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that writers should exhaust their invention in search of novel ideas and topics, when making an attempt to fix themselves in the minds of men, and in the annals of literature. The selection of a strange or unusual subject, or a peculiar and remarkable mode of treating a common one, are but evidence of a desire to be remembered, and if not cherished as a genius, at least to be preserved in memory as a curiosity.
In a future paper we shall return to the consideration of this subject, and at greater length.
ART. V. THE ROMANCE OF LIFE: THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO.
The Count of Monte Cristo. By Alexander Dumas. London: Chapman and Hall. 1847.
In resuming the subject to which we devoted a small portion of our last number, we proceed to detail the facts upon which the principal incidents of the very entertaining novel of Alexandre Dumas, ushered into public notice under the aristocratic title of "The Count of Monte Cristo," have been founded, and we feel it necessary here to premise, that we are not to be considered as imputing plagiarism, or a deficiency of imaginative or descriptive power, to the gifted Frenchman who has won for himself an European reputation, second perhaps only to that transcendant genius, whose romances have made us familiar with the characters of former kings, the habits of bye-gone times, the chivalrous honour of knight or noble, and the plain, simple, natural, feelings of man in his humblest phase the immortal Scott. We rather accord the ready meed of our praise to Dumas, for the ingenuity with which he adopts and adapts transactions of recent date to the construction of tales equally interesting as the choicest legends of the middle ages, and to which their greatest graces are imparted by the drapery of his imaginative power. He commences the novel to which we refer, by a scene in Marseilles, in which the arrival of a ship from a distant voyage is naturally described, and we rejoice with the hero of the tale upon his
perils past, his promotion gained, his old father comforted and relieved in bis necessity, and his intended bride visited and won to name the nuptial day; envy and malice are depicted at their baleful work, the ingenuous young sailor is involved in a false accusation, and consigned to hopeless captivity as a state prisoner. We are soon introduced to the "small cabinet of the Tuileries," and Louis the XVIII. is placed before us almost as distinctly as the lion-hearted Richard appears in Ivanhoe, or the crafty and cruel Louis the XI. in Quentin Durward. The first of the restored Bourbons was not a man calculated to win attention as a character; much had been done for him, nothing had been done by him, he was cunning but not sagacious, pedantic but not learned, confident but not courageous, fearful but not cautious, and we have all these points fully pourtrayed by Dumas, in his description of the scene which terminated by the announcement of Napoleon's return from Elba. It is not our intention to go farther with the narrative, we notice its early pages as justifying our previous remarks, and we now proceed to give the real story on which the remainder of the work is founded.
There lived at Paris in 1807, a shoemaker. of the description called chamber masters, named Francois Picaud, he was young, tolerably well-looking, and was on the point of effecting a matrimonial union with an agreeable, lively damsel, who possessed a very handsome dowry. Full of the excitement consequent on his expected good fortune, and arrayed in his best attire, he betook himself to a café kept by an acquaintance of his own rank and age, but who was more wealthy than the shoemaker, and was remarkable for an extraordinary jealousy of any neighbour who appeared to be thriving, or even likely to prosper.
Mathieu Loupian, who had as well as Picaud, been born at Nismes, kept a well frequented house of refreshment near the place Sainte Opportune. He was a widower having two children, and three persons all from the department of Gard, were peculiarly intimate with him.
"What now," said the host, "ch! Picaud, but you are stylish, one would imagine that you were about to dance las treilhas," (a popular ballet much practised in lower Languedoc.)
"I am on a better project, my friend Loupian, I am about to marry."
"And whom have you selected to plant your horus," demanded one of the company named Allut.
"Not the second daughter of your mother-in-law, for in that family they manage matters so awkwardly that your antlers are breaking through your hat."
It required only a look to perceive a large rent in the old felt hat of Allut, so the laugh was on the side of the son of Crispin.
"But jesting apart," said the host, "who is your intended, Picaud?"
"The damsel de Vigoroux."
"But she has one hundred thousand francs," exclaimed the astonished host.
"I shall pay her for them in love and happiness, so friends I invite you to the ceremony which is to be performed at Saint Leu, and to the dance which we are to have in the evening, it is to be a bal champetre in les bosquets de Venus, rue aux Ours, at M. Latignac's, the fifth house, and in the gardens at its rere."
The four friends could scarcely reply in some common-place phrases, so much did the good fortune of their comrade surprize them.
"And when is the wedding?" asked Loupian.
"Next Tuesday, I shall expect you, I am now going to the Mayor and the Curé."
He departed, they looked at each other.
"What a lucky rascal!"
"He is a sorcerer."
"A girl so handsome and so rich."
"And to a cobbler."
"And in three days."
"I will wager that I stop his progress," said Loupian.
"Oh, just a joke."
"It is an excellent joke, the commissary is just coming here, I shall say that I suspect Picaud to be an agent of the English; you understand, he will be summoned and examined, he will be frightened at his position, and for at least eight days, the marriage will have to wait."
'Loupian," said Allut, "your's is a dangerous game, you do not know Picaud thoroughly, he is capable, if he finds you out, of a fearful revenge.'
"Bah!" cried the other, "we must have some diversion in carnival time."
"Just as you please, but I warn you that I take no part in your project, every one to his taste."
"Oh !" replied the proprietor of the café, "you are but a dung-hill cock."
"I am an honest man, you are jealous and envious of your neighbour, I shall live quietly, you will come to a bad end— good night."
As soon as he turned on his heel, the trio took courage to persevere in their amusing trick, and Loupian, with whom it originated, promised his two friends a hearty laugh. The same day, the commissary to whom Loupian whispered his suspicions, discharged his duty as a vigilant functionary, and two hours had not elapsed before an elaborate report was laid before his superior, and ultimately came under the observation of the Duc de Rovigo. It coincided with some revelations which he had received touching movements in la Vendee. Beyond all doubt, Picaud was an agent between the south and west, his trade perhaps, was only a device, and he was likely to be a gentleman of Languedoc, in short, during the night of Sunday, the unfortunate Picaud was taken from his apartment, with such mystery that no one saw him depart, and from that day, every trace of him was totally lost, his kindred or friends could obtain no explanation of his fate, and his very existence was soon forgotten.
Time elapses, 1814 arrives, the Imperial government falls, and from the castle of Fenestrelle there issues about the 15th April, a man bent down by suffering, old by the effect of despair rather than by the hand of time. In seven years he appeared to have lived half a century, no one would have recognized him, and he could not recognize himself when he first looked in a mirror at a petty inn of the village of Fenestrelle.
This man who, in his prison, answered to the name of Joseph Lucher, was less a domestic than an adopted son of a rich Milanese ecclesiastic. The latter, indignant at the total abandonment of him by his relatives, determined to exclude them from any participation in his enormous wealth, consoli
dated in the public securities of Hamburgh, and the Bank of England. He had moreover sold extensive domains to an exalted personage of Italy, and realized the produce through the agency of a banker of Amsterdam, who remitted the dividends to his order. This noble Italian died the 4th January 1814, leaving the poor Joseph Lucher sole heir to about seven millions of franes in ready money, having also confided to him the secret of a concealed treasure, worth twelve hundred thousand francs, in diamonds, and at least three millions in coined money, ducats, florins, doubloons, louis, and guineas.
Joseph Lucher freed at length, hastened to Milan, and uniting prudence with promptitude, in a short time acquired the property which he came to seck. He then visited Amsterdam, Hamburgh, and London, and amassed treasures worthy of Royal coffers, yielding him a revenue of six hundred thousand francs, exclusive of his diamonds and one million. reserved for present use. His property was vested in the funds of England, Holland, and France.
Having made such arrangements he set ont for Paris, where he arrived the 15th February 1815, eight years to the very day after the hapless Picaud had disappeared. He should now be about thirty-four years of age. Joseph Lucher was attacked by a severe illness the day after his arrival, and being without attendance, even of a valet, he had himself conveyed to a maison de santè. At the return of Napoleon, Lucher was still unwell, and his sickness continued as long as the emperor remained in France, but as soon as the second restoration appeared finally to consolidate the Bourbon dynasty, the inmate of the maison de santè quitted his sick bed and took up his residence in the quarter Sainte Opportune, where he speedily acquired some interesting information.
In February 1807, there had been great excitement in the neighbourhood, consequent on the disappearance of a young shoemaker, an honest man who was on the point of marriage with a very wealthy girl. Some hoax concocted by three friends had destroyed his brilliant prospects, the poor fellow had either fled or been carried off. No one knew what had become of him. His intended spent two years in deep affliction, but then, convinced that her sorrow was unavailing, she married the coffee-house keeper Loupian, who by such an union having acquired large property, possessed the most magni