It chanced that the regiment to which Lieutenant Theodule belonged
came to perform garrison duty in Paris. This inspired Aunt
Gillenormand with a second idea. She had, on the first occasion,
hit upon the plan of having Marius spied upon by Theodule; now she
plotted to have Theodule take Marius' place.
At all events and in case the grandfather should feel the vague need
of a young face in the house,--these rays of dawn are sometimes
sweet to ruin,--it was expedient to find another Marius. "Take it
as a simple erratum," she thought, "such as one sees in books.
For Marius, read Theodule."
A grandnephew is almost the same as a grandson; in default
of a lawyer one takes a lancer.
One morning, when M. Gillenormand was about to read something
in the Quotidienne, his daughter entered and said to him in her
sweetest voice; for the question concerned her favorite:--
"Father, Theodule is coming to present his respects to you this morning."
"Ah!" said the grandfather.
Then he went back to his reading, thought no more of his grandnephew,
who was merely some Theodule or other, and soon flew into a rage,
which almost always happened when he read. The "sheet" which he held,
although Royalist, of course, announced for the following day,
without any softening phrases, one of these little events which were
of daily occurrence at that date in Paris: "That the students
of the schools of law and medicine were to assemble on the Place
du Pantheon, at midday,--to deliberate." The discussion concerned one
of the questions of the moment, the artillery of the National Guard,
and a conflict between the Minister of War and "the citizen's militia,"
on the subject of the cannon parked in the courtyard of the Louvre.
The students were to "deliberate" over this. It did not take much
more than this to swell M. Gillenormand's rage.
He thought of Marius, who was a student, and who would probably go
with the rest, to "deliberate, at midday, on the Place du Pantheon."
As he was indulging in this painful dream, Lieutenant Theodule
entered clad in plain clothes as a bourgeois, which was clever
of him, and was discreetly introduced by Mademoiselle Gillenormand.
The lancer had reasoned as follows: "The old druid has not sunk
all his money in a life pension. It is well to disguise one's self
as a civilian from time to time."
Mademoiselle Gillenormand said aloud to her father:--
"Theodule, your grandnephew."
And in a low voice to the lieutenant:--
"Approve of everything."
And she withdrew.
The lieutenant, who was but little accustomed to such venerable
encounters, stammered with some timidity: "Good day, uncle,"--
and made a salute composed of the involuntary and mechanical
outline of the military salute finished off as a bourgeois salute.
"Ah! so it's you; that is well, sit down," said the old gentleman.
That said, he totally forgot the lancer.
Theodule seated himself, and M. Gillenormand rose.
M. Gillenormand began to pace back and forth, his hands in his pockets,
talking aloud, and twitching, with his irritated old fingers,
at the two watches which he wore in his two fobs.
"That pack of brats! they convene on the Place du Pantheon!
by my life! urchins who were with their nurses but yesterday!
If one were to squeeze their noses, milk would burst out.
And they deliberate to-morrow, at midday. What are we coming to?
What are we coming to? It is clear that we are making for the abyss.
That is what the descamisados have brought us to! To deliberate
on the citizen artillery! To go and jabber in the open air over the
jibes of the National Guard! And with whom are they to meet there?
Just see whither Jacobinism leads. I will bet anything you like,
a million against a counter, that there will be no one there but
returned convicts and released galley-slaves. The Republicans and
the galley-slaves,--they form but one nose and one handkerchief.
Carnot used to say: `Where would you have me go, traitor?'
Fouche replied: `Wherever you please, imbecile!' That's what the
Republicans are like."
"That is true," said Theodule.
M. Gillenormand half turned his head, saw Theodule, and went on:--
"When one reflects that that scoundrel was so vile as to turn carbonaro!
Why did you leave my house? To go and become a Republican! Pssst!
In the first place, the people want none of your republic, they have
common sense, they know well that there always have been kings,
and that there always will be; they know well that the people are
only the people, after all, they make sport of it, of your republic--
do you understand, idiot? Is it not a horrible caprice? To fall
in love with Pere Duchesne, to make sheep's-eyes at the guillotine,
to sing romances, and play on the guitar under the balcony
of '93--it's enough to make one spit on all these young fellows,
such fools are they! They are all alike. Not one escapes.
It suffices for them to breathe the air which blows through the
street to lose their senses. The nineteenth century is poison.
The first scamp that happens along lets his beard grow like a goat's,
thinks himself a real scoundrel, and abandons his old relatives.
He's a Republican, he's a romantic. What does that mean, romantic?
Do me the favor to tell me what it is. All possible follies.
A year ago, they ran to Hernani. Now, I just ask you, Hernani!
antitheses! abominations which are not even written in French!
And then, they have cannons in the courtyard of the Louvre.
Such are the rascalities of this age!"
"You are right, uncle," said Theodule.
M. Gillenormand resumed:--
"Cannons in the courtyard of the Museum! For what purpose?
Do you want to fire grape-shot at the Apollo Belvedere? What have
those cartridges to do with the Venus de Medici? Oh! the young men
of the present day are all blackguards! What a pretty creature is their
Benjamin Constant! And those who are not rascals are simpletons!
They do all they can to make themselves ugly, they are badly dressed,
they are afraid of women, in the presence of petticoats they have a
mendicant air which sets the girls into fits of laughter; on my word
of honor, one would say the poor creatures were ashamed of love.
They are deformed, and they complete themselves by being stupid;
they repeat the puns of Tiercelin and Potier, they have sack coats,
stablemen's waistcoats, shirts of coarse linen, trousers of coarse cloth,
boots of coarse leather, and their rigmarole resembles their plumage.
One might make use of their jargon to put new soles on their old shoes.
And all this awkward batch of brats has political opinions,
if you please. Political opinions should be strictly forbidden.
They fabricate systems, they recast society, they demolish the monarchy,
they fling all laws to the earth, they put the attic in the cellar's
place and my porter in the place of the King, they turn Europe
topsy-turvy, they reconstruct the world, and all their love
affairs consist in staring slily at the ankles of the laundresses
as these women climb into their carts. Ah! Marius! Ah! you
blackguard! to go and vociferate on the public place! to discuss,
to debate, to take measures! They call that measures, just God!
Disorder humbles itself and becomes silly. I have seen chaos,
I now see a mess. Students deliberating on the National Guard,--
such a thing could not be seen among the Ogibewas nor the Cadodaches!
Savages who go naked, with their noddles dressed like a shuttlecock,
with a club in their paws, are less of brutes than those bachelors
of arts! The four-penny monkeys! And they set up for judges!
Those creatures deliberate and ratiocinate! The end of the world
is come! This is plainly the end of this miserable terraqueous globe!
A final hiccough was required, and France has emitted it.
Deliberate, my rascals! Such things will happen so long as they
go and read the newspapers under the arcades of the Odeon.
That costs them a sou, and their good sense, and their intelligence,
and their heart and their soul, and their wits. They emerge thence,
and decamp from their families. All newspapers are pests; all, even the
Drapeau Blanc! At bottom, Martainville was a Jacobin. Ah! just
Heaven! you may boast of having driven your grandfather to despair,
that you may!"
"That is evident," said Theodule.
And profiting by the fact that M. Gillenormand was taking breath,
the lancer added in a magisterial manner:--
"There should be no other newspaper than the Moniteur, and no
other book than the Annuaire Militaire."
M. Gillenormand continued:--
"It is like their Sieyes! A regicide ending in a senator;
for that is the way they always end. They give themselves a scar
with the address of thou as citizens, in order to get themselves
called, eventually, Monsieur le Comte. Monsieur le Comte as big
as my arm, assassins of September. The philosopher Sieyes!
I will do myself the justice to say, that I have never had any better
opinion of the philosophies of all those philosophers, than of the
spectacles of the grimacer of Tivoli! One day I saw the Senators
cross the Quai Malplaquet in mantles of violet velvet sown with bees,
with hats a la Henri IV. They were hideous. One would have pronounced
them monkeys from the tiger's court. Citizens, I declare to you,
that your progress is madness, that your humanity is a dream,
that your revolution is a crime, that your republic is a monster,
that your young and virgin France comes from the brothel, and I
maintain it against all, whoever you may be, whether journalists,
economists, legists, or even were you better judges of liberty,
of equality, and fraternity than the knife of the guillotine!
And that I announce to you, my flne fellows!"
"Parbleu!" cried the lieutenant, "that is wonderfully true."
M. Gillenormand paused in a gesture which he had begun, wheeled round,
stared Lancer Theodule intently in the eyes, and said to him:--
"You are a fool."