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Les Miserables is one of Hugo's greatest masterpieces and one of the greatest French novels of all times. It is set during the student revolutions in France and follows lives of several different characters. At the opening the narrator tells a story of a Frenchman imprisoned for stealing bread. After fleeing a police officer he agrees to care for a factory worker's daughter and this changes their lives forever.
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LONDON ∙ NEW YORK ∙ TORONTO ∙ SAO PAULO ∙ MOSCOW
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First published in 2014
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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—THOLOMYES IS SO MERRY THAT HE SINGS A SPANISH DITTY
CHAPTER V—AT BOMBARDA’S
CHAPTER VI—A CHAPTER IN WHICH THEY ADORE EACH OTHER
CHAPTER VII—THE WISDOM OF THOLOMYES
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’S SUCCESS
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
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 SUFFERING DURING SLEEP
CHAPTER VI—SISTER SIMPLICE PUT TO THE PROOF
CHAPTER VII—THE TRAVELLER ON HIS ARRIVAL TAKES PRECAUTIONS FOR
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 IN A GOOD HUMOR
CHAPTER VIII—THE EMPEROR PUTS A QUESTION TO THE GUIDE LACOSTE
CHAPTER IX—THE UNEXPECTED
CHAPTER X—THE PLATEAU OF MONT-SAINT-JEAN
CHAPTER XI—A BAD GUIDE TO NAPOLEON; A GOOD GUIDE TO BULOW
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
BOOK SECOND.—THE SHIP ORION
CHAPTER I—NUMBER 24,601 BECOMES NUMBER 9,430
CHAPTER II—IN WHICH THE READER WILL PERUSE TWO VERSES, WHICH ARE OF 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
BOOK THIRD.—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—THENARDIER AND HIS MANOEUVRES
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 IMPOSSIBLE WITH 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
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
CHAPTER VI—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 CAFE 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—DIVRS CLAPS OF THUNDER FALL ON MA’AM BOUGON
CHAPTER VI—TAKEN PRISONER
CHAPTER VII—ADVENTURES OF THE LETTER U DELIVERED OVER 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
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 THE WORDS TO AN ENGLISH AIR WHICH WAS IN FASHION IN 1832
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—ONE SHOULD 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 BE BORN 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—GAVROCHE WOULD 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 ARME
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 THE FAUBOURG DU TEMPLE
CHAPTER II—WHAT IS TO BE DONE IN THE ABYSS IF ONE DOES NOT CONVERSE
CHAPTER III—LIGHT AND SHADOW
CHAPTER IV—MINUS FIVE, PLUS ONE
CHAPTER V—THE HORIZON WHICH ONE BEHOLDS 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 TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY
CHAPTER IX—EMPLOYMENT OF THE OLD TALENTS OF 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 XIII—PASSING GLEAMS
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—THE SEWER 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,
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 LIVER 68
BOOK SEVENTH.—THE LAST DRAUGHT FROM THE CUP
CHAPTER I—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 THE UNHAPPY, 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
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.
BOOK FIRST—A JUST MAN
CHAPTER I—M. MYRIEL
In 1815, M. Charles-Francois-Bienvenu Myriel was Bishop of D—— He was an old man of about seventy-five years of age; he had occupied the see of D—— since 1806.
Although this detail has no connection whatever with the real substance of what we are about to relate, it will not be superfluous, if merely for the sake of exactness in all points, to mention here the various rumors and remarks which had been in circulation about him from the very moment when he arrived in the diocese. True or false, that which is said of men often occupies as important a place in their lives, and above all in their destinies, as that which they do. M. Myriel was the son of a councillor of the Parliament of Aix; hence he belonged to the nobility of the bar. It was said that his father, destining him to be the heir of his own post, had married him at a very early age, eighteen or twenty, in accordance with a custom which is rather widely prevalent in parliamentary families. In spite of this marriage, however, it was said that Charles Myriel created a great deal of talk. He was well formed, though rather short in stature, elegant, graceful, intelligent; the whole of the first portion of his life had been devoted to the world and to gallantry.
The Revolution came; events succeeded each other with precipitation; the parliamentaryfamilies, decimated, pursued, hunted down, were dispersed. M. Charles Myriel emigrated to Italy at the very beginning of the Revolution. There his wife died of a malady of the chest, from which she had long suffered. He had no children. What took place next in the fate of M. Myriel? The ruin of the French society of the olden days, the fall of his own family, the tragic spectacles of ‘93, which were, perhaps, even more alarming to the emigrants who viewed them from a distance, with the magnifying powers of terror,—did these cause the ideas of renunciation and solitude to germinate in him? Was he, in the midst of these distractions, these affections which absorbed his life, suddenly smitten with one of those mysterious and terrible blows which sometimes overwhelm, by striking to his heart, a man whom public catastrophes would not shake, by striking at his existence and his fortune? No one could have told: all that was known was, that when he returned from Italy he was a priest.
In 1804, M. Myriel was the Curé of B—— [Brignolles]. He was already advanced in years, and lived in a very retired manner.
About the epoch of the coronation, some petty affair connected with his curacy—just what, is not precisely known—took him to Paris. Among other powerful persons to whom he went to solicit aid for his 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 His Majesty passed. Napoleon, on finding himself observed with a certain curiosity by this old man, turned round and said abruptly:—
“Who is this good man who is staring at me?”
“Sire,” said M. Myriel, “you are looking at a good man, and I at a great man. Each of us can profit by it.”
That very evening, the Emperor asked the Cardinal the name of the Curé, and some time afterwards M. Myriel was utterly astonished to learn that he had been appointed Bishop of D——
What truth was there, after all, in the stories which were invented as to the early portion of M. Myriel’s life? No one knew. Very few families had been acquainted with the Myriel family before the Revolution.
M. Myriel had to undergo the fate of every newcomer in a little town, where there are many mouths which talk, and very few heads which think. He was obliged to undergo it although he was a bishop, and because he was a bishop. But after all, the rumors with which his name was connected were rumors only,—noise, sayings, words; less than words—palabres, as the energetic language of the South expresses it.
However that may be, after nine years of episcopal power and of residence in D——, all the stories and subjects of conversation which engross petty towns and petty people at the outset had fallen into profound oblivion. No one would have dared to mention them; no one would have dared to recall them.
M. Myriel had arrived at D—— accompanied by an elderly spinster, Mademoiselle Baptistine, who was his sister, and ten years his junior.
Their only domestic was a female servant of the same age as Mademoiselle Baptistine, and named Madame Magloire, who, after having been the servant of M. le Curé, now assumed the double title 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 be a mother in order to be venerable. She had never been pretty; her whole life, which had been nothing but a succession of holy deeds, had finally conferred upon her a sort of pallor and transparency; and as she advanced in years she had acquired what may be called the beauty of goodness. What had been leanness in her youth had become transparency in her maturity; and this diaphaneity allowed the angel to be seen. She was a soul rather than a virgin. Her person seemed made of a shadow; there was hardly sufficient body to provide for sex; a little matter enclosing a light; large eyes forever drooping;—a mere pretext for a soul’s remaining on the earth.
Madame Magloire was a little, fat, white old woman, corpulent and bustling; always out of breath,—in the first place, because of her activity, and in the next, because of her asthma.
On his arrival, M. Myriel was installed in the episcopal palace with the honors required by the Imperial decrees, which class a bishop immediately after a major-general. The mayor and the president paid the first call on him, and he, in turn, paid the first call on the general and the prefect.
The installation over, the town waited to see its bishop at work.
CHAPTER II—M. MYRIEL BECOMES M. WELCOME
The episcopal palace of D—— adjoins the hospital.
The episcopal palace was a huge and beautiful house, built of stone 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 a genuine seignorial residence. Everything about it had a grand air,—the apartments of the Bishop, the drawing-rooms, the chambers, the principal courtyard, which was very large, with walks encircling it under arcades in the old Florentine fashion, and gardens planted with magnificent trees. In the dining-room, a long and superb gallery which was situated on the ground-floor and opened on the gardens, M. Henri Puget had entertained in state, on July 29, 1714, My Lords Charles Brulart de Genlis, archbishop; Prince d’Embrun; Antoine de Mesgrigny, the capuchin, Bishop of Grasse; Philippe de Vendome, Grand Prior of France, Abbé of Saint Honore de Lerins; Francois de Berton de Crillon, bishop, Baron de Vence; Cesar de Sabran de Forcalquier, bishop, Seignor of Glandeve; and Jean Soanen, Priest of the Oratory, preacher in ordinary to the king, bishop, Seignor of Senez. The portraits of these seven reverend personages decorated this apartment; and this memorable date, the 29th of July, 1714, was there engraved in letters of gold on a table of white 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 visit ended, he had the director requested to be so good as to come to his house.
“Monsieur the director of the hospital,” said he to him, “how many sick people have you at the present moment?”
“That was the number which I counted,” said the Bishop.
“The beds,” pursued the director, “are very much crowded against each other.”
“That is what I observed.”
“The halls are nothing but rooms, and it is with difficulty 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 very small for the convalescents.”
“That was what I said to myself.”
“In case of epidemics,—we have had the typhus fever this year; we had the sweating sickness two years ago, and a hundred patients at times,—we know not what to do.”
“That is the thought which occurred to me.”
“What would you have, Monseigneur?” said the director. “One must resign one’s self.”
This conversation took place in the gallery dining-room on the ground-floor.
The Bishop remained silent for a moment; then he turned abruptly to the director of the hospital.
“Monsieur,” said he, “how many beds do you think this hall alone would hold?”
“Monseigneur’s dining-room?” exclaimed the stupefied director.
The Bishop cast a glance round the apartment, and seemed to be taking measures and calculations with his eyes.
“It would hold full twenty beds,” said he, as though speaking to himself. Then, raising his voice:—
“Hold, Monsieur the director of the hospital, I will tell you something. There is evidently a mistake here. There are thirty-six of you, in five or six small rooms. There are three of us here, and we have room for sixty. There is some mistake, I tell you; 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 in the Bishop’s palace, and the Bishop was settled in the hospital.
M. Myriel had no property, his family having been ruined by the Revolution. His sister was in receipt of a yearly income of five hundred francs, which sufficed for her personal wants at the vicarage. M. Myriel received from the State, in his quality of bishop, a salary of fifteen thousand francs. On the very day when he took up his abode in the hospital, M. Myriel settled on the disposition of this sum once for all, in the following manner. We transcribe here a note made by his own hand:—
NOTE ON THE REGULATION OF MY HOUSEHOLD EXPENSES.
For the little seminary 1,500 livres
Society of the mission 100 “
For the Lazarists of Montdidier 100 “
Seminary for foreign missions in Paris 200 “
Congregation of the Holy Spirit 150 “
Religious establishments of the Holy Land100 “
Charitable maternity societies300 “
Extra, for that of Arles50 “
Work for the amelioration of prisons 400 “
Work for the relief and delivery of prisoners 500 “
To liberate fathers of families incarcerated for debt 1,000 “
Addition to the salary of the poor teachers of the
diocese 2,000 “
Public granary of the Hautes-Alpes 100 “
Congregation of the ladies of D——, of Manosque, and of
Sisteron, for the gratuitous instruction of poor
girls 1,500 “
For the poor6,000 “
My personal expenses1,000 “
M. Myriel made no change in this arrangement during the entire period that he occupied the see of D—— As has been seen, he called it regulating his household expenses.
This arrangement was accepted with absolute submission by Mademoiselle Baptistine. This holy woman regarded Monseigneur of D—— as at one and the same time her brother and her bishop, her friend according to the flesh and her superior according to the Church. She simply loved and venerated him. When he spoke, she bowed; when he acted, she yielded her adherence. Their only servant, Madame Magloire, grumbled a little. It will be observed that Monsieur the Bishop had reserved for himself only one thousand livres, which, added to the pension of Mademoiselle Baptistine, made fifteen hundred francs a year. On these fifteen hundred francs these two old women and the old man subsisted.
And when a village curate came to D——, the Bishop still found means to entertain him, thanks to the severe economy of Madame Magloire, and to the intelligent administration of Mademoiselle Baptistine.
One day, after he had been in D—— about three months, the Bishop said:—
“And still I am quite cramped with it all!”
“I should think so!” exclaimed Madame Magloire. “Monseigneur has not even claimed the allowance which the department owes him for the expense of his carriage in town, and for his journeys about the diocese. It was customary for bishops in former days.”
“Hold!” cried the Bishop, “you are quite right, Madame Magloire.”
And he made his demand.
Some time afterwards the General Council took this demand under consideration, and voted him an annual sum of three thousand francs, under this heading: Allowance to M. the Bishop for expenses of carriage, expenses of posting, and expenses of pastoral visits.
This provoked a great outcry among the local burgesses; and a senator of the Empire, a former member of the Council of the Five Hundred which favored the 18 Brumaire, and who was provided with a magnificent senatorial office in the vicinity of the town of D——, wrote to M. Bigot de Preameneu, the minister of public worship, a very angry and confidential note on the subject, from which we extract these authentic lines:—
“Expenses of carriage? What can be done with it in a town of less than four thousand inhabitants? Expenses of journeys? What is the use of these trips, in the first place? Next, how can the posting be accomplished in these mountainous parts? There are no roads. No one travels otherwise than on horseback. Even the bridge between Durance and Chateau-Arnoux can barely support ox-teams. These priests are all thus, greedy and avaricious. This man played the good priest when he first came. Now he does like the rest; he must have a carriage and a posting-chaise, he must have luxuries, like the bishops of the olden days. Oh, all this priesthood! Things will not go well, M. le Comte, until the Emperor has freed us from these black-capped rascals. Down with the Pope! [Matters were getting embroiled with Rome.] For my part, I am for Caesar alone.” Etc., etc.
On the other hand, this affair afforded great delight to Madame Magloire. “Good,” said she to Mademoiselle Baptistine; “Monseigneur began with other people, but he has had to wind up with himself, after all. He has regulated all his charities. Now here are three thousand francs for us! At last!”
That same evening the Bishop wrote out and handed to his sister a memorandum conceived in the following terms:—
EXPENSES OF CARRIAGE AND CIRCUIT.
For furnishing meat soup to the patients in the hospital.
For the maternity charitable society of Aix 250 “
For the maternity charitable society of Draguignan 250 “
For foundlings500 “
For orphans500 “
Total 3,000 “
Such was M. Myriel’s budget.
As for the chance episcopal perquisites, the fees for marriage bans, dispensations, private baptisms, sermons, benedictions, of churches or chapels, marriages, etc., the Bishop levied them on the wealthy with all the more asperity, since he bestowed them on the needy.
After a time, offerings of money flowed in. Those who had and those who lacked knocked at M. Myriel’s door,—the latter in search of the alms which the former came to deposit. In less than a year the Bishop had become the treasurer of all benevolence and the cashier of all those in distress. Considerable sums of money passed through his hands, but nothing could induce him to make any change whatever in his mode of life, or add anything superfluous to his bare necessities.
Far from it. As there is always more wretchedness below than there is brotherhood above, all was given away, so to speak, before it was received. It was like water on dry soil; no matter how much money he received, he never had any. Then he stripped himself.
The usage being that bishops shall announce their baptismal names at the head of their charges and their pastoral letters, the poor people of the country-side had selected, with a sort of affectionate instinct, among the names and prenomens of their bishop, that which had a meaning for them; and they never called him anything except Monseigneur Bienvenu [Welcome]. We will follow their example, and will also call him thus when we have occasionto name him. Moreover, this appellation pleased him.
“I like that name,” said he. “Bienvenu makes up for the Monseigneur.”
We do not claim that the portrait herewith presented is probable; we confine ourselves to stating that it resembles the original.
CHAPTER III—A HARD BISHOPRIC FOR A GOOD BISHOP
The Bishop did not omit his pastoral visits because he had converted his carriage into alms. The diocese of D—— is a fatiguing one. There are very few plains and a great many mountains; hardly any roads, as we have just seen; thirty-two curacies, forty-one vicarships, and two hundred and eighty-five auxiliary chapels. To visit all these is quite a task.
The Bishop managed to do it. He went on foot when it was in the neighborhood, in a tilted spring-cart when it was on the plain, and on 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 that moment, did not permit him any other equipage. The mayor of the town came to receive him at the gate of the town, and watched him dismount from his ass, with scandalized eyes. Some of the citizens were laughing around him. “Monsieur the Mayor,” said the Bishop, “and Messieurs Citizens, I perceive that I shock you. You think it very arrogant in a poor priest to ride an animal which was used by Jesus Christ. I have done so from necessity, I assure you, and not from vanity.”
In the course of these trips he was kind and indulgent, and talked rather than preached. He never went far in search of his arguments and his examples. He quoted to the inhabitants of one district the example of a neighboring district. In the cantons where they were harsh to the poor, he said: “Look at the people of Briancon! They have conferred on the poor, on widows and orphans, the right to have their meadows mown three days in advance of every one else. They rebuild their houses for them gratuitously when they are ruined. Therefore it is a country which is blessed by God. For a whole century, there has not been a single murderer among them.”
In villages which were greedy for profit and harvest, he said: “Look at the people of Embrun! If, at the harvest season, the father of a family has his son away on service in the army, and his daughters at service in the town, and if he is ill and incapacitated, the cure recommends him to the prayers of the congregation; and on Sunday, after the mass, all the inhabitants of the village—men, women, and children—go to the poor man’s field and do his harvesting for him, and carry his straw and his grain to his granary.” To families divided by questions of money and inheritance he said: “Look at the mountaineers of Devolny, a country so wild that the nightingale is not heard there once in fifty years. Well, when the father of a family dies, the boys go off to seek their fortunes, leaving the property to the girls, so that they may find husbands.” To the cantons which had a taste for lawsuits, and where the farmers ruined themselves in stamped paper, he said: “Look at those good peasants in the valley of Queyras! There are three thousand souls of them. Mon Dieu! it is like a little republic. Neither judge nor bailiff is known there. The mayor does everything. He allots the imposts, taxes each person conscientiously, judges quarrels for nothing, divides inheritances without charge, pronounces sentences gratuitously; and he is obeyed, because he is a just man among simple men.” To villages where he found no schoolmaster, he quoted once more the people of Queyras: “Do you know how they manage?” he said. “Since a little country of a dozen or fifteen hearths cannot always support a teacher, they have school-masters 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 instruct them. These teachers go to the fairs. I have seen them there. They are to be recognized by the quill pens which they wear in the cord of their hat. Those who teach reading only have one pen; those who teach reading and reckoning have two pens; those who teach reading, reckoning, and Latin have three pens. But what a disgrace to be ignorant! Do like the people of Queyras!”
Thus he discoursed gravely and paternally; in default of examples, he invented parables, going directly to the point, with few phrases and many images, which characteristic formed the real eloquence of Jesus Christ. And being convinced himself, he was persuasive.
CHAPTER IV—WORKS CORRESPONDING TO WORDS
His conversation was gay and affable. He put himself on a level with the two old women who had passed their lives beside him. When he laughed, it was the laugh of a schoolboy. Madame Magloire liked to call him Your Grace [Votre Grandeur]. One day he rose from his arm-chair, and went to his library in search of a book. This book was on one of the upper shelves. As the bishop was rather short of stature, he could not reach it. “Madame Magloire,” said he, “fetch me a chair. My greatness [grandeur] does not reach as far as that shelf.”
One of his distant relatives, Madame la Comtesse de Lo, rarely allowed an opportunity to escape of enumerating, in his presence, what she designated as “the expectations” of her three sons. She had numerous relatives, who were very old and near to death, and of whom her sons were the natural heirs. The youngest of the three was to receive from a grand-aunt a good hundred thousand livres of income; the second was the heir by entail to the title of the Duke, his uncle; the eldest was to succeed to the peerage of his grandfather. The Bishop was accustomed to listen in silence to these innocent and pardonable maternal boasts. On one occasion, however, he appeared to be more thoughtful than usual, while Madame de Lo was relating once again 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 a singular remark, which is to be found, I believe, in St. Augustine,—’Place your hopes in the man from whom you do not inherit.’”
At another time, on receiving a notification of the decease of a gentleman of the country-side, wherein not only the dignities of the dead man, but also the feudal and noble qualifications of all his relatives, spread over an entire page: “What a stout back Death has!” he exclaimed. “What a strange burden of titles is cheerfully imposed on him, and how much wit must men have, in order thus to press the tomb into the service of vanity!”
He was gifted, on occasion, with a gentle raillery, which almost always concealed a serious meaning. In the course of one Lent, a youthful vicar came to D——, and preached in the cathedral. He was tolerably eloquent. The subject of his sermon was charity. He urged the rich to give to the poor, in order to avoid hell, which he depicted in the most frightful manner of which he was capable, and to win paradise, which he represented as charming and desirable. Among the audience there was a wealthy retired merchant, who was somewhat of a usurer, named M. Geborand, who had amassed two millions in the manufacture of coarse cloth, serges, and woollen galloons. Never in his whole life had M. Geborand bestowed alms on any poor wretch. After the delivery of that sermon, it was observed that he gave a sou every Sunday to the poor old beggar-women at the door of the cathedral. There were six of them to share it. One day the Bishop caught sight of him in the act of bestowing this charity, and said to his sister, with a smile, “There is M. Geborand purchasing paradise for a sou.”
When it was a question of charity, he was not to be rebuffed even by a refusal, and on such occasions he gave utterance to remarks which induced reflection. Once he was begging for the poor in a drawing-room of the town; there was present the Marquis de Champtercier, a wealthy and avaricious old man, who contrived to be, at one and the same time, an ultra-royalist and an ultra-Voltairian. This variety of man has actually existed. When the Bishop came to him, he touched his arm, “You must give me something, M. le Marquis.” The Marquis turned round and answered dryly, “I have poor people of my own, Monseigneur.” “Give them to me,” replied the Bishop.
One day he preached the following sermon in the cathedral:—
“My very dear brethren, my good friends, there are thirteen hundred and twenty thousand peasants’ dwellings in France which have but three openings; eighteen hundred and seventeen thousand hovels which have but two openings, the door and one window; and three hundred and forty-six thousand cabins besides which have but one opening, the door. And this arises from a thing which is called the tax on doors and windows. Just put poor families, old women and little children, in those buildings, and behold the fevers and maladies which result! Alas! God gives air to men; the law sells it to them. I do not blame the law, but I bless God. In the department of the Isere, in the Var, in the two departments of the Alpes, the Hautes, and the Basses, the peasants have not even wheelbarrows; they transport their manure on the backs of men; they have no candles, and they burn resinous sticks, and bits of rope dipped in pitch. That is the state of affairs throughout the whole of the hilly country of Dauphine. They make bread for six months at one time; they bake it with dried cow-dung. In the winter they break this bread up with an axe, and they soak it for twenty-four hours, in order to render it eatable. My brethren, have pity! behold the suffering on all sides of you!”
Born a Provencal, he easily familiarized himself with the dialect of the south. He said, “En be! moussu, ses sage?” as in lower Languedoc; “Onte anaras passa?” as in the Basses-Alpes; “Puerte un bouen moutu embe un bouen fromage grase,” as in upper Dauphine. This pleased the people extremely, and contributed not a little to win him access to all spirits. He was perfectly at home in the thatched cottage and in the mountains. He understood how to say the grandest things in the most vulgar of idioms. As he spoke all tongues, he entered into all hearts.
Moreover, he was the same towards people of the world and towards the lower classes. He condemned nothing in haste and without taking circumstances into account. He said, “Examine the road over which the fault has passed.”
Being, as he described himself with a smile, an ex-sinner, he had none of the asperities of austerity, and he professed, with a good deal of distinctness, and without the frown of the ferociously virtuous, a doctrine which may be summed up as follows:—
“Man has upon him his flesh, which is at once his burden and his temptation. He drags it with him and yields to it. He must watch it, cheek it, repress it, and obey it only at the last extremity. There may be some fault even in this obedience; but the fault thus committed is venial; it is a fall, but a fall on the knees which may terminate in prayer.
“To be a saint is the exception; to be an upright man is the rule. Err, fall, sin if you will, but be upright.
“The least possible sin is the law of man. No sin at all is the dream of the angel. All which is terrestrial is subject to sin. Sin is a gravitation.”
When he saw everyone exclaiming very loudly, and growing angry very quickly, “Oh! oh!” he said, with a smile; “to all appearance, this is a great crime which all the world commits. These are hypocrisies which have taken fright, and are in haste to make protest and to put themselves under shelter.”
He was indulgent towards women and poor people, on whom the burden of human society rest. He said, “The faults of women, of children, of the feeble, the indigent, and the ignorant, are the fault of the husbands, the fathers, the masters, the strong, the rich, and the wise.”
He said, moreover, “Teach those who are ignorant as many things as possible; society is culpable, in that it does not afford instruction gratis; it is responsible for the night which it produces. This soul is full of shadow; sin is therein committed. The guilty one is not the person who has committed the sin, but the person who has created the shadow.”
It will be perceived that he had a peculiar manner of his own of judging things: I suspect that he obtained it from the Gospel.
One day he heard a criminal case, which was in preparation and on 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. The woman had been arrested in the act of passing the first false piece made by the man. She was held, but there were no proofs except against her. She alone could accuse her lover, and destroy him by her confession. She denied; they insisted. She persisted in her denial. 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 persuading the unfortunate woman that she had a rival, and that the man was deceiving her. Thereupon, exasperated by jealousy, she denounced her lover, confessed all, proved all.
The man was ruined. He was shortly to be tried at Aix with his accomplice. They were relating the matter, and each one was expressing enthusiasm over the cleverness of the magistrate. By bringing jealousy into play, he had caused the truth to burst forth in wrath, he had educed the justice of revenge. The Bishop listened to all this in silence. When they had finished, he inquired,—
“Where are this man and woman to be tried?”
“At the Court of Assizes.”
He went on, “And where will the advocate of the crown be tried?”
A tragic event occurred at D—— A man was condemned to death for murder. He was a wretched fellow, not exactly educated, not exactly ignorant, who had been a mountebank at fairs, and a writer for the public. The town took a great interest in the trial. On the eve of the day fixed for the execution of the condemned man, the chaplain of the prison fell ill. A priest was needed to attend the criminal in his last moments. They sent for the cure. It seems that he refused to come, saying, “That is no affair of mine. I have nothing to do with that unpleasant task, and with that mountebank: I, too, am ill; and besides, it is not my place.” This reply was reported to the Bishop, who said, “Monsieur le Curé is right: it is not his 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 of food and sleep, praying to God for the soul of the condemned man, and praying the condemned man for his own. He told him the best truths, 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 in despair. Death was an abyss to him. As he stood trembling on its mournful brink, he recoiled with horror. He was not sufficiently ignorant to be absolutely indifferent. His condemnation, which had been a profound shock, had, in a manner, broken through, here and there, that wall which separates us from the mystery of things, and which we call life. He gazed incessantly beyond this world through these fatal breaches, and beheld only darkness. The Bishop made him see light.
On the following day, when they came to fetch the unhappy wretch, the Bishop was still there. He followed him, and exhibited himself to the eyes of the crowd in his purple camail and with his episcopal cross upon his neck, side by side with the criminal bound with cords.
He mounted the tumbril with him, he mounted the scaffold with him. The sufferer, who had been so gloomy and cast down on the preceding day, was radiant. He felt that his soul was reconciled, and he hoped in God. The Bishop embraced him, and at the moment when theknife was about to fall, he said to him: “God raises from the dead him whom man slays; he whom his brothers have rejected finds his Father once more. Pray, believe, enter into life: the Father is there.” When he descended from the scaffold, there was something in his look which made the people draw aside to let him pass. They did not know which was most worthy of admiration, his pallor or his serenity. On his return to the humble dwelling, which he designated, with a smile, as his palace, he said to his sister, “I have just officiated pontifically.”
Since the most sublime things are often those which are the least understood, there were people in the town who said, when commenting on this conduct of the Bishop, “It is affectation.”
This, however, was a remark which was confined to the drawing-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 the guillotine, 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 may feel a certain indifference to the death penalty, one may refrain from pronouncing upon it, from saying yes or no, so long as one has not seen a guillotine with one’s own eyes: but if one encounters one of them, the shock is violent; one is forced to decide, and to take part for or against. Some admire it, like de Maistre; others execrate it, like Beccaria. The guillotine is the concretion of the law; it is called vindicte; it is not neutral, and it does not permit you to remain neutral. He who sees it shivers with the most mysterious of shivers. All social problems erect their interrogation point around this chopping-knife. The scaffold is a vision. The scaffold is not a piece of carpentry; the scaffold is not a machine; the scaffold is not an inert bit of mechanism constructed of wood, iron and cords.
It seems as though it were a being, possessed of I know not what sombre initiative; one would say that this piece of carpenter’s work saw, that this machine heard, that this mechanism understood, that this wood, this iron, and these cords were possessed of will. In the frightful meditation into which its presence casts the soul the scaffold appears in terrible guise, and as though taking part in what is going on. The scaffold is the accompliceof the executioner; it devours, it eats flesh, it drinks blood; the scaffold is a sort of monster fabricated by the judge and the carpenter, a spectre which seems to live with a horrible vitality composed of all the death which it has inflicted.
Therefore, the impression was terrible and profound; on the day following the execution, and on many succeeding days, the Bishop appeared to be crushed. The almost violent serenity of the funereal moment had disappeared; the phantom of social justice tormented him. He, who generally returned from all his deeds with a radiant satisfaction, seemed to be reproaching himself. At times he talked to himself, and stammered lugubrious monologues in a low voice. This is one which his sister overheard one evening and preserved: “I did not think that it was so monstrous. It is wrong to become absorbed in the divine law to such a degree as not to perceive human law. Death belongs to God alone. By what right do men touch that unknown thing?”
In course of time these impressions weakened and probably vanished. Nevertheless, it was observed that the Bishop thenceforth avoided passing the place of execution.
M. Myriel could be summoned at any hour to the bedside of the sick and dying. He did not ignore the fact that therein lay his greatest duty and his greatest labor. Widowed and orphaned families had no need to summon him; he came of his own accord. He understood how to sit down and hold his peace for long hours beside the man who had lost the wife of his love, of the mother who had lost her child. As he knew the moment for silence he knew also the moment for speech. Oh, admirable consoler! He sought not to efface sorrow by forgetfulness, but to magnify and dignify it by hope. He said:—
“Have a care of the manner in which you turn towards the dead. Think not of that which perishes. Gaze steadily. You will perceive the living light of your well-beloved dead in the depths of heaven.” He knew that faith is wholesome. He sought to counsel and calm the despairing man, by pointing out to him the resigned man, and to transform the grief which gazes upon a grave by showing him the grief which fixes its gaze upon a star.
CHAPTER V—MONSEIGNEUR BIENVENU MADE HIS CASSOCKS LAST TOO LONG
The private life of M. Myriel was filled with the same thoughts as his public life. The voluntary poverty in which the Bishop of D—— lived, would have been a solemn and charming sight for any one who could have viewed it close at hand.
Like all old men, and like the majority of thinkers, he slept little. This brief slumber was profound. In the morning he meditated for an hour, then he said his mass, either at the cathedral or in his own house. His mass said, he broke his fast on rye bread dipped in the milk of his own cows. Then he set to work.
A Bishop is a very busy man: he must every day receive the secretary of the bishopric, who is generally a canon, and nearly every day his vicars-general. He has congregations to reprove, privileges to grant, a whole ecclesiastical library to examine,—prayer-books, diocesan catechisms, books of hours, etc.,—charges to write, sermons to authorize, cures and mayors to reconcile, a clerical correspondence, an administrative correspondence; 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 of business, and his offices and his breviary, he bestowed first on the necessitous, the sick, and the afflicted; the time which was left to him from the afflicted, the sick, and the necessitous, he devoted to work. Sometimes he dug in his garden; again, he read or wrote. He had but one word for both these kinds of toil; he called them gardening. “The mind is a garden,” said he.
Towards mid-day, when the weather was fine, he went forth and took a stroll in the country or in town, often entering lowly dwellings. He was seen walking alone, buried in his own thoughts, his eyes cast down, supporting himself on his long cane, clad in his wadded purple garment of silk, which was very warm, wearing purple stockings inside his coarse shoes, and surmounted by a flat hat which allowed three golden tassels of large bullion to droop from its three points.
It was a perfect festival wherever he appeared. One would have said that his presence had something warming and luminous about it. The children and the old people came out to the doorsteps for the Bishop as for the sun. He bestowed his blessing, and they blessed him. They pointed out his house to any one who was in need of anything.
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 had any money; when he no longer had any, he visited the rich.
As he made his cassocks last a long while, and did not wish to have it noticed, he never went out in the town without his wadded purple cloak. This inconvenienced him somewhat in summer.
On his return, he dined. The dinner resembled 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, the Bishop had one of his cures to supper, Madame Magloire took advantage of the opportunity to serve Monseigneur with some excellent fish from the lake, or with some fine game from the mountains. Every cure furnished the pretext for a good meal: the Bishop did not interfere. With that exception, his ordinary diet consisted only of vegetables boiled in water, and oil soup. Thus it was said in the town, when the Bishop does not indulge in the cheer of a cure, he indulges in the cheer of a trappist.
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