BOOK FOURTH.--THE FRIENDS OF THE A B C
A GROUP WHICH BARELY MISSED BECOMING HISTORIC
At that epoch, which was, to all appearances indifferent, a certain
revolutionary quiver was vaguely current. Breaths which had started
forth from the depths of '89 and '93 were in the air. Youth was
on the point, may the reader pardon us the word, of moulting.
People were undergoing a transformation, almost without being
conscious of it, through the movement of the age. The needle
which moves round the compass also moves in souls. Each person
was taking that step in advance which he was bound to take.
The Royalists were becoming liberals, liberals were turning democrats.
It was a flood tide complicated with a thousand ebb movements;
the peculiarity of ebbs is to create intermixtures; hence the combination
of very singular ideas; people adored both Napoleon and liberty.
We are making history here. These were the mirages of that period.
Opinions traverse phases. Voltairian royalism, a quaint variety,
had a no less singular sequel, Bonapartist liberalism.
Other groups of minds were more serious. In that direction,
they sounded principles, they attached themselves to the right.
They grew enthusiastic for the absolute, they caught glimpses of
infinite realizations; the absolute, by its very rigidity, urges spirits
towards the sky and causes them to float in illimitable space.
There is nothing like dogma for bringing forth dreams. And there
is nothing like dreams for engendering the future. Utopia to-day,
flesh and blood to-morrow.
These advanced opinions had a double foundation. A beginning
of mystery menaced "the established order of things," which was
suspicious and underhand. A sign which was revolutionary
to the highest degree. The second thoughts of power meet the
second thoughts of the populace in the mine. The incubation
of insurrections gives the retort to the premeditation of coups d'etat.
There did not, as yet, exist in France any of those vast underlying
organizations, like the German tugendbund and Italian Carbonarism;
but here and there there were dark underminings, which were in process
of throwing off shoots. The Cougourde was being outlined at Aix;
there existed at Paris, among other affiliations of that nature,
the society of the Friends of the A B C.
What were these Friends of the A B C? A society which had for its object
apparently the education of children, in reality the elevation of man.
They declared themselves the Friends of the A B C,--the Abaisse,--
the debased,--that is to say, the people. They wished to elevate
the people. It was a pun which we should do wrong to smile at.
Puns are sometimes serious factors in politics; witness the Castratus
ad castra, which made a general of the army of Narses; witness:
Barbari et Barberini; witness: Tu es Petrus et super hanc petram,
The Friends of the A B C were not numerous, it was a secret society
in the state of embryo, we might almost say a coterie, if coteries
ended in heroes. They assembled in Paris in two localities,
near the fish-market, in a wine-shop called Corinthe, of which more
will be heard later on, and near the Pantheon in a little cafe
in the Rue Saint-Michel called the Cafe Musain, now torn down;
the first of these meeting-places was close to the workingman,
the second to the students.
The assemblies of the Friends of the A B C were usually held
in a back room of the Cafe Musain.
This hall, which was tolerably remote from the cafe, with which it
was connected by an extremely long corridor, had two windows and an
exit with a private stairway on the little Rue des Gres. There they
smoked and drank, and gambled and laughed. There they conversed
in very loud tones about everything, and in whispers of other things.
An old map of France under the Republic was nailed to the wall,--
a sign quite sufficient to excite the suspicion of a police agent.
The greater part of the Friends of the A B C were students,
who were on cordial terms with the working classes. Here are
the names of the principal ones. They belong, in a certain
measure, to history: Enjolras, Combeferre, Jean Prouvaire,
Feuilly, Courfeyrac, Bahorel, Lesgle or Laigle, Joly, Grantaire.
These young men formed a sort of family, through the bond
of friendship. All, with the exception of Laigle, were from the South.
This was a remarkable group. It vanished in the invisible depths
which lie behind us. At the point of this drama which we have
now reached, it will not perhaps be superfluous to throw a ray
of light upon these youthful heads, before the reader beholds
them plunging into the shadow of a tragic adventure.
Enjolras, whose name we have mentioned first of all,--the reader
shall see why later on,--was an only son and wealthy.
Enjolras was a charming young man, who was capable of being terrible.
He was angelically handsome. He was a savage Antinous. One would
have said, to see the pensive thoughtfulness of his glance, that he
had already, in some previous state of existence, traversed the
revolutionary apocalypse. He possessed the tradition of it as though
he had been a witness. He was acquainted with all the minute details
of the great affair. A pontifical and warlike nature, a singular
thing in a youth. He was an officiating priest and a man of war;
from the immediate point of view, a soldier of the democracy;
above the contemporary movement, the priest of the ideal. His eyes
were deep, his lids a little red, his lower lip was thick and easily
became disdainful, his brow was lofty. A great deal of brow in a face
is like a great deal of horizon in a view. Like certain young men
at the beginning of this century and the end of the last, who became
illustrious at an early age, he was endowed with excessive youth,
and was as rosy as a young girl, although subject to hours of pallor.
Already a man, he still seemed a child. His two and twenty years
appeared to be but seventeen; he was serious, it did not seem
as though he were aware there was on earth a thing called woman.
He had but one passion--the right; but one thought--to overthrow
the obstacle. On Mount Aventine, he would have been Gracchus;
in the Convention, he would have been Saint-Just. He hardly saw
the roses, he ignored spring, he did not hear the carolling
of the birds; the bare throat of Evadne would have moved him no
more than it would have moved Aristogeiton; he, like Harmodius,
thought flowers good for nothing except to conceal the sword.
He was severe in his enjoyments. He chastely dropped his eyes
before everything which was not the Republic. He was the marble
lover of liberty. His speech was harshly inspired, and had the
thrill of a hymn. He was subject to unexpected outbursts of soul.
Woe to the love-affair which should have risked itself beside him!
If any grisette of the Place Cambrai or the Rue Saint-Jean-de-Beauvais,
seeing that face of a youth escaped from college, that page's mien,
those long, golden lashes, those blue eyes, that hair billowing in
the wind, those rosy cheeks, those fresh lips, those exquisite teeth,
had conceived an appetite for that complete aurora, and had tried
her beauty on Enjolras, an astounding and terrible glance would
have promptly shown her the abyss, and would have taught her not
to confound the mighty cherub of Ezekiel with the gallant Cherubino
By the side of Enjolras, who represented the logic of the Revolution,
Combeferre represented its philosophy. Between the logic of the
Revolution and its philosophy there exists this difference--that its
logic may end in war, whereas its philosophy can end only in peace.
Combeferre complemented and rectified Enjolras. He was less lofty,
but broader. He desired to pour into all minds the extensive
principles of general ideas: he said: "Revolution, but civilization";
and around the mountain peak he opened out a vast view of the blue sky.
The Revolution was more adapted for breathing with Combeferre than
with Enjolras. Enjolras expressed its divine right, and Combeferre
its natural right. The first attached himself to Robespierre;
the second confined himself to Condorcet. Combeferre lived
the life of all the rest of the world more than did Enjolras.
If it had been granted to these two young men to attain to history,
the one would have been the just, the other the wise man.
Enjolras was the more virile, Combeferre the more humane. Homo and vir,
that was the exact effect of their different shades. Combeferre was
as gentle as Enjolras was severe, through natural whiteness.
He loved the word citizen, but he preferred the word man. He would
gladly have said: Hombre, like the Spanish. He read everything,
went to the theatres, attended the courses of public lecturers,
learned the polarization of light from Arago, grew enthusiastic
over a lesson in which Geoffrey Sainte-Hilaire explained the
double function of the external carotid artery, and the internal,
the one which makes the face, and the one which makes the brain;
he kept up with what was going on, followed science step by step,
compared Saint-Simon with Fourier, deciphered hieroglyphics,
broke the pebble which he found and reasoned on geology,
drew from memory a silkworm moth, pointed out the faulty French
in the Dictionary of the Academy, studied Puysegur and Deleuze,
affirmed nothing, not even miracles; denied nothing, not even ghosts;
turned over the files of the Moniteur, reflected. He declared
that the future lies in the hand of the schoolmaster, and busied
himself with educational questions. He desired that society
should labor without relaxation at the elevation of the moral
and intellectual level, at coining science, at putting ideas
into circulation, at increasing the mind in youthful persons,
and he feared lest the present poverty of method, the paltriness
from a literary point of view confined to two or three centuries
called classic, the tyrannical dogmatism of official pedants,
scholastic prejudices and routines should end by converting our
colleges into artificial oyster beds. He was learned, a purist,
exact, a graduate of the Polytechnic, a close student, and at the
same time, thoughtful "even to chimaeras," so his friends said.
He believed in all dreams, railroads, the suppression of suffering
in chirurgical operations, the fixing of images in the dark chamber,
the electric telegraph, the steering of balloons. Moreover, he was
not much alarmed by the citadels erected against the human mind
in every direction, by superstition, despotism, and prejudice.
He was one of those who think that science will eventually turn
the position. Enjolras was a chief, Combeferre was a guide.
One would have liked to fight under the one and to march behind
the other. It is not that Combeferre was not capable of fighting,
he did not refuse a hand-to-hand combat with the obstacle,
and to attack it by main force and explosively; but it suited
him better to bring the human race into accord with its destiny
gradually, by means of education, the inculcation of axioms,
the promulgation of positive laws; and, between two lights,
his preference was rather for illumination than for conflagration.
A conflagration can create an aurora, no doubt, but why not await
the dawn? A volcano illuminates, but daybreak furnishes a still
better illumination. Possibly, Combeferre preferred the whiteness
of the beautiful to the blaze of the sublime. A light troubled
by smoke, progress purchased at the expense of violence, only half
satisfied this tender and serious spirit. The headlong precipitation
of a people into the truth, a '93, terrified him; nevertheless,
stagnation was still more repulsive to him, in it he detected
putrefaction and death; on the whole, he preferred scum to miasma,
and he preferred the torrent to the cesspool, and the falls of Niagara
to the lake of Montfaucon. In short, he desired neither halt
nor haste. While his tumultuous friends, captivated by the absolute,
adored and invoked splendid revolutionary adventures, Combeferre was
inclined to let progress, good progress, take its own course;
he may have been cold, but he was pure; methodical, but irreproachable;
phlegmatic, but imperturbable. Combeferre would have knelt and
clasped his hands to enable the future to arrive in all its candor,
and that nothing might disturb the immense and virtuous evolution
of the races. The good must be innocent, he repeated incessantly.
And in fact, if the grandeur of the Revolution consists in keeping
the dazzling ideal fixedly in view, and of soaring thither athwart
the lightnings, with fire and blood in its talons, the beauty of
progress lies in being spotless; and there exists between Washington,
who represents the one, and Danton, who incarnates the other,
that difference which separates the swan from the angel with the wings
of an eagle.
Jean Prouvaire was a still softer shade than Combeferre. His name
was Jehan, owing to that petty momentary freak which mingled
with the powerful and profound movement whence sprang the very
essential study of the Middle Ages. Jean Prouvaire was in love;
he cultivated a pot of flowers, played on the flute, made verses,
loved the people, pitied woman, wept over the child, confounded God
and the future in the same confidence, and blamed the Revolution
for having caused the fall of a royal head, that of Andre Chenier.
His voice was ordinarily delicate, but suddenly grew manly.
He was learned even to erudition, and almost an Orientalist.
Above all, he was good; and, a very simple thing to those who know
how nearly goodness borders on grandeur, in the matter of poetry,
he preferred the immense. He knew Italian, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew;
and these served him only for the perusal of four poets:
Dante, Juvenal, AEschylus, and Isaiah. In French, he preferred
Corneille to Racine, and Agrippa d'Aubigne to Corneille.
He loved to saunter through fields of wild oats and corn-flowers,
and busied himself with clouds nearly as much as with events.
His mind had two attitudes, one on the side towards man, the other
on that towards God; he studied or he contemplated. All day long,
he buried himself in social questions, salary, capital, credit,
marriage, religion, liberty of thought, education, penal servitude,
poverty, association, property, production and sharing, the enigma
of this lower world which covers the human ant-hill with darkness;
and at night, he gazed upon the planets, those enormous beings.
Like Enjolras, he was wealthy and an only son. He spoke softly,
bowed his head, lowered his eyes, smiled with embarrassment,
dressed badly, had an awkward air, blushed at a mere nothing,
and was very timid. Yet he was intrepid.
Feuilly was a workingman, a fan-maker, orphaned both of father
and mother, who earned with difficulty three francs a day, and had
but one thought, to deliver the world. He had one other preoccupation,
to educate himself; he called this also, delivering himself.
He had taught himself to read and write; everything that he knew,
he had learned by himself. Feuilly had a generous heart. The range
of his embrace was immense. This orphan had adopted the peoples.
As his mother had failed him, he meditated on his country.
He brooded with the profound divination of the man of the people,
over what we now call the idea of the nationality, had learned history
with the express object of raging with full knowledge of the case.
In this club of young Utopians, occupied chiefly with France,
he represented the outside world. He had for his specialty Greece,
Poland, Hungary, Roumania, Italy. He uttered these names incessantly,
appropriately and inappropriately, with the tenacity of right.
The violations of Turkey on Greece and Thessaly, of Russia
on Warsaw, of Austria on Venice, enraged him. Above all things,
the great violence of 1772 aroused him. There is no more
sovereign eloquence than the true in indignation; he was eloquent
with that eloquence. He was inexhaustible on that infamous date
of 1772, on the subject of that noble and valiant race suppressed
by treason, and that three-sided crime, on that monstrous ambush,
the prototype and pattern of all those horrible suppressions
of states, which, since that time, have struck many a noble nation,
and have annulled their certificate of birth, so to speak.
All contemporary social crimes have their origin in the partition
of Poland. The partition of Poland is a theorem of which all present
political outrages are the corollaries. There has not been a despot,
nor a traitor for nearly a century back, who has not signed, approved,
counter-signed, and copied, ne variatur, the partition of Poland.
When the record of modern treasons was examined, that was the first
thing which made its appearance. The congress of Vienna consulted
that crime before consummating its own. 1772 sounded the onset;
1815 was the death of the game. Such was Feuilly's habitual text.
This poor workingman had constituted himself the tutor of Justice,
and she recompensed him by rendering him great. The fact is,
that there is eternity in right. Warsaw can no more be Tartar
than Venice can be Teuton. Kings lose their pains and their honor
in the attempt to make them so. Sooner or later, the submerged part
floats to the surface and reappears. Greece becomes Greece again,
Italy is once more Italy. The protest of right against the deed
persists forever. The theft of a nation cannot be allowed
by prescription. These lofty deeds of rascality have no future.
A nation cannot have its mark extracted like a pocket handkerchief.
Courfeyrac had a father who was called M. de Courfeyrac. One of
the false ideas of the bourgeoisie under the Restoration as regards
aristocracy and the nobility was to believe in the particle.
The particle, as every one knows, possesses no significance.
But the bourgeois of the epoch of la Minerve estimated so highly
that poor de, that they thought themselves bound to abdicate it.
M. de Chauvelin had himself called M. Chauvelin; M. de Caumartin,
M. Caumartin; M. de Constant de Robecque, Benjamin Constant;
M. de Lafayette, M. Lafayette. Courfeyrac had not wished to remain
behind the rest, and called himself plain Courfeyrac.
We might almost, so far as Courfeyrac is concerned, stop here,
and confine ourselves to saying with regard to what remains:
"For Courfeyrac, see Tholomyes."
Courfeyrac had, in fact, that animation of youth which may be
called the beaute du diable of the mind. Later on, this disappears
like the playfulness of the kitten, and all this grace ends,
with the bourgeois, on two legs, and with the tomcat, on four paws.
This sort of wit is transmitted from generation to generation
of the successive levies of youth who traverse the schools,
who pass it from hand to hand, quasi cursores, and is almost
always exactly the same; so that, as we have just pointed out,
any one who had listened to Courfeyrac in 1828 would have thought he
heard Tholomyes in 1817. Only, Courfeyrac was an honorable fellow.
Beneath the apparent similarities of the exterior mind, the difference
between him and Tholomyes was very great. The latent man which
existed in the two was totally different in the first from what it
was in the second. There was in Tholomyes a district attorney,
and in Courfeyrac a paladin.
Enjolras was the chief, Combeferre was the guide, Courfeyrac was
the centre. The others gave more light, he shed more warmth;
the truth is, that he possessed all the qualities of a centre,
roundness and radiance.
Bahorel had figured in the bloody tumult of June, 1822, on the
occasion of the burial of young Lallemand.
Bahorel was a good-natured mortal, who kept bad company, brave,
a spendthrift, prodigal, and to the verge of generosity, talkative,
and at times eloquent, bold to the verge of effrontery; the best
fellow possible; he had daring waistcoats, and scarlet opinions;
a wholesale blusterer, that is to say, loving nothing so much as
a quarrel, unless it were an uprising; and nothing so much as an uprising,
unless it were a revolution; always ready to smash a window-pane,
then to tear up the pavement, then to demolish a government,
just to see the effect of it; a student in his eleventh year.
He had nosed about the law, but did not practise it. He had taken
for his device: "Never a lawyer," and for his armorial bearings
a nightstand in which was visible a square cap. Every time that
he passed the law-school, which rarely happened, he buttoned up
his frock-coat,--the paletot had not yet been invented,--and took
hygienic precautions. Of the school porter he said: "What a fine
old man!" and of the dean, M. Delvincourt: "What a monument!"
In his lectures he espied subjects for ballads, and in his professors
occasions for caricature. He wasted a tolerably large allowance,
something like three thousand francs a year, in doing nothing.
He had peasant parents whom he had contrived to imbue with respect
for their son.
He said of them: "They are peasants and not bourgeois; that is
the reason they are intelligent."
Bahorel, a man of caprice, was scattered over numerous cafes;
the others had habits, he had none. He sauntered. To stray is human.
To saunter is Parisian. In reality, he had a penetrating mind and
was more of a thinker than appeared to view.
He served as a connecting link between the Friends of the A B C
and other still unorganized groups, which were destined to take
form later on.
In this conclave of young heads, there was one bald member.
The Marquis d'Avaray, whom Louis XVIII. made a duke for having
assisted him to enter a hackney-coach on the day when he emigrated,
was wont to relate, that in 1814, on his return to France, as the
King was disembarking at Calais, a man handed him a petition.
"What is your request?" said the King.
"Sire, a post-office."
"What is your name?"
The King frowned, glanced at the signature of the petition and beheld
the name written thus: LESGLE. This non-Bonoparte orthography
touched the King and he began to smile. "Sire," resumed the man
with the petition, "I had for ancestor a keeper of the hounds
surnamed Lesgueules. This surname furnished my name. I am
called Lesgueules, by contraction Lesgle, and by corruption l'Aigle."
This caused the King to smile broadly. Later on he gave the man
the posting office of Meaux, either intentionally or accidentally.
The bald member of the group was the son of this Lesgle, or Legle,
and he signed himself, Legle [de Meaux]. As an abbreviation,
his companions called him Bossuet.
Bossuet was a gay but unlucky fellow. His specialty was not to
succeed in anything. As an offset, he laughed at everything.
At five and twenty he was bald. His father had ended by owning
a house and a field; but he, the son, had made haste to lose
that house and field in a bad speculation. He had nothing left.
He possessed knowledge and wit, but all he did miscarried.
Everything failed him and everybody deceived him; what he was building
tumbled down on top of him. If he were splitting wood, he cut off
a finger. If he had a mistress, he speedily discovered that he
had a friend also. Some misfortune happened to him every moment,
hence his joviality. He said: "I live under falling tiles."
He was not easily astonished, because, for him, an accident was
what he had foreseen, he took his bad luck serenely, and smiled at
the teasing of fate, like a person who is listening to pleasantries.
He was poor, but his fund of good humor was inexhaustible.
He soon reached his last sou, never his last burst of laughter.
When adversity entered his doors, he saluted this old acquaintance
cordially, he tapped all catastrophes on the stomach; he was
familiar with fatality to the point of calling it by its nickname:
"Good day, Guignon," he said to it.
These persecutions of fate had rendered him inventive. He was full
of resources. He had no money, but he found means, when it seemed
good to him, to indulge in "unbridled extravagance." One night,
he went so far as to eat a "hundred francs" in a supper with a wench,
which inspired him to make this memorable remark in the midst of
the orgy: "Pull off my boots, you five-louis jade."
Bossuet was slowly directing his steps towards the profession
of a lawyer; he was pursuing his law studies after the manner
of Bahorel. Bossuet had not much domicile, sometimes none at all.
He lodged now with one, now with another, most often with Joly.
Joly was studying medicine. He was two years younger than Bossuet.
Joly was the "malade imaginaire" junior. What he had won in medicine
was to be more of an invalid than a doctor. At three and twenty he
thought himself a valetudinarian, and passed his life in inspecting
his tongue in the mirror. He affirmed that man becomes magnetic
like a needle, and in his chamber he placed his bed with its head
to the south, and the foot to the north, so that, at night,
the circulation of his blood might not be interfered with by the
great electric current of the globe. During thunder storms,
he felt his pulse. Otherwise, he was the gayest of them all.
All these young, maniacal, puny, merry incoherences lived in
harmony together, and the result was an eccentric and agreeable
being whom his comrades, who were prodigal of winged consonants,
called Jolllly . "You may fly away on the four L's," Jean Prouvaire
said to him.
 L'Aile, wing.
Joly had a trick of touching his nose with the tip of his cane,
which is an indication of a sagacious mind.
All these young men who differed so greatly, and who, on the whole,
can only be discussed seriously, held the same religion: Progress.
All were the direct sons of the French Revolution. The most giddy of
them became solemn when they pronounced that date: '89. Their fathers
in the flesh had been, either royalists, doctrinaires, it matters
not what; this confusion anterior to themselves, who were young,
did not concern them at all; the pure blood of principle ran in
their veins. They attached themselves, without intermediate shades,
to incorruptible right and absolute duty.
Affiliated and initiated, they sketched out the ideal underground.
Among all these glowing hearts and thoroughly convinced minds,
there was one sceptic. How came he there? By juxtaposition.
This sceptic's name was Grantaire, and he was in the habit of
signing himself with this rebus: R. Grantaire was a man who took
good care not to believe in anything. Moreover, he was one of the
students who had learned the most during their course at Paris;
he knew that the best coffee was to be had at the Cafe Lemblin,
and the best billiards at the Cafe Voltaire, that good cakes and
lasses were to be found at the Ermitage, on the Boulevard du Maine,
spatchcocked chickens at Mother Sauget's, excellent matelotes
at the Barriere de la Cunette, and a certain thin white wine at
the Barriere du Com pat. He knew the best place for everything;
in addition, boxing and foot-fencing and some dances; and he was a
thorough single-stick player. He was a tremendous drinker to boot.
He was inordinately homely: the prettiest boot-stitcher of that day,
Irma Boissy, enraged with his homeliness, pronounced sentence on him
as follows: "Grantaire is impossible"; but Grantaire's fatuity was
not to be disconcerted. He stared tenderly and fixedly at all women,
with the air of saying to them all: "If I only chose!" and of trying
to make his comrades believe that he was in general demand.
All those words: rights of the people, rights of man,
the social contract, the French Revolution, the Republic,
democracy, humanity, civilization, religion, progress, came very near
to signifying nothing whatever to Grantaire. He smiled at them.
Scepticism, that caries of the intelligence, had not left him
a single whole idea. He lived with irony. This was his axiom:
"There is but one certainty, my full glass." He sneered at all devotion
in all parties, the father as well as the brother, Robespierre junior
as well as Loizerolles. "They are greatly in advance to be dead,"
he exclaimed. He said of the crucifix: "There is a gibbet which has
been a success." A rover, a gambler, a libertine, often drunk,
he displeased these young dreamers by humming incessantly:
"J'aimons les filles, et j'aimons le bon vin." Air: Vive Henri IV.
However, this sceptic had one fanaticism. This fanaticism was
neither a dogma, nor an idea, nor an art, nor a science; it was
a man: Enjolras. Grantaire admired, loved, and venerated Enjolras.
To whom did this anarchical scoffer unite himself in this phalanx
of absolute minds? To the most absolute. In what manner had
Enjolras subjugated him? By his ideas? No. By his character.
A phenomenon which is often observable. A sceptic who adheres to a
believer is as simple as the law of complementary colors. That which
we lack attracts us. No one loves the light like the blind man.
The dwarf adores the drum-major. The toad always has his eyes
fixed on heaven. Why? In order to watch the bird in its flight.
Grantaire, in whom writhed doubt, loved to watch faith soar in Enjolras.
He had need of Enjolras. That chaste, healthy, firm, upright, hard,
candid nature charmed him, without his being clearly aware of it,
and without the idea of explaining it to himself having occurred
to him. He admired his opposite by instinct. His soft, yielding,
dislocated, sickly, shapeless ideas attached themselves to Enjolras
as to a spinal column. His moral backbone leaned on that firmness.
Grantaire in the presence of Enjolras became some one once more.
He was, himself, moreover, composed of two elements, which were,
to all appearance, incompatible. He was ironical and cordial.
His indifference loved. His mind could get along without belief,
but his heart could not get along without friendship.
A profound contradiction; for an affection is a conviction.
His nature was thus constituted. There are men who seem to be born
to be the reverse, the obverse, the wrong side. They are Pollux,
Patrocles, Nisus, Eudamidas, Ephestion, Pechmeja. They only exist
on condition that they are backed up with another man; their name
is a sequel, and is only written preceded by the conjunction and;
and their existence is not their own; it is the other side of an
existence which is not theirs. Grantaire was one of these men.
He was the obverse of Enjolras.
One might almost say that affinities begin with the letters of
the alphabet. In the series O and P are inseparable. You can,
at will, pronounce O and P or Orestes and Pylades.
Grantaire, Enjolras' true satellite, inhabited this circle of
young men; he lived there, he took no pleasure anywhere but there;
he followed them everywhere. His joy was to see these forms go
and come through the fumes of wine. They tolerated him on account
of his good humor.
Enjolras, the believer, disdained this sceptic; and, a sober
man himself, scorned this drunkard. He accorded him a little
lofty pity. Grantaire was an unaccepted Pylades. Always harshly
treated by Enjolras, roughly repulsed, rejected yet ever returning
to the charge, he said of Enjolras: "What fine marble!"