. The remains of the 
exhaustible sap causes leaves to live on for two or three 
days on the branches of the uprooted tree ; then, all at 
once, the leaf yellows and dries up : and thus it is with 
the courtier. Thanks to that embalming process which 
is called legitimacy, the prince himself, although fallen 
and cast away, is preserved ; it is not so with the cour- 
tier, who is much more dead than the king. The king 
over yonder is a mummy ; the courtier here is a phan- 
tom. To be the shadow of a shadow is leanness indeed. 
Hence Barkilphedro became famished ; then he took up 
the character of a man of letters. But he was thrust 
out even from the kitchens. Sometimes he knew not 
where to sleep. " Who will give me shelter ? " he would 
ask. He struggled on. All that is interesting in pa- 
tience in distress he possessed. He had, besides, the 
talent of the termite, — knowing how to bore a hole 
from the bottom to the top. By dint of making use of 
the name of James II. , of old memories, of anecdotes of 
fidelity, and of touching stories, he pierced the Duchess 
Josiana's heart. 

Josiana took a liking to this man of poverty and wit, 
— an interesting combination. She introduced him to 
Lord Dirry-Moir, gave him a shelter in the servants' 
hall among her domestics, retained him in her house- 



BARKILPHEDRO. 249 

hold, was kind to him, and sometimes even spoke to 
him. Barkilphedro knew neither hunger nor cold again. 
Josiana addressed him in the second person ; it was the 
fashion for great ladies to do so to men of letters, who 
allowed it. The Marquise de Mailly received Eoy, 
whom she had never seen before, in bed, and said to 
him : " C'est toi qui as fait I'Annde galante ! Bon jour. " 
Later on, the men of letters returned the custom. The 
day came when Fabre d 'Eglantine said to the Duchesse 
de Eohan : " N'est-tu pas la Chabot? " 

For Barkilphedro to be " thee'd " and " thou'd " was a 
triumph; he was overjoyed by it. He had aspired to 
this contemptuous familiarity. " Lady Josiana thees- 
and-thous me, " he would say to himself ; and he would 
rub his hands. He profited by this theeing-and-thouing 
to make further progress. He became a constant attend- 
ant in Josiana's private rooms, — in no way trouble- 
some, unnoticed; in fact, the duchess would almost 
have changed her shift before him. All this, however, 
was precarious. Barkilphedro was aiming at an assured 
position. A duchess is only a half-way house ; an un- 
derground passage which did not lead to the queen was 
not worth boring. 

One day Barkilphedro said to Josiana : " Would your 
Grace like to make my fortune ? " 

" What dost thou want ? " 

" An appointment. " 

" An appointment, — for thee ? " 

" Yes, madam. " 

" What an idea ! — thou to ask for an appointment ! 
thou, who art good for nothing. " 

" That 's just the reason. " 

Josiana burst out laughing. " Among the offices to 
which thou art unsuited, which dost thou desire ? " 

" That of cork-drawer of the bottles of the ocean. " 



250 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

Josiana's laughter redoubled. " What meanest thou ? 
Thou art jesting. " 

" No, madam. " 

" To amuse myself, I shall answer you seriously, " 
said the duchess. " What dost thou wish to be ? Eepeat 
it." 

" Uncorker of the bottles of the ocean. " 

" Everything is possible at court. Is there an ap- 
pointment of that kind ? " 

" Yes, madam. " 

" That is news to me. Go on. " 

" There is such an appointment, however. " 

" Swear it by the soul which thou dost not possess. " 

" I swear it. " 

" I do not believe thee. " 

" Thank you, madam. " 

" Then thou wishest — Say it again. " 

" To uncork the bottles of the ocean. " 

" That is a situation which can give you very little 
trouble. It is like grooming a bronze horse. " 

" Very nearly, " 

" Nothing to do. Well, 't is a situation that would 
suit thee. Thou art just about equal to it, I should 
judge. " 

" You see I am good for something. " 

" Come ! thou art talking nonsense. Is there such an 
appointment ? " 

Barkilphedro assumed an attitude of deferential grav- 
ity : " Madam, you had an august father, James II. the 
king, and you have an illustrious brother-in-law, George 
of Denmark, Duke of Cumberland ; your father was, and 
your brother is. Lord High Admiral of England — " 

" Is what thou tellest me any news ? I know 'all that 
as well as thou ? " 

" But here is something your Grace does not know. 



BARKILPHEDRO. 251 

lu the sea there are three kinds of things, — those at the 
bottom, lagan ; those which float, jlotsam; those which 
the sea casts up on the shore, jetsam. " 

" And tlien ? " 

" These three things — lagan, flotsam, and jetsam — 
belong to the Lord High Admiral. " 

" And then ? " 

" Your Grace understands. " 

" No. " 

" All that is in the sea, all that sinks, all that floats, 
all that is cast ashore, — all belongs to the Admiral of 
England. " 

" Everything ! Eeally ? And then ? " 

" Except the sturgeon, which belongs to the king. " 

" I should have thought, " said Josiana, " that every- 
thing would have belonged to Neptune. " 

" Neptune is a fool. He has given up everything. 
He has allowed the English to take everything. " 

" Finish what thou wert saying. " 

" * Prizes of the sea ' is the name given to such treasure 
trove. " 

" Be it so. " 

" It is boundless. There is always something float- 
ing, something being cast up. It is the contribution of 
the sea, — the tax which the ocean pays to England. " 

" With all my heart. But pray conclude. " 

" Your Grace understands that in this way the ocean 
creates a department. " 

" Where ? " 

" At the Admiralty. " 

" What department ? " 

" The Sea-Prize Department. " 

" Well ? " 

" The department is subdivided into three offices, — • 
Lagan, Flotsam, and Jetsam ; and there is an officer in 
each. " 



252 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

" And then ? " 

" A ship at sea writes to give notice on any subject to 
those on land, — that it is sailing in such a latitude, 
that it has met a sea-monster, that it is in sight of 
shore, that it is in distress, that it is about to founder, 
that it is lost, etc. The captain takes a bottle, puts 
into it a bit of paper on which he has written the infor- 
mation, corks up the flask, and casts it into the sea. If 
the bottle goes to the bottom, it is in the department of 
the lagan officer ; if it floats, it is in the department of the 
flotsam officer ; if it be cast up on shore, it concerns the 
jetsam officer. " 

" And wouldst thou like to be the jetsam officer ? " 

" Precisely so. " 

" And that is w^hat thou callest uncorking the bottles 
of the ocean ? " 

" Since there is such an appointment. '" 

" Why dost thou wish for the last-named place in 
preference to both the others ? " 

" Because it is vacant just now. " 

" In what does the appointment consist ? " 

" Madam, in 1598 a tarred bottle, picked up by a man 
conger-fishing on the strand of Epidium Promontorium, 
was brought to Queen Elizabeth; and a parchment 
drawn out of it gave information to England that Hol- 
land had taken, without saying anything about it, an 
unknown country, ISTova Zembla ; that the capture had 
taken place in June, 1596; that in that country people 
were eaten by bears ; and that the manner of passing the 
winter was described on a paper enclosed in a musket- 
case hanging in the chimney of the wooden house built 
in the island and left by the Dutchmen, who were all 
dead ; and that the chimney was built of a barrel with 
the end knocked out, sunk into the roof. " 

" I don't understand much of thy rigmarole. " 



BARKILPHEDRO. 253 

" Be it so. Elizabeth understood. A country the 
more for Holland was a country the less for England. 
The bottle which had given the information was con- 
sidered of importance ; and thenceforward an order was 
issued that anybody who should find a sealed bottle on 
the sea-shore should take it to the Lord High Admiral 
of England, under penalty of the gallows. The Admiral 
intrusts the opening of such bottles to an officer, who 
presents the contents to the Queen, if there be any rea- 
son for so doing. " 

" Are many such bottles brought to the Admiralty ? " 

" But few. But it 's all the same. The appointment 
exists. There is a room and lodgings at the Admiralty 
for the official. " 

" And what is one paid for this kind of doing 
nothing ? " 

" One hundred guineas a year. " 

" And thou wouldst trouble me for that much ?" 

" It is enough to live upon. " 

" Like a beggar. " 

" As becomes one of my sort. " 

" One hundred guineas ! It 's a bagatelle. " 

" What keeps you for a minute keeps us for a year. 
That 's the advantage of being poor. " 

" Thou shalt have the place. " 

A week afterwards, thanks to Josiana's exertions and 
to the influence of Lord David Dirry-Moir, Barkilphedro 
was installed at the Admiralty, — safe thenceforward, 
drawn out of his precarious existence, lodged, and 
boarded, with a salary of a hundred guineas. 



CHAPTER VIL 

BARKILPHEDRO GNAWS HIS WAY. 

THERE is one essential thing, — that is to be un- 
grateful. Barkilphedro did not fail in this par- 
ticular. Having received so many benefits from Josiana, 
he had naturally but one thought, — to revenge himself 
upon her. When we add that Josiana was beautiful, 
great, young, rich, powerful, and illustrious, while 
Barkilphedro was ugly, little, old, poor, dependent, 
obscure, — he must necessarily revenge himself for all 
this as well. When a man is made of darkness, how 
can he forgive so many beams of light? 

Barkilphedro was an Irishman who had denied Ire- 
land, — a bad type. Barkilphedro had but one thing in 
his favour, — that he had a very big belly. A big 
belly passes for a sign of kind-heartedness ; but this 
belly was only an addition to Barkilphedro 's hypocrisy, 
for the man was full of malice. 

What was Barkilphedro 's age? Any age whatever; 
that is to say, the age necessary for the project of the 
moment. He was old in his wrinkles and grey hairs, 
young in the activity of his mind ; he was at once ac- 
tive and ponderous, — a sort of hippopotamus-monkey. 
A royalist, certainly ; a republican, — who knows ? A 
Catholic, perhaps ; a Protestant, without doubt. For 
Stuart, probably ; for Brunswick, evidently. To be For 
is a power only on condition of being at the same time 
Against. Barkilphedro practised this wisdom. 



BARKILPHEDRO GNAWS IIIS WAY. 255 

The appointment of drawer of the bottles of the ocean 
was not as absurd as Barkilphedro had appeared to make 
out. The complaints (which would in these times be 
termed denunciations) of Garcia Fernandez, in his " Pol- 
lowers of the Sea, " against the stealing of jetsam, called 
right of wreck, and against the pillaging of wreck by 
the inhabitants of the sea-coast, had created a sensation 
in England, and had secured for the shipwrecked this 
reform, — that their goods, chattels, and property, in- 
stead of being stolen by the country-people, were confis- 
cated by the Lord High Admiral. All the debris of the 
sea cast upon the English shore (merchandise, broken 
hulls of ships, bales, chests, etc. ) belonged to the Lord 
High Admiral; but — and here was revealed the impor- 
tance of the place solicited by Barkilphedro — the floating 
receptacles containing messages and information received 
particular attention at the Admiralty. Shipwrecks ex- 
cite England's deep solicitude. Navigation being her 
chief occupation, shipwrecks are one of her greatest 
causes of anxiety. England is kept in a state of per- 
petual anxiety by the sea. The little glass bottle cast 
into the waves from the doomed ship contains intelli- 
gence precious from every point of view, — intelligence 
concerning the ship ; intelligence concerning the crew ; 
intelligence concerning the place, the time, the manner 
of shipwreck ; intelligence concerning the winds which 
broke up the vessel ; intelligence concerning the cur- 
rents which bore the floating flask ashore. The office 
filled by Barkilphedro has been abolished more than a 
century, but it had its utility. The last holder was 
William Hussey, of Doddington in Lincolnshire. The 
man who held it was a sort of guardian of the sea. All 
the closed and sealed vessels, bottles, flasks, jars, cast 
upon the English coast by the tide, were brought to him. 
He alone had the right to open them ; he was the first to 



256 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

learn the secrets they contaiued ; he put them in order, 
and ticketed them with his signature. The expression 
" loger un papier au greffe, " still used in the Channel 
Islands, is thence derived. However, one precaution was 
certainly taken. Not one of these bottles could be un- 
sealed except in the presence of two examiners of the 
Admiralty office who were sworn to secrecy, and who 
signed, conjointly with the holder of the jetsam office, 
the official report of the opening. But these officials being 
pledged to secrecy, Barkilphedro was invested with con- 
siderable discretionary power. It depended upon him, to 
a certain extent, to suppress a fact or bring it to light. 

These frail floating messages were far from being as 
rare and insignificant as Barkilphedro had asserted. 
Some reached land with very little delay; others, after 
many years. It depended on the winds and the cur- 
rents. The fashion of casting bottles into the sea is 
rather out of date now, like that of thank offerings ; but 
in those religious times, those who were about to die 
were glad thus to despatch their last thoughts to God 
and men, and at times these messages from the sea were 
plentiful at the Admiralty. A parchment preserved in 
the hall at Audlyene (ancient spelling), with notes by 
the Earl of Suffolk, Grand Treasurer of England under 
James I., bears witness that in the one year 1615 fifty- 
two flasks, bladders, and tarred vessels, containing men- 
tion of sinking ships, were brought and registered in 
the records of the Lord High Admiral. 

Court appointments are the drop of oil in the widow's 
cruse, they are ever on the increase. Thus it is that 
the porter has become chancellor, and the groom con- 
stable. The special officer charged with the appoint- 
ment desired and obtained by Barkilphedro was usually 
a confidential man ; Elizabeth had wished that it should 
be so. At court, to speak of confidence is to speak of 



BARKILniEDRO GNAWS HIS WAY. 257 

intrigue ; and to speak of intrigue is to speak of advance- 
ment. Tliis functionary had come to be a personage of 
some consideration. He was a clerk, and ranked directly 
after the two grooms of the almonry. He had the right 
of entrance into the palace, — at least, what was called 
the humble entrance [humilis intro'itus), — and even into 
the bedchamber ; for it was the custom that he should 
inform the monarch, on occasions of importance, of the 
objects found, which were often very curious, — the 
wills of men in despair, farewells to fatherland, revela- 
tions of falsified logs, bills of lading, crimes committed 
at sea, legacies to the crown, etc., — and should account 
from time to time to the king or queen concerning the 
opening of these ill-omened bottles. It was the Black 
Cabinet of the ocean. Elizabeth, who was always glad 
of an opportunity to speak Latin, used to ask Tonfieid, 
of Coley in Berkshire, jetsam officer in her reign, wnen 
he brought her one of these papers cast up by the sea : 
" Quid mihi scribit Xeptunus ? " 

The way had been eaten, the insect had succeeded. 
Barkilphedro had at last reached the queen. This was 
all he wanted. Was it in order that he might make his 
fortune ? No. It was to destroy that of others. A 
much greater satisfaction. To destroy affords some 
persons unspeakable delight. To be imbued with a 
vague but implacable desire to destroy, and never to 
lose sight of that desire, is not a characteristic of every 
one ; but Barkilphedro possessed this fixity of purpose 
in an eminent degree. He clung to his resolve with all 
the tenacity of a bull-dog. To feel himself inexorable 
afforded him no end of grim satisfaction. So long as he 
had a victim in his clutches, or a certainty of injuring 
him in his soul, he asked nothing more. He shivered 
content if he knew that his neighbour was suffering with 
the cold. 

VOL. XIX. 17 



258 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

Catesby, the colleague of Guy Fawkes, in the Popish 
powder plot, said : " I would n't miss seeing Parliament 
blown upside down for a million sterling. " Barkilphedro 
was that meanest and most terrible of things, — an envi- 
ous man. There is always room for envy at court. Courts 
abound in impertinent people, in idlers, in rich loungers 
hungering for gossip ; in those who seek for needles in 
haystacks ; in triflers, in banterers bantered ; in witty 
ninnies, who cannot do without converse with an envi- 
ous man. What a refreshing thing the evil you hear 
about others is ! Envy is good stuff to make a spy of. 
There is a profound analogy between that natural pas- 
sion envy and that social function espionage. The spy 
hunts on some other person's account, like the dog; tne 
envious man hunts on his own account like the cat. 
The envious man is generally a fierce man ; but Bar- 
kilphedro was singularly cautious and reserved. He 
guarded his secret well, and racked himself with his 
hate. Enormous baseness implies enormous vanity. He 
was liked by those whom he amused, and hated by all 
others ; but he felt that he was scorned by those who 
hated him, and despised even by those who liked him. 
He restrained himself ; all his gall simmered noiselessly. 
He was a silent prey of the Furies. He had a talent 
for swallowing everything. Paroxysms of internal rage 
convulsed him, fierce fires smouldered unseen in his 
breast. He was a smoTte- consuming man of passion. The 
surface was serene. He was kind, prompt, easy, amia- 
ble, obliging. Never mind to whom, never mind where, 
he bowed with every breath of wind ; he bowed to the 
earth. What a source of fortune to have such a reed 
for a spine ! 

Such crafty and venomous beings are not so rare as is 
believed. We live surrounded by ill-natured, crawling 
things. Why are such malevolent creatures allowed to 



BARKILPHEDRO GNAWS HIS WAY. 259 

exist ? A natural question ! The dreamer continually 
puts it to himself, and the thinker never solves it. 
Hence the sad eye of the philosophers ever fixed upon 
that mountain of darkness which is destiny, and from 
the top of which the colossal spectre of evil casts hand- 
fuls of serpents over the earth. 

Barkilphedro's body was obese, and his face lean, — 
a broad chest and a bony countenance. His nails were 
grooved and short, his fingers knotty, his thumbs flat, 
his hair coarse, his temples wide ajjart ; and his broad, 
low forehead was that of a murderer. His small eyes 
were nearly hidden by his bushy eyebrows. His long, 
sharp, and flabby nose nearly met his mouth. Barkil- 
phedro, properly attired as an emperor, would have cer- 
tainly resembled Domitian. His muddy, sallow face 
might have been modelled in slimy paste ; his immova- 
ble cheeks were like putty ; he had all kinds of ugly 
wrinkles ; the angle of his jaw was massive, his chin 
heavy, his ears coarse. In repose, and seen in profile, 
his upper lip was raised at an acute angle, showing two 
teeth. Those teeth seemed to glare at you ; for the 
teeth can glare, just as the eye can bite. Patience, 
temperance, continence, reserve, self-control, amenity, 
deference, gentleness, politeness, sobriety, chastity, com- 
pleted and finished Barkilphedro ; but he degraded these 
virtues by possessing them. 

In a short time Barkilphedro gained a firm foothold at 
court. 



CHAPTEK VIII. 

INFEKI. 

THEEE are two ways of gaining a foothold at court, 
— in the clouds, and one is august ; in the mud, 
and one is powerful. In the first case, you belong on 
Olympus. In the second case, you belong in the pri- 
vate closet. He who belongs on Olympus has but the 
thunderbolt to serve him ; he who is in the private closet 
has the police at his command. 

The private closet contains all the instruments of 
government, and sometimes (for it is a traitor) its chas- 
tisements as well. Generally it is less tragic. It is 
there that Alberoni admires Vendume. Eoyal person- 
ages willingly make it their place of audience ; it takes 
the place of the throne. Louis XIV. receives the 
Duchess of Burgundy there ; Philip V. is shoulder to 
shoulder there with the queen. The priest penetrates 
into it. The private closet is sometimes a branch of the 
confessional ; therefore it is that at court there are un- 
derground fortunes, — not always the least. If under 
Louis XL you would be great, be Pierre de Eohan, 
Marshal of France ; if you would be influential, be Olivier 
le Daim, the barber. If you would be glorious under 
Marie de Medicis, be Sillery, the Chancellor ; if you 
would be a person of consideration, be Hannon, the 
maid. If you would be illustrious under Louis XV., be 
Choiseul, the minister ; if you would be formidable, be 



INFERI. 2G1 

Lebel, the valet. Given Louis XIV., Bontemps who 
makes his bed is more powerful than Louvois who raises 
his armies, and Turenne who gains his victories. Take 
Pfere Joseph from Richelieu, and you have little left. 
There is mystery at least; his eminence in scarlet is 
magnificent, his eminence in grey is terrible. What 
power in being a worm! All the Narvaez combined 
with all the O'Donnells achieve less than one Sister 
Patrocinio. Of course, the condition of this power is 
littleness. If you would remain powerful, remain petty, 
— be nothing. The serpent in repose, twisted into a 
circle, is a figure at the same time of the infinite and of 
naught. 

One of these ignoble opportunities had fallen to 
Barkilphedro. He had crawled where he wanted. Ver- 
min can get in anywhere. Louis XIV. had bugs in his 
bed and Jesuits in his policy. There is no incompati- 
bility in this. In this world, to gravitate is to oscil- 
late. One pole is attracted to the other. Francis L is 
attracted by Triboulet ; Louis XV. is attracted by Lebel. 
There exists a deep affinity between extreme elevation 
and extreme debasement. It is the scullion who directs ; 
nothing is easier of comprehension. It is the person be- 
low who pulls the string. No position could be more 
convenient. He is the eye, and he has the ear. He is 
the eye of the government ; he has the ear of the king. 
To have the ear of the king is to draw and shut at will 
the bolt of the royal conscience, and to throw into that 
conscience whatever one wishes. The mind of a king 
is your cupboard; if you are a rag-picker, it is your bas- 
ket. The ears of kings are not their own ; consequently 
the poor devils are not altogether responsible for their 
actions. He who is not master of his own thoughts is 
not accountable for his own deeds. 

A king obeys — what ? Any evil spirit buzzing from 



262 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

outside in his ear; a noisome fly of the slums. This 
buzzing rules him. A reign is a dictation : the loud 
voice is the sovereign ; the muffled voice is the sover- 
eignty. Those who know how to distinguish this 
muffled voice in a reign, and to hear its whispers, are 
the real historians. 



CHAPTER IX. 

HATE IS AS STRONG AS LOVE. 

QUEEN ANNE had several of these ignoble ad- 
visers around her. Barkilphedro was one. He 
also secretly worked, influenced, and plotted upon Lady 
Josiana and Lord David. As we have said, he whis- 
pered in three ears, — one more than Dangeau. Dangeau 
whispered in but two, in the days when, thrusting him- 
self between Louis XIV. , who was in love with Henri- 
etta his sister-in-law, and Henrietta, who was in love 
with Louis XIV. her brother-in-law, he as Louis's secre- 
tary, without the knowledge of Henrietta, and as Henri- 
etta's without the knowledge of Louis, wrote the ques- 
tions and answers of both the love-making marionettes. 

Barkilphedro was so cheerful, so compliant, so in- 
capable of espousing the cause of any one, so ugly, so 
mischievous, that it was quite natural that a regal per- 
sonage should soon be unable to do without him. Once 
Anne had tried Barkilphedro, she would have no other 
flatterer. He flattered her as they flattered Louis the 
Great, by disparaging her .neighbours. " The king be- 
ing ignorant, " says Madame de Montchevreuil, " one is 
obliged to sneer at the savants. " To poison the sting, 
from time to time, is the acme of art. Nero loves to see 
Locusta at work. 

Royal palaces are very easily entered ; a pretext suffices. 
Barkilphedro, having found this pretext, his position 
with the queen soon became the same as that with the 



264 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

Duchess Josiana, — that of an indispensable domestic 
animal. A witticism ventured one day immediately led 
to a perfect understanding of the queen's character, and 
a correct estimate of her kindness of heart. The queen 
was greatly attached to her Lord Steward, William 
Cavendish, Duke of Devonshire, who was very stupid. 
This lord, who had obtained every Oxford degree and yet 
did not know how to spell, one fine morning committed 
the folly of dying. To die is a very imprudent thing at 
court, for then there is no further restraint in speaking 
of you. The queen, in the presence of Barkilphedro, 
lamented the event, Imally exclaiming, with a sigh : 

" It is a pity that so many virtues should have been 
borne and served by so poor an intellect. " 

" Dieu veuille avoir son ane ! " whispered Barkilphe- 
dro, in a low voice, and in French. 

The queen smiled. Barkilphedro noted the smile, 
and concluded that biting pleased her. Free license had 
been given to his spite. From that day he thrust his 
curiosity everywhere, and his malignity with it. No 
one ventured to oppose him, so greatly was he feared. 
He who can make the king laugh makes all the others 
tremble. He was a cunning rascal. Every day he 
worked his way forward — • underground. Barkilphedro 
became a necessity ; and many great persons honoured 
him with their confidence, to the extent of intrusting 
him with their disgraceful commissions. There are 
wheels within wheels at court. Barkilphedro became 
the motive power. Have you ever noticed, in certain 
mechanisms, the smallness of the motive wheel ? 

Josiana, in particular, who, as we have explained, 
made use of Barkilphedro 's talents as a spy, trusted him 
so implicitly that she had not hesitated to intrust him 
with a pass-key, by means of which he was able to enter 
her apartments at any hour. This excessive license of 



HATE IS AS STRONG AS LOVE. 265 

insight into private life was in fashion in the seven- 
teenth century ; it was called " giving the key. " Josiana 
had given two of these contidential keys ; Lord David 
had one, Barkilphedro the other. However, to enter 
straight into a bedchamber was in the old code of man- 
ners a thing not in the least out of the way. Thence 
resulted startling incidents. La Fertd, suddenly draw- 
ing back the bed-curtains of Mademoiselle Lafont, found 
inside Sainson of the Black Musketeers. 

Barkilphedro excelled in making those cunning dis- 
coveries which place the great in the power of the 
humble. Like every perfect spy, the cruelty of the exe- 
cutioner and the patience of a micograph entered largely 
into his composition. He was a born courtier. Every 
courtier is a noctambulist. The courtier prowls about 
in the night with a dark-lantern in his hand. He lights 
up the spot he wishes, and remains in darkness himself. 
What he is seeking with his lantern is not a man, it is 
a fool. What he finds is the king. Kings do not like 
to see those about them aspire. Irony aimed at any one 
except themselves has a charm for them. The talent of 
Barkilphedro consisted in a perpetual dwarfing of the 
peers and princes to the advantage of her Majesty's 
stature, thereby increased proportionately. 

The pass-key held by Barkilphedro was made with 
a different set of wards at each end, so as to open the 
private apartments in both Josiana's favourite residences, 
— Hunkerville House in London, and Corleone Lodge 
at Windsor. These two houses were part of the Clan- 
charlie inheritance. Hunkerville House was close to 
Oldgate. Oldgate was a gate of London, which was 
entered by the Harwich road, and on which was dis- 
played a statue of Charles IL, with a painted angel 
above his head, and a carved lion and unicorn beneath 
his feet. From Hunkerville House, in an easterly wind,, 



;266 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

you could hear the bells of St. Marylebone. Corleone 
Lodge was a Florentine palace of brick and stone, with 
.a marble colonnade, built on pilework, at Windsor, near 
ithe head of the wooden bridge, and having one of the 
■finest courts in England. In this last palace, near 
Windsor Castle, Josiana was within the queen's reach. 
Nevertheless, Josiana liked it. 

Barkilphedro's influence over the queen, though ap- 
parently so insignificant, was deeply rooted. To exter- 
minate these noxious weeds from a court is extremely 
difficult, for though they have taken a deep root, they 
offer no hold above the surface. To root out a Eoque- 
laure, a Triboulet, or a Brummel, is almost impossible. 

From day to day, and more and more, did the queen 
take Barkilphedro into her good graces. Sarah Jen- 
nings is famous; Barkilphedro is unknown, — his exist- 
ence remains ignored ; the name of Barkilphedro has not 
reached as far as history. All the moles are not caught 
by the mole-trapper. Barkilphedro, having once been 
a candidate for orders, had studied a little of everything. 
Skimming all things results in naught. One may be a 
victim of the omnis res scihilis. Having the vessel of 
the Danai'des in one's head is the misfortune of a legion 
of learned men, who may be termed the sterile. What 
Barkilphedro had put into his brain had left it empty. 

The mind, like Nature, abhors a vacuum. Into empti- 
ness, where Nature puts love, the mind often puts hate. 
There is such a thing as hating merely for the sake of 
hating. A man hates because he must do something. 
Gratuitous hatred, — what a strange expression! It 
means hate which is in itself its own reward. The bear 
lives by licking his claws, — not indefinitely, of course ; 
the claws must be revictualled, — something must be put 
into them. A hatred of mankind in general is sweet, 
and suffices for a time ; but one must eventually have a 



HATE IS AS STRONG AS LOVE. 267 

definite object. An animosity diffused over all creation 
is exhausting, like every solitary pleasure. Hate with- 
out an object is like a shooting-match without a target; 
what lends interest to the game is a heart to be pierced. 
One cannot hate solely for the honour of it ; some sea- 
soning is necessary, — a man, a woman, somebody, to 
destroy. 

This service of making the game interesting, of offer- 
ing an aim, of adding a zest to hatred by fixing it on 
an object, of amusing the hunter by the sight of his 
living prey, of giving the watcher the hope of the smok- 
ing and boiling blood about to flow, of amusing the 
bird-catcher by the credulity of the uselessly winged 
lark, of being a victim unwittingly reared for murder 
by a master-mind, — all this exquisite and horrible ser- 
vice, of which the person rendering it is unconscious, 
Josiana rendered Barkilphedro. Thought is a projectile. 
Barkilphedro had, from the very first, aimed at Josiana 
the evil intentions which were in his mind. An inten- 
tion and a carbine are alike. Barkilphedro aimed at 
Josiana, directing all his secret malice against the 
duchess. That astonishes you ! What has the bird 
done at which you fire? You want to eat it, you say; 
and so it was with Barkilphedro. 

Josiana could not be wounded in the heart; the spot 
where that enigma lies is hard to wound. But she 
could be wounded in the head ; that is, in her pride. It 
was there that she deemed herself strong, and that she 
was really very weak. Barkilphedro had found this 
out. If Josiana had been able to read his mind clearly, 
if she had been able to distinguish what lay in ambush 
behind his smile, that proud woman would have trem- 
bled. Fortunately for the tranquillity of her sleep, 
she was in complete ignorance of the man's real 
character. 



208 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

The unforeseen lurks one knows not where. There 
is no such thing as petty hatred ; hatred is always dan- 
gerous, even in the smallest creature. An elephant 
hated by even an ant is in danger. 

Barkilphedro did not know as yet what he was going 
to do to Josiana ; but he had made up his mind to do 
something. To have come to this decision was a great 
step taken. To crush Josiana utterly would have been 
too great a triumph. He could not hope for that; but 
to humiliate her, wound her, bring her to grief, redden 
her proud eyes with tears of rage, — what happiness! 
He counted on it. Tenacious, diligent, faithful to the 
torment of his neighbour, not to be moved from his pur- 
pose, — Nature had not formed him for nothing. He 
understood how to find the flaw in Josiana's golden 
armour, and how to make the blood of this goddess 
flow. 

What benefit, we ask again, would accrue to him in 
so doing? An immense benefit, — doing evil to one 
who had done good to him. What is an envious man ? 
An ungrateful one. He hates the sun that lights and 
warms him. Zoilus hated that benefactor of mankind, 
Homer. To inflict on Josiana what would nowadays be 
called vivisection ; to have her, all convulsed, on his 
anatomical table ; to dissect her alive, at his leisure, 
in some surgery ; to cut her up, bit by bit, while she 
shrieked with agony, — this dream delighted Barkil- 
phedro ! To arrive at this result it was necessary to 
suffer some himself ; he did so willingly. We may 
pinch ourselves with our own pincers; the knife as it 
shuts cuts our fingers, — what does that matter ? That 
he should partake of Josiana's torture was a matter of 
little moment. The executioner handling the red-hot 
iron, when about to brand a prisoner, does not mind a 
little burn. As another suffers so much, he suffers 



HATE IS AS STRONG AS LOVE. 269 

nothing. To see the victim's writhings makes the in- 
flicter forget his own pain. Destroy, by all means, 
come what may ! 

To plot evil against others is mingled with an accept- 
ance of some responsibility. We risk ourselves in the 
danger which we are bringing upon another, because the 
chain of events sometimes, of course, brings unexpected 
accidents. This does not stop the really malicious man. 
His enjoyment is proportionate to the victim's agony. 
The malicious man delights only in the sufferings of 
others ; pain reflects itself on him in a sense of welfare. 
The Duke of Alva used to warm his hands at the stake. 
The pile was torture, the reflection of it pleasure. That 
such feelings should be possible makes one shudder. 
Our dark side is unfathomable. Supplice exquis, — 
" exquisite torture " (the expression is in Bodin ^), — has 
perhaps this terrible triple sense : search for the torture, 
suffering of the tortured, delight of the torturer. Am- 
bition, appetite, — all such words signify some one sac- 
rificed for some one's gratification. Can it he that the 
outpourings of our wishes flow naturally in the direc- 
tion to which we most incline, that of evil ? One of the 
hardest labours of the just man is to expunge malevolence 
from his soul. Almost all our desires, when closely 
examined, contain what we dare not avow. In the 
thoroughly wicked man this malevolence exists in 
hideous perfection. So much the worse for others sig- 
nifies so much the better for himself. Oh, the deep 
depravity of the human heart! 

Josiana, with that sense of security which results 
from ignorant pride, had a supreme contempt for all 
danger. The feminine power of disdain is extraordi- 
nary. Josiana 's was unreasoning, involuntary, and con- 
fident. Barkilphedro was in her eyes so contemptible 

1 Book IV. p. 196. 



270 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

that she would have been astonished had any one hinted 
at such a thing as danger from that source. So she went 
and came and laughed before this man who was watch- 
ing her with evil eyes, biding his time. 

In proportion as he waited, his determination to im- 
bitter this woman's life augmented. In the mean time 
he gave himself excellent reasons for his determination. 
It must not be supposed that scoundrels are deficient in 
self-esteem ; they enter into details with themselves in 
their lofty monologues, and they carry matters with a 
high hand. True, this Josiana had bestowed charity on 
him ! She had thrown some crumbs of her enormous 
wealth to him, as to a beggar; she had nailed and 
riveted him to an office which was unworthy him. Yes ; 
that he, Barkilphedro, almost a clergyman, of varied and 
profound talents, a learned man, with the material in 
him for a bishop, should have to spend his time register- 
ing nasty, patience-trying shards ; that he should have 
to pass his life in the garret of a register-office, gravely 
uncorking stupid bottles incrusted with all the nastiness 
of the sea, deciphering musty parchments, dirty wills, 
and other illegible stuff of the kind, — was all the fault of 
this Josiana. Worst of all, this creature " thee'd " and 
" thou'd " him! And should he not revenge himself? 
Should he not punish such conduct? In that case, 
there would be no such thing as justice here below! 



CHAPTER X. 

THE FLAME WHICH WOULD BE SEEN IF MAN WERE 
TRANSPARENT. 

WHAT ! this woman ; this extravagant thing ; this 
libidinous dreamer ; this bold creature under a 
princess's coronet; this Diana through pride, not yet 
captured merely because chance had so willed it ; this 
illegitimate daughter of a low-lived king who had not 
the intellect to keep his place ; this duchess by a lucky 
hit, who being a fine lady played the goddess, but who 
had she been poor would have been a prostitute, — this 
appropriator of a proscribed man's goods, this overbear- 
ing strumpet, because one day, he, Barkilphedro, had 
not money enough to buy his dinner, and to get a lodg- 
ing, had had the impudence to seat him at the corner of 
a table in her house, and to put him up in some hole in 
her intolerable palace. Where ? Never mind where ; 
perhaps in the barn, perhaps in the cellar, what does it 
matter ? — a little better than her valets, a little worse 
than her horses. She had taken advantage of his dis- 
tress (his, Barkilphedro's) in hastening to do him a pre- 
tended favour, — a thing which the rich do in order to 
humiliate the poor, and attach them to their pretended 
benefactors like curs led by a string. Besides, what had 
the service she rendered him cost her? A service is 
worth what it costs, and no more. She had too many 
rooms in her house, so she came to Barkilphedro's aid! 
A great boon, indeed ! Had she eaten a spoonful the less 



272 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

of turtle soup for it ? Had she deprived herself of any of 
her superfluous luxuries ? No. She had only added an- 
other to them, — a good action like a ring on her finger, 
— the relief of a man of wit, the patronage of a clergy- 
man. She could give herself airs ; say, " I lavish kind- 
ness ; I fill the mouths of men of letters ; I am his 
benefactress. How lucky the wretch was to find me 
out ! What a patroness of the arts I am ! " All for hav- 
ing set up a truckle-bed in a wretched garret in the roof. 

As for the place in the Admiralty which Barkilphedro 
owed to Josiana, — by Jove! a petty appointment that! 
Josiana had made Barkilphedro what he was ! She had 
created him 1 Be it so. Created nothing, — less than 
nothing ; for in liis absurd situation he felt borne down, 
tongue-tied, disfigured. What did he owe Josiana ? 
The thanks due from a hunchback to the mother who 
bore him deformed. Behold your privileged ones, your 
folks overwhelmed with fortune, your parvenus, your 
favourites of that horrid step-mother, Fortune ! And 
here, Barkilphedro, a man of talent, was obliged to wait 
on staircases, to bow to footmen, to climb to the top of 
the house at night, to be courteous, assiduous, pleasant, 
respectful, and to have a respectful grimace ever on his 
face ! Was it not enough to make him gnash his teeth 
with rage I And all the while she was putting pearls 
round her neck, and making amorous poses for that fool 
Lord David Dirry-Moir, — the hussy ! 

Never let any one do you a service ; he is sure to 
abuse the advantage it gives him. Never allow your- 
self to be found in a state of starvation, — some one will 
relieve you. Because Barkilphedro was starving, this 
woman had thought it a sufficient pretext to give him 
bread ; from that moment he was her servant 1 A crav- 
ing of the stomach, and you are chained for life ! To be 
under obligations is to be a slave. The happy, the 



THE FLAME SEEN 11^ MAN WERE TRANSPARENT. 273 

powerful, make use of the moment you stretch out your 
hand to place a penny in it ; and in your hour of need 
they make you a slave, and a slave of the worst kind, 

— the slave of an act of charity ; a slave forced to love 
the enslaver. What infamy! what want of delicacy! 
what a blow to your self-respect ! Then all is over. You 
are condemned for life to consider this man good, that 
woman beautiful ; to approve, to applaud, to admire, to 
worship ; to prostrate yourself ; to blister your knees by 
long genuflections; to sugar your words when you are 
gnawing your lips with anger, when you are smothering 
your cries of fury, and when you have within you more 
savage turbulence and more bitter foam than the ocean ! 
It is ihns that the rich make slaves of the poor. The 
slime of this good action performed towards you bedaubs 
and bespatters you with mud for evermore. 

The acceptance of alms is irremediable. Gratitude is 
paralyzing. A benefit has a sticky and repugnant adher- 
ence which deprives you of free movement. Those 
odious, opulent, and spoiled creatures whose pity has 
thus injured you are well aware of this. It is done, — 
you are their creature ; they have bought you I How ? 
By a bone taken from their dog and cast to you ! they 
have flung the bone at your head ; you have been stoned as 
well as fed. It is all one. Have you gnawed the bone, 

— yes or no? You have had your place in the dog- 
kennel just the same; then be thankful, — be eternally 
thankful. Adore your masters; kneel on indefinitely. 
A benefit implies an understood inferiority accepted by 
you. It means that you feel them to be gods and your- 
self a poor devil. Your humiliation increases their im- 
portance ; your cringing form makes theirs seem more 
upright; there is an impertinent inflection in the very 
tones of their voices. Their family matters, their mar- 
riages, their baptisms, their child-bearings, their pro- 

TOL. XIX. — 18 



274 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

geny, all concern yon. A wolf-cub is born to tbem ; 
well, you have to compose a sonnet ; you are a poet be- 
cause you are so low. Isn't it enough to make the stars 
fall? A little more, and they would make you wear 
their old shoes ! 

" Whom have you got there, my dear ? How ugly he 
is ! Who is that man ? " — " I do not know. A sort of 
scholar, whom I feed. " Thus converse these idiots, 
without even lowering their voices. You hear, and 
remain mechanically amiable. If you are ill, your mas- 
ters will send for the doctor, — not their own ; occasion- 
ally they may even inquire after you. Being of entirely 
different clay from you, and so immeasurably far above 
you, they are affable ; their superiority makes them con- 
descending ; they know that equality is impossible. At 
table they give you a little nod ; sometimes they abso- 
lutely know how your name is spelt ! They only show 
that they are your protectors by walking unconsciously 
over all the delicacy and susceptibility you possess. They 
treat you with good-nature. Is all this to be borne ? 

No doubt Barkilphedro was eager to punish Josiana. 
He must teach her with whom she had to deal ! Oh, my 
rich lords and ladies ! merely because you cannot eat up 
everything ; because opulence causes indigestion, seeing 
that your stomachs are no bigger than ours ; because it 
is, after all, better to distribute the remainder than to 
throw it away, — you exalt a morsel flung to the poor 
into an act of munificence. You give us bread, you 
give us shelter, you give us clothes, you give us employ- 
ment; and you carry audacity, folly, cruelty, stupidity, 
and absurdity to the pitch of believing that we are 
grateful. The bread is the bread of servitude ; the shel- 
ter is a footman's bedroom; the clothes are a livery; 
the employment is ridiculous, paid for, it is true, but 
brutalizing. Oh, you think you have a right to humili- 



THE FLAME SEEN IF MAN WERE TRANSPARENT. 275 

ate us with lodging and nourishment, and you imagine 
that WG are your debtors, and count on our gratitude ? 
Very well! we will eat up your substance; we will de- 
vour you alive, and tear your heart-strings with our 
teeth. 

This Josiana ! was it not absurd ? What merit did 
she possess ? She had accomplished the wonderful feat of 
^coming into the world as a testimony to the folly of her 
father and the shame of her mother. She had done us 
the favour to exist ; and for her kindness in becoming a 
public scandal, they paid her millions. She had estates 
and castles, warrens, parks, lakes, forests, and I know 
not what besides ; and with all that she was making a 
fool of herself, and verses were addressed to her ! And 
Barkilphedro, who had studied and laboured and taken 
pains, and stuffed his eyes and his brain with great 
books; who had grown mouldy in old works and in sci- 
ence ; who was full of wit ; who could command armies ; 
who could, if he would, write tragedies like Otway and 
Dryden ; who was made to be an emperor, — Barkilphe- 
dro had been reduced to allowing this nobody to prevent 
him from dying of hunger ! Could the usurpation of 
the rich, the hateful, spoiled darlings of fortune go fur- 
ther? They put on a semblance of being generous to us, 
of protecting us, and we smile, — we who would gladly 
drink their blood and lick our lips afterwards ! That 
this low woman of the couyt should have the presump- 
tion to patronize him, and that such a superior man as 
himself should be obliged to accept such gifts from such 
a hand, — what a frightful iniquity ! What kind of a 
social system is this which is founded on such gross in- 
justice ? Would it not be best to take it by the four 
corners, and to throw pell-mell to the ceiling the damask 
table-cloth, and the festival and the orgies, and the tip- 
pling and drunkenness, and the guests, and those with 



276 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

their elbows on tlie table, and those with their paws 
under it, and the insolent who give and the idiots who 
accept, and fling it all back in the face of Providence ! 
In the mean time let us vent our wrath on Josiana. 

Thus mused Barkilphedro ; such were the ravings of 
his soul. It is the habit of the envious man to absolve 
himself of public wrongs with his own personal griev- 
ances. All the wilder forms of hateful passions racked 
the mind of this ferocious being. In the corners of old 
maps of the world published in the fifteenth century are 
big vacant spaces, without shape or name, on which are 
written these three words : " Hic sunt leones. " There is 
a similar corner in the human soul. Passions rage and 
growl somewhere within us, and we truly may say of 
the dark side of our souls that " there are lions here. " 

Is this chain of reasoning absolutely absurd ? Does it 
lack a certain amount of justice ? We must confess it 
does not. It is fearful to think that the judgment within 
us is not justice. Judgment is relative; justice is abso- 
lute. Think of the difference between a judge and a 
just man. Wicked men lead conscience astray with 
authority. There are gymnastics of untruth. A soph- 
ist is a forger, and this forger sometimes brutalizes good 
sense. A certain very supple, very implacable, and very 
agile logic is at the service of evil, and excels in stab- 
bing truth in the dark. These are blows aimed by the 
devil at Providence. 

The worst of it was that Barkilphedro had a presenti- 
ment of failure. He was undertaking a difficult task, 
and he was afraid that, after all, the evil achieved 
might not be proportionate to the work. To be as full 
of corrosion as he was ; to possess a will of steel ; to be 
imbued with such an intense hatred and wild longing 
for the catastrophe, — and yet to burn nothing, to de- 
capitate nothing, to exterminate nothing ! To possess 



THE FLAME SEEN IF MAN WERE TRANSPARENT. 277 

such powers of devastation, such voracious animosity ; 
to have been created (for there is a creator, whether God 
or devil), Barkilphedro, — and to inflict perhaps after 
all only a tap of the finger ! Could this be possible ? 
Could it be that Barkilphedro would miss his aim ? To 
be a lever powerful enough to heave great masses of 
rock, and when sprung to the utmost power, to succeed 
only in giving an affected woman a bump in the forehead ; 
to accomplish the task of Sisyphus, and crush only an 
ant ; to sweat all over with hate, and for nothing, — 
would not this be humiliating, when he felt himself a 
murderous engine capable of reducing the world to 
powder ! To put into movement all the wheels within 
wheels, to work in the darkness all the mechanism of 
a Marly machine, and perhaps only succeed in pinch- 
ing the tip of a little rosy finger ! He must turn huge 
blocks of marble over and over, perchance with no other 
result than ruffling the smooth surface of the court a 
little ! Providence has a way of expending its forces 
grandly. The movement of a mountain often only 
displaces a mole-hill ! 

Besides, when the court is the arena, nothing is more 
dangerous than to aim at your enemy and miss him. 
In the first place, it unmasks you and irritates him ; but 
besides and above all, it displeases the master. Kings 
do not like the unskilful. Let us have no contusions, 
no ugly gashes ; kill anybody, but give no one a bloody 
nose. He who kills is clever ; he who wounds is awk- 
ward. Kings do not like to see their servants lamed ; 
they are displeased if you chip a porcelain jar on their 
chimney-piece, or a courtier in their cortege. The 
court must be kept neat ; break and replace, — that does 
not matter. Besides, all this agrees perfectly with the 
taste of princes for scandal. Speak evil, do none ; or 
if you do, let it be in grand style. Stab, do not scratch. 



278 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

unless the pin be poisoned. This would be an extenu- 
ating circumstance, and was, we may remember, the 
case with Barkilphedro. 

Every malicious pygmy is a phial in which is enclosed 
Solomon's dragon. The phial is microscopic in size; 
the dragon is immense, — a formidable condensation, 
awaiting the gigantic hour of dilation ; ennui consoled 
by the premeditation of explosion ! The prisoner is 
larger than the prison. A latent giant, — how wonder- 
ful ! a minnow which contains a hydra ! To be this 
fearful magical box, to contain within himself a Levi- 
athan, is to the dwarf both a torture and a delight. 

Nor would anything have caused Barkilphedro to let 
go his hold. He was biding his time. Would it ever 
come ? Who knows ? He was certainly watching for 
it. Self-love is mixed up in the malice of the very 
wicked man. To make holes and gaps in a fortune 
higher than your own ; to undermine it at all risks and 
perils, carefully concealed, yourself, the while, — is, 
we repeat, extremely exciting. The player at such a 
game becomes eager, even to passion ; he throws him- 
self into the work as if he were composing an epic. To 
be very mean and to attack that which is great, is in 
itself a brilliant action. It is a fine thing to be a flea 
on a lion. The noble beast feels the bite, and tries to 
vent his rage upon the atom ; an encounter with a tiger 
would weary him less. See how the actors exchange 
their parts : the lion, humiliated, feels the sting of the 
insect, and the flea can say, " I have in my veins the 
blood of a lion ! " 

These reflections, however, only half appeased the 
cravings of Barkilphedro's pride; they were poor conso- 
lation. To annoy is one thing ; to torment would be 
infinitely better. One thought haunted Barkilphedro 
incessantly : he might not succeed in doing more than 



THE FLAME SEEN IF MAN WERE TRANSPARENT. 279 

slightly irritate Josiana's epidermis. What more could 
he hope for, — he being so obscure, and she so far above 
him ! A mere scratch is but little satisfaction to him 
who longs to see the crimson blood of his flayed victim, 
and to hear her cries as she lies before him worse than 
naked, without even the natural covering of her skin ! 
With such a craving, how sad to be powerless ! Alas, 
there is nothing perfect ! However, he resigned him- 
self. Not being able to do better, he only dreamed half 
his dream. To play a treacherous trick is something 
after all. 

What a man is he who revenges himself for a benefit 
received ! Barkilphedro was a giant among such men. 
Usually, ingratitude is forgetfulness ; with this man, 
steeped in wickedness, it was fury. The ordinary in- 
grate is full of ashes : what was in Barkilphedro ? A 
furnace , — a furnace walled around with hate, silence, 
and rancour, awaiting Josiana for fuel ! Never had a 
man abhorred a woman to such an extent without 
cause. How terrible ! He thought of her all day and 
dreamed of her all night. Perhaps he was a little in 
love with her. 



CHAPTER XL 

BARKILPHEDEO IN AMBUSCADE. 

TO find the vulnerable spot in Josiana, and to strike 
her there, was, for the causes we have just men- 
tioned, the imperturbable determination of Barkilphedro. 
The wish, however, was not enough ; the power to ac- 
complish it was also necessary. How was he to set 
about it ? That was the question. 

Vulgar vagabonds set with care the scene of any 
wickedness they intend to commit. They do not feel 
themselves strong enough to seize the opportunity as it 
passes, to take possession of it by fair means or foul, 
and to constrain it to serve them. Cunning scoundrels 
disdain preliminary combinations ; they start out to per- 
form their villainies alone, after arming themselves 
thoroughly, prepared to avail themselves of any chances 
which may occur, and then, like Barkilphedro, await the 
opportunity. They know that a ready-made scheme 
runs the risk of fitting ill into the events which may 
present themselves. It is not thus that a man makes 
himself master of possibilities, and guides them as one 
pleases. You can make no arrangements with destiny ; 
to-morrow will not obey you. There is a great want of 
discipline about chance ; therefore they watch for it, and 
summon it suddenly, authoritatively, on the spot, — no 
plan, no sketch, no rough model, no ready-made shoe 
ill-fitting the unexpected ; they plunge headlong into 
the dark. To turn to immediate and rapid profit any 



BARKILPHEDRO IN AMBUSCADE. 281 

circumstance that can aid him is the quality which 
distinguishes the able scoundrel, and elevates the villain 
into the demon. To make yourself master of circum- 
stances, that is true genius. The real scoundrel strikes 
you with the first stone he can pick up. Clever male- 
factors count on the unexpected, that strange accom- 
plice in so many crimes ; they grasp the incident and 
leap on it : there is no better Ars poetica for this species 
of talent. Meanwhile be sure with whom you have 
to deal ; survey the ground carefully. 

With Barkilphedro the ground was Queen Anne. 
Barkilphedro approached the queen, and so close that 
sometimes he fancied he heard the monologues of her 
Majesty. Sometimes he was present at conversations 
between the sisters ; neither did they forbid his slipping 
in a word now and then. He profited by this to dis- 
parage himself, — a way of inspiring confidence. One 
day in the garden at Hampton Court, being behind the 
duchess, who was behind the queeii, he heard Anne 
enunciate this sentiment : — 

" Brute beasts are fortunate ; they run no risk of going 
to hell. " 

" They are there already, " replied Josiana. 

This answer, which bluntly substituted philosophy 
for religion, displeased the queen. If, perchance, there 
was any meaning in the observation, Anne felt that she 
ought to appear shocked. 

" My dear, " said she to Josiana, " we talk of hell like. 
a couple of fools. We had better ask Barkilphedro 
about it. He ought to know all about such things. " 

" As a devil ? " said Josiana. 

" As a beast, " replied Barkilphedro, with a bow. 

" Madam, " said the queen to Josiana, " he is cleverer 
than we. " 

For a man like Barkilphedro to approach the queen 



282 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

was to obtain a hold on her. He could say, " I hold 
her. " Now, he wanted a means of taking advantage of 
his power for his own benefit. He had a foothold in 
the court. To be settled there was a fine thing ; no 
chance could now escape him. More than once he had 
made the queen smile maliciously. This was equiva- 
lent to having a license to shoot. But was there any 
preserved game ? Did this license to shoot permit him 
to break the wing or the leg of one like the sister of her 
Majesty ? The first point to make clear was, did the 
queen love her sister ? One false step would lose all. 
Barkilphedro watched. 

Before he plays, the player examines his cards. 
What trumps has he ? Barkilphedro began by compar- 
ing the ages of the two women, — Josiana, twenty-three; 
Anne, forty-one. So far so good ; he held trumps. The 
moment that a woman ceases to count her age by springs, 
and begins to count by winters, she becomes cross. A 
dull rancour possesses her against the age of which she 
carries the marks. Fresh-blown beauties, jDerfumes for 
others, are to such a one but thorns. Of the roses she 
feels but the prick. It seems as if all the freshness is 
stolen from her, and that beauty decreases in her be- 
cause it increases in others. 

To profit by this secret ill-humour, to deepen the 
furrows on the face of this woman of forty, who was 
a queen, seemed a good game for Barkilphedro. Envy 
excels in exciting jealousy, as a rat lures the crocodile 
from its hole. Barkilphedro fixed his wise gaze on 
Anne. He saw into the queen, as one sees into a stag- 
nant pool. The marsli has its transparency. In dirty 
water we see vices ; in muddy water we see stupidity. 
Anne's mind was like muddy water. Embryos of senti- 
ments and larvae of ideas moved sluggishly about in her 
thick brain. They were not distinct ; they had scarcely 



BARKILPHEDRO IN AMBUSCADE. 283 

any outline, — but they were realities, though shapeless. 
The queen thought this ; the queen desired that, — to 
decide what, was the difficulty. The confused transfor- 
mations which go on in stagnant water are difficult to 
study. The queen though habitually reserved, some- 
times made sudden and stupid revelations. It was on 
these that it was necessary to seize ; he must take ad- 
vantage of them on the moment. How did the queen 
feel towards tlie Duchess Josiana ? Did she wish her 
good or evil ? This was the problem. Barkilphedro set 
himself to solve it. This problem solved, he might 
venture further. 

Divers chances served Barkilphedro, — his constant 
watchfulness above all. Anne was, on her husband's 
side, slightly related to the new Queen of Prussia, wife 
of the king with the hundred chamberlains. She had 
her portrait painted on enamel, after the process of 
Turquet, of Mayerne. This Queen of Prussia had also 
a younger illegitimate sister, the Baroness Drika. One 
day, in the presence of Barkilphedro, Anne asked the 
Prussian ambassador some question about this Drika. 

" They say she is rich, " the queen remarked. 

" Very rich. " 

" She has palaces ? " 

" More magnificent than those of her sister, the 
queen. " 

" Whom will she marry ? " 

" A great lord, the Count Gormo. " 

" Is she pretty ? " 

" Charming. " 

" Is she young ? " 

" Very young. " 

" As beautiful as the queen ? " 

The ambassador lowered his voice, and replied, 
" Much more beautiful. " 



284 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

" How outrageous ! " murmured Barkilphedro. 

The queen was silent, then she muttered angrily, 
" These bastards ! " 

Barkilphedro noticed the plural. 

Another time, when the queen was leaving the chapel, 
Barkilphedro kept close to her Majesty, behind the two 
grooms of the almonry. Lord David Dirry-Moir, as he 
passed down between the two lines of ladies created 
quite a sensation by his lordly appearance. As he passed 
there was a chorus of feminine exclamations, — 

" How elegant ! How gallant ! What a noble air ! 
How handsome ! " 

" How disagreeable ! " grumbled the queen. 

Barkilphedro overheard this ; it satisfied him. He 
could hurt the duchess without displeasing the queen. 

The first problem was solved ; but now the second 
presented itself. What could he do to harm the 
duchess ? What means did his wretched appointment 
offer to attain so difficult an object ? Evidently none. 



CHAPTEE XII. 

SCOTLAND, IRELAND, AND ENGLAND. 

LET US note a circumstance. Josiana had le tour. 
This is easily understood when we reflect that she 
was, although illegitimate, the queen's sister, — that is 
to say, a princely personage. 

To have le tour, ■ — what does it mean ? Viscount St. 
John, otherwise Bolingbroke, wrote as follows to Thomas 
Lennard, Earl of Sussex : " Two things mark the great : 
in England, they have le tour ; in France, le pour. " 
When the king of France travelled, the courier of the 
court stopped at the halting-place in the evening, and 
assigned lodgings to his Majesty's suite. Among the 
gentlemen some had an immense privilege. " They 
have le pour, " says the " Journal Historique " for the 
year 1694, page 6 ; " which means that the quarter- 
master who marks the billets puts pour before their 
names, as ' Pour M. le Prince de Soubise ; ' instead of 
which, when he marks the lodging of one who is not 
royal, he does not put, pour, but simply the name, as 
' Le Due de Gesvres, ' ' Le Due de Mazarin. ' " This 
pour on a door indicated a prince or a favourite. A 
favourite is worse than a prince. The king granted le 
pour, like a blue ribbon or a peerage. 

J voir le tour in England was less glorious, but more 
tangible. It was a sign of intimacy with the reigning 
sovereign. Any persons who, either by reason of birth, 
or royal favour were likely to receive direct communica- 



286 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

tions from majesty, had in the wall of their bedchamber 
a shaft, in which a bell was adjusted. The bell sounded, 
the shaft opened, a royal missive appeared on a gold 
plate or on a velvet cushion, and the shaft closed. This 
was at once secret and solemn, mysterious as well as fa- 
miliar. The shaft was used for no other purpose ; the 
sound of the bell announced a royal message. No one 
could see who brought it ; it was of course merely a page 
of the king or queen. Leicester avail le tour under 
Elizabeth ; Buckingham under James I. Josiana had it 
under Anne, though not much in favour. Never was a 
privilege more envied. This privilege entailed addi- 
tional servility ; the recipient was more of a servant. 
At court that which elevates, degrades. Avoir le tour 
was said in French, — this circumstance of English eti- 
quette having, probably, been borrowed from some old 
Erench play. 

Lady Josiana, a virgin peeress as Elizabeth had been 
a virgin queen, led (sometimes in the city, and some- 
times in the country, according to the season) an almost 
princely life, and kept nearly a court, at which Lord 
David was courtier, with many others. Not being 
married. Lord David and Lady Josiana could show them- 
selves together in public without exciting ridicule ; and 
they did so frequently. They often went to plays and 
race-courses in the same carriage, and sat together in 
the same box. They were chilled by the impending 
marriage, which was not only permitted to them, but 
imposed upon them ; but they felt an attraction for each 
other's society. The privacy permitted to the engaged 
has a frontier easily passed. Erom this they abstained : 
that which is easy is in bad taste. 

The best pugilistic encounters then took place at 
Lambeth, a parish in which the Lord Archbishop of 
Canterbury has a palace (though the air there is un- 



SCOTLAND, IRELAND, AND ENGLAND. 287 

healthy) and a rich library open at certain hours to 
decent people. One evening in winter there was in a 
meadow there, the gates of which were locked, a fight, 
which Josiana, escorted by Lord David, attended. 

" Are women admitted ? " she had asked. 

" Sunt fseminse magnates ! " David had responded. 

The free translation of this is, " Plebeian women are 
not. " The literal translation is, " Great ladies are. " A 
duchess goes everywhere. This is why Lady Josiana 
saw a boxing-match. 

Lady Josiana made only this concession to propriety, 
— she dressed like a man, a very common custom at 
that period ; women seldom travelled otherwise. Out of 
every six persons who travelled by the coach from 
Windsor one or two were women in male attire, — a 
certain sign of high birth. Lady Josiana betrayed her 
quality in one way, — she had an opera-glass, then used 
by gentlemen only. 

Lord David, being in company with a woman, could 
not take any part in the match himself, and merely 
assisted as one of the audience. This encounter in the 
noble science of boxing was presided over by Lord 
Germaine, great-grandfather, or grand-uncle, of that 
Lord Germaine who towards the end of the eighteenth 
century was colonel, ran away in a battle from the regi- 
ment which he commanded, but who was afterwards 
made minister of war, and only escaped from the shells 
of the enemy to fall by a worse fate, — shot through and 
through by Sheridan's sarcasms. Many gentlemen were 
betting, — Harry Bellew of Carleton, who had claims 
to the extinct peerage of Bella-aqua, with Henry, Lord 
Hyde, member of Parliament for the borough of Dun- 
hivid, which is also called Launceston ; the Honourable 
Peregrine Bertie, member for the borough of Truro, with 
Sir Thomas Colpepper, member for Maidstone ; the Laird 



288 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

of Lamyrbau, which is on the borders of Lothian, with 
Samuel Trefusis, of the borough of Penryn ; Sir Bar- 
tholomew Gracedieu, of the borough of Saint Ives, with 
the Honourable Charles Bodville, who was called Lord 
Eobartes, and who was Gustos Rotulorum of the county 
of Cornwall ; besides many others. 

Of the two combatants, one was an Irishman, named 
after his native mountain in Tipperary, Phelem-ghe- 
Madone ; and the other a Scot, named Helmsgail. They 
represented the national honour of each country. Ire- 
land and Scotland were about to encounter each other ; 
Erin was going to fisticuff Gajothel. So that the bets 
amounted to over forty thousand guineas, besides the 
stakes. The two champions were naked, excepting 
short breeches buckled over the hips, and spiked boots 
laced as high as the ankles. 

Helmsgail, the Scot, was a youth scarcely nineteen, 
but he had already had his forehead sewn up, for which 
reason they laid two and one third to one on him. The 
month before he had broken the ribs and gouged out the 
eyes of a pugilist, named Sixmileswater ; this explained 
the enthusiasm he created, — he had won his backers 
twelve thousand pounds. Besides having his forehead 
sewn up, Helmsgail's jaw had been broken. He was 
neatly made and active. He was about the height of a 
small woman, erect, thick set, and of a stature low and 
threatening. None of the advantages given him by 
nature had been lost ; not a muscle which was not 
trained to its object, pugilism. His firm chest was com- 
pact, and brown and shining like brass. He smiled, 
and the loss of three teeth added to the effect of his 
smile. 

Phelem-ghe-Madone, the Irishman, was tall and over- 
grown, — that is to say, weak. He was a man about 
forty years of age, six feet high, with the chest of a 



SCOTLAND, IRELAND, AND ENGLAND. 289 

hippopotamus, and a mild expression of face. A blow 
from his fist would shatter the deck of a vessel ; but he 
did not know how to use his strength. He was all sur- 
face, and seemed to have entered the ring to receive, 
rather than to give, blows. Only it was felt that he 
could bear a deal of punishment, — like underdone beef, 
tough to chew, and impossible to swallow. He was 
what was termed, in local slang, " raw meat. " He 
squinted. He seemed resigned. 

The two men had passed the preceding night in the 
same bed, and had slept together. They had each drunk 
port wine from the same glass, to the three-inch mark. 
Each had his party of seconds, — men of savage expres- 
sion, threatening the umpires when it suited their side. 
Among Helmsgail's supporters was to be seen John 
Gromane, celebrated for having carried an ox on his 
back; and also one called John Bray, who had once 
carried on his back ten bushels of flour, at fifteen pecks 
to the bushel, besides the miller himself, and had 
walked over two hundred yards under the weight. On 
the side of Phelem-ghe-Madone, Lord Hyde had 
brought from Launceston a certain Kilter, who lived at 
Green Castle, and could throw a stone weighing twenty 
pounds to a greater height than the highest tower of the 
castle. These three men, Kilter, Bray, and Gromane, 
were Cornishmen by birth, and did honour to their 
county. The other seconds were brutal fellows, with 
broad backs, bowed legs, knotted fists, dull faces; 
ragged, fearing nothing, nearly all jail-birds. Many of 
them understood admirably how to get the police drunk ; 
each profession requires its special talents. 

The field chosen was farther off than the bear-garden, 
where they formerly baited bears, bulls, and dogs ; it 
was beyond the line of the farthest houses, by the side 
of the ruins of the Priory of Saint Mary Overy, dis- 

VOL. XIX. — 19 



290 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

mantled by Henry VIII. The wind was northerly, and 
biting ; a slight rain fell, which was instantly frozen into 
ice. Some gentlemen present were evidently fathers of 
families, recognized as such by their putting up their 
umbrellas. 

On the side of Phelem-ghe-Madone was Colonel Mon- 
creif as umpire ; and Kilter, as second, to support him 
on his knee. On the side of Helmsgail, the Honourable 
Pughe Beaumaris was umpire ; with Lord Desertum, 
from Kilcarry, as bottle-holder, to support him on his 
knee. 

The two combatants stood for a few seconds motion- 
less in the ring, while the watches were being compared ; 
they then approached each other and shook hands. 

" I should prefer going home, " remarked Phelem-ghe- 
Madone to Helmsgail. 

" The gentlemen must not be disappointed, on any 
account, " Helmsgail answered handsomely. 

Naked as they were, they felt the cold. Phelem-ghe- 
Madone shook. His teeth chattered. 

Doctor Eleanor Sharpe, nephew of the Archbishop of 
York, cried out to them : " Set to, boys ! it will warm 
you. " 

These friendly words thawed them. They set to. 
But neither of the two men had his blood up ; there 
were three ineffectual rounds. 

The Rev. Doctor Gumdraith, one of the forty Fellows 
of All Souls' College, cried, " Spirit them up with 
gin!" 

But the two umpires and the two seconds adhered to 
the rules, although it was exceedingly cold. 

Pirst blood was claimed. The combatants were again 
set face to face. They looked at each other, approached, 
stretched their arms, touched each other's fists, and then 
drew back. All at once Helmsgail, the little man, 



SCOTLAND, IRELAND, AND ENGLAND. 291 

sprang forward : the real fight had begun. Phelem-ghe- 
Madone was struck in the face, between the eyes. His 
whole face streamed with blood. 

The crowd cried, " Helmsgail has tapped his claret! " 

There was wild applause. Phelem-ghe-Madone, turn- 
ing his arms like the sails of a windmill, struck out 
at random. The Honourable Peregrine Bertie said, 
" Blinded I " but the man was not blind yet. 

Then Helmsgail heard on all sides these encouraging 
words : " Bung up his peepers ! " 

On the whole, the two champions were really well 
matched ; and notwithstanding the unfavourable weather, 
it was evident that the fight would be a success. The 
burly giant, Phelem-ghe-Madone, had to bear the in- 
convenience of his advantages ; he moved heavily. His 
arms were massive as clubs ; but his chest was a mass. 
His little opponent ran, struck, sprang, gnashed his 
teeth ; redoubling vigour by quickness, from knowledge 
of the science. On the one side was the primitive blow 
of the fist, — savage, uncultivated, in a state of igno- 
rance ; on the other side was the civilized blow of the 
fist. Helmsgail fought as much with his nerves as with 
his muscles, and with far more skill than strength ; 
Phelem-ghe-Madone was a kind of sluggish mauler, — 
somewhat mauled himself, to begin with. It was art 
against nature ; it was cultivated ferocity against bar- 
barism. It was clear that the barbarian would be 
beaten, but not very quickly ; hence the interest. Put 
a little man against a big one, and the chances are in 
favour of the little one. The cat generally has the best 
of it with a dog. Goliaths are always vanquished by 
Davids. 

A chorus of encouraging exclamations cheered on the 
combatants : — 

" Bravo, Helmsgail ! " 



292 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

" Good ! well done, Highlander ! " 

" Now, Phelem ! " 

And the friends of Helmsgail repeated their benevo- 
lent exhortation : " Bung up his peepers ! " 

Helmsgail did better. Rapidly bending down and 
back again, with the undulating movement of a serpent, 
he struck Phelem -ghe-Madone in the sternum. The 
Colossus staggered. 

" Foul blow ! " cried Viscount Barnard. 

Phelem-ghe-Madone sank down on the knee of his 
second, saying : " I am beginning to get warm. " 

Lord Desertum consulted the umpires, and said : 
" Five minutes before time is called. " 

Phelem-ghe-Madone was becoming weaker. Kilter 
wiped the blood from his face and the sweat from his 
body with a flannel, and placed the neck of a bottle 
to his mouth. They had come to the eleventh round. 
Phelem, besides the scar on his forehead, had his 
breast disfigured by blows, his belly swollen, and 
the fore part of the head scarified. Helmsgail was 
untouched. 

A kind of tumult arose among the gentlemen. 

" Foul blow ! " repeated Viscount Barnard. 

" Bets void ! " said the Laird of Lamyrbau. 

" I claim my stake ! " replied Sir Thomas Colpepper. 

" Give me back my five hundred guineas, and I will 
go. Stop the fight ! " added the honourable member for 
the borough of St. Ives, Sir Bartholomew Gracedieu. 

Phelem arose, staggering like a drunken man, and 
said : " Let us go on fighting, on one condition, — 
that I also shall have the right to give one foul 
blow. " 

They cried, " Agreed ! " from all parts of the ring. 
Helmsgail shrugged his shoulders. Five minutes elapsed, 
and they set to again. 



SCOTLAND, IRELAND, AND ENGLAND. 293 

The figlitiiig, which was agony to Phelem, was play 
to Helmsgail; such are the triumphs of science. Tlie 
little man found means of putting the big one into 
chancery ; that is to say, Helmsgail suddenly took under 
his left arm, which was bent like a steel crescent, the 
huge head of Phelem -ghe-Madone, and held it there 
under his armpit, the neck bent and twisted, wliile the 
Scot used his right fist again and again, like a hammer 
on a nail, only from below and striking upwards, thus 
smashing his opponent's face at his ease. When Phe- 
lem, released at last, lifted his head, he no longer pos- 
sessed a face. That which had been a nose, eyes, and a 
mouth now looked like a black sponge soaked in blood. 
He spat, and four of his teeth fell to the ground. Then 
he also fell. Kilter raised him on his knee. 

Helmsgail was hardly touched : he had some insignifi- 
cant bruises, and a scratch on his collar bone. 

No one was cold now. They bet sixteen and a quarter 
to one on Helmsgail. Harry Carleton cried out, — 

" It is all over with Phelem-ghe-Madone. I '11 bet 
my peerage of Bella-aqua and my title of Lord Bellew 
against the Archbishop of Canterbury's old wig, on 
Helmsgail. " 

" Give me your muzzle, " said Kilter to Phelem-ghe- 
Madone. And stuffing the bloody flannel into the bottle, 
he washed him all over with gin. The mouth reap- 
peared, and he opened one eyelid. His temples seemed 
fractured. 

" One round more, my friend, " said Kilter ; and he 
added, " for the honour of the low town. " 

The Welshman and the Irishman understand each 
other, though Phelem gave no sign of having any power 
of understanding left. He arose, supported by Kilter. 
It was the twenty-fifth round. From the way in which 
this Cyclops (for he had but one eye) placed himself in 



294 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

position, it was evident that this was the last round, for 
no one doubted his defeat. He placed his guard below 
his chin, with the awkwardness of a failing man. 

Helmsgail, with a skin hardly sweating, cried out : 
" I '11 back myself, a thousand to one. " Then raising 
his arm. struck out. 

Strange to say, both men went down. A ghastly 
chuckle was heard. It was Phelem-ghe-Madone's ex- 
pression of delight. ■ While receiving the terrible blow 
given him by Helmsgail on the skull, he had given him 
a foul blow on the navel. Helmsgail, lying on his 
back, rattled in his throat. 

The spectators looked at him as he lay on the ground, 
and said, " Paid back ! " All clapped their hands, even 
those who had lost. Phelem-ghe-Madone had given 
foul blow for foul blow, and done what he had a right 
to do. They carried Helmsgail off on a hand-barrow. 
The opinion was that he would not recover. 

Lord Robartes exclaimed, " I win twelve hundred 
guineas. " 

Phelem-ghe-Madone was evidently maimed for life. 

As she left, Josiana took the arm of Lord David, — 
an act which was tolerated among people " engaged, " — 
saying to him, — 

" It was very fine ; but — " 

" But what ? " 

" I thought it would have driven away my ennui ; but 
it hasn't. " 

Lord David stopped, looked at Josiana, shut his 
mouth, and inflated his cheeks, while he nodded his 
head, as if to signify, " Indeed ? " Then he said, — 

" There is but one effectual cure for ennui. " 

" What is that ? " asked Josiana. 

" Gwynplaine, " replied Lord David. 

" And who is Gwynplaine ? " asked the duchess. 



BOOK 11. 
GWYNPLAINE AND DEA. 



CHAPTER I. 

WHEREIN WE SEE THE FACE OF HIM OF WHOM WE HAVE 
HITHERTO SEEN ONLY THE ACTS. 



N 



ATURE had been prodigal in her kindness to 
Gwynplaiue. She had given hira a mouth open- 
ing to his ears, ears folding over to his eyes, a shapeless 
nose to support the spectacles of the grimace-maker, and 
a face that no one could look upon without laughing. 

We have just said that Nature had loaded Gwynplaine 
with her gifts. But was it Nature ? Had she not been 
assisted ? Two slits for eyes, a hiatus for a mouth, a 
snub protuberance with two holes for nostrils, a flat- 
tened face, — all producing the effect of violent laughter, 

certainly Nature never produced such perfection 

single-handed. But is laughter a synonym of joy ? 

If in the presence of this mountebank (for he was one) 
the first impression of gaiety wore off, and the man's 
countenance was examined closely, traces of art were 
recognizable. Such a face could never have been created 
by chance ; it must have been the result of intention. 
Such perfection of detail is not found in Nature. Man 
can do nothing to create beauty, but everything to pro- 
duce ugliness. A Hottentot profile cannot be changed 



296 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

into a Eoman outline, but out of a Grecian nose you may 
make a Calmuck's ; it is only necessary to obliterate the 
root of the nose, and to flatten the nostrils. The Latin 
of the Middle Ages had a reason for its creation of tiie 
verb denasare. 

Had Gwynplaine when a child been so worthy of at- 
tention that his face had been subjected to a complete 
transformation ? Why not ? Was any more powerful 
motive needed than the profits which would accrue from 
his future exhibition ? According to all appearance, 
industrious manipulators of children had worked upon 
his face. It seemed evident that a mysterious and prob- 
ably occult science (which was to surgery what alchemy 
was to chemistry) had chiselled his flesh, evidently at a 
very tender age, and created this countenance intention- 
ally. This science, clever with the knife and skilled 
in the use of anaesthetics and ligatures, had enlarged 
the mouth, cut away the lips, laid bare the gums, dis- 
tended the ears, displaced the eyelids and the cheeks, 
enlarged the zygomatic muscle, pressed the scars and 
cicatrices to a level, and turned back the skin over the 
lesions while the face was thus distorted, — from all 
which resulted that wonderful and appalling work of 
art, the mask which Gwynplaine wore. 

The manipulation of Gwynplaine had succeeded ad- 
mirably. Gwynplaine was a gift of providence to dispel 
the sadness of man. Of which providence ? Is there a 
providence of demons as well as of God ? We put the 
question without answering it. 

Gwynplaine was a mountebank. He exhibited him- 
self on the platform. No such effect had ever before 
been produced. Hypochondriacs were cured by the mere 
sight of him. He was avoided by folks in mourning, 
because they were compelled to laugh when they saw 
him, without regard to their decent gravity. One day 



THE FACE OF GWYNPLAINE. 297 

the chief executioner came to see him, and Gwynplaine 
made him Liugh. People who saw GwynpLiine were 
obliged to hold their sides ; he spoke, and they rolled 
on the ground. He was as far removed from sadness as 
pole is from pole : spleen at the one, Gwynplaine at the 
other. Consequently on fair-grounds and village-greens 
he speedily gained the enviable appellation of " that 
horrible man. " 

It was Gwynplaine 's laugh that so excited the mirth 
of others; yet he did not laugh himself. His face 
laughed ; his thoughts did not. The extraordinary face 
which chance, or a special and weird industry, had fash- 
ioned for him laughed of itself ; Gwynplaine had noth- 
ing to do with it. The exterior did not depend on the 
interior. The laugh which he himself had not placed 
on brow and eyelids and mouth, he was powerless to 
remove. It had been stamped indelibly on his face ; it 
was automatic, and the more irresistible because it 
seemed petrified. No one could escape the powerful 
effect of this grimace. Two convulsions of the face are 
infectious, — laughing and yawning. By reason of the 
mysterious operation to which Gwynplaine had probably 
been subjected in his infancy, every part of his face 
contributed to that grin ; his whole physiognomy led to 
that result, as a wheel centres in the hub. All his 
emotions augmented this strange expression; or, to speak 
more correctly, aggravated it. Any astonishment which 
might seize him, any suffering which he might feel, any 
anger which might take possession of him, any pity 
which might move him, only increased this hilarity of 
his muscles. If he wept he laughed ; and whatever 
Gwynplaine was, whatever he wished to be, whatever 
he thought, the moment that he raised his head the 
crowd (if crowd there was) had before them one imper- 
sonation, — an overwhelming burst of laughter. It was 



298 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

like a head of Medusa, but Medusa hilarious. Every 
serious feeling or thought in the mind of the spectator 
was suddenly put to flight by the unexpected apparition, 
and laughter was inevitable. 

Antique art formerly placed on the exterior of the 
Greek theatre a joyous brazen face, called Comedy ; it 
laughed and occasioned laughter, but remained pensive. 
All mirth which borders on folly, all irony which bor- 
ders on wisdom, were condensed and amalgamated in 
that face. Intense anxiety, disappointment, disgust, 
and chagrin were all depicted in the rigid features ; but 
a ghastly smile wreathed the lips, imparting an ex- 
pression of lugubrious mirth to the entire countenance. 
One corner of the mouth was curled upward in mockery 
of the human race ; the other, in blasphemy of the gods. 
Those who eagerly crowded around to gaze at this grim 
exemplification of the covert sarcasm and irony which 
dwells in every human breast, nearly died with laughter 
at the sepulchral immobility of the sneering smile. 

One might almost have said that Gwynplaine was that 
dark, dead mask of ancient comedy, adjusted to the 
body of a living man ; that he supported on his neck 
that infernal head of implacable hilarity. What a 
weight for the shoulders of a man, — an everlasting 
laugh ! 

An everlasting laugh ! That we may be understood 
we will explain that the Manicheans believed that even 
the absolute occasionally gave way ; that God himself 
sometimes abdicates for a time. But we do not admit 
that the will can ever be utterly powerless. The whole 
of existence resembles a letter modified in the postscript. 
For Gwynplaine the postscript was this : by force of will, 
by concentrating all his attention, and allowing no emo- 
tion to impair the intentness of his effort, he could 
manage to suspend the everlasting rictus of his face, 



THE FACE OF GWYNPLAINE. 299 

and to throw over it for a moment a kind of tragic veil ; 
and then the spectator no longer laughed, — he shuddered. 
Tliis exertion Gwynplaine scarcely ever made ; it was a 
terrible effort, and an insupportable tension. Moreover, 
it happened that on the slightest distraction or change 
of emotion, the laugh, driven away for a moment, re- 
turned like the tide, with an impulse which was irre- 
sistible in proportion to the force of the adverse emotion. 
With this exception Gwynplaine 's laugh was everlasting. 

On first seeing Gwynplaine, everybody laughed. When 
they had laughed they turned away their heads. Women 
especially shrank from him with horror. The man was 
frightful. The paroxysm of laughter was a sort of spon- 
taneous tribute paid to his deformity ; they yielded to it 
gladly, but almost mechanically. Besides, when once 
the novelty was over, Gwynplaine was intolerable for a 
woman to see, and impossible to contemplate long. Yet 
he was tall, well-made, agile, and in no way deformed 
except in his face. 

This strengthened the presumption that Gwynplaine 
was rather a creation of art than a work of Nature. 
Gwynplaine, beautiful in figure, had probably been 
equally beautiful in face. At his birth he had doubt- 
less resembled other infants, and the body had been left 
intact, and the face alone been retouched. Gwynplaine 
had been made to order, — at least, that was probably 
the case. They had left him his teeth : teeth are neces- 
sary to a laugh ; the death's head retains them. The 
operation performed on him must have been frightful. 
That he had no remembrance of it was no proof that it 
had never been performed. Surgical sculpture of the 
kind could never have succeeded except on a very young 
child, and consequently one who had little conscious- 
ness of what happened to him, and who might easily 
take a wound for an illness. Besides, we must re- 



300 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

member that they had in those times means of putting 
patients to sleep, and of suppressing all suffering ; 
only then it was called magic, while now it is called 
anaesthesia. 

Besides this face, those who had brought him up had 
given him the resources of a gymnast and an athlete. 
His joints had been skilfully dislocated, and trained to 
bend the wrong way ; so that they could move backward 
and forward with equal ease, like the hinges of a door. 
In preparing him for the profession of mountebank noth- 
ing had been neglected. His hair had been dyed ochre 
colour once for all, — a secret which has been rediscov- 
ered at the present day. Pretty women avail themselves 
of it, and that which was formerly considered ugly is 
now considered an embellishment. Gwynplaine's hair 
had probably been dyed with some corrosive prepara- 
tion, for it was very woolly and rough to the touch. 
The yellow bristles, a mane rather than a head of hair, 
covered and concealed a lofty brow, evidently made to 
contain thought. The operation, whatever it had been, 
which had deprived his features of harmony, and put all 
their flesh awry, had had no effect on the contour of the 
head. The facial angle was powerful and symmetrical. 
Behind his laugh there was a soul, dreaming, as all souls 
dream. Besides, this laugh was quite a talent to Gwyn- 
plaine. He could not prevent it, so he turned it to ac- 
count. He earned his living by it. 

Gwynplaine, as you have probably already guessed, 
was the child abandoned one winter evening on the 
coast of Portland, and subsequently sheltered by Ursus 
at Weymouth. 



Dea. 

Photo- Etching. — From Drawing by G. Rochegrosse. 



CHAPTEE IL 



DEA. 



THAT boy was now a man. Fifteen years had 
elapsed. It was 1705. Gwynplaine was in his 
twenty-fifth year. 

Ursus had kept the two children with him. They 
formed one family of wanderers. Ursus and Homo had 
aged. Ursus had become quite bald ; the wolf was 
growing grey. The age of wolves is not known like 
that of dogs. According to Molifere, there are wolves 
which live to eighty, — among others the little koupara, 
and the rank wolf, the Cams nubilus of Say. 

The little girl found on the dead woman was now a 
tall creature of sixteen, with brown hair, slight, and ex- 
ceedingly fragile in appearance, but wonderfully beauti- 
ful, with eyes full of brilliancy, though sightless. That 
fatal winter night which threv/ down the beggar woman 
and her infant in the snow had struck a double blow, — 
it had killed the mother, and blinded the child. Amau- 
rosis had dimmed forever the eyes of the girl, now be- 
come a woman in her turn. On her face, through which 
the light of day never passed, the depressed corners of 
the mouth indicated the bitterness of the privation. 
Her eyes, large and clear, had this strange character- 
istic : extinguished forever to her, to others they were 
brilliant. They were mysterious torches lighting only 
the outside ; they gave light, but possessed it not. 
These sightless eyes were resplendent. This prisoner of 



302 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

darkness illumined the dull place she inhabited. From 
the depths of her incurable darkness, from behind the 
black wall called blindness, she flung her rays. She 
saw not the sun without, but her soul was perceptible 
from within. In her gaze there was a celestial earnest- 
ness. She was the spirit of night, and from the irreme- 
diable darkness with which slie was enshrouded she 
shone a star. 

Ursus, with his mania for Latin names, had chris- 
tened her Dea. He had taken his wolf into consulta- 
tion. He had said to him, " You represent man ; I 
represent the beasts. We are of the lower world ; this 
little one shall represent the world above. Such feeble- 
ness is all-powerful. So shall the three orders of the 
universe be represented in our humble abode, — the 
human, the animal, and the divine. " The wolf made 
no objection. Therefore the foundling was called Dea. 

As to Gwynplaine, Ursus had not had the trouble of 
inventing a name for him. The morning of the day on 
which he had realized the disfigurement of the little boy 
and the blindness of the infant, he said to him : — 

" Boy, what is your name ? " 

" They call me Gwynplaine, " answered the boy. 

" Be Gwynplaine, then, " said Ursus. 

If there be such a thing as summing up human mis- 
ery, it seemed to have been summed up in Gwynplaine 
and Dea. Each seemed to have been born in a sepulchre, 
— Gwynplaine of the horrors of it, Dea of the gloom. 
There was something of the phantom in Dea, and some- 
thing of the spectre in Gwynplaine. For Gwynplaine, 
who could see, there was a heartrending possibility, to 
which Dea, who was blind, would never be subjected, 
■ — the chance of comparing himself with other men ; 
and to one in Gwynplaine 's situation, to compare him- 
self with other men was to understand himself no longer. 



DEA. 303 

It is distressing, indeed, to be devoid of sight like Dea ; 
but it is much more distressing to be an enigma to one- 
self, to see the universe, and not to be able to see oneself, 
— as was the case with Gwynplaine. Dea had a veil 
over her, — darkness; Gwynplaine wore a mask, — his 
face. And, strange to say, it was with his own flesh 
that Gwynplaine was masked. What his own face had 
been like he knew not : that face was gone forever. 
They had affixed a false self to him. His brain lived, 
and his face was dead ; he did not even remember to 
have ever seen it. While Dea's isolation was terrible, 
because she could see nothing, Gwynplaine 's isolation 
was even more terrible because he could see everything. 
For Dea, creation never exceeded the limits of touch 
and hearing ; for Gwynplaine, life was to have mankind 
ever before him and — beyond him. Dea was debarred 
from light of the world ; Gwynplaine was debarred from 
the light of life, — from all that makes life desirable. 
They were certainly two terribly unfortunate creatures ; 
they seemed to be beyond the pale of hope. No observer 
could fail to feel boundless pity for them. How terribly 
they must have suffered ! Surely, no such dire misfor- 
tunes had ever before befallen two innocent human 
beings, and conspired to make their life a hell ! 

And yet these two were perfectly happy. They loved 
each other. Gwynplaine adored Dea ; Dea idolized 
Gwynplaine, " How handsome you are ! " she often 
remarked to him. 



CHAPTER III. 

" OCULOS NON HABET, ET VIDET. " 

ONLY one woman on earth saw Gwynplaine. That 
was the blind girl. She had heard what Gwyn- 
plaine had done for her, from Ursus, to whom the lad 
had described liis rough journey from Portland to Wey- 
mouth, and the many sufferings which he had endured 
after he was deserted by the gang. She knew that when 
she was an infant lying upon her dead mother's breast, 
sucking a corpse, a child very little larger than herself 
had found her ; that this being, exiled and as it were 
crushed by the refusal of the world to aid him, had 
heard her cry ; that though all the world was deaf to 
him, he had not been deaf to her ; that this child, alone, 
weak, cast off, without any resting-place here below, 
dragging himself over the waste, exhausted by fatigue, 
had accepted from the hands of night a heavy burden, 
— another child ; that he, who had nothing to expect of 
Fate, had charged himself with another destiny; that 
naked, in anguish and distress, he had made himself a 
Providence ; that when Heaven failed, he had opened 
his heart; that though lost himself, he had saved her; 
that having neither roof -tree nor shelter he had been an 
asylum ; that he had made himself mother and nurse ; 
that he who was thus alone in the world had responded 
to desertion by adoption ; that lost in the darkness he had 
set an example ; that as if not sufficiently burdened al- 
ready he had added to his load another's misery ; that 



"OCULOS NON HABET, ET VIDET." 305 

in this world, which seemed to contain no hope for him, 
he had found a duty ; that where every one else would 
have hesitated, he had advanced ; that where every one 
else would have drawn back, he had consented ; that he 
had put his hand into the very jaws of the grave and 
drawn her, Dea, out ; that himself half naked, he had 
given her his rags, because she was cold ; that famished, 
he had thought of giving her food and drink ; that for 
one poor little creature, another little creature had com- 
bated death ; that he had fought it under every form, 

— under the form of winter and snow, under the form 
of solitude, under the form of terror, under the form of 
cold, hunger, and thirst, under the form of whirlwind ; 
and that for her, Dea, this Titan of ten years had 
bravely battled with the elements. She knew that as a 
child he had done all this, and that now as a man he 
was strength to her weakness, riches to her poverty, 
healing to her sickness, and sight to her blindness. She 
was fully conscious of his devotion, self-abnegation, and 
courage. Moral heroism possesses an even more potent 
charm than physical heroism ; and in the abstraction in 
which thought lives, when unlighted by the sun, Dea 
clearly perceived these heroic virtues. In the environ- 
ment of dark objects set in motion, which was the sole 
impression the realities of life made upon her; in the 
uneasy quietude of a creature necessarily passive, yet 
ever on the watch for possible danger ; in the sensation 
of being ever defenceless, which is the life of the blind, 

— Dea felt Gwynplaine ever beside her : Gwynplaine, 
never indifferent, never cold, never gloomy, but always 
sympathetic, sweet-tempered, and helpful. Dea fairly 
trembled with happiness and gratitude ; her anxiety 
changed into ecstasy, and with her mind's eye she gazed 
up from the depths of her abyss to the glad light of his 
goodness in the zenith. 

VOL. XIX. 20 



306 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

Kindness is the sunshine of the spiritual world ; so it 
is little wonder that Gwynplaine quite dazzled poor 
Dea. To the crowd, which has too many heads to have 
a thought, and too many eyes to have a clear vision, — 
to the crowd who, superficial themselves, judge only by 
the surface, Gwynplaine was a clown, a merry-andrew, a 
mountebank, a grotesque creature, very little more or 
less than a beast. The crowd knew only the face. For 
Dea, Gwynplaine was the saviour who had gathered her 
up in his arms in the tomb, and borne her out of it ; the 
consoler who made life tolerable ; the liberator, whose 
hand guided her through that labyrinth called blind- 
ness. Gwynplaine was her brother, friend, guide, sup- 
port ; the personification of heavenly power, the husband, 
winged and resplendent. Where the multitude saw the 
monster, Dea recognized the archangel. This was be- 
cause Dea, being blind, could see the soul. 



CHAPTER IV. 

WELL -MATCHED LOVERS. 

UPtSUS, being a philosopher, understood all this, and 
approved of Dea's infatuation. The blind see the 
invisible. He said, " Conscience is vision. " Then, 
looking at Gwynplaine, he murmured, " Half-monster, 
but demi-god, nevertheless. " 

Gwynplaine, on the other hand, was madly in love 
with Dea. There is the invisible eye, — the spirit; and 
the visible eye, — the pupil. He saw her with the visible 
eye. Dea was dazzled by the ideal ; Gwynplaine, by 
the real. Gwynplaine was not ugly ; he was frightful. 
He saw his contrast before him : in proportion as he 
was terrible, Dea was lovely. He was the personifica- 
tion of the horrible ; she was the embodiment of grace. 
Dea was a dream. She seemed a vision scarcely em- 
bodied. In her Grecian form ; in her delicate and supple 
figure, swaying like a reed ; in her shoulders, on which 
might have been invisible wings ; in the modest curves 
which indicated her sex, to the soul rather than to the 
senses ; in her fairness, which amounted almost to trans- 
parency ; in the earnest and quiet serenity of her look, 
divinely shut out from earth ; in the sacred innocence 
of her smile, — she was almost an angel, and yet a 
woman. 

Gwynplaine 's existence might be compnred to the 
point of intersection of two rays ; one from below and 
one from above, — a black and a white ray. The same 



308 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

crumb may perhaps be pecked at, at once, by the beaks 
of evil and good, — one giving a bite, the other a kiss. 
Gwynplaine was this crumb, — an atom, at once wounded 
and caressed. Misfortune had laid its hand upon him, 
and happiness as well. He had on him an anathema and 
a benediction. He was one of the elect, and one of the 
accursed. Who was he ? He knew not. When he looked 
at himself, he saw one he knew not; but this unknown 
was a monster. Gwynplaine lived as it were beheaded, 
with a face which did not belong to him. This face was 
frightful, so frightful that it was absurd. It caused as 
much fear as laughter ; it was a hell-concocted absurdity ; 
it was the transformation of a human face into the mask 
of an animal. Never had there been such a total eclipse 
of humanity in any human face, never a more complete 
caricature ; never had a more frightful apparition grinned 
in nightmare ; never had everything that is repulsive to 
woman been more hideously amalgamated in a man. 
The unfortunate heart, masked and calumniated by the 
face, seemed forever condemned to solitude under it, as 
under a tombstone. Yet, no ! When unknown malice 
had done its worst, invisible goodness lent its aid. It 
had caused a soul to fly with swift wings towards the 
deserted one ; it had sent the dove to console the crea- 
ture whom the thunderbolt had overwhelmed, and had 
made beauty adore deformity. For this to be possible 
it was necessary that beauty should not see the disfig- 
urement. To bring about this good fortune, a misfortune 
was necessary ; so Providence had deprived Dea of sight. 

Gwynplaine vaguely felt himself the object of a re- 
demption. Why had he been persecuted ? He knew 
not. Why redeemed ? He knew not. All he knew 
was that a halo had encircled his brand. When Gwyn- 
plaine had been old enough to understand, Ursus had 
read and explained to him the text of Doctor Conquest, 



WELL-MATCHED LOVERS. 309 

" De Denasatis, " aud in another folio, Hugo Plagon, the 
passage, " Nares habens mutilas ; " but Ursus liad pru- 
dently abstained from " hypotheses, " and had been 
reserved in his opinion of what it might mean. Suppo- 
sitions were possible. The probability of violence in- 
tlicted on Gwynplaine when an infant was hinted at ; 
but for Gwynplaine there was no proof except the re- 
sult. It seemed to be his destiny to live under a stigma. 
Why this stigma? There was no answer. Everything 
connected with Gwynplaine 's childhood was shrouded in 
mystery ; nothing was certain save the one terrible fact. 

In Gwynplaine 's dire despondency Dea had angelically 
interposed between him and despair, and he perceived, 
that, horrible as he was, a sort of beautified wonder was 
softening his monstrous visage. Having been fashioned 
to create dread, he was, by a miraculous exception to the 
general rule, admired and adored as an angel of light by 
one who seemed as far above him as a star. Gwyn- 
plaine and Dea made a perfect pair ; so these two suffer- 
ing hearts very naturally adored each other. One nest 
and two birds, — that was their story. They had begun 
to obey the universal law, — to please, to seek, and to 
find. 

Thus hatred had made a mistake. The persecutors of 
Gwynplaine, whoever they might have been, had missed 
their aim. They had inte'nded to drive him to despera- 
tion : they had succeeded in driving him into enchant- 
ment. They had affianced him beforehand to a healing 
wound ; they had predestined him to be consoled by an 
affliction. The pincers of the executioner had softly 
changed into the delicately moulded hand of a girk 
Gwynplaine was horrible, — made horrible by the hand 
of man. They had hoped to exile him forever, — first, 
from his family, if his family existed; and then from 
humanity. When an infant, they had made him a ruin. 



310 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

Of this ruin Nature had repossessed herself, as she does 
of all ruins. Nature had consoled this solitary heart, 
as she consoles all solitudes. Nature comes to the aid 
of the deserted ; when everything fails them she gives 
them herself. She flourishes and grows green amid 
ruins ; she has ivy for the stones, and boundless sympa- 
thy for man. 



CHAPTER V. 

THE BLUE SKY THROUGH THE BLACK CLOUD. 

SO these unfortunate creatures lived on together, — Dea 
depending, Gwynplaine sustaining. These orphans 
were all in all to each other; the feeble and the de- 
formed were betrothed. Bliss unspeakable had resulted 
from their distress. 

They were grateful. To whom? To the great Un- 
known. Be grateful in your own hearts, that suffices. 
Thanksgiving has wings, and flies to the right destina- 
tion ; your prayer knows its way better than you can. 
How many men have believed that they were praying to 
Jupiter, when they were really praying to Jehovah ! 
How many believers in amulets are listened to by the 
Almighty ! How many atheists there are who know 
not that in the simple fact of being good and sad they 
pray to God ! 

Gwynplaine and Dea were grateful. Deformity is 
exile ; blindness is a precipice. The exiled one had 
been adopted ; the precipice was habitable. Gwynplaine 
had seen a brilliant light descend upon him. As if in a 
dream he beheld a white cloud of beauty having the 
form of a woman, a radiant vision endowed with a heart. 
This phantom, part cloud and part woman, clasped him; 
the apparition embraced him, and the heart craved him. 
Gwynplaine was no longer deformed; he was beloved. 
The rose had demanded the caterpillar in marriage, feel- 



312 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

ing that within the caterpillar there was a divine butter- 
fly. Gwynplaine the rejected, was chosen. 

To have one's desire is everything. Gwynplaine had 
his, Dea hers. The dejection of the disfigured man 
was changed to profound gratitude and intoxicating de- 
light. The wretched found a refuge in each other : two 
blanks, combining, filled each other. They were bound 
together by what they lacked : in that in which one was 
poor, the other was rich. The misfortune of the one 
was the good fortune of the other. If Dea had not been 
blind, would she have chosen Gwynplaine ? If Gwyn- 
plaine had not been disfigured, would he have preferred 
Dea ? She wovild probably have rejected the deformed 
man, as he would have passed by the afflicted woman. 
Hence how fortunate it was for Dea that Gwynplaine 
was hideous ; and how fortunate for Gwynplaine that 
Dea was blind ! A mighty need of each other was the 
foundation of their love. Gwynplaine saved Dea ; Dea 
saved Gwynplaine. Apposition of misery produced ad- 
herence. It was the embrace of those swallowed in the 
abyss, — none closer, none more hopeless, none more 
exquisite. 

" What should I be without her ? " Gwynplaine 
thought. 

" What should I be without him ? " Dea thought. 

The exile of each made a country for both. Two 
hopeless fatalities, Gwynplaine 's hideousness and Dea's 
blindness, united them. They sufficed to each other; 
they imagined nothing beyond each other. To speak to 
each other was a delight; to approach was beatitude. 
By force of reciprocal intuition they became united in 
the same reverie, and thought the same thoughts. In 
Gwynplaine 's tread Dea fancied she heard the step of 
one deified. They tightened their hold upon each other 
in a sort of sidereal chiaroscuro, full of perfumes, of 



THE BLUE SKY TIIKOUGH THE BLACK CLOUD. 313 

light, and of music, in the radiant land of dreams. They 
belonged to each other; they knew themselves to be 
forever united in the same joy and the same ecstasy, 
and nothing could be stranger than this construction of 
an Eden by two of the damned. They were inexpres- 
sibly hapi^y. Out of their hell they had created a 
heaven. Such is thy power, Love ! Dea heard Gwyn- 
plaine's laugh; Gwynplaine saw Dea's smile. Thus 
ideal felicity was created ; the perfect joy of life was 
realized ; the mysterious problem of happiness was 
solved. . By whom ? By two outcasts. 

To Gwynplaine, Dea was splendour ; to Dea, Gwyn- 
plaine was presence. Presence is that profound mystery 
which renders the invisible world divine, and from 
which results that other mystery, — faith. In religions 
this is the one thing which is irreducible; but this ir- 
reducible thing suffices. The great motive power is 
not seen, it is felt. Gwynplaine was Dea's religion. 
Sometimes, lost in her sense of love towards him, she 
knelt, like a beautiful priestess before a gnome in a 
pagoda, made happy by her adoration. Imagine to 
yourself an unfathomable abyss ; in the centre of this 
abyss an oasis of light ; and on this oasis two creatures 
shut out of any other life, dazzling each other. No 
purity could be compared to their loves. Dea did not 
even know what a kiss might be, though perhaps she 
desired it; because blindness, especially in a woman, 
has its dreams, and though trembling at the approaches 
of the unknown does not fear them all. As for Gwyn- 
plaine, his unhappy youth had made him sensitive. The 
more intensely he loved, the more timid he became. He 
might have dared anything with this companion of his 
early youth, with this creature as ignorant of fault as of 
light, with this blind girl who knew but one thing, — 
that she adored him. But he would have thought it a 



314 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

theft to take what she might have given ; so he resigned 
himself with a melancholy satisfaction to love angeli- 
cally, and the knowledge of his deformity imbued him 
with a proud purity of thought and action. 

These happy creatures dwelt in the ideal world. They 
embraced and caressed each other only in spirit. They 
had always lived the same life ; they knew themselves 
only in each other's society. The infancy of Dea had 
coincided with the youth of Gwynplaine ; they had 
grown up side by side. For a long time they had slept 
in the same bed, for the sleeping accommodations of the 
van were limited. They slept on the chest ; Ursus, on 
the floor, — that was the arrangement. One day, while 
Dea was still very young, Gwynplaine felt himself 
grown up ; and it was now that a feeling of shame was 
first aroused in him. So he said to Ursus, " I too will 
sleep on the floor ; " and at night he stretched himself 
on the bear-skin beside the old man. Then Dea cried 
for her bed-fellow ; but Gwynplaine, become restless 
because he had begun to love, insisted upon remaining 
where he was. From that time he always in cold 
weather slept by Ursus on the floor. In the summer, 
when the nights were fine, he slept outside with 
Homo. 



CHAPTER VI. 

URSUS AS TUTOR, AND URSUS AS GUARDIAN. 

URSUS said to himself, " Some of these days I will 
play them a mean trick, — I will marry them." 

Ursus taught Gwynplaine the theory of love. He 
said to him : " Do you know how the Almighty lights 
the fire called love ? He places the woman underneath, 
the devil between, and the man at the top. A match 
— that is to say, a look — and behold, it is all on fire, " 

" A look is unnecessary, " answered Gwynplaine, 
thinking of Dea. 

And Ursus replied, " Idiot ! do souls require mortal 
eyes to see each other ? " 

Ursus was a good fellow at times. Gwynplaine, 
madly in love with Dea, sometimes became melancholy, 
and made use of the presence of Ursus as a guard on 
himself. One day Ursus said to him : " Bah ! do not 
put yourself out. When in love, the cock shows him- 
self. " 

" But the eagle conceals himself, " replied Gwynplaine. 

At other times Ursus would say to himself apart : " It 
is well to put some spokes in the wheels of the Cythe- 
rean car occasionally. They love each other too much. 
This may have its disadvantages. Let us avoid too 
much of a conflagration ; let us moderate these raptures. " 

So Ursus had recourse to warnings of this nature, — 
speaking to Gwynplaine while Dea slept, and to Dea 
when Gwynplaine was out of hearing: — 



316 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

" Dea, you must not be so fond of Gwynplaine. To 
live only in another is dangerous. Selfishness is the 
surest foundation for happiness, after all. Men play 
■women false sometimes. Besides, Gwynplaine might 
end by becoming infatuated with you. His success is 
very great ! You have no idea how great his success 
is ! " 

Again : " Gwynplaine, such disparities are unfortu- 
nate. So much ugliness on one side and so much beauty 
on another, ought to cause reflection. Temper your 
ardour, my boy ; do not become too enthusiastic about 
Dea. Do you seriously consider that you are suited to 
her ? Just think of your deformity and her perfection ! 
See the difference between her and yourself. She has 
everything, this Dea. What a white skin ! What hair ! 
Lips like strawberries! and her foot, her hand ! Those 
shoulders, with their exquisite curve ! Her expression 
too is sublime. She seems to diffuse light around her as 
she moves ; and when she speaks, that grave tone of 
voice is charming. And in spite of all this, to think 
that she is a woman ! She would not be such a fool as 
to be an angel. She is a perfect beauty ! Keep all this 
in mind, to calm your ardour. " 

These speeches only increased the mutual love of 
Gwynplaine and Dea ; and Ursus marvelled at his want 
of success, like one who might say, " It is singular that 
with all the oil I throw on the fire, I cannot extinguish 
it!" 

Did Ursus, then, really desire to extinguish their 
love, or to cool it even ? Certainly not. He would 
have been sorely disappointed had he succeeded. In 
his secret heart this love delighted him beyond measure. 
But it is natural to scoff a little at that which charms 
us ; men call it wisdom. Ursus had been, in his rela- 
tions with Gwynplaine and Dea, almost a father and a 



URSUS AS TUTOR, AND URSUS AS GUARDIAN. 317 

mother. Grumbling all the while, lie had brought them 
up; grumbling all the while, he had nourished them. 
His adoption of them had made the van harder to draw, 
and he had been oftener compelled to harness himself 
by Homo's side to help pull it. We may remark here, 
however, that after the first few years, when Gwynplaine 
was nearly grown up and Ursus had grown quite old, 
Gwynplaine had taken his turn and drawn Ursus. 

Ursus, seeing that Gwynplaine was becoming a man, 
had cast the horoscope. " Your fortune is made, " he 
said to liim once, alluding to his disfigurement. 

This family of an old man and two children, with a 
wolf, had become, as they wandered, more and more 
closely united. Their roving life had not hindered edu- 
cation. " To travel is to grow, " Ursus said. Gwyn- 
plaine was evidently made to exhibit at fairs. Ursus 
had cultivated in him feats of dexterity, and had in- 
crusted him with as much of the science and wisdom he 
himself possessed as possible. Ursus, contemplating 
the perplexing mask of Gwynplaine 's face, often growled, 
" He has begun well. " It was probably for this reason 
that he had tried to endow him with every ornament of 
philosophy and wisdom. He repeated constantly to 
Gwynplaine : — 

" Be a philosopher. To be wise is to be invulnerable. 
You see what I am. I have never shed a tear. This is 
all the result of my wisdom. Do you think that occa- 
sion for tears has been wanting, had I felt disposed to 
weep ? " 

Ursus, in one of his monologues in the hearing of the 
wolf, said : " I have taught Gwynplaine everything, Latin 
included. I have taught Dea nothing, music included. " 

Ursus had taught them both to sing. He had himself 
quite a talent for playing on the oaten reed, a little flute 
of that period. He played on it very agreeably, as also 



318 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

on the cliiffonie, — a sort of beggar's hurdy-gurdy, men- 
tioned in the Chronicle of Bertrand Duguesclin as the 
" truant instrument, " which started the symphony. 
These instruments attracted the crowd. Ursus would 
show them the chiffonie, and say, " It is called organis- 
t7'um in Latin. " He had taught Dea and Gwynplaine 
to sing according to the method of Orpheus and of Egide 
Binchois. Frequently he interrupted the lessons with 
enthusiastic cries, such as, " Orpheus, musician of Greece ! 
Binchois, musician of Picardy ! " These branches of 
culture did not occupy the children so much as to pre- 
vent their adoring each other. They had mingled their 
hearts together as they grew up, as two saplings planted 
near each other mingle their branches as they become 
trees. 

" That is well, " said Ursus. " I will have them 
marry, one of these days. " Then he grumbled to him- 
self : " They are quite tiresome with their love. " 

The past, at least their little past, had no existence 
for Dea and Gwynplaine. They knew only what Ursus 
had told them of it. They called Ursus father. The 
only remembrance which Gwynplaine had of his infancy 
was as of a passage of demons over his cradle. He had 
an impression of having been trodden in the darkness 
under deformed feet. Was this intentional or not ? He 
was ignorant on this point. The one thing that he did 
remember clearly, even to the slightest detail, were liis 
tragical adventures when deserted at Portland. The 
finding of Dea made the dismal night a notable date for 
him. 

Dea's recollections were even more confused than 
those of Gwynplaine. In so young a child all remem- 
brance soon melts away. She recollected her mother as 
something cold. Had she ever seen the sun ? Perhaps 
so. " The sun ! what was it like ? " She had a vague 



URSUS AS TUTOR, AND URSUS AS GUARDIAN. 319 

idea of something luminous and warm, of which Gwyn- 
plaine now filled the place. They spoke to each other 
in low tones : it is certain that cooing is the most im- 
portant thing in the world. Dea often said to Gwyn- 
plaine : " Light means that you are speaking. " 

Once, no longer able to restrain himself as he caught 
sight of Dea's bare arm through her thin muslin sleeve, 
Gwynplaine touched the transparent stuff with his lips : 
ideal kiss of a disfigured mouth ! Dea felt a deep de- 
light ; she blushed like a rose. This kiss from a mon- 
ster brought the roseate hues of dawn to gleam on this 
beautiful brow shrouded in night. Gwynplaine sighed 
with a sort of terror ; but Dea pulled up her sleeve, and 
extending her naked arm to Gwynplaine, said, " Again ! " 
Gwynplaine fled. The next day the game was renewed, 
with variations. It was a heavenly subsidence into that 
sweet abyss called love. 

At such things Heaven smiles philosophically. 



CHAPTER VII. 

BLINDNESS GIVES LESSONS IN CLAIKVOYANCE. 

GWYNPLAINE reproached himself at times. He 
made his happiness a matter of coiiscieuce. He 
fancied that in allowing a woman who could not see 
him to love him, he was guilty of a gross deception. 
What would she say if her sight were suddenly restored ? 
How she would shrink from what had previously at- 
tracted her ! How she would recoil from her frightful 
lover ! What a cry ! what covering of her face ! what 
a flight ! These hitter scruples harassed him. He told 
himself that such a monster as he was had no right to 
love. He was a hydra idolized by a star. It was his 
duty to enlighten the blind star. 

One day Gwynplaine said to Dea, " You know that I 
am very ugly. " 

" I know that you are sublime, " she answered. 

He resumed : " When you hear everybody laugh, it is 
at me they are laughing, because I am horrible. " 

" I love you ! " said Dea. After a silence, she added : 
" I was dead ; you restored me to life. When you are 
near me heaven is beside me. Give me your hand, that 
I may touch heaven. " 

Their hands met and grasped each other. They spoka 
no more, but were silent in the plenitude of their love. 

Ursus, who was a crabbed old fellow, overheard this. 
The next day when the three were together, he re- 
marked, " For that matter, Dea is ugly too. " 



BLINDNESS GIVES LESSONS IN CLAIRVOYANCE. 321 

The words produced no effect. Dea and Gwynplaine 
were not even listening. Absorbed in each other, they 
rarely heeded the exclamations of Ursus. 

The remark, " Dea is ugly too, " showed that Ursus 
possessed considerable knowledge of women. It is cer- 
tain that Gwynplaine, in his loyalty, had been guilty of 
an imprudence. To have said " I am ugly " to any other 
blind girl than Dea might have been dangerous. To be 
blind, and in love too, is to be doubly blind. In such 
a situation one indulges in all sorts of dreams. Illusion 
is the food of dreams. Take illusion from love, and you 
take from it its aliment. It is compounded of all sorts of 
enthusiasm, and of both physical and moral admiration. 

Moreover, you should never tell a woman anything 
she cannot understand. She will dream about it, and 
she often dreams falsely. An enigma in a reverie spoils 
it. The shock caused by the fall of a careless word dis- 
places that against which it strikes. At times it hap- 
pens, without our knowing why, that because we have 
received an almost imperceptible blow from a chance 
word, the heart insensibly empties itself of love. He 
who loves, perceives a decline in his happiness. There 
is nothing more to be dreaded than this slow exudation 
from the fissure in the vase. 

Happily, Dea was not formed of such clay. The stuff 
of which women are usually made had not been used in 
her construction. She had a rare nature. The frame 
was fragile, but not the hearty A divine perseverance in 
love was one of her attributes. The whole disturbance 
which the word used by Gwynplaine had created in her, 
ended in her saying one day, — 

" What is it to be ugly ? It is to do wrong. Gwyn- 
plaine only does good : he is handsome. " 

Then, under the form of interrogation so familiar to 
children and to the blind, Dea resumed: " Too see? — 

VOL. XIX. — 21 



322 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

what is it that you call seeing ? For my own part, I 
cannot see ; I know ! It seems that to see means to 
hide. " 

" What do you mean ? " said Gwynplaine. 

Dea answered : " To see is a thing which conceals the 
true. " 

" No, " said Gwynplaine. 

" But, yes, " replied Dea, " since you say you are ugly. " 

She reflected a moment, and then exclaimed fondly, 
" Oh, you story-teller ! " 

Gwynplaine felt the joy of having confessed and of 
not being believed. Both his conscience and his love 
were consoled. 

Dea was now sixteen, and Gwynplaine nearly twenty- 
five. A sort of holy childhood had continued in their 
love. Thus it sometimes happens that the belated 
nightingale prolongs her nocturnal song till dawn. Their 
caresses went no further than pressing hands, or lips 
brushing a naked arm. Soft, half articulate whispers 
sufficed them. 

Twenty-four and sixteen ! So it happened that Ursus, 
who did not lose sight of the ill-turn he intended to do 
them, said, — 

" One of these days you must choose a religion. " 

" Wherefore ? " inquired Gwynplaine. 

" That you may marry. " 

" That is done already, " said Dea. 

Dea did not understand that they could be more man 
and wife than they were already. This chimerical and 
virginal content, this chaste union of souls, this celi- 
bacy taken for marriage, was not displeasing to Ursus. 
He had said what he had said because he thought it 
necessary ; but the medical knowledge he possessed 
convinced him that Dea, if not too young, was too frag- 
ile and delicate for what he called " Hymen in flesh and 



BLINDNESS GIVES LESSONS IN CLAIRVOYANCE. 323 

bone. " That would come soon enough. Besides, were 
they not already married ? If the indissoluble existed 
anywhere, was it not in their union? Gwynplaine and 
Dea, — they were creatures worthy of the love they 
mutually felt, flung by misfortune into each other's 
arms. And as if they were not enough in this first link, 
love had supervened and united them yet more closely. 
What power could ever break that iron chain, bound 
with knots of flowers ? They were indeed indissolubly 
united. Dea had beauty, Gwynplaine had sight. Each 
brought a dowry. They were more than coupled, they 
were paired ; separated solely by the sacred interposition 
of innocence. 

Still, in spite of all Gwynplaine's noble dreams and 
his absorbing love for Dea, he was a man. The laws 
of Nature are not to be evaded. He underwent, like 
everything else in the natural world, the mysterious 
fermentation ordained by the Creator. At times, there- 
fore, he looked at the women in the crowd, but he im- 
mediately felt that the look was a sin, and hastened 
to retire, repentant, into his own soul. Let us add that 
he met with no encouragement. On the face of every 
woman who looked upon him, he saw aversion, antipa- 
thy, repugnance, and scorn. It was evident that no one 
save Dea was possible for him. This probably helped 
him to repent. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

NOT ONLY HAPPINESS, BUT PROSPERITY. 

HOW many true things are told in stories ! The 
burn of the invisible fiend who touches you is 
remorse for a wicked thought. 

In Gwynplaine these evil thoughts never came to frui- 
tion ; so he felt no remorse. Sometimes he felt regret. 
A few vague compunctions of conscience, what was 
that ? Nothing. Their happiness was complete ; so 
complete, that they were no longer poor, even. 

From 1689 to 1704 a great change had taken place. It 
sometimes happened, in the year 1704 that an immense 
van drawn by two sturdy horses made its appearance about 
nightfall in some small village on the sea-coast. This 
van resembled the hull of a vessel turned upside down, 
the keel serving for a roof, and the deck, placed upon 
four wheels, for a floor. The wheels were all of the same 
size, and as high as wagon-wheels. Wheels, pole, and 
van were all painted green, witli a rhythmical gradation 
of shades, which ranged from bottle-green for the wheels, 
to apple-green for the roofing. This colour attracted 
attention to the establishment, which was known on all 
fair-grounds as The Green Box. The Green Box had 
but two windows, one at each end, and at the back 
there was a door with steps that let down. On the roof, 
from a pipe painted green like the rest, smoke arose. 
This moving house was always newly varnished and 
washed. In front, on a sort of platform, fastened to the 



NOT ONLY HAPPINESS, BUT PROSPERITY. 325 

van, behind the horses, and beside an old man who held 
the reins and guided the team, two gipsy women, 
dressed as goddesses, sounded their trumpets. The won- 
der with which the villagers regarded this gorgeous 
establishment was overwhelming. 

This was the old van of Ursus, with its proportions 
augmented by success, and changed from a wretched box 
^into a fine travelling show. A kind of animal, between 
dog and wolf, was chained under the van ; this was 
Homo. The old coachman who drove the horses was 
the philosopher himself. Whence came his improve- 
ment from the shabby box to the Olympic caravan ? 
From this, — Gwynplaine had become famous. 

It was with a correct idea of what would succeed best 
among men that Ursus had said to Gwynplaine : " Your 
fortune is made. " Ursus, it may be remembered, had 
made Gwynplaine his pupil. Unknown people had 
worked upon his face ; he, on the other hand, had worked 
upon his mind ; and as soon as the growth of the child 
warranted it, he had brought him out on the stage, — that 
is to say, he had produced him in front of the van. 

The effect of Gwynplaine 's appearance had been sur- 
prising. The passers-by were immediately struck with 
wonder. Never had anything been seen to be compared 
to this extraordinary imitation of laughter. They were 
ignorant how the miracle of infectious hilarity had been 
obtained. Some believed it to be natural, others de- 
clared it to be artificial ; and all these conjectures added 
to the reality ; so that everywhere, at every cross-road 
on the journey, at all the fair-grounds and fetes, crowds 
rushed to see Gwynplaine. Thanks to this great attrac- 
tion, there had come into the poor purse of the wan- 
derers first a shower of farthings, then of pennies, and 
finally of shillings. The curiosity of one place satisfied, 
they passed on to another. Eolling does not enrich a 



326 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

stone, but it enriches a caravan ; and year by year, from 
city to city, with the increased growth of Gwynplaiue's 
stature and ugliness, the good fortune predicted by 
Ursus had come. 

" What a good turn they did you after all, my boy, " 
said Ursus. 

This good fortune enabled Ursus, who acted as busi- 
ness manager to have the chariot of his dreams con- 
structed, — that is to say, a caravan large enough to 
carry a theatre, and thus sow science and art in the 
highways. Moreover, Ursus had been able to add to the 
troupe composed of himself, Homo, Gwynplaine, and 
Dea, two horses and two women, who were the goddesses 
of the troupe, as we have just said, and also its servants. 
A mythological frontispiece was, in those days, of great 
service to a travelling show. 

" We are a wandering temple, " said Ursus. 

These two gipsies, picked up by the philosopher from 
among the vagabondage of cities and suburbs, were ugly 
and young, and were called, by order of Ursus, one 
Phoebe, and the other Venus. For these read Fibi and 
Vinos, that we may conform to English pronunciation. 
Phcebe cooked ; Venus scrubbed the temple. Moreover, 
on days of performance they dressed Dea. Mountebanks 
have to appear in public as well as princes ; and on 
these occasions Dea was arrayed, like Fibi, and Vinos, 
in a Florentine petticoat of flowered stuff, and a woman's 
jacket, which, having no sleeves, left the arms bare. 
Ursus and Gwynplaine wore men's jackets and long 
loose trousers, like sailors on board a man-of-war. 
Gwynplaine had, besides, for his work and for his feats 
of strength, round his neck and over his shoulders, a 
leather esclavine. He took care of the horses. Ursus 
and Homo took care of each other. 

Dea, being used to the Green Box, moved about the 



NOT ONLY HAPPINESS, BUT PROSPERITY. 327 

interior of the wheeled house with almost as much ease 
and safety as a person who could see. In the back part 
of this new and imposing establishment, in the corner to 
the right of the door, stood the old van, securely fas- 
tened to the floor. This now served as a sleeping apart- 
ment and dressing-room for Gwynplaine and Ursus. In 
the opposite corner was the kitchen. 

No vessel could be more precise and compact in its 
arrangements than the interior of the Green Box. Every- 
thing connected with it had been planned with remarkable 
foresight and care. The caravan was divided into three 
compartments, partitioned off from one another. These 
communicated by open spaces without doors, but were 
hung with curtains. The compartment in the rear be- 
longed to the men, the compartment in front to the 
women, the compartment in the middle, separating the 
two sexes, was the stage. The musical instruments and 
the stage properties were kept in the kitchen. A loft 
under the arch of the roof held the scenery, and on open- 
ing a trap-door lamps appeared, which did wonders in 
the way of lighting the stage ! 

Ursus was the poet of these representations ; he wrote 
the pieces. He had a diversity of talents ; he was clever 
at sleight-of-hand. Besides the voices he imitated, he 
produced all sorts of unexpected effects, — sudden alter- 
nations of light and darkness, spontaneous formations of 
figures or words, — as he willed, on the wall ; also van- 
ishing figures in chiaroscuro, wonders amidst which he 
seemed to meditate, unmindful of the crowd who mar- 
velled at him. 

One day Gwynplaine said to him : " Father, you look 
like a sorcerer ! " 

And Ursus replied, " Then I look, perhaps, like what 
I am. " 

The Green Box, built on a model conceived by Ursus, 



328 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

contained this stroke of ingenuity : between the fore and 
hind wheels, the central panel of the left side turned on 
hinges by the aid of chains and pulleys, and could be 
let down at will like a drawbridge. As it dropped, it 
set at liberty three legs also on hinges, which supported 
the panel and converted it into a sort of platform. The 
opening thus made disclosed the stage, which was en- 
larged by the platform in front. This opening looked 
for all the world like a " mouth of hell, " in the words 
of the itinerant Puritan preachers, who turned away 
from it with horror. It was, perhaps, for some such 
impious invention that Solon kicked out Thespis. 

Eor all that, Thespis has lasted much longer than is 
generally supposed. The travelling theatre is still in 
existence. It was on these stages on wheels that the 
ballets and dances of Amner and Pilkington were per- 
formed in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth cen- 
turies ; the pastorals of Gilbert Colin in France ; and 
in Flanders, at the annual fairs, the double choruses of 
Clement, called Non Papa ; in Germany, the " Adam 
and Eve " of Tbeiles; and, in Italy, the Venetian exhi- 
bitions of Animuccia and of Ca-Fossis, the " Silv?e " of 
Gesualdo, prince of Venosa, the " Satyr, " of Laura 
Guidiccioni, the " Despair of Philene, " and the " Death 
of Ugolino, " by Vincent Galileo, father of the astrono- 
mer, in which Vincent Galileo sang his own music, and 
accompanied himself on his viol de gamba; as well as 
all the first attempts of the Italian opera, which, from 
1580, substituted free inspiration for the madrigal style. 

The chariot, which carried Ursus, Gwynplaine, and 
their fortunes, and in front of which Fibi and Vinos 
trumpeted like figures of Fame, played its part in this 
great Bohemian and literary brotherhood. Thespis 
would no more have disowned Ursus, than Congrio 
would have disowned Gwynplaine. 



NOT ONLY HAPPINESS, BUT PROSPERITY. 329 

On arriving at open spaces in towns or villages, Ursus, 
in the intervals between the tootings of Fibi and Vinos, 
gave instructive explanations concerning the trumpet- 
ings. " This symphony is Gregorian, " he would ex- 
claim, " citizens and townsmen ; the Gregorian form of 
worship, this great progress, has had to contend in Italy 
with the Ambrosial ritual, and in Spain with the 
Mozarabic ceremonial, and has achieved its triumph 
over them with diiiiculty. " After which the Green Box 
drew up in some place chosen by Ursus, and evening 
having come, and the panel stage having been let down, 
the theatre opened and the performance began. 

The scenery of the Green Box represented a landscape, 
painted by Ursus ; and as he knew nothing about paint- 
ing, it could, if need be, represent a cave just as well 
as a landscape. The curtain was quite a gorgeous silk 
affair, with large plaids of contrasting colours. 

The public stood outside, in tlie street, forming a 
semicircle round the stage, exposed to the wind and 
weather, — an arrangement which made rain even less de- 
sirable for theatres in those days than now. When they 
could, they acted in an inn yard, on which occasions 
the windows of the different stories served as boxes for 
the spectators. The theatre being better protected, the 
audience was a better paying one. 

Ursus was everywhere, — in the piece, in the com- 
pany, in the kitchen, in the orchestra. Vinos beat the 
drum, handling the sticks with great dexterity. Fibi 
played on the morache, a kind of guitar. The wolf had 
been promoted to be a utility gentleman, and played his 
little parts as occasion required. Often when they ap- 
peared side by side on the stage, Ursus in his tightly 
laced bear's skin. Homo with his wolf's skin fitting 
still better, one could hardly tell which was the beast. 
This flattered Ursus. 



CHAPTER IX. 

ABSURDITIES WHICH FOLKS WITHOUT TASTE CALL 
POETRY. 

" I ^HE pieces written by Ursus were interludes, — a 
-^ kind of composition out of fashion nowadays. 
One of these pieces, which has not come down to us, 
was entitled " Ursus Eursus. " It is probable that he 
played the principal part himself. A pretended exit, 
followed by a reappearance, was doubtless its praise- 
worthy and edifying subject. 

The titles of the interludes of Ursus were sometimes 
in Latin, as we have seen, and the poetry frequently in 
Spanish. The Spanish verses written by Ursus were 
rhymed, like nearly all the Castilian poetry of that 
period. This did not puzzle the people. Spanish was 
then a familiar language ; and the English sailor spoke 
Castilian as the Eoman sailors spoke Carthaginian (See 
Plautus). Moreover, at a theatrical representation, as 
at Mass, Latin, or any other unknown language, has no 
terrors for the audience. They get out of the dilemma 
by adapting familiar words to the sounds. Our old 
Gallic France Avas often treated in this irreverent way. 
At church, under cover of an Immolatus, the faithful 
chanted, " I will make merry ; " and under a Sanctus, 
" Kiss me, sweet. " The Council of Trent was required 
to put an end to this sacrilege. 

Ursus had composed expressly for Gwynplaine an in- 
terlude, with which he was well pleased. It was his 



ABSURDITIES WHICH FOLKS CALL POETRY. 331 

best work. He had thrown his whole soul into it. To 
give one's entire talent in the production is tlie great- 
est triumph that any one can achieve. The toad which 
produces a toad achieves a grand success. You doubt 
it? Then try it yourself. Ursus had carefully polished 
this interlude. This bear's cub was entitled " Chaos 
Vanquished. " 

Here it was. A night scene. When the curtain drew up, 
the crowd, massed around the Green Box, saw nothinsr 
but intense darkness. In this darkness three shadowy 
forms were moving about, — a wolf, a bear, and a man. 
The wolf acted the wolf ; Ursus, the bear ; Gwynplaine, 
the man. The wolf and the bear represented the fero- 
cious forces of Nature, — unreasoning hunger and savage 
ignorance. Both rushed on Gwynplaine. It was chaos 
combating man. No face could be distinguished. Gwyn- 
plaine fought enfolded in a winding-sheet, his face being 
covered by his thickly falling locks. All else was shadow. 
The bear growled, the wolf gnashed his teeth, the man 
cried out. The man was down ; the beasts overwhelmed 
him. He called for aid and succour; he shrieked out 
an agonized appeal to the Unknown. He gave a death- 
rattle. To witness this agony of the prostrate man, now 
scarcely distinguishable from the brutes, was appalling. 
The crowd looked on breathless ; in a minute more the 
wild beasts would triumph, and chaos re-absorb man. A 
struggle — cries — bowlings ; then, all at once, silence. 

A song in the distance. Mysterious music floated out, 
accompanying this chant of invisible spirits ; and sud- 
denly, none knowing whence or how, a white apparition 
arose. This apparition was a light; this light was a 
woman ; this woman was a spirit. Dea — calm, fair, 
beautiful, awe-inspiring in her serenity and sweetness 
— appeared in the centre of a luminous haze, the very 
spirit of dawn. With a voice light, sweet, indescribable. 



332 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

she sang in the new-born light, — she, the invisible, 
suddenly made visible. They thought that they heard 
the hymn of an angel or the song of a bird. On be- 
holding this apparition the man, starting up in ecstasy, 
struck the beasts with his fists, and overthrew them. 

Then the vision, gliding along in a manner difficult to 
understand, and therefore the more admired, sang these 
words in sufficiently pure Spanish for the English sailors 
who were present : — 

"Ora! llora! 
De palabra 
Nace razon. 
Da luz el son." i 

Then, looking down, as if she saw a gulf beneath, she 

went on : — 

" Noche, quita te de alii ! 
El alba canta hallali." ^ 

As she sang, the man raised himself by degrees ; instead 
of crouching he was now kneeling, his hands elevated 
towards the vision, his knees resting on the beasts, 
which lay motionless, as if petrified. Turning towards 
him, she continued, — 

" Es mcnester a cielos ir, 
y tu que llorabas reir." ^ 

Then approaching him with the majesty of a star, she 
added, — 

" Gebra barzon ; 
Deja, monstro, 
A tu negro 
Caparazon." * 

And placed her hand upon his brow. Then another 
voice arose, deeper, and, consequently, still sweeter, — 

1 Pray ! weep ! IleaRon is horn of the word. Song creates light. 

2 Night, away ! the dawn sings hallali. 

* Thou must go to heaven, and smile, thou that weepest. 

* Break the yoke ; throw off, monster, thy dark clothing. 



ABSURDITIES WHICH FOLKS CALL TOETRY. 333 

a voice broken but iuwrapt in a gravity both wild and 
tender. It was the human voice responding to the voice 
of the stars. Gwynplaine, still in obscurity, his head 
under Dea's hand, kneeling on the vanquished bear and 
wolf, sang: — 

" O ven ! ama ! 
Eres alma, 
Soy corazon." ^ 

Suddenly from the shadow a glare of light fell full upon 
Gwynplaine. Then, through the darkness, the monster 
was fully exposed. 

The excitement of the crowd was indescribable. 
Shrieks of laughter resounded. Mirth is created by 
startling surprises, and nothing could be more unex- 
pected than this termination. Never was there a sensa- 
tion comparable to that produced by the ray of light 
falling on that mask, at once so ludicrous and terrible 
in its aspect. They laughed on account of his laugh. 
Everywhere : above, below, behind, in front, at the 
uttermost distance, — men, women, old grey-heads, rosy- 
faced children ; the good, the wicked, the gay, the sad, 
everybody. And even in the streets, the passers-by who 
could see nothing, hearing the laughter, laughed also. 
The laughter ended in a wild clapping of hands and 
stamping of feet. The curtain dropped, Gwynplaine 
was recalled with frenzy. Hence an immense success. 
Have you seen " Chaos Vanquished " ? Gwynplaine be- 
came the rage. The listless came to laugh, the melan- 
choly came to laugh, evil consciences came to laugh, — 
a laugh so irrisistible that it seemed almost an epidemic. 
There is one epidemic from which men do not fly, and 
that is the contagion of joy. 

Gwynplaine's successes, it must be admitted, had not 
extended beyond the lower classes. A great crowd 

^ 0, come, and love ! thou art soul, I am heart. 



334 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

means a crowd of nobodies. " Chaos Vanquished " coiihl 
be seen for a penny. Fashionable people never go where 
the price of admission is a penny. 

Ursus had a very exalted opinion of this work, which 
he had brooded over a long time. " It is very much in 
the style of one Shakspeare, " he said modestly. The 
juxtaposition of Dea added to the indescribable effect 
produced by Gwynplaine. Her white face by the side 
of the gnome, represented what might have been called 
divine astonishment. The audience regarded Dea with 
a sort of mysterious anxiety. She had in her aspect the 
dignity of a virgin and of a priestess. They saw that 
she was blind, and yet felt that she could see. She 
seemed to stand on the threshold of the supernatural. 
The light that beamed on her seemed half earthly and 
half heavenly. She had come to work on earth, and to 
work as heaven works, in the radiance of morning. She 
found a hydra, and created a soul. She seemed like a 
creative power, satisfied, but astonished at the result of 
her creation ; and the audience fancied that they could 
see in the divine surprise of her face wonder at the re- 
sult she had achieved. They felt that she loved this 
monster. Did she know that he was one ? Yes, since 
she touched him ; no, since she accepted him. With- 
out going too deep, for spectators do not like the fatigue 
of seeking below the surface, something more was under- 
stood than was perceived. And this strange spectacle 
had the transparency of an avatar. 

As for Dea, what she felt cannot be expressed in hu- 
man words ; she knew that she was in the midst of a 
crowd, and yet knew not what a crowd was. She heard 
a murmur, that was all. For her the crowd was but a 
breath. Generations are passing breaths. Man respires, 
aspires, and expires. In the crowd Dea felt utterly 
alone, and shuddered as one shudders on the edge of a 



ABSURDITIES WHICH FOLKS CALL POETRY. 335 

precipice. Suddenly, even while shuddering at her iso- 
lation, she regains confidence. She has found her thread 
of safety in the universe of shadows, — she has placed her 
hand on Gwynplaine's powerful head. Joy unspeakable 
fills her heart as she lays her rosy fingers on his thick 
locks. Wool when touched gives an impression of soft- 
ness. Dea touched a lamb which she knew to be a lion. 
Her whole heart flowed out in love ineffable. She felt 
safe now, she had found her saviour. The public be- 
lieved that they saw the contrary. To the spectators 
the being loved was Gwynplaine, and the saviour was 
Dea. " What does it matter ? " thought Ursus, to whom 
the heart of Dea was an open book. And Dea, reassured, 
consoled, and delighted, adored as an angel what the 
people regarded as a monster. 

True love never wanes. Being all soul it cannot cool. 
A brazier may become full of cinders ; not so a star. 
These exquisite impressions were renewed every evening 
for Dea, and she was ready to weep with tenderness 
whilst the audience was in convulsions of laughter. 
Those around her were only joyful ; she was happy. 

The sensation of gaiety due to the sudden shock 
caused by the sight of Gwynplaine was evidently not 
intended by Ursus. He would have preferred more 
smiles and less laughter, and more of a literary triumph. 
But success consoles. He reconciled himself to this 
disappointment every evening, as he counted how many 
shillings the piles of farthings made, and how many 
pounds the piles of .shillings made. He consoled him- 
self, too, with the belief that after their laughter was 
over, " Chaos Vanquislied " would continue to haunt 
them by reason of the noble sentiments it inculcated. 
Perhaps he was not altogether wrong; the foundations 
of a work settle down in the mind of the public. The 
fact is, the spectators, attentive to the wolf, the bear. 



33G THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

to the man, then to the music, to the howlings silenced 
by harmony, to the night dispelled by dawn, to the 
chant releasing the light, accepted with a confused, dull 
sympathy, and with a certain emotional respect, the 
dramatic poem of " Chaos Vanquished, " the victory of 
spirit over matter, ending with the triumph of man. 

Such were the vulgar pleasures of the people. They 
sufficed them. The people had not the means of going 
to the elevating prize-fights of the gentry, and could not 
bet a thousand guineas on Helmsgail against Phelem- 
ghe-Madone, like great lords and gentlemen. 



CHAPTER X. 

AN outsider's view OF MEN AND THINGS. 

MAN has a desire to revenge himself on that which 
pleases him. Hence the contempt felt for the 
comedian. This being charms, diverts, distracts, teaches, 
enchants, consoles me, transports me into an ideal world, 
is agreeable and useful to me. What evil can I do him 
in return ? Humiliate him. Disdain is a crushing blow, 
so I will crush him with disdain. He amuses me, there- 
fore he is vile. He serves me, therefore I hate him. 
Where can I find a stone to throw at him ? Priest, give 
me yours. Philosopher, give me yours. Bossaet, ex- 
communicate him. Eousseau, insult him. Orator, spit 
the pebbles from your mouth at him. Bear, fling your 
stone. Let us hurl stones at the tree, hit the fruit and 
eat it. Bravo ! down with him ! To repeat poetry is to 
be infected with the plague. Wretched play-actor! we 
will put him in the pillory for his success. Let him 
follow up his triumph with our hisses. Let him collect 
a crowd, and yet create a solitude around him. Thus it 
is that the wealthy, termed the higher classes, have in- 
vented for the actor that form of isolation known as 
public applause. 

The vulgar herd is less brutal. They neither hated 
nor despised Gwynplaine. Only the meanest calker of 
the meanest crew of the meanest merchantman, anchored 
in the meanest English sea-port, considered himself 
immeasurably superior to this amuser of the " scum, " 

VOL. XIX. — 22 



338 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

and believed that a calker is as superior to an actor as 
a lord is to a calker. Gwynplaine was, therefore, like 
all comedians, applauded and kept at a distance. Truly, 
success in this world is a crime, and must be bitterly 
expiated. He who obtains the medal has to take its 
reverse side as well. 

For Gwynplaine there was no reverse side. In one 
sense, both sides of his medal pleased him. He was 
satisfied with the applause, and content with the isola- 
tion. In applause, he was rich ; in isolation, happy. To 
be rich, to one of his low estate, means to be no longer 
wretchedly poor, to have neither holes in his clothes 
nor cold at his hearth, nor emptiness in his stomach. 
It is to eat when hungry, and drink when thirsty. It 
is to have everything needful, including a penny for a 
beggar. This paltry wealth, enough for liberty, Gwyn- 
plaine now possessed. So far as his soul was concerned, 
he was opulent. He had love. What more could he 
want ? Nothing. 

You may think that, had the offer been made to him 
to cure his disfigurement, he would have jumped at it. 
But he would have refused it emphatically. What ! to 
throw off his mask and have his former face restored, 
to be the creature he had perchance been created, hand- 
some and charming ? No, he would not have consented 
to it. For what would he have to support Dea upon ? 
what would have become of the poor child, the sweet 
blind girl who loved him ? Without his disfigurement, 
making him a clown without parallel, he would have been 
a common mountebank, like any other ; a common ath- 
lete, a picker up of pence from the chinks in the pave- 
ment, and Dea would, perhaps, not have had bread to 
eat. It was with deep and tender pride that he felt 
himself the protector of the helpless and heavenly crea- 
ture. Night, solitude, nakedness, weakness, ignorance. 



AN OUTSIDER'S VIEW OF MEN AND THINGS. 339 

hunger, and thirst — the saven dread jaws of poverty — 
yawned about her, and he was Saint George fighting the 
dragon. He triumphed over poverty. How ? By his 
deformity. By means of his deformity he was useful, 
helpful, victorious, great! He had but to show himself, 
and money poured in. He was a master of crowds, the 
sovereign of the mob. He could do everything for Dea. 
He supplied her every want ; her desires, her tastes, her 
fancies, — in the limited sphere in which wishes are pos- 
sible to the blind, — he gratified. 

Gwynplaine and Dea had been, as we have already 
shown, a Providence to each other. He felt himself 
raised on her wings, she felt herself carried in his arms. 
To protect the being who loves you, to give what she 
requires to her who shines on you as your star, can any- 
thing be sweeter? Gwynplaine possessed this supreme 
happiness, and he owed it to his deformity. By it he 
had gained the means of livelihood for himself and 
others ; by it he had gained independence, liberty, celeb- 
rity, internal satisfaction, and pride. In his deformity 
he was invulnerable. The Fates could do nothing be- 
yond this blow in which they had expended their whole 
force, but which he had converted into a triumph. This 
greatest of misfortunes had become the summit of Elys- 
ium. Gwynplaine was imprisoned in his deformity, — 
but with Dea. And this was, as we have already said, 
to live in a dungeon in paradise. A wall stood between 
them and the living world. So much the better. This 
wall protected as well as enclosed them. What could 
harm Dea, what could harm Gwynplaine, with such a 
fortress around them? To deprive him of his success 
was impossible. They would have to deprive him of 
his face. Take his love from him ? Impossible ! Dea 
could not see him. The blindness of Dea was divinely 
incurable. What harm did his deformity do Gwyn- 



340 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

plaine ? None. What advantage did it give him ? Every 
advantage. He was beloved, notwithstanding its hor- 
ror, and, perhaps, for that very reason. Infirmity and 
deformity had, by instinct, been drawn towards and 
united with each other. To be beloved, is not that 
everything ? Gwynplaine thought of his disfigurement 
only with gratitude. He was blessed in the stigma. 
With joy he felt that it was irremediable and eternal. 
What a blessing that it was so ! While there were high- 
ways and fair-grounds, and journeys to take, and people 
below, and the sky above, they were sure of a living. 
Dea would want for nothing, and they would have love. 

Gwynplaine would not have changed faces with 
Apollo. To be a monster was his happiness. He was 
so happy that he felt compassion for the men around 
him. He pitied all the rest of the world. No man's 
nature is wholly consistent ; so, although he was glad to 
live within an enclosure, he lifted his head above the 
wall from time to time, but only to retreat again with 
even more joy into his solitude with Dea, having drawn 
his comparisons. What did he see around him ? What 
were those living creatures of which his wandering life 
showed him so many specimens, changed every day ? 
Always new crowds, but always the same multitude ; 
ever new faces, but ever the same misfortunes. Every 
evening every known phase of human misery came 
within his notice. 

The Green Box was popular. Low prices attract the 
low classes. Those who came were the weak, the poor, 
the insignificant. They rushed to Gwynplaine as they 
rushed to the gin-shop. They came to buy a pennyworth 
of forgetfulness. From his platform Gwynplaine passed 
these wretched people in review. His mind was ab- 
sorbed in the contemplation of each successive form of 
wide-spread misery. The physiognomy of a man is 
moulded by conscience, and by the tenor of his life, and 



AN OUTSIDER'S VIEW OF MEN AND THINGS. 341 

the result is a host of mysterious excavations. There 
was not a pain nor an emotion of anger, shame, or despair, 
of which Gwynplaine did not see the trace. The mouths 
of those children were hungering for food. That man 
was a father, that woman a mother, and behind them 
might be seen families on the road to ruin. There was 
a face already marked by vice and contact with crime, 
and the reasons were plain, — ignorance and poverty. 
Another showed the stamp of original goodness, obliter- 
ated by social pressure, and turned to hatred. On the 
face of an old woman he saw starvation ; on that of a 
girl, prostitution. The same fact, and although the 
girl had the resource of her youth, all the sadder for 
that! In this crowd were hands but no tools; the 
workers only asked for work, but work was wanting. 
Sometimes a soldier came and seated himself by the 
workmen, sometimes a wounded pensioner; and Gwyn- 
plaine saw the grim spectre of war. Here, he read lack 
of employment, there, man-farming, — slavery. On some 
brows he saw a gradual return to animalism, — that slow 
return of man to beast, produced in those in the lower 
walks of life by the good fortune of their superiors. 

There was a break in the gloom for Gwynplaine. He 
and Dea had a loop-hole of happiness ; the rest was 
damnation. Gwynplaine saw above him the thoughtless 
trampling of the powerful, the rich, the magnificent, and 
the great of the earth. Below, he saw tlie pale faces of 
the disinherited. He saw himself and Dea, with their 
blessings, so paltry in appearance, so great to themselves, 
between these two worlds. That which was above went 
and came, free, joyous, dancing, carelessly trampling 
everything and everybody under foot; above him, the 
world which treads ; below, the world which is trodden 
upon. It is a fatal fact, and one indicating a profound 
social evil, that happiness should crush misery. Gwyn- 
plaine comprehended this gloomy fact thoroughly. What 



342 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

a destiny ! Must a man needs drag himself along through 
mire and corruption, with such vicious tastes, such a 
total abdication of his rights, or such abjectness that one 
feels inclined to crush him under foot ? Of what butter- 
fly can this earthly life be grub ? What ! in this vast 
crowd of ignorant, starving creatures, scarcely able to 
distinguish good from evil, • — the inflexibility of human 
laws producing marvellous laxity of conscience, — is 
there no child that grows but to be stunted, no virgin 
that matures but for sin, no rose that blooms but for the 
slimy snail ? 

Gwynplaine shuddered as he saw the foaming wave of 
misery dash over the crowd of humanity. He himself 
was safe in port, as he watched the wrecks around him. 
Sometimes he buried his disfigured head in his hands 
and dreamed. What folly to expect to be happy ! What 
an idle dream ! Strange ideas arose within him. Ab- 
surd notions flitted through his brain. Because he had 
once succoured an infant, he felt a ridiculous desire to 
succour the whole world. The mists of reverie some- 
times obscured his individuality, and he lost all ideas 
of proportion so far as to ask himself the question, 
" What can be done for the poor ? " Sometimes he was 
so absorbed in the subject that he unconsciously uttered 
his thoughts aloud. Ursus shrugged his shoulders and 
looked at him wonderingly. 

" Oh, if I were powerful, would I not aid the 
wretched ? " Gwynplaine would exclaim, continuing 
his reverie. But what am I? — A mere atom. What 
can I do ? — Nothing. " 

He was mistaken. He was able to do a great deal for 
the wretched. He could make them laugh ; and, as we 
have said before, to make people laugh is to make them 
forget. What a benefactor to humanity is he who can 
bestow forsetfulness ! 



CHAPTER XL 

GWYNrLAINE THINKS JUSTICE, AND URSUS SPEAKS 
TRUTH. 

A PHILOSOPHER is a spy ; so it was only natural 
that Ursus should watch his pupil closely. Our 
soliloquies leave on our brows a faint reflection, distin- 
guishable to the eye of a physiognomist. Hence, the 
ideas that occurred to Gwynplaine did not escape 
Ursus. One day as Gwynplaine was meditating, Ursus 
took him by the jacket, and exclaimed, — 

" You strike me as being a close observer ! You fool ! 
Take care. It is no business of yours. You have only 
one thing to do, — to love Dea. You have two great 
causes for thankfulness, — the first is, that the crowd 
sees your face ; the second is, that Dea does not. You 
have no right to the happiness you possess, for no 
woman who saw your mouth would ever consent to 
your kiss ; and the mouth which has made your fortune, 
and the face which has given you riches, are not your 
own. You were not born with that countenance. It 
was borrowed from the grimace wliich lurks in the 
depths of perdition. You have stolen your mask from 
the devil. You are hideous ; be satisfied with having 
drawn that prize in the lottery of life. There are in 
this world (and a very good thing it is too) the happy 
by right, and the happy by luck. You are happy by 
luck. You are in a cave wherein a star is enclosed. 
The poor star belongs to you. Do not seek to leave tlie 



344 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

cave ; and guard your star, spider ! You have Venus 
in your web. Do me the favour to be satisfied. I see 
your dreams are troubled. It is idiotic of you. Listen, 
I am going to speak to you in the language of true poetry. 
Let Dea eat beefsteaks and mutton-chops, and in six 
months she will be as strong as a Turk ; marry her im- 
mediately, give her a child, two children, three chil- 
dren, a long string of children. That is what I call 
philosophy. Moreover, it is happiness, which is no 
folly. To have children is a glimpse of heaven. Have 
brats : blow their noses, spank them, wash them, and 
put them to bed. Let them swarm about you. If they 
laugh, it is well; if they howl, it is better, — crying is 
healthy. Watch them suck at six months, crawl at a 
year, walk at two, grow tall at fifteen, fall in love at 
twenty. He who has these joys has everything. For 
myself, I lacked the privilege, and that is the reason 
why I am such a brute. God, a composer of beautiful 
poems and the first of men of letters, said to his fellow- 
workman, Moses, * Increase and multiply. ' Such is the 
text. So multiply, you beast ! As for the world, it is 
as it is ; you cannot make nor mar it. Do not trouble 
yourself about it. Pay no attention to what goes on 
outside. A comedian is made to be looked at, not to 
look. Do you know what there is outside ? The happy, 
by right. You, I repeat, are one of the happy by chance. 
You are the pickpocket of the happiness of which they 
are the rightful proprietors. They are the legitimate 
possessors ; you are an interloper. You live in concu- 
binage with luck. What do you want that you have 
not already ? Shibboleth help me ! This fellow is a 
rascal. Such happiness is a swindle. Those who pos- 
sess happiness by right do not like folks below them to 
have so much enjoyment. If they ask you what right 
you have to be happy, you will not know what to an- 



THINKING JUSTICE, SPEAKING TRUTH. 345 

swer. You have no patent, and tliey have. Jupiter, 
Allah, Yishnou, Sabnoth, it matters not who, has given 
them the passport to happiness. Beware of them. Do 
not meddle with them, lest they should meddle with 
you. AVretch ! do you know what the man is who is 
happy by right ? He is a terrible being. He is a lord. 
A lord ! He must have intrigued pretty well in the 
devil's unknown country before he was born, to enter 
life by the door he did. How difficult it must have 
been to him to be born ! It is the only trouble he has 
given himself; but, just Heaven! what a one! — to 
bribe destiny, that egregious blockhead, to mark him in 
his cradle a master of men ; to bribe the box-keeper to 
give him the best place at the show. Kead the memo- 
randa in the old van which I have placed on the half- 
pay list. Read that breviary of wisdom, and you will 
see what it is to be a lord. A lord is one who has all, 
and is all. A lord is one who lives far above his own 
nature. A lord is one who has when young the rights 
of an old man ; when old, the success in intrigue of a 
young one ; if vicious, the homage of respectable people ; 
if a coward, the command of brave men ; if a do-nothing, 
the fruits of labour; if ignorant, the diploma of Cam- 
bridge or Oxford; if a fool, the admiration of poets ; if 
ugly, the smiles of women ;Jf a Thersites, the helm of 
Achilles ; if a hare, the skin of a lion. Do not misun- 
derstand my words. I do not say that a lord must 
necessarily be ignorant, or a coward, or ugly, or stupid, 
or old. I only mean that he may be all those things 
without any detriment to himself. On the contrary. 
Lords are princes. The King of England is only a lord, 
the first peer of the peerage ; that is all, but it is much. 
Kings were formerly called lords, — the Lord of Denmark, 
the Lord of Ireland, the Lord of the Isles. The Lord of 
Norway was first called king three hundred years ago. 



346 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

Lucius, the most ancient king in England, was addressed 
by Saint Telesphorus as my Lord Lucius. The lords are 
peers — that is to say, equals — of whom ? Of the king. 
I do not make the mistake of confounding the lords with 
parliament. The assembly of the people which the 
Saxons before the Conquest called wittenagemote, the 
Normans, after the Conquest, entitled parlvimentum. 
By degrees the people were turned out. The king's let- 
ters convoking the Commons, addressed formerly ad 
concilium impendendum, are now addressed ad consentie7i- 
dum. They have the privilege of saying " Yes. " But 
the peers have the right to say " No ; " and the proof is 
that they have said it. The peers can cut off the king's 
head. The people cannot. The stroke of the hatchet 
which decapitated Charles L is an encroachment, not on 
the king, but on the peers ; and it was well to place on the 
gibbet the carcass of Cromwell. The lords have power. 
Why ? Because they have the property. Glance over the 
leaves of the Doomsday-book. That is proof that the 
lords own England. It is the registry of the estates of 
subjects, compiled under William the Conqueror ; and it 
is in the charge of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. To 
copy anything in it, you have to pay twopence a line. 
It is a fine book ! Do you know that I was once physi- 
cian to a lord who was called Marmaduke, and who had 
thirty-six thousand a year ? Think of that, you hideous 
idiot ! Do you know that, with rabbits from the warrens 
of Earl Lindsay only, they could feed all the riff-raff of 
the Cinque Ports ? And the good order kept ! Every 
poacher is hung. For two long, furry ears sticking out 
of a game-bag, I saw the father of six children hanging 
on the gibbet. Such is the peerage. The rabbit of a 
great lord is of more importance than God's image in 
a man. Lords exist, you see, you rascal ! and we must 
think it well that they do. Even if we do not, what harm 



THINKING JUSTICE, SPEAKING TRUTH. 347 

will it do them ? The people object, indeed ! Why ? 
Plautus himself would never have entertained such an 
absurd idea. A philosopher would be thought jesting 
if he advised a poor devil of the masses to cry out against 
the size and weight of the lords. As well might the 
gnat dispute with the foot of an elephant. One day I 
saw a hippopotamus tread upon a mole-hill ; he crushed 
it utterly. He was innocent. The great soft-headed 
fool of a mastodon was not even aware of the mole's ex- 
istence. My son, the down-trodden moles are the human 
race. To crush is the universal law. And do you think 
that the mole himself crushes nothing? Why, he is the 
mastodon of the liesh-worm, who in turn is the masto- 
don of the globe-worm. 

" But let us cease arguing. My boy, there are coaches 
in the world ; my lord is inside, the people under the 
wheels; the philosopher gets out of the way. Stand 
aside, and let them pass. As for me, I love lords, and 
yet shun them. I lived with one ; the charm of the 
recollection suffices me. I remember his country house ; 
it would be impossible to conceive of anything more 
grand and beautiful than Marmaduke Lodge and its 
surroundings. The houses, country seats, and palaces 
of the lords form a collection of all that is greatest and 
most magnificent in this flourishing kingdom. I love 
our lords. I am grateful to them for being opulent, 
powerful, and prosperous. I myself am clothed in 
shadow, so I look with interest upon the shred of 
heavenly blue which is called a lord. You enter Mar- 
maduke Lodge by an exceedingly spacious courtyard, 
which forms an oblong square, divided into eight spaces, 
each surrounded by a balustrade ; on each side is a wide 
approach, and a superb hexagonal fountain plays in the 
midst ; this fountain is formed of two basins, which are 
surmounted by a dome of exquisite open-work, elevated 



348 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

on six columns. It was there that I knew a learned 
Frenchman, Monsieur I'Abb^ du Cros, who belonged to 
the Jacobin monastery in the Eue Saint Jacques. Half 
the library of Erpenius is at Marmaduke Lodge, the 
other half is in the theological schools at Cambridge. 
I used to read the books, seated under the richly orna- 
mented portal. These things are only shown to a select 
number of curious travellers. Do you know, you ridicu- 
lous boy, that William North, who is Lord Grey of 
Eolleston, and sits fourteenth on the bench of Barons, 
has more forest trees on his mountains than you have 
hairs on your horrible noddle ? Do you know that Lord 
Norreys of Eycote, who is Earl of Abingdon, has a 
square keep a hundred feet high, having this device : 
Virtus ariete fortior ; which you would think meant 
that virtue is stronger than a ram, but which really 
means, you idiot, that courage is stronger than a batter- 
ing-machine. Yes, I honour, accept, respect, and revere 
our lords. It is the lords who, with her royal Majesty, 
labour to ensure and preserve the welfare of the nation. 
Their consummate wisdom shines in critical junctures. 
Their precedence over others I wish they had not; but 
they have it. What is called principality in Germany 
and grandeeship in Spain, is called peerage in England 
and France. There being a fair show of reason for con- 
sidering the world a wretched place. Heaven felt where 
the burden was most galling, and to prove that it knew 
how to make happy people, created lords for the satis- 
faction of philosophers. This acts as a set-off, and gets 
Heaven out of the scrape, affording it a decent escape 
from a false position. The great are great. A peer, 
speaking of himself, says " We. " A peer is a plural. 
The king calls the peer consanguinei nostri. The peers 
have made a multitude of wise laws ; among others, one 
which condemns to death any one who cuts down a 



THINKING JUSTICE, SPEAKING TRUTH. 349 

three-year-old poplar tree. Their .supremacy is such 
that they have a language of their own. In heraldic 
style, black, which is called sahle for gentry, is called 
saturne for princes, and diamond for peers. Diamond 
powder ! a night thick with stars, such is the night of 
the happy ! Even among themselves these high and 
mighty lords have their distinctions. A baron cannot 
bathe with a viscount without his permission. These 
are indeed excellent safeguards for the nation. What a 
fine thing it is for the people to have twenty-five dukes, 
five marquises, seventy-six earls, nine viscounts, and 
sixty-one barons ; making altogether a hundred and 
seventy-six peers, some of whom are " your grace, " 
and some " my lord. " What matter a few rags here and 
there ; everybody cannot be dressed in cloth of gold. 
Let the rags be. Can you not gaze on the purple ? One 
counterbalances the other. Of course, there are the 
poor; what of ttiem ? They are made to add to the com- 
fort of the opulent. Devil take it! our lords are our 
glory ! The pack of hounds belonging to Charles, Baron 
Mohun, costs him as much as the hospital for lepers in 
Moorgate, and Christ's Hospital, founded for children, 
in 1558, by Edward VI. Thomas Osborne, Duke of 
Leeds, spends yearly on his liveries five thousand golden 
guineas. The Spanish grandees have a guardian ap- 
pointed by law to prevent them from ruining them- 
selves. That is cowardly. Our lords are extravagant 
and magnificent. I honour them for it. Let us not 
abuse them like envious folks. I feel happy when a 
beautiful vision passes. I do not possess the liglit my- 
self, but I have the reflection. A reflect on tlirown on 
my ulcer, you will say. Go to the devil ! I am a Job, 
happy in the contemplation of Trimalcion. Oh, that 
beautiful and radiant planet up there ! But the moon- 
light is something ! To suppress the lords was an idea 



350 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

which Orestes, mad as he was, would not have dared to 
entertain. To say that the lords are mischievous or 
useless, is to say that the State should be revolutionized, 
and that men are not made to live like cattle, browsing 
the grass and bitten by the dog. The field is shorn by 
the sheep, the sheep by the shepherd. It is all one to 
me. I am a philosopher, and I attach just about as much 
importance to life as a liy. Life is only a lodging-house. 
"When I think that Henry Bowes Howard, Earl of Berk- 
shire, has in his stable twenty-four state carriages, of 
which one is mounted in silver, and another in gold, — 
good heavens ! I know that every one does not possess 
twenty-four state carriages ; but there is no need to com- 
plain for all that. Because you were cold one night, what 
was that to him ? It concerns you only. Others besides 
you suffer from cold and hunger. Don't you know that 
but for the cold Dea would not have been blind ; and if 
Dea were not blind, she would not love you ? Think of 
that, you fool ! Besides, if all the people who are un- 
happy were to complain, there would be a pretty tumult ! 
Silence is the rule. I have no doubt that Heaven im- 
poses silence on the damned, otherwise Heaven itself 
would be spoiled by their everlasting wailing. The hap- 
piness of Olympus is ensured by the silence of Cocytus. 
Then, good people, be silent! I do better myself; I 
approve and admire. 

" Just now I was enumerating the lords, and I ought to 
add to the list two archbishops and twenty-four bishops. 
Truly, I am quite affected when I think of it ! I re- 
member to have seen at the tithe-gathering of the 
Eev. Dean of Eaphoe, who combined the peerage with 
the church, a great tithe of beautiful wheat taken from 
the peasants in the neighbourhood, and which the dean 
had not been at the trouble of growing. This left 
him time to say his prayers. Do you know that Lord 



THINKING JUSTICE, SPEAKLN'G TRUTH. 351 

Marmaduke, my master, was Lord Grand Treasurer of 
Ireland, and High Seneschal of the sovereignty of 
Kuaresborough in the county of York ? Do you know 
that the Lord High Chamberlain, which is an hereditary 
office in the family of the Dukes of Lancaster, dresses 
the king for his coronation, and receives for his trouble 
forty yards of crimson velvet, besides the bed on which 
the king has slept ; and that the Usher of the Black Eod 
is his deputy ? I should like to see you deny this, that 
the senior viscount of England is Eobert Brent, created 
a viscount by Henry V. The lords' titles imply sover- 
eignty over land, except that of Earl Eivers, who takes 
his title from his family name. How admirable is the 
right which they have to tax others, and to levy, for 
instance, four shillings on the pound sterling income- 
tax, which has just been continued for another year. 
And all the fine taxes on distilled spirits, on the excise 
of wine and beer, on tonnage and poundage, on cider, 
on mum, malt, and prepared barley, on coals, and on a 
hundred things besides. Let us respect the powers that 
be. The clergy themselves are dependent on the lords. 
The Bishop of Man is subject to the Earl of Derby. 
The lords have wild beasts of their own, which they 
place in their armorial bearings. God not having made 
animals enough, they have invented others. They have 
created the heraldic wild boar, who is as much above 
the wild boar as a wild boar is above the common 
pig, and a lord is above a priest. They have created 
the griffin, which is an eagle to lions, and a lion to 
eagles, terrifying lions by his wings, and eagles by his 
mane. They have the guivre, the unicorn, tlie ser- 
pent, the salamander, the tarask, the dree, the dragon, 
and the hippogriff. All these things, terrible to us, are 
to them but an ornament and an embellishment. They 
have a menagerie which they call the blazon, in which 



352 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

these unknown beasts roar. The prodigies of the forest 
are nothing compared to the inventions of their pride. 
Their vanity is full of phantoms which move as in a 
sublime night, armed with helm and cuirass, spurs on 
their heels and sceptres in their hands, saying in a grave 
voice, ' We are the ancestors ! ' Canker-worms eat the 
roots, and panoplies eat the people. Why not? Can 
we expect to change the laws ? The peerage is part of 
the order of society. Do you know that there is a duke 
in Scotland who can ride ninety miles without leaving 
his own estate ? Do you know that the Archbishop of 
Canterbury has a revenue of £40,000 a year? Do you 
know that her Majesty has £700,000 sterling from the 
civil list, besides castles, forests, domains, fiefs, tenan- 
cies, freeholds, prebendaries, tithes, rent, confiscations, 
and fines, which bring in over a million sterling? Those 
who are not satisfied are hard to please. " 

" Yes, " murmured Gwynplaine, sadly ; " the paradise 
of the rich is made out of the hell of the poor. " 



CHAPTER XII. 

URSUS THE POET DRAGS ON URSUS THE PHILOSOPHER. 

JUST then Dea entered. Gwynplaine looked at her, 
and saw her only. Such is love ; one may be car- 
ried away for a moment by the importunity of some 
other idea, but the beloved one enters, and everything 
that does not pertain to her immediately fades away, 
without her dreaming perhaps that she is efl'acing all 
the rest of the world from one's mind. Let us men- 
tion a circumstance. In " Chaos Vanquished " the 
word monstro, addressed to Gwynplaine, displeased Dea. 
Sometimes, with the smattering of Spanish, which every 
one possessed at the period, she took it into her head to 
replace it by quiero, which signifies, " I wish it. " Ursus 
tolerated, although not without considerable impatience, 
this alteration in his text. He might have said to Dea, 
as in our own day Moessard said to Vissot, " Tu manques 
de respect au repertoire. " " The Laughing Man. " This 
was the form Gwynplaine 's celebrity had assumed. His 
name, Gwynplaine, but little known at any time, was 
hidden under this nickname, as his face was hidden 
under its ghastly grin. His popularity was like his 
visage, — a mask. His name, however, appeared on a 
large placard in front of the Green Box, which bore the 
following notice composed by Ursus : — 

"Do not fail to see Gwynplaine, who was desex'ted at the 
age of ten, on the night of the 29th of January, 1090, by 
villainous Comprachicos, on the coast of Portland. The little 
boy has grown up, and is now known as 

" THE LAUGHING MAN. " 

VOL. XIX. — 23 



354 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

The existence of these mountebanks resembled the life 
of lepers in a leper-house as well as of the blessed in 
one of the Pleiades. Every day there was a sudden 
transition from the noisy exhibition outside to the most 
complete seclusion. Every evening they made their 
exit from the world. They were like the dead, van- 
ishing on condition of being re-born next day. A 
comedian is a sort of revolving light, appearing one 
moment, disappearing the next, and existing for the 
public only as a phantom, as his life circles round. To 
exhibition succeeded isolation. As soon as the per- 
formance was finished, and even while the spectators 
were dispersing, and their murmur of satisfaction was 
still heard in the streets, the Green Box drew in its 
platform, as a fortress does its drawbridge, and all com- 
munication with mankind was cut off. On one side, 
the universe ; on the other, the van ; but the van con- 
tained liberty, clear consciences, courage, devotion, inno- 
cence, happiness, love, — all the heavenly constellations. 
Clear-sighted blindness and fondly beloved deformity 
sat side by side, — hand pressing hand, brow touching 
brow, — and whispered to each other, intoxicated with 
love. 

The compartment in the middle of the van served two 
purposes, — for the public it was a stage ; for the actors, 
a dining-room. Ursus, ever delighting in comparisons, 
profited by this diversity of uses to liken the central 
compartment in the Green Box to the arradach in an 
Abyssinian hut. Ursus counted the receipts, then they 
supped. 

Love idealizes everything. When persons are in love, 
eating and drinking together afford opportunities for 
many sweet promiscuous touches, by which a mouthful 
becomes a kiss. The two drank ale or wine from the 
same glass, as they might drink dew out of the same 



THE POET DRAGS ON THE PHILOSOPHER. 355 

lily. Two souls in love are as full of grace as two birds. 
Gwyuplaine waited on Dea, out her bread, poured out 
her drink, approaching as close to her as possible. 

" Hum ! " cried Ursus, and turned away, his scolding 
melting into a smile. 

The wolf supped under the table, heedless of every- 
thing which did not actually affect his bone. Fibi and 
Vinos shared the repast, but gave no trouble. These 
vagabonds, who were only half civilized, and as uncouth 
as ever, conversed with each other in the Gipsy tongue. 
At length Dea re-entered the women's apartment with 
Fibi and Vinos. Ursus chained Homo under the Green 
Box ; Gwynplaine looked after the horses, — the lover 
becoming a groom, like one of Homer's heroes or Charle- 
magne's paladins. By midnight all were sound asleep, 
except the wolf, who, alive to his responsibility, now 
and then opened an eye. The next morning they met 
again, and breakfasted together, generallv on ham and 
tea. Tea was introduced into England in 1668. In 
the middle of tlie day Dea, after the Spanish fashion, 
took a siesta, acting on the advice of Ursus, who consid- 
ered her delicate, and slept several hours, while Gwyn- 
plaine and Ursus did all the little jobs of work, in 
doors and out, which their wandering life necessitated. 

Gwynplaine rarely wandered far from the Green Box, 
except on unfrequented roads and in solitary places. In 
cities he went out only at night, disguised in a large 
slouched hat, so as not to show his face in the street. 
His face was seen uncovered only on the stage. 

The Green Box had frequented cities but little. 
Gwynplaine at twenty-four had never seen any town 
larger than the Cinque Ports. His fame, however, was 
increasing. It had begun to rise above the populace, 
and to percolate into higher ground. Among tlie many 
who were fond of, and ran after, foreign curiosities and 



356 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. 

prodigies, it was known that there was somewhere in 
existence, leading a wandering life, now here, now 
there, an extraordinary monster. They talked about 
him, they sought him, they wondered where he was. 
The laughing man was becoming decidedly famous. A 
certain lustre, too, was reflected from him upon " Chaos 
Vanquished. " So much so that one day Ursus, being 
ambitious, exclaimed, — 
" We must go to London. " 



END OF VOL. I. 



A 



Y i3^J)tce< 



C-'' ,