Title: My Memoirs, Volume 3 (of 6)
(1826 to 1830)
Author: Alexandre Dumas
Translator: E. M. Waller
Release Date: November 10, 2015 [EBook #50426]
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I have recounted my own sufferings from Mademoiselle Mars during the rehearsals of Henri III.; the discussions, quarrels, disputes even which I had with her, the passionate scenes which, in spite of my obscurity, I was unable to refrain from causing, no matter what I risked in the future. The same thing was just as likely to happen to Hugo, and did happen. But Hugo and I were two absolutely different characters: he was cold and calm and polished and severe, and harboured the remembrance of good or ill done him; whilst I am open and quick and demonstrative, and make game of things, forgetful of ill, and sometimes of good. So the arguments between Mademoiselle Mars and Hugo were entirely different from mine. And remember that, on the stage, dialogues between actor and author usually take place before the foot-lights–that is to say, between the stage and the orchestra–so that not a word is lost by all the thirty to forty actors, musicians, managers, supernumeraries, call-boys, lighters-up, and firemen present at rehearsals.
Nevertheless, these characteristics did not prevent de Vigny from being an agreeable companion, a gentleman to his finger-tips, always ready to do you a kindness and totally incapable of doing you a bad turn. Nobody exactly knew de Vigny’s age; but, judging approximately, as it was known that de Vigny had served in the guards on the return of Louis XVIII., and supposing he was eighteen at the time he entered the service, say in 1815, he must have been thirty-two in 1829.
While I strongly admired Voltaire as a philosopher and narrator, on the other hand I thought but little of him as a poet, and specially as a dramatic poet; as a dramatist, his methods are ordinary, worn-out and melodramatic; as a writer, his lines are poor, sententious and badly rhymed. It is unfortunate for the philosopher of Ferney, but it must be,confessed that it is only in his infamous poem the Pucelle that he is well-nigh unapproachable; and even those who are revolted by the impiety, historical calumny and patriotic ingratitude
of it are compelled to admire the work, for it is a masterpiece.