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Les Misérables (1862) is a novel by French author Victor Hugo, and among the best-known novels of the 19th century. It follows the lives and interactions of several French characters over a twenty year period in the early 19th century that starts in the year of Napoleon's final defeat. Principally focusing on the struggles of the protagonist—ex-convict Jean Valjean—who seeks to redeem himself, the novel also examines the impact of Valjean's actions for the sake of social commentary. It examines the nature of good, evil, and the law, in a sweeping story that expounds upon the history of France, architecture of Paris, politics, moral philosophy, law, justice, religion, and the types and nature of romantic and familial love. Les Misérables is known to many through its numerous stage and screen adaptations, of which the most famous is the stage musical of the same name, sometimes abbreviated "Les Mis" or "Les Miz" .
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BOOK FIRST—A JUST MAN
CHAPTER I—M. MYRIEL
CHAPTER II—M. MYRIEL BECOMES M. WELCOME
CHAPTER III—A HARD BISHOPRIC FOR A GOOD BISHOP
CHAPTER IV—WORKS CORRESPONDING TO WORDS
CHAPTER V—MONSEIGNEUR BIENVENU MADE HIS CASSOCKS LAST TOO LONG
CHAPTER VI—WHO GUARDED HIS HOUSE FOR HIM
CHAPTER VIII—PHILOSOPHY AFTER DRINKING
CHAPTER IX—THE BROTHER AS DEPICTED BY THE SISTER
CHAPTER X—THE BISHOP IN THE PRESENCE OF AN UNKNOWN LIGHT
CHAPTER XI—A RESTRICTION
CHAPTER XII—THE SOLITUDE OF MONSEIGNEUR WELCOME
CHAPTER XIII—WHAT HE BELIEVED
CHAPTER XIV—WHAT HE THOUGHT
BOOK SECOND—THE FALL
CHAPTER I—THE EVENING OF A DAY OF WALKING
CHAPTER II—PRUDENCE COUNSELLED TO WISDOM.
CHAPTER III—THE HEROISM OF PASSIVE OBEDIENCE.
CHAPTER IV—DETAILS CONCERNING THE CHEESE-DAIRIES OF PONTARLIER.
CHAPTER VI—JEAN VALJEAN
CHAPTER VII—THE INTERIOR OF DESPAIR
CHAPTER VIII—BILLOWS AND SHADOWS
CHAPTER IX—NEW TROUBLES
CHAPTER X—THE MAN AROUSED
CHAPTER XI—WHAT HE DOES
CHAPTER XII—THE BISHOP WORKS
CHAPTER XIII—LITTLE GERVAIS
BOOK THIRD.—IN THE YEAR 1817
CHAPTER I—THE YEAR 1817
CHAPTER II—A DOUBLE QUARTETTE
CHAPTER III—FOUR AND FOUR
CHAPTER IV—THOLOMYÈS IS SO MERRY THAT HESINGS A SPANISH DITTY
CHAPTER V—AT BOMBARDA’S
CHAPTER VI—A CHAPTER INWHICH THEY ADORE EACH OTHER
CHAPTER VII—THE WISDOM OF THOLOMYÈS
CHAPTER VIII—THE DEATH OF A HORSE
CHAPTER IX—A MERRY END TO MIRTH
BOOK FOURTH.—TO CONFIDE IS SOMETIMES TO DELIVER INTO A PERSON’S POWER
CHAPTER I—ONE MOTHER MEETS ANOTHER MOTHER
CHAPTER II—FIRST SKETCH OF TWO UNPREPOSSESSING FIGURES
CHAPTER III—THE LARK
BOOK FIFTH.—THE DESCENT.
CHAPTER I—THE HISTORY OF A PROGRESS IN BLACK GLASS TRINKETS
CHAPTER III—SUMS DEPOSITED WITH LAFFITTE
CHAPTER IV—M. MADELEINE IN MOURNING
CHAPTER V—VAGUE FLASHES ON THE HORIZON
CHAPTER VI—FATHER FAUCHELEVENT
CHAPTER VII—FAUCHELEVENT BECOMES A GARDENER IN PARIS
CHAPTER VIII—MADAME VICTURNIEN EXPENDS THIRTY FRANCS ON MORALITY
CHAPTER IX—MADAME VICTURNIEN’SSUCCESS
CHAPTER X—RESULT OF THE SUCCESS
CHAPTER XI—CHRISTUS NOS LIBERAVIT
CHAPTER XII—M. BAMATABOIS’S INACTIVITY
CHAPTER XIII—THE SOLUTION OF SOME QUESTIONS CONNECTED WITH THE MUNICIPAL POLICE
CHAPTER I—THE BEGINNING OF REPOSE
CHAPTER II—HOW JEAN MAY BECOME CHAMP
BOOK SEVENTH.—THE CHAMPMATHIEU AFFAIR
CHAPTER I—SISTER SIMPLICE
CHAPTER II—THE PERSPICACITY OF MASTER SCAUFFLAIRE
CHAPTER III—A TEMPEST IN A SKULL
CHAPTER IV—FORMS ASSUMED BY SUFFERINGDURING SLEEP
CHAPTER VI—SISTER SIMPLICE PUT TO THE PROOF
CHAPTER VII—THE TRAVELLER ON HIS ARRIVAL TAKES PRECAUTIONS FOR DEPARTURE
CHAPTER VIII—AN ENTRANCE BY FAVOR
CHAPTER IX—A PLACE WHERE CONVICTIONS ARE IN PROCESS OF FORMATION
CHAPTER X—THE SYSTEM OF DENIALS
CHAPTER XI—CHAMPMATHIEU MORE AND MORE ASTONISHED
BOOK EIGHTH.—A COUNTER-BLOW
CHAPTER I—IN WHAT MIRROR M. MADELEINE CONTEMPLATES HIS HAIR
CHAPTER II—FANTINE HAPPY
CHAPTER III—JAVERT SATISFIED
CHAPTER IV—AUTHORITY REASSERTS ITS RIGHTS
CHAPTER V—A SUITABLE TOMB
CHAPTER I—WHAT IS MET WITH ON THE WAY FROM NIVELLES
CHAPTER III—THE EIGHTEENTH OF JUNE, 1815
CHAPTER V—THE QUID OBSCURUM OF BATTLES
CHAPTER VI—FOUR O’CLOCK IN THE AFTERNOON
CHAPTER VII—NAPOLEON INA GOOD HUMOR
CHAPTER VIII—THE EMPEROR PUTS A QUESTION TO THE GUIDE LACOSTE
CHAPTER IX—THE UNEXPECTED
CHAPTER X—THEPLATEAU OF MONT-SAINT-JEAN
CHAPTER XI—A BADGUIDE TO NAPOLEON; A GOOD GUIDE TO BÜLOW
CHAPTER XII—THE GUARD
CHAPTER XIII—THE CATASTROPHE
CHAPTER XIV—THE LAST SQUARE
CHAPTER XVI—QUOT LIBRAS IN DUCE?
CHAPTER XVII—IS WATERLOO TO BE CONSIDERED GOOD?
CHAPTER XVIII—A RECRUDESCENCE OF DIVINE RIGHT
CHAPTER XIX—THE BATTLE-FIELD AT NIGHT
BOOKSECOND.—THE SHIP ORION
CHAPTER I—NUMBER 24,601 BECOMES NUMBER 9,430
CHAPTER II—IN WHICH THE READER WILL PERUSE TWO VERSES, WHICH AREOF THE DEVIL’S COMPOSITION, POSSIBLY
CHAPTER III—THE ANKLE-CHAIN MUST HAVE UNDERGONE A CERTAIN PREPARATORY MANIPULATION TO BE THUS BROKEN WITH A BLOW FROM A HAMMER
BOOKTHIRD.—ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE PROMISE MADE TO THE DEAD WOMAN
CHAPTER I—THE WATER QUESTION AT MONTFERMEIL
CHAPTER II—TWO COMPLETE PORTRAITS
CHAPTER III—MEN MUST HAVE WINE, AND HORSES MUST HAVE WATER
CHAPTER IV—ENTRANCE ON THE SCENE OF A DOLL
CHAPTER V—THE LITTLE ONE ALL ALONE
CHAPTER VI—WHICH POSSIBLY PROVES BOULATRUELLE’S INTELLIGENCE
CHAPTER VII—COSETTE SIDE BY SIDE WITH THE STRANGER IN THE DARK
CHAPTER VIII—THE UNPLEASANTNESS OF RECEIVING INTO ONE’S HOUSE A POOR MAN WHO MAY BE A RICH MAN
CHAPTER IX— THÉNARDIER AND HIS MANŒUVRES
CHAPTER X—HE WHO SEEKS TO BETTER HIMSELF MAY RENDER HIS SITUATION WORSE
CHAPTER XI—NUMBER 9,430 REAPPEARS, AND COSETTE WINS IT IN THE LOTTERY
BOOK FOURTH.—THE GORBEAU HOVEL
CHAPTER I—MASTER GORBEAU
CHAPTER II—A NEST FOR OWL AND A WARBLER
CHAPTER III—TWO MISFORTUNES MAKE ONE PIECE OF GOOD FORTUNE
CHAPTER IV—THE REMARKS OF THE PRINCIPAL TENANT
CHAPTER V—A FIVE-FRANC PIECE FALLS ON THE GROUND AND PRODUCES A TUMULT
BOOK FIFTH.—FOR A BLACK HUNT, A MUTE PACK
CHAPTER I—THE ZIGZAGS OF STRATEGY
CHAPTER II—IT IS LUCKY THAT THE PONT D’AUSTERLITZ BEARS CARRIAGES
CHAPTER III—TO WIT, THE PLAN OF PARIS IN 1727
CHAPTER IV—THE GROPINGS OF FLIGHT
CHAPTER V—WHICH WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLEWITH GAS LANTERNS
CHAPTER VI—THE BEGINNING OF AN ENIGMA
CHAPTER VII—CONTINUATION OF THE ENIGMA
CHAPTER VIII—THE ENIGMA BECOMES DOUBLY MYSTERIOUS
CHAPTER IX—THE MAN WITH THE BELL
CHAPTER X—WHICH EXPLAINS HOW JAVERT GOT ON THE SCENT
BOOK SIXTH.—LE PETIT-PICPUS
CHAPTER I—NUMBER 62 RUE PETIT-PICPUS
CHAPTER II—THE OBEDIENCE OF MARTIN VERGA
CHAPTER VI—THE LITTLE CONVENT
CHAPTER VII—SOME SILHOUETTES OF THIS DARKNESS
CHAPTER VIII—POST CORDA LAPIDES
CHAPTER IX—A CENTURY UNDER A GUIMPE
CHAPTER X—ORIGIN OF THE PERPETUAL ADORATION
CHAPTER XI—END OF THE PETIT-PICPUS
CHAPTER I—THE CONVENT AS AN ABSTRACT IDEA
CHAPTER II—THE CONVENT AS AN HISTORICAL FACT
CHAPTER III—ON WHAT CONDITIONS ONE CAN RESPECT THE PAST
CHAPTER IV—THE CONVENT FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF PRINCIPLES
CHAPTER VI—THE ABSOLUTE GOODNESS OF PRAYER
CHAPTER VII—PRECAUTIONS TO BE OBSERVED IN BLAME
CHAPTER VIII—FAITH, LAW
BOOK EIGHTH.—CEMETERIES TAKE THAT WHICH IS COMMITTED THEM
CHAPTER I—WHICH TREATS OF THE MANNER OF ENTERING A CONVENT
CHAPTER II—FAUCHELEVENT IN THE PRESENCE OF A DIFFICULTY
CHAPTER III—MOTHER INNOCENTE
CHAPTER IV—IN WHICH JEAN VALJEAN HAS QUITE THE AIR OF HAVING READ AUSTIN CASTILLEJO
CHAPTER V—IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO BE DRUNK IN ORDER TO BE IMMORTAL
CHAPTER VI—BETWEEN FOUR PLANKS
CHAPTER VII—IN WHICH WILL BE FOUND THE ORIGIN OF THE SAYING: DON’T LOSE THE CARD
CHAPTER VIII—A SUCCESSFUL INTERROGATORY
BOOK FIRST.—PARIS STUDIED IN ITS ATOM
CHAPTER II—SOME OF HIS PARTICULAR CHARACTERISTICS
CHAPTER III—HE IS AGREEABLE
CHAPTER IV—HE MAY BE OF USE
CHAPTER V—HIS FRONTIERS
CHAPTER VI—A BIT OF HISTORY
CHAPTER VII—THE GAMIN SHOULD HAVE HIS PLACE IN THE CLASSIFICATIONS OF INDIA
CHAPTER VIII—IN WHICH THE READER WILL FIND A CHARMING SAYING OF THE LAST KING
CHAPTER IX—THE OLD SOUL OF GAUL
CHAPTER X—ECCE PARIS, ECCE HOMO
CHAPTER XI—TO SCOFF, TO REIGN
CHAPTER XII—THE FUTURE LATENT IN THE PEOPLE
CHAPTER XIII—LITTLE GAVROCHE
BOOK SECOND.—THE GREAT BOURGEOIS
CHAPTER I—NINETY YEARS AND THIRTY-TWO TEETH
CHAPTER II—LIKE MASTER, LIKE HOUSE
CHAPTER IV—A CENTENARIAN ASPIRANT
CHAPTER V—BASQUE AND NICOLETTE
CHAPTER VI—IN WHICH MAGNON AND HER TWO CHILDREN ARE SEEN
CHAPTER VII—RULE: RECEIVE NO ONE EXCEPT IN THE EVENING
CHAPTER VIII—TWO DO NOT MAKE A PAIR
BOOK THIRD.—THE GRANDFATHER AND THE GRANDSON
CHAPTER I—AN ANCIENT SALON
CHAPTER II—ONE OF THE RED SPECTRES OF THAT EPOCH
CHAPTER IV—END OF THE BRIGAND
CHAPTER V—THE UTILITY OF GOING TO MASS, IN ORDER TO BECOME A REVOLUTIONIST
CHAPTERVI—THE CONSEQUENCES OF HAVING MET A WARDEN
CHAPTER VII—SOME PETTICOAT
CHAPTER VIII—MARBLE AGAINST GRANITE
BOOK FOURTH.—THE FRIENDS OF THE A B C
CHAPTER I—A GROUP WHICH BARELY MISSED BECOMING HISTORIC
CHAPTER II—BLONDEAU’S FUNERAL ORATION BY BOSSUET
CHAPTER III—MARIUS’ ASTONISHMENTS
CHAPTER IV—THE BACK ROOM OF THE CAFÉ MUSAIN
CHAPTER V—ENLARGEMENT OF HORIZON
CHAPTER VI—RES ANGUSTA
BOOK FIFTH.—THE EXCELLENCE OF MISFORTUNE
CHAPTER I—MARIUS INDIGENT
CHAPTER II—MARIUS POOR
CHAPTER III—MARIUS GROWN UP
CHAPTER IV—M. MABEUF
CHAPTER V—POVERTY A GOOD NEIGHBOR FOR MISERY
CHAPTER VI—THE SUBSTITUTE
BOOK SIXTH.—THE CONJUNCTION OF TWO STARS
CHAPTER I—THE SOBRIQUET: MODE OF FORMATION OF FAMILY NAMES
CHAPTER II—LUX FACTA EST
CHAPTER III—EFFECT OF THE SPRING
CHAPTER IV—BEGINNING OF A GREAT MALADY
CHAPTER V—DIVERS CLAPS OF THUNDER FALL ON MA’AM BOUGON
CHAPTER VI—TAKEN PRISONER
CHAPTER VII—ADVENTURES OF THE LETTER U DELIVEREDOVER TO CONJECTURES
CHAPTER VIII—THE VETERANS THEMSELVES CAN BE HAPPY
BOOK SEVENTH.—PATRON MINETTE
CHAPTER I—MINES AND MINERS
CHAPTER II—THE LOWEST DEPTHS
CHAPTER III—BABET, GUEULEMER, CLAQUESOUS, AND MONTPARNASSE
CHAPTER IV—COMPOSITION OF THE TROUPE
BOOK EIGHTH.—THE WICKED POOR MAN
CHAPTER I—MARIUS, WHILE SEEKING A GIRL IN A BONNET, ENCOUNTERS A MAN IN A CAP
CHAPTER II—TREASURE TROVE
CHAPTER IV—A ROSE IN MISERY
CHAPTER V—A PROVIDENTIAL PEEP-HOLE
CHAPTER VI—THE WILD MAN IN HIS LAIR
CHAPTER VII—STRATEGY AND TACTICS
CHAPTER VIII—THE RAY OF LIGHT IN THE HOVEL
CHAPTER IX—JONDRETTE COMES NEAR WEEPING
CHAPTER X—TARIFF OF LICENSED CABS: TWO FRANCS AN HOUR
CHAPTER XI—OFFERS OF SERVICE FROM MISERY TO WRETCHEDNESS
CHAPTER XII—THE USE MADE OF M.LEBLANC’S FIVE-FRANC PIECE
CHAPTER XIII—SOLUS CUM SOLO, IN LOCO REMOTO, NON COGITABUNTUR ORARE PATER NOSTER
CHAPTER XIV—IN WHICH A POLICE AGENT BESTOWS TWO FISTFULS ON A LAWYER
CHAPTER XV—JONDRETTE MAKES HIS PURCHASES
CHAPTER XVI—IN WHICH WILL BE FOUND THEWORDS TO AN ENGLISH AIR WHICH WAS IN FASHION IN 1832
CHAPTER XVII—THE USE MADE OF MARIUS’ FIVE-FRANC PIECE
CHAPTER XVIII—MARIUS’ TWO CHAIRS FORM A VIS-A-VIS
CHAPTER XIX—OCCUPYING ONE’S SELF WITH OBSCURE DEPTHS
CHAPTER XX—THE TRAP
CHAPTER XXI—ONESHOULD ALWAYS BEGIN BY ARRESTING THE VICTIMS
CHAPTER XXII—THE LITTLE ONE WHO WAS CRYING IN VOLUME TWO
BOOK FIRST.—A FEW PAGES OF HISTORY
CHAPTER I—WELL CUT
CHAPTER II—BADLY SEWED
CHAPTER III—LOUIS PHILIPPE
CHAPTER IV—CRACKS BENEATH THE FOUNDATION
CHAPTER V—FACTS WHENCE HISTORY SPRINGS AND WHICH HISTORY IGNORES
CHAPTER VI—ENJOLRAS AND HIS LIEUTENANTS
CHAPTER I—THE LARK’S MEADOW
CHAPTER II—EMBRYONIC FORMATION OF CRIMES IN THE INCUBATION OF PRISONS
CHAPTER III—APPARITION TO FATHER MABEUF
CHAPTER IV—AN APPARITION TO MARIUS
BOOK THIRD.—THE HOUSE IN THE RUE PLUMET
CHAPTER I—THE HOUSE WITH A SECRET
CHAPTER II—JEAN VALJEAN AS A NATIONAL GUARD
CHAPTER III—FOLIIS AC FRONDIBUS
CHAPTER IV—CHANGE OF GATE
CHAPTER V—THE ROSE PERCEIVES THAT IT IS AN ENGINE OF WAR
CHAPTER VI—THE BATTLE BEGUN
CHAPTER VII—TO ONE SADNESS OPPOSE A SADNESS AND A HALF
CHAPTER VIII—THE CHAIN-GANG
BOOK FOURTH.—SUCCOR FROM BELOW MAY TURN OUT TO BE SUCCOR FROM ON HIGH
CHAPTER I—A WOUND WITHOUT, HEALING WITHIN
CHAPTER II—MOTHER PLUTARQUE FINDS NO DIFFICULTY IN EXPLAINING A PHENOMENON
BOOK FIFTH.—THE END OF WHICH DOES NOT RESEMBLE THE BEGINNING
CHAPTER I—SOLITUDE AND THE BARRACKS COMBINED
CHAPTER II—COSETTE’S APPREHENSIONS
CHAPTER III—ENRICHED WITH COMMENTARIES BY TOUSSAINT
CHAPTER IV—A HEART BENEATH A STONE
CHAPTER V—COSETTE AFTER THE LETTER
CHAPTER VI—OLD PEOPLE ARE MADE TO GO OUT OPPORTUNELY
BOOK SIXTH.—LITTLE GAVROCHE
CHAPTER I—THE MALICIOUS PLAYFULNESS OF THE WIND
CHAPTER II—IN WHICH LITTLE GAVROCHE EXTRACTS PROFIT FROM NAPOLEON THE GREAT
CHAPTER III—THE VICISSITUDES OF FLIGHT
CHAPTER III—SLANG WHICH WEEPS AND SLANG WHICH LAUGHS
CHAPTER IV—THE TWO DUTIES: TO WATCH AND TO HOPE
BOOK EIGHTH.—ENCHANTMENTS AND DESOLATIONS
CHAPTER I—FULL LIGHT
CHAPTER II—THE BEWILDERMENT OF PERFECT HAPPINESS
CHAPTER III—THE BEGINNING OF SHADOW
CHAPTER IV—A CAB RUNS IN ENGLISH AND BARKS IN SLANG
CHAPTER V—THINGS OF THE NIGHT
CHAPTER VI—MARIUS BECOMES PRACTICAL ONCE MORE TO THE EXTENT OF GIVING COSETTE HIS ADDRESS
CHAPTER VII—THE OLD HEART AND THE YOUNG HEART IN THE PRESENCE OF EACH OTHER
BOOK NINTH.—WHITHER ARE THEY GOING?
CHAPTER I—JEAN VALJEAN
CHAPTER III—M. MABEUF
BOOK TENTH.—THE 5TH OF JUNE, 1832
CHAPTER I—THE SURFACE OF THE QUESTION
CHAPTER II—THE ROOT OF THE MATTER
CHAPTER III—A BURIAL; AN OCCASION TO BEBORN AGAIN
CHAPTER IV—THE EBULLITIONS OF FORMER DAYS
CHAPTER V—ORIGINALITY OF PARIS
BOOK ELEVENTH.—THE ATOM FRATERNIZES WITH THE HURRICANE
CHAPTER I—SOME EXPLANATIONS WITH REGARD TO THE ORIGIN OF GAVROCHE’S POETRY. THE INFLUENCE OF AN ACADEMICIAN ON THIS POETRY
CHAPTER II—GAVROCHE ON THE MARCH
CHAPTER III—JUST INDIGNATION OF A HAIR-DRESSER
CHAPTER IV—THE CHILD IS AMAZED AT THE OLD MAN
CHAPTER V—THE OLD MAN
CHAPTER I—HISTORY OF CORINTHE FROM ITS FOUNDATION
CHAPTER II—PRELIMINARY GAYETIES
CHAPTER III—NIGHT BEGINS TO DESCEND UPON GRANTAIRE
CHAPTER IV—AN ATTEMPT TO CONSOLE THE WIDOW HUCHELOUP
CHAPTER VII—THE MAN RECRUITED IN THE RUE DES BILLETTES
CHAPTER VIII—MANY INTERROGATION POINTS WITH REGARD TO A CERTAIN LE CABUC WHOSE NAME MAY NOT HAVE BEEN LE CABUC
BOOK THIRTEENTH.—MARIUS ENTERS THE SHADOW
CHAPTER I—FROM THE RUE PLUMET TO THE QUARTIER SAINT-DENIS
CHAPTER II—AN OWL’S VIEW OF PARIS
CHAPTER III—THE EXTREME EDGE
BOOK FOURTEENTH.—THE GRANDEURS OF DESPAIR
CHAPTER I—THE FLAG: ACT FIRST
CHAPTER II—THE FLAG: ACT SECOND
CHAPTER III—GAVROCHEWOULD HAVE DONE BETTER TO ACCEPT ENJOLRAS’ CARBINE
CHAPTER IV—THE BARREL OF POWDER
CHAPTER V—END OF THE VERSES OF JEAN PROUVAIRE
CHAPTER VI—THE AGONY OF DEATH AFTER THE AGONY OF LIFE
CHAPTER VII—GAVROCHE AS A PROFOUND CALCULATOR OF DISTANCES
BOOK FIFTEENTH.—THE RUE DE L’HOMME ARMÉ
CHAPTER I—A DRINKER IS A BABBLER
CHAPTER II—THE STREET URCHIN AN ENEMY OF LIGHT
CHAPTER III—WHILE COSETTE AND TOUSSAINT ARE ASLEEP
CHAPTER IV—GAVROCHE’S EXCESS OF ZEAL
VOLUME V—JEAN VALJEAN
BOOK FIRST.—THE WAR BETWEEN FOUR WALLS
CHAPTER I—THE CHARYBDIS OF THE FAUBOURG SAINT ANTOINE AND THE SCYLLA OF THEFAUBOURG DU TEMPLE
CHAPTER II—WHAT IS TO BE DONE IN THE ABYSS IF ONE DOES NOT CONVERSE
CHAPTER III—LIGHT AND SHADOW
CHAPTER IV—MINUSFIVE, PLUS ONE
CHAPTER V—THE HORIZON WHICH ONEBEHOLDS FROM THE SUMMIT OF A BARRICADE
CHAPTER VI—MARIUS HAGGARD, JAVERT LACONIC
CHAPTER VII—THE SITUATION BECOMES AGGRAVATED
CHAPTER VIII—THE ARTILLERY-MEN COMPEL PEOPLE TO TAKETHEM SERIOUSLY
CHAPTER IX—EMPLOYMENT OF THE OLD TALENTSOF A POACHER AND THAT INFALLIBLE MARKSMANSHIP WHICH INFLUENCED THE CONDEMNATION OF 1796
CHAPTER XI—THE SHOT WHICH MISSES NOTHING AND KILLS NO ONE
CHAPTER XII—DISORDER A PARTISAN OF ORDER
CHAPTER XIV—WHEREIN WILL APPEAR THE NAME OF ENJOLRAS’ MISTRESS
CHAPTER XV—GAVROCHE OUTSIDE
CHAPTER XVI—HOW FROM A BROTHER ONE BECOMES A FATHER
CHAPTER XVII—MORTUUS PATER FILIUM MORITURUM EXPECTAT
CHAPTER XVIII—THE VULTURE BECOME PREY
CHAPTER XIX—JEAN VALJEAN TAKES HIS REVENGE
CHAPTER XX—THE DEAD ARE IN THE RIGHT AND THE LIVING ARE NOT IN THE WRONG
CHAPTER XXI—THE HEROES
CHAPTER XXII—FOOT TO FOOT
CHAPTER XXIII—ORESTES FASTING AND PYLADES DRUNK
BOOK SECOND.—THE INTESTINE OF THE LEVIATHAN
CHAPTER I—THE LAND IMPOVERISHED BY THE SEA
CHAPTER II—ANCIENT HISTORY OF THE SEWER
CHAPTER V—PRESENT PROGRESS
CHAPTER VI—FUTURE PROGRESS
BOOK THIRD.—MUD BUT THE SOUL
CHAPTER I—THESEWER AND ITS SURPRISES
CHAPTER III—THE “SPUN” MAN
CHAPTER IV—HE ALSO BEARS HIS CROSS
CHAPTER V—IN THE CASE OF SAND AS IN THAT OF WOMAN, THERE IS A FINENESS WHICH IS TREACHEROUS
CHAPTER VI—THE FONTIS
CHAPTER VII—ONE SOMETIMES RUNS AGROUND WHEN ONE FANCIES THAT ONE IS DISEMBARKING
CHAPTER VIII—THE TORN COAT-TAIL
CHAPTER IX—MARIUS PRODUCES ON SOME ONE WHO IS A JUDGE OF THE MATTER, THE EFFECT OF BEING DEAD
CHAPTER X—RETURN OF THE SON WHO WAS PRODIGAL OF HIS LIFE
CHAPTER XI—CONCUSSION IN THE ABSOLUTE
CHAPTER XII—THE GRANDFATHER
BOOK FOURTH.—JAVERT DERAILED
BOOK FIFTH.—GRANDSON AND GRANDFATHER
CHAPTER I—IN WHICH THE TREE WITH THE ZINC PLASTER APPEARS AGAIN
CHAPTER II—MARIUS, EMERGING FROM CIVIL WAR, MAKES READY FOR DOMESTIC WAR
CHAPTER III—MARIUS ATTACKED
CHAPTER IV—MADEMOISELLE GILLENORMAND ENDS BY NO LONGER THINKING IT A BAD THING THAT M. FAUCHELEVENT SHOULD HAVE ENTERED WITH SOMETHING UNDER HIS ARM
CHAPTER V—DEPOSIT YOUR MONEY IN A FOREST RATHER THAN WITH A NOTARY
CHAPTER VI—THE TWO OLD MEN DO EVERYTHING, EACH ONE AFTER HIS OWN FASHION, TO RENDER COSETTE HAPPY
CHAPTER VII—THE EFFECTS OF DREAMS MINGLED WITH HAPPINESS
CHAPTER VIII—TWO MEN IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND
BOOK SIXTH.—THE SLEEPLESS NIGHT
CHAPTER I—THE 16TH OF FEBRUARY, 1833
CHAPTER II—JEAN VALJEAN STILL WEARS HIS ARM IN A SLING
CHAPTER III—THE INSEPARABLE
CHAPTER IV—THE IMMORTAL LIVER68
BOOK SEVENTH.—THE LAST DRAUGHT FROM THE CUP
CHAPTERI—THE SEVENTH CIRCLE AND THE EIGHTH HEAVEN
CHAPTER II—THE OBSCURITIES WHICH A REVELATION CAN CONTAIN
BOOK EIGHTH.—FADING AWAY OF THE TWILIGHT
CHAPTER I—THE LOWER CHAMBER
CHAPTER II—ANOTHER STEP BACKWARDS
CHAPTER III—THEY RECALL THE GARDEN OF THE RUE PLUMET
CHAPTER IV—ATTRACTION AND EXTINCTION
BOOK NINTH.—SUPREME SHADOW, SUPREME DAWN
CHAPTER I—PITY FOR THEUNHAPPY, BUT INDULGENCE FOR THE HAPPY
CHAPTER II—LAST FLICKERINGS OF A LAMP WITHOUT OIL
CHAPTER III—A PEN IS HEAVY TO THE MAN WHO LIFTED THE FAUCHELEVENT’S CART
CHAPTER IV—A BOTTLE OF INK WHICH ONLY SUCCEEDED IN WHITENING
CHAPTER V—A NIGHT BEHIND WHICH THERE IS DAY
CHAPTER VI—THE GRASS COVERS AND THE RAIN EFFACES
LETTER TO M. DAELLI
So long as there shall exist, by virtue of law and custom, decrees of damnation pronounced by society, artificially creating hells amid the civilization of earth, and adding the element of human fate to divine destiny; so long as the three great problems of the century—the degradation of man through pauperism, the corruption of woman through hunger, the crippling of children through lack of light—are unsolved; so long as social asphyxia is possible in any part of the world;—in other words, and with a still wider significance, so long as ignorance and poverty exist on earth, books of the nature of Les Misérables cannot fail to be of use.
HAUTEVILLE HOUSE, 1862.
In 1815, M. Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel was Bishop ofD—— He was anold man of about seventy-five years ofage; he had occupied the see of D—— since 1806.
Although this detail has no connection whatever with the realsubstance of what we are about to relate, it will not besuperfluous, if merely for the sake of exactness in all points, tomention here the various rumors and remarks which had been incirculation about him from the very moment when he arrived in thediocese. True or false, that which is said of men often occupies asimportant a place in their lives, and aboveall in their destinies,as that which they do. M. Myriel was the son of a councillor of theParliament of Aix; hence he belonged to the nobility of the bar. Itwas said that his father, destining him to be the heir of his ownpost, had married him at a very early age, eighteen or twenty, inaccordance with a custom which is rather widely prevalent inparliamentary families. In spite of this marriage, however, it wassaid that Charles Myriel created a great deal of talk. He was wellformed, though rather short in stature, elegant, graceful,intelligent; the whole of the first portion of his life had beendevoted to the world and to gallantry.
The Revolution came; events succeeded each other withprecipitation; the parliamentary families, decimated,pursued,hunted down, were dispersed. M. Charles Myriel emigrated toItaly at the very beginning of the Revolution. There his wife diedof a malady of the chest, from which she had long suffered. He hadno children. What took place next in the fate of M. Myriel? Theruin of the French society of the olden days, the fall of his ownfamily, the tragic spectacles of ‘93, which were, perhaps,even more alarming to the emigrants who viewed them from adistance, with the magnifying powers of terror,—did thesecause the ideas of renunciation and solitude to germinate in him?Was he, in the midst of these distractions, these affections whichabsorbed his life, suddenly smitten with one of those mysteriousand terrible blows which sometimes overwhelm, by striking to hisheart, a man whom public catastrophes would not shake, by strikingat his existence and his fortune? No one could have told: all thatwas known was, that when he returned from Italy he was apriest.
In 1804, M. Myriel was the Curé of B——[Brignolles]. He was already advanced in years, and lived in a veryretired manner.
About the epoch of the coronation, some petty affair connectedwith his curacy—just what, is not precisely known—tookhim to Paris. Among other powerful persons to whom he went tosolicit aid forhis parishioners was M. le Cardinal Fesch. One day,when the Emperor had come to visit his uncle, the worthy Curé,who was waiting in the anteroom, found himself present when HisMajesty passed. Napoleon, on finding himself observed with acertain curiosity by this old man, turned round and saidabruptly:—
“Who is this good man who is staring at me?”
“Sire,” said M. Myriel, “you are looking at agood man, and I at a great man. Each of us can profit byit.”
That very evening, the Emperor asked the Cardinalthe name of theCuré, and some time afterwards M. Myriel was utterlyastonished to learn that he had been appointed Bishop ofD——
What truth was there, after all, in the stories which wereinvented as to the early portion of M. Myriel’s life? No oneknew.Very few families had been acquainted with the Myriel familybefore the Revolution.
M. Myriel had to undergo the fate of every newcomer in a littletown, where there are many mouths which talk, and very few headswhich think. He was obliged to undergo it although he was a bishop,and because he was a bishop. But after all, the rumors with whichhis name was connected were rumors only,—noise, sayings,words; less than words—palabres, as the energetic language ofthe South expresses it.
However that may be, after nine years of episcopal power and ofresidence in D——, all the stories and subjects ofconversation which engross petty towns and petty people at theoutset had fallen into profound oblivion. No one would have daredto mention them; no one would havedared to recall them.
M. Myriel had arrived at D—— accompanied by anelderly spinster, Mademoiselle Baptistine, who was his sister, andten years his junior.
Their only domestic was a female servant of the same age asMademoiselle Baptistine, and named Madame Magloire, who, afterhaving beenthe servant of M. le Curé, now assumed the doubletitle of maid to Mademoiselle and housekeeper to Monseigneur.
Mademoiselle Baptistine was a long, pale, thin, gentle creature;she realized the ideal expressed by the word“respectable”; for it seems that a woman must needs bea mother in order to be venerable. She had never been pretty; herwhole life, which had been nothing but a succession of holy deeds,had finally conferred upon her a sort of pallor andtransparency;and as she advanced in years she had acquired what maybe called the beauty of goodness. What had been leanness in heryouth had become transparency in her maturity; and this diaphaneityallowed the angel to be seen. She was a soul rather than a virgin.Her person seemed made of a shadow; there was hardly sufficientbody to provide for sex; a little matter enclosing a light; largeeyes forever drooping;—a mere pretext for a soul’sremaining on the earth.
Madame Magloire was a little, fat, white old woman,corpulent andbustling; always out of breath,—in the first place, becauseof her activity, and in the next, because of her asthma.
On his arrival, M. Myriel was installed in the episcopal palacewith the honors required by the Imperial decrees, which classabishop immediately after a major-general. The mayor and thepresident paid the first call on him, and he, in turn, paid thefirst call on the general and the prefect.
The installation over, the town waited to see its bishop atwork.
The episcopal palace of D—— adjoins thehospital.
The episcopal palace was a huge and beautiful house, built ofstone at the beginning of the last century by M. Henri Puget,Doctor of Theology of the Faculty of Paris, Abbé of Simore,who had been Bishop of D—— in 1712. This palace was agenuine seignorial residence. Everything about it had a grandair,—the apartments of the Bishop, the drawing-rooms, thechambers, the principal courtyard, which was very large, with walksencircling it under arcades in the old Florentine fashion, andgardens planted with magnificent trees. In the dining-room, a longand superb gallery which was situated on the ground floor andopened on the gardens, M. Henri Puget had entertained in state, onJuly29, 1714, My Lords Charles Brûlart de Genlis, archbishop;Prince d’Embrun; Antoine de Mesgrigny, the capuchin, Bishopof Grasse; Philippe de Vendôme, Grand Prior of France,Abbé of Saint Honoré de Lérins; François deBerton de Crillon, bishop, Baron de Vence; César de Sabran deForcalquier, bishop, Seignor of Glandève; and Jean Soanen,Priest of the Oratory, preacher in ordinary to the king, bishop,Seignor of Senez. The portraits of these seven reverend personagesdecorated this apartment; and this memorable date, the 29th ofJuly, 1714, was there engraved in letters of gold on a table ofwhite marble.
The hospital was a low and narrow building of a single story,with a small garden.
Three days after his arrival, the Bishop visited the hospital.The visitended, he had the director requested to be so good as tocome to his house.
“Monsieur the director of the hospital,” said he tohim, “how many sick people have you at the presentmoment?”
“That was the number which I counted,” said theBishop.
“The beds,” pursued the director, “are verymuch crowded against each other.”
“That is what I observed.”
“The halls are nothing but rooms, and it is withdifficulty that the air can be changed in them.”
“So it seems to me.”
“And then, when there is a ray of sun, the garden is verysmall for the convalescents.”
“That was what I said to myself.”
“In case of epidemics,—we have had the typhus feverthis year; we had the sweating sickness two years ago, and ahundred patients at times,—we know notwhat to do.”
“That is the thought which occurred to me.”
“What would you have, Monseigneur?” said thedirector. “One must resign one’s self.”
This conversation took place in the gallery dining-room on theground floor.
The Bishop remained silent for a moment; then he turned abruptlyto the director of the hospital.
“Monsieur,” said he, “how many beds do youthink this hall alone would hold?”
“Monseigneur’s dining-room?” exclaimed thestupefied director.
The Bishop cast a glance round the apartment, andseemed to betaking measures and calculations with his eyes.
“It would hold full twenty beds,” said he, as thoughspeaking to himself. Then, raising his voice:—
“Hold, Monsieur the director of the hospital, I will tellyou something. There is evidently amistake here. There arethirty-six of you, in five or six small rooms. There are three ofus here, and we have room for sixty. There is some mistake, I tellyou; you have my house, and I have yours. Give me back my house;you are at home here.”
On the following day the thirty-six patients were installed inthe Bishop’s palace, and the Bishop was settled in thehospital.
M. Myriel had no property, his family having been ruined by theRevolution. His sister was in receipt of a yearly income of fivehundred francs, which sufficed for her personal wants at thevicarage. M. Myriel received from the State, in his quality ofbishop, a salary of fifteen thousand francs. On the very day whenhe took up his abode in the hospital, M. Myriel settled on thedisposition of this sum once for all, in the following manner. Wetranscribe here a note made by his own hand:—
NOTE ON THE REGULATION OF MY HOUSEHOLD EXPENSES.
For the little seminary . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 1,500 livresSociety of the mission . . .. . . . .. . . . . . 100 ”For the Lazarists of Montdidier . . . . . . . . .. 100 ”Seminary forforeign missions in Paris . . . . .. 200 ”Congregationof the Holy Spirit . . . . . . . . .. 150 ”Religiousestablishments of theHoly Land . . . .. 100 ”Charitablematernity societies . . . . . . . . .. 300 ”Extra, forthat of Arles . . . . . . . . . . . .. 50 ”Workfor the amelioration of prisons . . . . . .. 400 ”Work for therelief anddelivery of prisoners . . . 500 ”To liberate fathers of families incarceratedfor debt 1,000 ”Addition to the salary ofthe poor teachers of thediocese . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . 2,000 ”Public granaryof the Hautes-Alpes . . . . . . .. 100 ”Congregationof the ladies of D——, of Manosque, and ofSisteron, forthe gratuitous instruction of poorgirls . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . 1,500 ”Forthe poor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 6,000 ”My personalexpenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,000 ”———Total . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15,000 ”
M. Myriel made no change in this arrangement during the entireperiod that he occupied the see of D—— As has beenseen,he called itregulating his household expenses.
This arrangement was accepted with absolute submission byMademoiselle Baptistine. This holy woman regarded Monseigneur ofD—— as at one and the same time her brother and herbishop, her friend according tothe flesh and her superior accordingto the Church. She simply loved and venerated him. When he spoke,she bowed; when he acted, she yielded her adherence. Their onlyservant, Madame Magloire, grumbled a little. It will be observedthat Monsieur the Bishophad reserved for himself only one thousandlivres, which, added to the pension of Mademoiselle Baptistine,made fifteen hundred francs a year. On these fifteen hundred francsthese two old women and the old man subsisted.
And when a village curate came toD——, the Bishopstill found means to entertain him, thanks to the severe economy ofMadame Magloire, and to the intelligent administration ofMademoiselle Baptistine.
One day, after he had been in D—— about threemonths, the Bishop said:—
“And still I amquite cramped with it all!”
“I should think so!” exclaimed Madame Magloire.“Monseigneur has not even claimed the allowance which thedepartment owes him for the expense of his carriage in town, andfor his journeys about the diocese. It was customary forbishops informer days.”
“Hold!” cried the Bishop, “you are quiteright, Madame Magloire.”
And he made his demand.
Some time afterwards the General Council took this demand underconsideration, and voted him an annual sum of three thousandfrancs, under this heading:Allowance to M. the Bishop for expensesof carriage, expenses of posting, and expenses of pastoralvisits.
This provoked a great outcry among the local burgesses; and asenator of the Empire, a former member of the Council of the FiveHundred which favored the 18 Brumaire, and who was provided with amagnificent senatorial office in the vicinity of the town ofD——, wrote to M. Bigot de Préameneu, the ministerof public worship, a very angry and confidential note on thesubject, from which we extract these authentic lines:—
“Expenses of carriage? What can be done with it in a townof less than four thousand inhabitants? Expenses of journeys? Whatis the use of these trips, in the first place? Next, how can theposting be accomplished in these mountainous parts? There are noroads. No one travels otherwise than on horseback. Even the bridgebetween Durance and Château-Arnoux can barely supportox-teams. These priests are all thus, greedy and avaricious. Thisman played the good priest when he firstcame. Now he does like therest; he must have a carriage and a posting-chaise, he must haveluxuries, like the bishops of the olden days. Oh, all thispriesthood! Things will not go well, M. le Comte, until the Emperorhas freed us from these black-cappedrascals. Down with the Pope![Matters were getting embroiled with Rome.] For my part, I am forCæsar alone.” Etc., etc.
On the other hand, this affair afforded great delight to MadameMagloire. “Good,” said she to Mademoiselle Baptistine;“Monseigneur began with other people, but he has had to windup with himself, after all. He has regulated all his charities. Nowhere are three thousand francs for us! At last!”
That same evening the Bishop wrote out and handed to his sistera memorandum conceived in the following terms:—
EXPENSES OF CARRIAGE AND CIRCUIT.
For furnishing meat soup to the patients in the hospital. 1,500livresFor the maternity charitable society of Aix . . . . . .. 250 ”For the maternity charitablesociety of Draguignan . . . 250 ”For foundlings . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . 500 ”Fororphans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 500 ”——-Total . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3,000 ”
Such was M. Myriel’s budget.
As for thechance episcopal perquisites, the fees for marriagebans, dispensations, private baptisms, sermons, benedictions, ofchurches or chapels, marriages, etc., the Bishop levied them on thewealthy with all the more asperity, since he bestowed them on theneedy.
After a time, offerings of money flowed in. Those who had andthose who lacked knocked at M. Myriel’s door,—thelatter in search of the alms which the former came to deposit. Inless than a year the Bishop had become the treasurer of allbenevolence andthe cashier of all those in distress. Considerablesums of money passed through his hands, but nothing could inducehim to make any change whatever in his mode of life, or addanything superfluous to his bare necessities.
Far from it. As there is always more wretchedness below thanthere is brotherhood above, all was given away, so to speak, beforeit was received. It was like water on dry soil; no matter how muchmoney he received, he never had any. Then he stripped himself.
The usage being that bishops shall announce their baptismalnames at the head of their charges and their pastoral letters, thepoor people of the country-side had selected, with a sort ofaffectionate instinct, among the names and prenomens of theirbishop, that which had a meaning forthem; and they never called himanything except Monseigneur Bienvenu [Welcome]. We will followtheir example, and will also call him thus when we have occasion toname him. Moreover, this appellation pleased him.
“I like that name,” said he. “Bienvenu makesup for the Monseigneur.”
We do not claim that the portrait herewith presented isprobable; we confine ourselves to stating that it resembles theoriginal.
The Bishop did not omit his pastoral visitsbecause he hadconverted his carriage into alms. The diocese of D—— isa fatiguing one. There are very few plains and a great manymountains; hardly any roads, as we have just seen; thirty-twocuracies, forty-one vicarships, and two hundred and eighty-fiveauxiliary chapels. To visit all these is quite a task.
The Bishop managed to do it. He went on foot when it was in theneighborhood, in a tilted spring-cart when it was on the plain, andon a donkey in the mountains. The two old women accompanied him.When the trip was too hard for them, he went alone.
One day he arrived at Senez, which is an ancient episcopal city.He was mounted on an ass. His purse, which was very dry at thatmoment, did not permit him any other equipage. The mayor of thetown came toreceive him at the gate of the town, and watched himdismount from his ass, with scandalized eyes. Some of the citizenswere laughing around him. “Monsieur the Mayor,” saidthe Bishop, “and Messieurs Citizens, I perceive that I shockyou. You think it veryarrogant in a poor priest to ride an animalwhich was used by Jesus Christ. I have done so from necessity, Iassure you, and not from vanity.”
In the course of these trips he was kind and indulgent, andtalked rather than preached. He never went far in search of hisarguments and his examples. He quoted to the inhabitants of onedistrict the example of a neighboring district. In the cantonswhere they were harsh to the poor, he said: “Look at thepeople of Briançon! They have conferred on the poor, on widowsand orphans, the right to have their meadows mown three days inadvance of every one else. They rebuild their houses for themgratuitously when they are ruined. Therefore it is a country whichis blessed by God. For a whole century, there has not been asinglemurderer among them.”
In villages which were greedy for profit and harvest, he said:“Look at the people of Embrun! If, at the harvest season, thefather of a family has his son away on service in the army, and hisdaughters at service in the town,and if he is ill andincapacitated, the curé recommends him to the prayers of thecongregation; and on Sunday, after the mass, all the inhabitants ofthe village—men, women, and children—go to the poorman’s field and do his harvesting for him, and carryhis strawand his grain to his granary.” To families divided byquestions of money and inheritance he said: “Look at themountaineers of Devolny, a country so wild that the nightingale isnot heard there once in fifty years. Well, when the father of afamily dies, the boys go off to seek their fortunes, leaving theproperty to the girls, so that they may find husbands.” Tothe cantons which had a taste for lawsuits, and where the farmersruined themselves in stamped paper, he said: “Look at thosegood peasants in the valley of Queyras! There are three thousandsouls of them. Mon Dieu! it is like a little republic. Neitherjudge nor bailiff is known there. The mayor does everything. Heallots the imposts, taxes each person conscientiously, judgesquarrels fornothing, divides inheritances without charge,pronounces sentences gratuitously; and he is obeyed, because he isa just man among simple men.” To villages where he found noschoolmaster, he quoted once more the people of Queyras: “Doyou know how they manage?” he said.“Since a littlecountry of a dozen or fifteen hearths cannot always support ateacher, they have schoolmasters who are paid by the whole valley,who make the round of the villages, spending a week in this one,ten days in that, and instructthem. These teachers go to the fairs.I have seen them there. They are to be recognized by the quill penswhich they wear in the cord of their hat. Those who teach readingonly have one pen; those who teach reading and reckoning have twopens; those who teach reading, reckoning, and Latin have threepens. But what a disgrace to be ignorant! Do like the people ofQueyras!”
Thus he discoursed gravely and paternally; in default ofexamples, he invented parables, going directly to the point, withfew phrases and many images, which characteristic formed the realeloquence of Jesus Christ. And being convinced himself, he waspersuasive.
His conversation was gay and affable. He put himself on a levelwith the two oldwomen who had passed their lives beside him. Whenhe laughed, it was the laugh of a schoolboy. Madame Magloire likedto call him Your Grace [Votre Grandeur]. One day he rose from hisarmchair, and went to his library in search of a book. This bookwas onone of the upper shelves. As the bishop was rather short ofstature, he could not reach it. “Madame Magloire,” saidhe, “fetch me a chair. My greatness [grandeur] does not reachas far as that shelf.”
One of his distant relatives, Madame la Comtesse deLô,rarely allowed an opportunity to escape of enumerating, inhis presence, what she designated as “the expectations”of her three sons. She had numerous relatives, who were very oldand near to death, and of whom her sons were the natural heirs. Theyoungest of the three was to receive from a grandaunt a goodhundred thousand livres of income; the second was the heir byentail to the title of the Duke, his uncle; the eldest was tosucceed to the peerage of his grandfather. The Bishop wasaccustomed to listenin silence to these innocent and pardonablematernal boasts. On one occasion, however, he appeared to be morethoughtful than usual, while Madame de Lô was relating onceagain the details of all these inheritances and all these“expectations.” She interrupted herself impatiently:“Mon Dieu, cousin! What are you thinking about?”“I am thinking,” replied the Bishop, “of asingular remark, which is to be found, I believe, in St.Augustine,—‘Place your hopes in the man from whom youdo not inherit.’”
At another time, on receiving a notification of the decease of agentleman of the country-side, wherein not only the dignities ofthe dead man, but also the feudal and noble qualifications of allhis relatives, spread over an entire page: “What a stout backDeath has!” he exclaimed. “What a strange burden oftitles is cheerfully imposed on him, and how much wit must menhave, in order thus to press the tomb into the service ofvanity!”
He was gifted, on occasion, with a gentle raillery, which almostalways concealeda serious meaning. In the course of one Lent, ayouthful vicar came to D——, and preached in thecathedral. He was tolerably eloquent. The subject of his sermon wascharity. He urged the rich to give to the poor, in order to avoidhell, which he depicted in the most frightful manner of which hewas capable, and to win paradise, which he represented as charmingand desirable. Among the audience there was a wealthy retiredmerchant, who was somewhat of a usurer, named M. Géborand, whohad amassed two millionsin the manufacture of coarse cloth, serges,and woollen galloons. Never in his whole life had M. Géborandbestowed alms on any poor wretch. After the delivery of thatsermon, it was observed that he gave a sou every Sunday to the poorold beggar-women atthe door of the cathedral. There were six ofthem to share it. One day the Bishop caught sight of him in the actof bestowing this charity, and said to his sister, with a smile,“There is M. Géborand purchasing paradise for asou.”
When it was a question of charity, he was not to be rebuffedeven by a refusal, and on such occasions he gave utterance toremarks which induced reflection. Once he was begging for the poorin a drawing-room of the town; there was present the MarquisdeChamptercier, a wealthy and avaricious old man, who contrived tobe, at one and the same time, an ultra-royalist and anultra-Voltairian. This variety of man has actually existed. Whenthe Bishop came to him, he touched his arm,“You must give mesomething, M. le Marquis.”The Marquis turned round andanswered dryly,“I have poor people of my own,Monseigneur.” “Give them to me,”replied theBishop.
One day he preached the following sermon in thecathedral:—
“My very dear brethren, my good friends, there arethirteen hundred and twenty thousand peasants’ dwellings inFrance which have but three openings; eighteen hundred andseventeen thousand hovels which have but two openings, the door andone window; and three hundred and forty-six thousand cabins besideswhich have but one opening, the door. And this arises from a thingwhich is called the tax on doors and windows. Just put poorfamilies, old women and little children, in those buildings, andbehold the fevers and maladies which result! Alas! God gives air tomen; the law sells itto them. I do not blame the law, but I blessGod. In the department of the Isère, in the Var, in the twodepartments of the Alpes, the Hautes, and the Basses, the peasantshave not even wheelbarrows; they transport their manure on thebacks of men; they have no candles, and they burn resinous sticks,and bits of rope dipped in pitch. That is the state of affairsthroughout the whole of the hilly country of Dauphiné. Theymake bread for six months at one time; they bake it with driedcow-dung. In the winterthey break this bread up with an axe, andthey soak it for twenty-four hours, in order to render it eatable.My brethren, have pity! behold the suffering on all sides ofyou!”
Born a Provençal, he easily familiarized himself with thedialect of the south.He said,“En bé! moussu, séssagé?”as in lower Languedoc;“Onté anaraspassa?”as in the Basses-Alpes;“Puerte un bouen moutuembe un bouen fromage grase,”as in upper Dauphiné. Thispleased the people extremely, and contributed not a little to winhim access to all spirits. He was perfectly at home in the thatchedcottage and in the mountains. He understood how to say the grandestthings in the most vulgar of idioms. As he spoke all tongues, heentered into all hearts.
Moreover, he was the same towards people of the world andtowards the lower classes. He condemned nothing in haste andwithout taking circumstances into account. He said, “Examinethe road over which the fault has passed.”
Being, as he described himself with a smile, anex-sinner, he hadnone of the asperities of austerity, and he professed, with a gooddeal of distinctness, and without the frown of the ferociouslyvirtuous, a doctrine which may be summed up as follows:—
“Man has upon him his flesh, which is at once his burdenand his temptation. He drags it with him and yields to it. He mustwatch it, check it, repress it, and obey it only at the lastextremity. There may be some fault even in this obedience; but thefault thus committed is venial; it is a fall, but a fall on theknees whichmay terminate in prayer.
“To be a saint is the exception; to be an upright man isthe rule. Err, fall, sin if you will, but be upright.
“The least possible sin is the law of man. No sin at allis the dream of the angel. All which is terrestrial is subjecttosin. Sin is a gravitation.”
When he saw everyone exclaiming very loudly, and growing angryvery quickly, “Oh! oh!” he said, with a smile;“to all appearance, this is a great crime which all the worldcommits. These are hypocrisies which have takenfright, and are inhaste to make protest and to put themselves undershelter.”
He was indulgent towards women and poor people, on whom theburden of human society rest. He said, “The faults of women,of children, of the feeble, the indigent, and the ignorant, are thefault of the husbands, the fathers, the masters, the strong, therich, and the wise.”
He said, moreover, “Teach those who are ignorant as manythings as possible; society is culpable, in that it does not affordinstruction gratis; it isresponsible for the night which itproduces. This soul is full of shadow; sin is therein committed.The guilty one is not the person who has committed the sin, but theperson who has created the shadow.”
It will be perceived that he had a peculiar manner of his own ofjudging things: I suspect that he obtained it from the Gospel.
One day he heard a criminal case, which was in preparation andon the point of trial, discussed in a drawing-room. A wretched man,being at the end of his resources, had coined counterfeit money,out of love for a woman, and for the child which he had had by her.Counterfeiting was still punishable with death at that epoch. Thewoman had been arrested in the act of passing the first false piecemade by the man. She was held, but there were no proofs exceptagainst her. She alone could accuse her lover, and destroy him byher confession. She denied; they insisted. She persisted in herdenial. Thereupon an idea occurred to the attorney for the crown.He invented an infidelity on the part of the lover, and succeeded,by means of fragments of letters cunningly presented, in persuadingthe unfortunate woman that she had a rival, and that the man wasdeceiving her. Thereupon, exasperated by jealousy, she denouncedher lover, confessed all,proved all.
The man was ruined. He was shortly to be tried at Aix with hisaccomplice. They were relating the matter, and each one wasexpressing enthusiasm over the cleverness of the magistrate. Bybringing jealousy into play, he had caused the truth to burst forthin wrath, he had educed the justice of revenge. The Bishop listenedto all this in silence. When they had finished, heinquired,—
“Where are this man and woman to be tried?”
“At the Court of Assizes.”
He went on, “And where will the advocate ofthe crown betried?”
A tragic event occurred at D—— A man was condemnedto death for murder. He was a wretched fellow, not exactlyeducated, not exactly ignorant, who had been a mountebank at fairs,and a writer for the public. The town took a great interest in thetrial. On the eve of the day fixed for the execution of thecondemned man, the chaplain of the prison fell ill. A priest wasneeded to attend the criminal in his last moments. They sent forthe curé. It seems that he refused to come, saying,“That is no affair of mine. I have nothing to do with thatunpleasant task, and with that mountebank: I, too, am ill; andbesides, it is not my place.” This reply was reported to theBishop, who said,“Monsieur le Curé is right: it is nothis place; it is mine.”
He went instantly to the prison, descended to the cell of the“mountebank,” called him by name, took him by the hand,and spoke to him. He passed the entire day with him, forgetful offood and sleep, praying to God for the soul of the condemned man,andpraying the condemned man for his own. He told him the besttruths, which are also the most simple. He was father, brother,friend; he was bishop only to bless. He taught him everything,encouraged and consoled him. The man was on the point of dying indespair. Death was an abyss to him. As he stood trembling on itsmournful brink, he recoiled with horror. He was not sufficientlyignorant to be absolutely indifferent. His condemnation, which hadbeen a profound shock, had, in a manner, broken through, hereandthere, that wall which separates us from the mystery of things, andwhich we call life. He gazed incessantly beyond this world throughthese fatal breaches, and beheld only darkness. The Bishop made himsee light.
On the following day, when they cameto fetch the unhappy wretch,the Bishop was still there. He followed him, and exhibited himselfto the eyes of the crowd in his purple camail and with hisepiscopal cross upon his neck, side by side with the criminal boundwith cords.
He mounted the tumbril with him, he mounted the scaffold withhim. The sufferer, who had been so gloomy and cast down on thepreceding day, was radiant. He felt that his soul was reconciled,and he hoped in God. The Bishop embraced him, and at the momentwhen the knife was about to fall, he said to him: “God raisesfrom the dead him whom man slays; he whom his brothers haverejected finds his Father once more. Pray, believe, enter intolife: the Father is there.” When he descended from thescaffold, there was something in his look which made the peopledraw aside to let him pass. They did not know which was most worthyof admiration, his pallor or his serenity. On his return to thehumble dwelling, which he designated, with a smile, ashis palace,he said to his sister,“I havejust officiatedpontifically.”
Since the most sublime things are often those which are theleast understood, there were people in the town who said, whencommenting on this conduct of the Bishop,“It isaffectation.”
This, however, was a remark which was confined to thedrawing-rooms. The populace, which perceives no jest in holy deeds,was touched, and admired him.
As for the Bishop, it was a shock to him to have beheld theguillotine, and it was a long time before he recovered from it.
In fact, when the scaffold is there, all erected and prepared,it has something about it which produces hallucination. One mayfeel a certain indifference to the death penalty, one may refrainfrom pronouncing upon it, from saying yes or no, so long as one hasnot seen a guillotine with one’s own eyes: but if oneencounters one of them, the shock is violent; one is forced todecide, and to take part for or against. Some admire it, like deMaistre; others execrate it, like Beccaria. The guillotine is theconcretion of the law;it is calledvindicate; it is not neutral, andit does not permit you to remain neutral. He who sees it shiverswith the most mysterious of shivers. All social problems erecttheir interrogation point around this chopping-knife. The scaffoldis a vision.The scaffold is not a piece of carpentry; the scaffoldis not a machine; the scaffold is not an inert bit of mechanismconstructed of wood, iron and cords.
It seems as though it were a being, possessed of I know not whatsombre initiative; one would say that this piece ofcarpenter’s work saw, that this machine heard, that thismechanism understood, that this wood, this iron, and these cordswere possessed of will. In the frightful meditation into which itspresence casts the soul the scaffold appears in terrible guise, andas though taking part in what is going on. The scaffold is theaccomplice of the executioner; it devours, it eats flesh, it drinksblood; the scaffold is a sort of monster fabricated by the judgeand the carpenter, a spectre which seems to live with a horriblevitality composed of all the death which it has inflicted.
Therefore, the impression was terrible and profound; on the dayfollowing the execution, and on many succeeding days, the Bishopappeared to be crushed. The almost violent serenity of the funerealmoment had disappeared; the phantom of social justice tormentedhim. He, who generally returned from all his deeds with a radiantsatisfaction, seemed to be reproaching himself. At times he talkedto himself, and stammered lugubriousmonologues in a low voice. Thisis one which his sister overheard one evening and preserved:“I did not think that it was so monstrous. It is wrong tobecome absorbed in the divine law to such a degree as not toperceive human law. Death belongs to God alone. By what right domen touch that unknown thing?”
In course of time these impressions weakened and probablyvanished. Nevertheless, it was observed that the Bishop thenceforthavoided passing the place of execution.
M. Myriel could be summoned at any hour to the bedside of thesick and dying. He did not ignore the fact that therein lay hisgreatest duty and his greatest labor. Widowed and orphaned familieshad no need to summon him; he came of his own accord. He understoodhow to sit down and hold his peace for long hours beside the manwho had lost the wife of his love, of the mother who had lost herchild. As he knew the moment for silence he knew also the momentfor speech. Oh, admirable consoler! He sought not to efface sorrowby forgetfulness, but tomagnify and dignify it by hope. Hesaid:—
“Have a care of the manner in which you turn towards thedead. Think not of that which perishes. Gaze steadily. You willperceive the living light of your well-beloved dead in the depthsof heaven.” He knew that faith is wholesome. He sought tocounsel and calm the despairing man, by pointing out to him theresigned man, and to transform the grief which gazes upon a graveby showing him the grief which fixes its gaze upon a star.
The private life of M. Myriel was filled with the same thoughtsas his public life. The voluntary poverty in which the Bishop ofD—— lived, would have been a solemn and charming sightfor any one who could have viewed itclose at hand.
Like all old men, and like the majority of thinkers, he sleptlittle. This brief slumber was profound. In the morning hemeditated for an hour, then he said his mass, either at thecathedral or in his own house. His mass said, he broke hisfast onrye bread dipped in the milk of his own cows. Then he set towork.
A Bishop is a very busy man: he must every day receive thesecretary of the bishopric, who is generally a canon, and nearlyevery day his vicars-general. He has congregations to reprove,privileges to grant, a whole ecclesiastical library toexamine,—prayer-books, diocesan catechisms, books of hours,etc.,—charges to write, sermons to authorize, curés andmayors to reconcile, a clerical correspondence, an administrativecorrespondence; on one side the State, on the other the Holy See;and a thousand matters of business.
What time was left to him, after these thousand details ofbusiness, and his offices and his breviary, he bestowed first onthe necessitous, the sick, and the afflicted; the time which wasleft to him from the afflicted, the sick, and the necessitous, hedevoted to work. Sometimes he dug in his garden; again, he read orwrote. He had but one word for both these kinds of toil; he calledthemgardening. “The mind is a garden,” said he.
Towards midday, when the weather was fine, he went forth andtook a stroll in the country or in town, often entering lowlydwellings. He was seen walking alone, buried in his own thoughts,his eyes cast down, supporting himself on his long cane, clad inhis wadded purple garment of silk, which was very warm, wearingpurple stockings inside his coarse shoes, and surmounted by a flathat which allowed three golden tassels of large bullion to droopfrom its three points.
It was a perfectfestival wherever he appeared. One would havesaid that his presence had something warming and luminous about it.The children and the old people came out to the doorsteps for theBishop as for the sun. He bestowed his blessing, and they blessedhim. Theypointed out his house to any one who was in need ofanything.
The Comfortor 1b1-5-comfortor
Here and there he halted, accosted the little boys and girls,and smiled upon the mothers. He visited the poor so long as he hadany money; when he no longer had any, he visited the rich.
As he made his cassocks last a long while, and did not wish tohave it noticed, he never went out in the town without his waddedpurple cloak. This inconvenienced him somewhat in summer.
On his return, he dined. The dinnerresembled his breakfast.
At half-past eight in the evening he supped with his sister,Madame Magloire standing behind them and serving them at table.Nothing could be more frugal than this repast. If, however, theBishop had one of his curés to supper, Madame Magloire tookadvantage of the opportunity to serve Monseigneur with someexcellent fish from the lake, or with some fine game from themountains. Every curé furnished the pretext for a good meal:the Bishop did not interfere. With that exception, hisordinary dietconsisted only of vegetables boiled in water, and oil soup. Thus itwas said in the town,when the Bishop does not indulge in the cheerof a curé, he indulges in the cheer of a trappist.
After supper he conversed for half an hour with MademoiselleBaptistine and Madame Magloire; then he retired to his own room andset to writing, sometimes on loose sheets, and again on the marginof some folio. He was a man of letters and rather learned. He leftbehind him five or six very curious manuscripts; among others, adissertation on this verse in Genesis,In the beginning, the spiritof God floated upon the waters. With this verse he compares threetexts: the Arabic verse which says,The winds of God blew;FlaviusJosephus who says,A wind from abovewas precipitated upon theearth;and finally, the Chaldaic paraphrase of Onkelos, whichrenders it,A wind coming from God blew upon the face of the waters.In another dissertation, he examines the theological works of Hugo,Bishop of Ptolemaïs, great-grand-uncle to the writer of thisbook, and establishes the fact, that to this bishop must beattributed the divers little works published during the lastcentury, under the pseudonym of Barleycourt.
Sometimes, in the midst of his reading, no matter what the bookmight be which he had in his hand, he would suddenly fall into aprofound meditation, whence he only emerged to write a few lines onthe pages of the volume itself. These lines have often noconnection whatever with the book which contains them. We nowhaveunder our eyes a note written by him on the margin of a quartoentitledCorrespondence of Lord Germain with Generals Clinton,Cornwallis, and the Admirals on the American station. Versailles,Poinçot, book-seller; and Paris, Pissot, bookseller, QuaidesAugustins.
Here is the note:—
“Oh, you who are!
“Ecclesiastes calls you the All-powerful; the Maccabeescall you the Creator; the Epistle to the Ephesians calls youliberty; Baruch calls you Immensity; the Psalms call you Wisdom andTruth; John calls you Light; the Books of Kings call you Lord;Exodus calls you Providence; Leviticus, Sanctity; Esdras, Justice;the creation calls you God; man calls you Father; but Solomon callsyou Compassion, and that is the most beautiful of all yournames.”
Toward nine o’clock in the evening the two women retiredand betook themselves to their chambers on the first floor, leavinghim alone until morning on the ground floor.
It is necessary that we should, in this place, give an exactidea of the dwelling of the Bishopof D——
The house in which he lived consisted, as we have said, of aground floor, and one story above; three rooms on the ground floor,three chambers on the first, and an attic above. Behind the housewasa garden, a quarter of an acre in extent. The two women occupiedthe first floor; the Bishop was lodged below. The first room,opening on the street, served him as dining-room, the second washis bedroom, and the third his oratory. There was no exit possiblefrom this oratory, except by passing through the bedroom, nor fromthe bedroom, without passing through the dining-room. At the end ofthe suite, in the oratory, there was a detached alcove with a bed,for use in cases of hospitality. The Bishop offeredthis bed tocountry curates whom business or the requirements of their parishesbrought to D——
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