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more especially if he be hight Jasmin, to remind the charivaris common in the country; but none us of his own oily perfumes, and if, further, he of these effusions have come down to us—the entitle his writings, “Curl-papers," to suggest poor tailor-satirist rests mute and inglorious. more homely ideas still. Let no Latinist punster Though a thin, weak child, yet “ nourished by good quote to us the line,
milk, and nestling in a warm cradle stuffed with Dum canimus sacras alterno pectinc nonas ;
lark's feathers,” Jasmin grew, just as if he had
been the son of a king.” At the age of seven he to us there is no profession so prosaic as a barber's, and for a poet to be found among its mem- charivaris, whither he went with a horn in his
was strong enough to accompany his father to the bers is indeed a prodigy. But Jasmin is that hand, a paper cap on his head, and seemingly prodigy. The little room behind his shop is full
much pride of position in his heart. But the of gifts, presented to him in homage of his genius; admirers in every social and intellectual rank have foot and barehead” to gather sticks for his parents
greatest delight of his childhood was to go “baresent their offerings, and kings are among the con- in the willow-islands of the Garonne, with a party tributors. He writes after his name, “ Member of some score of his companions. To this day it of the Academies of Agen and Bordeaux." Αι
enchants him to remember how, the clock his button-hole he wears the ribbon of the legion struck noon, the cry would arise, à l'illo, annits ! of honor-in his case, at least, bestowed upon no
to the island, friends!" How they then set off, unworthy grounds. And the little table beside his counter is covered with favorable reviews by critics in that country; how, their fagots and their work
singing, L'agnel que m'as dounal, a favorite song whose judgment is stamped with authority, min- finished an hour before nightfall, they spent that gled with complimentary letters from correspond time in swinging upon the pliant branches, and how ents whose approbation is indeed high praise. All these Jasmin makes no ostentation either of ex- chanting the same air and chorus, while thirty
they then returned home again, “thirty voices hibiting or of concealing; he has not been spoiled bundles of wood danced on thirty heads." by the flattery he has received ; but he is conscious
All his amusemenis, however, were not so inof his own merits, and disdains the mock modesty
He was a sad robber of orchards ; nor it would be affectation to assume.
does he seem even yet reformed in principle, for In appearance he is a fine, manly-looking fellow, his mouth evidently still waters at the recollection in manners he is hearty and simple. From the first
of his exploitsprepossessing, he gains upon you at every moment, till when he is fairly launched into the recital of Over the hedge and over the wall, one of his poems, and his rich voice does justice
What lots of cherries and plums we stole ! to the harmonious Gascon in which they nearly all
Peaches and grapes and nectarines, are written, the animation and feeling he discovers
Up the trees and along the vines !
Pears and apricots past belief, become contagious; your admiration kindles; cold
Oh! I was such a famous thief! as you may generally be, you are involved in his
Leaping like squirrels, on we came, ardor. You forget the shop in which you stand ; Scourges of gardens, and proud of the name. all idea of his ng a hair-dresser vanishes ; you rise with him into his superior world, and experi
But, amid the gayety and carelessness of Jasmin's ence in a way you will never forget, the power
early years, there was a care which cast a gloom exercised by a true poet pouring forth his living
over his happiest moments ; and it arose from a thoughts in his own verses.
cause which does not usually much sadden a child. Amongst Jasmin's productions is a piece enti- The future poet had an eager thirst for education ; tled Mous Soubenis— My Souvenirs. It appeared
the poverty of his parents did not admit of his in 1832. Nothing can give a better idea at once
receiving it. The thought of school, and of his of the man and of the poet than this work ; for being debarred from it, constantly haunted bim : it not only yields us a retrospect of his life, but his poor mother would whisper the word to his exhibits in a peculiar degree the mixture of pathos grandfather, and then look wistfully at her boy : and humor, of playfulness and passion, which dis- but there was no help, they had not the means. tinguishes him. We shall, therefore, make the and his singular desire of knowledge could not be acquaintance of the modern troubadour by means
gratified. He could only wish. of this autobiography. We translate word for
The family had evidently a hard battle to susword when we quote in prose.
tain. Jasmin's childhood was one of hunger and Aged and broken, the other century had only a
privation. We find him afterwards alluding to couple of years more to pass upon earth, when, at his forced fasts, in some humorous verses addressed the corner of an old street, in a house where dwelt "To a Curé of Marmande, who at a great dinner more than one rat, on Thursday in Shrovetide, be- wished to make him observe Lent.” We think hind the door, at the hour when they toss pancakes, we hear some troubadour of Raymond's court of a hunchbacked father and a lame mother, was discharging his pleasantry at the penance-pronounoborn a baby, and that baby was I.
ing St. Dominic, or some of his monk companions. The hunchbacked father was a tailor; and,
Cries our abbé,“ Sinners all, though he could not read, he too was a poet, of a
Fast, and of your ways repent ! much lower degree, however, than his son. He
If you've sinned in carnival, composed burlesque and occasional couplets for
Now atone by keeping Lent.
Sinners, oh! to be forgiven,
things he had never dreamed of before : that the Pay your heavy debt to Heaven !''
severe looking woman, who came overy morning Me your words in no way touch ;
with an iron pot, bore in it to his grandmother, You and all the curés know
“ sick though still not old," the soup of charity; In advance I've paid so much,
that the old wallet was what his grandfather used Nothing of the kind I owe.
to carry from farmhouse to
rmhouse, seeking the Why should I be told to fast ?
scanty doles of his former friends ; that no old Heaven 's my debtor for the past !
man ever died in their house, but “ that as soon But even hunger cannot sink the buoyancy
as they took to crutches they were sent to the natural 10 childhood. Jasmin was always merry, hospital.”. So it had been from father to son. Every season had its own pleasures, cheap and
** Paoure Pepy!-poor grandfather." natural, but not the less enjoyed. In winter, for
One day, however—a bright day for him-his instance, they consisted in listening to dreadful mother entered the house joyfully.
" Jacques," stories told by an old woman.
said she, “ Jacques, my son, you shall go to school !
Your cousin the schoolmaster takes you for nothWhat delight and what pain I felt when she ing.” Six months afterwards the boy could read recounted the “* Ogre and Little Tom Thumb," when - he was diligent and had a good memory-six she painted a hundred ghosts, with the noise of a hundred chains, in an old ruin, when she rehearsed and as a chorister he struck up the Tantum ergo
more and he assisted the priest at mass-six more, the “ Sorcerer” or “Bluebeard,” or described the “ Loup-garou” howling in the street. Half dead
-six more and he entered the seminary gratuiwith fear, I dared not breathe, and when, as mid- tously-six more and he was expelled from it with night sounded, I returned home, it seemed as if shame on his face and curses on his head. And sorcerers and loups-garoux were always at my this, too, was in the very moment of his first great heels.
triumph. He had gained a prize—it was only an So much for imaginary terrors.
old cassock-but it was still a prize. His mother
The actual things of life and their stern reality were soon
came and saw it ; full of joy was that poor mothforced upon him in a way that left its trace for- er, and between her kisses she said to him, It was a Monday. At play with his com- for, thanks to you, they send us every Tuesday a
Poor thing! you have a good right to learn ; panions, he was their king and they formed his escort. In the midst of his reign he sees two
loaf of bread, and this year times are so bad, that
God knows it is welcome." Jasmin, very proud, porters approach, bearing an old man seated on a willow chair. They come nearer and nearer, near
pronuised repeatedly that he would become a grand enough at last for him to distinguish his grand- savant, and his mother went away radiant with father. He throws himself round his pour rela- joy. His father, it was arranged, was to lay his tive's neck, and asks him anxiously, and in wonder, professional hands on the cassock and alter it to
the boy's size. But that vestment Jasmin was what ails him, why he has left home, where he is " To the workhouse, my son,” replies and figuratively.
never destined to wear. going.
He fell, both literally
“ The devil, that instigator of the weeping old man. “ Acòs aqui que lous Jansemins môron—it is there the Jasmins die. of which a plump servant maid was perched, oc
evil,” " led him, it seems, near a ladder, at the top He embraced me,” continued Jasmin, “and was
cupied-type of innocence--in feeding pigeons in carried away, shutting his blue eyes-five days
a dove-cot above her. He mounted the ladder one, afterwards my grandfather was no more.” Then, for the first time, the boy felt what poverty really two, three, four steps, Kitty turned and uttered a is. This event struck deep into his mind; the scream, the ladder was thrown over, and both came recollection of it has since been constantly present continued screaming, and when the luckless wight
together to the ground, she uppermost. Kitty to him, and on one occasion, at least, it exercised a salutary influence on his fortunes. When, at
got upon his legs again, he found scullions, cooks,
and little abbés, all the house, in fact, last, more prosperous days came, he found great assembled around him. Kitty told the story in satisfaction in making a bonfire of the old willow chair in which his forefathers, “ all the Jasmins,"
her own way, with embellishments, the culprit had been carried to their almshouse death-bed.
assures us, and his punishment was immediately With this incident the first canto closes.
pronouncedThe second begins with an inventory of the So wicked and so young! As Heaven is my guard, family furniture, in which figure, among other I'll see that such conduct shall meet its due reward! things, “three old beds in ruins ; six old curtains, Dry bread and prison from to-day, through all the which the wind from the crannies would have such was the peremptory sentence of the principal !
carnival! caused to belly out like sails, if they had not been eaten by time and rats into the semblance of Shut up in his cell, Jasmin was far from being sieves ; a sideboard frequently subjected to threat miserable. He had, it seems, visions of lovely of bailiff—it was the only thing worth seizing, women, who, and an old wallet hanging in a corner.” He had
Sweet consolers of disgrace, not before remarked the scantiness of their posses
Changing it to happiness, sions, but his eyes were now opened. He saw how Breathing smiles and beaming light, slender were his parents' means, and he learned Hovered round him all the night
Never o'er a couch so bare
life, and at the opening of the third canto the Wantoned dreams so fresh and fair.
schoolboy has become apprentice to a hair-dresser,
and is now, as he says, almost a man. Engaged From these pleasant visions, however, Jasmin
the greater part of each day in adorning outawoke to the direful reality of hunger—a reality wardly the heads of others, he devoted all his which causes him emphatically to deny the truth of the proverb, " qui dron minjo"— he who sleeps Every night the ray of a lamp, shining from a
hours to storing the interior of his own.
spare dines. To tantalize him more, from the valiant spits hard at work in the kitchen, ascended, com- and in his bed, waking the night through, he
garret window, lit up the neighboring elm-tree ; ing through the keyhole, and impelled by the lulled asleep his griefs by reading, forgetting for
great devil,” an odor of unctuous and most de- the time the ring, the wallet, and the workhouse. lectable meats. It is the carnival, and he is in pris. So he lived, “ unhappy and contented.” He also on, alone and hungry. He becomes desperate, his eye flashes with rage, and at that moment it falls now began to write verses, addressed in the first on a cupboard in the wall-high up, but secured place, strangely enough, to the heroine of a novel, only by a wooden pin. The means of ascent are he says, ever in his thoughts ; and when, during
to pray her to be his guardian angel. She was, speedily furnished by a table, some washing lines, his occupations of the day, the terrible thought and four chairs ; on this ladder, at the risk of his of the workhouse presented itself—as it seems neck, he climbs. Opening the cupboard he beholds in the interior four pots ;
constantly to have done—he had for solace only
trembling like a king upon his throne,” he draws one of them vented his minding his proper business, and he
This of course pre
this sweet unsubstantiality. towards him ; something soft and black flows out
confesses it. on his face and trickles to his mouth ; he tastes“triumph! it is quince marmalade!”
How often, when dreaming, in terror or hope, “But at this moment who is coming up stairs ?
My razor too heedlessly played !
And over a visage of lather and soap -who fumbles at the door ?—who opens it ?-
What staggers and stumbles it made! who enters ?—0, terror! it is the principal himself-bearing a pardon.” But what a sad and No doubt many a worthy citizen of Agen had unexpected sight meets his eye! Of course it cause to curse the ideal Estella who possessed was all over with Jasmin. There had been for- the thoughts of the awkward and romantic bar
ber's boy. giveness for his other transgression, but for this there was none—a boy who eats a canon's own
But from romance-reading Jasmin came to particular choice quince marmalade, puts himself play-going. One evening he chanced to mingle beyond the pale of mercy. With a cry of Out,
with a crowd assembled before a large house ; you devil, out!” the enraged ecclesiastic shook the the doors suddenly opened, and the throng, enterfrail scaffold : Jasmin, followed by a pot or two, ing precipitately, bore him along in its current. tumbled from his bad eminence, and was summarily Where am I? Heavens! Why is that curtain expelled from the seminary. His face being still
raised? besmeared with the stolen sweets, the carnival. How fine! Another country! Am I crazed ? keepers, as he ran through the streets, saluted him
How well they sing ! How soft they speak, yet
clear! with jeering cries of “ A mask! a mask !” but
But all to see and all to hear escaping from his tormentors he at last got home,
My ears and eyes too much are mazed. sore with his fall and very hungry. Here he found “ 'Tis Cinderella?" loud I cried—“* 't is she, I the table laid, and some beans cooking—but there was no bread. “ You need not wait for it," said “Silence!" my neighbor muttered ; his mother to her children, sadly but tenderly ;
Why so, sir? What is this, where are we, "" it will not come."
pray?" I stuttered : They were without bread. “O poverty! 0
“ You fool! you 're at the play !" repentance ! O well-turned ankles and quince This gave a new direction to his thoughts ; marmalade! o Kitty, and O canon !"—the that night Cinderella supplanted poor Estella in ration had been stopped because of his miscon- his affections. He talked in his sleep, made long duct the previous day! After a while his mother speeches, and disturbed his master's house. The cast a glance at her hand, and then exclaiming, ire of the old barber was of course kindled, and “Wait a little-yes, you shall have it !” she goes in the morning he ascends to his apprentice's out. She soon returns with a loaf, and all the garret to scold him. The scene which follows is family regain their spirits ; Jacques alone is serious inimitable. The dreamy, imaginative, easily imand watchful-watchful of his mother-serious, pressioned boy, lying on the floor of the room, for he has his fears. They finish their bean- and just awakened from silvery visions of fairyporridge—she prepares to cut the loaf-he ob- land and the beautiful Cinderella ; the practical, serves her closely—observes her left hand. Alas! sober, methodical, but withal good-natured master, it was true—"n'abiò plus soun anèl”—she had standing with authority over him, and questioning sold her marriage ring!
him—the professional pride of the worthy man This is the end of the second canto, or as he tells the lad that he is unfit to be a barber, "pause.” Jasmin here passes over a year of his and had better turn player—bis horror at finding
whose eyes a
himself unexpectedly taken at his word—his scene in which they, as well as his sisters, are broken remonstrances, half indignation, half pity, introduced in a comfortable family picture, the and the unlooked for effect of his chance expres-only drawback on the happiness of the party sion, “ Infatuated boy ! do you wish to die in the being their indignation at some complimentary workhouse?”—which, by the terrible reminis- verses which terined the poet a son of Apollo," cences it calls up, restores the stage-struck ap- and thereby, as they thought, cast doubts on the prentice to his proper senses—are all sketched fair character of his mother. with so masterly a hand, in a few vigorous lines, In the same little shop Jasmin still remains. that the incident, than which nothing could in But his fame soon went forth. In 1835 we find itself be more commonplace, becomes eminently him reciting his verses amid the applause of the interesting and dramatic. But it is the peculiar critical Academy of Bordeaux; and in 1840, inerit of Jasmin, as, indeed, it is his professed raising to extraordinary enthusiasm an immense aim, to depict the natural, to adhere closely to the mixed multitude at Toulouse. Passing over, true, to represent every-day occurrences, and however, his other triumphs, we come to his simply putting them in their proper light, or by reception at Paris, an account of which he gives directing on them the illumination of his poetry, in a piece entitled “ My Journey.” The scene to give to even the most ordinary personages and is the saloon of M. Augustin Thierry, the learned events the effect and attraction which are usually and accomplished author of the “ History of the considered as being confined to the romantic, the Norman Conquest.”' The illustrious writer, exciting, and the improbable.
thick drop serene” has obscured Two years went by after the memorable visit forever, is seated as usual in his arm-chair, a to the theatre ; Jasmin was now nearly eighteen melancholy calm upon his fine features, his do years of age, the future began to brighten, and at voted wife is beside him, around him are assemlast an important day in his history arrived—his bled the most distinguished people of Parisown little “ saloun" (saloon) for hair-dressing poets, critics, orators—the learned, the witty, the was opened. It was not much frequented at first; imaginative. The eyes of all are turned upon a customers were few and fortune niggardly, “ mais man who, with the embarrassment of modesty,
non plèou, rouzino”-if it did not rain, it but with the just confidence of conscious power, drizzled. And soon he became completely happy. prepares read a poem of his own. “ He found in the world,” he says, a spirit that nounces it as “ The Blind Girl of Castèl-Cuillè.” pleased him," he fell in love, that is to say. There is a movement of curiosity, not a few looks His wooing was successful ; his marriage day of incredulity, one or two of the party manifest
in a renovated hat, in a blue coal-new something approaching to a sneer—for the prefor the second time, and with a shirt of coarse tended poet is a hair-dresser, and writes in patois. stuff, having a calico front,” he carried away his The effect is chilling for the poor man ; his bride, the pleasing, good-natured little woman southern ardor feels the frost of the atmosphere. whom we have seen at Agen.
He has an awful reverence for the great men His later history he passes lightly over. round him, and he is crushed by their superiority. You know the rest, (he says, addressing him
Their conventional politeness, so different from self to M. Florimond de St. Amant, to whom the Gascon warmth, is painfully scrupulous; he is a “ Soubenis” are dedicated.) Fifteen years have stranger too, and so alone. passed ; the “ Curl-papers and other songs have How shall he move such an audience? How attracted to my shop a little stream of so silvery a shall his simple Abuglo” touch their hearts? nature, that in my poetic ardor I broke to pieces He sees that they are resolved not to be influthe terrible chair. My fears are gone; so much enced in his favor by the mere curiosity of the so, that reading the other day that Pegasus is a horse which carries poets to the almshouse, I filled thing—by the phenomenon of a barber making the whole house with my laughter.
tolerable verses, and venturing so boldly to recite part, have been carried by that steed, not to the them on such ground ; he sees he must stand or almshouse, but to a certain notary's office; and fall by his real merits. Let him describe his own now, in the full pride of my greatness, I rejoice to emotions. see myself figuring on the list of the tax-gatherer, being the first of my family who has had that honor. A crowd of learned men and women waited It is true, the honor costs something ; but no mat- coldly till I should open my lips, to measure my ter, our house shelters us against wind and rain, mind and my words. And it is not in Paris as on though behind it is certainly but imperfectly roofed the banks of the Garonne. At home all are my in. But my wife says to me, “ Courage! every friends, here all are judges; and he who comes verse you make is a tile, and it is rafters you are to establish his name, if he does not gain a throne, squaring when you write;" and she who at first, finds nothing but a tomb. Doubtless they had an when my verses were not so argen:iferous, used to amicable air towards me--they even called me a lock up my paper and split my pen, now offers me, poet; but I saw, by the expression of their eyes, with a courteous air, the finest pen and the smooth- how difficult my proof would be ; and then, none est paper.
of them understood our sweet, smooth language. I
was dumb-I was afraid. I changed from hot to It is pleasing to find that both the parents of cold, and from cold to hot. In vain the magnifiJasmin lived to see and to profit by their son's cent countenance of the blind man grew bright success; for the “Soubenis” conclude with al with kindness towards me-in vain his guardian
I, for my
angel, his gentle companion, touched me with her He loves, when all things verdant beam, golden wing. I trembled—I wished to go away. In manhood to go forth and dream
Upon the turf where as a child he played. But at last he took courage. He began his “ Abuglo," and from the first his success was complete. He was frequently interrupted by the I rest then here; not rich, but free ; applause of his hearers. That evening was
With water from my spring, with bread of rye : decisive. Twenty-six times, he tells us, within
In gay saloons there's many a sigh, fifteen days, he repeated his recitation, the last of And I for my part laugh at anything,
There's many a laugh beneath the tree ;them being before the then royal family at Neuilly.
I wept too long-t is time to laugh and sing; Covered with applause and honor, he returned to For, wiser now than in my youth, I hold his beloved Agen; and the year after he received That in this tinsel world below, a substantial proof of the estimation in which his In which our days so soon will have been told, poetry was held, an annual pension of a thousand And where all things are empty show
Content is better far than gold. francs being allotted to him by the Minister of Public Instruction.
In the preceding translation we have endeavored Since then he has remained perfectly contented to preserve something of the rhythm of the origiin his native town, making occasional tours, and nal, which, in almost all Jasmin's productions' is reciting his works to admiring crowds in the very arbitrary. He mingles short lines with long different places of the south, but refusing all lines at pleasure ; one of fifteen syllables shall, solicitation to leave his present position. One of for instance, precede one of two; to a series of the most pleasing of his many pleasing poetical stately hexameters shall succeed a flight of epistles is on this subject, and contains his rea- trochaies, in many of which the verse is composed sons for not following the advice of a “rich agri- of a single word. Such license, though common culturist near Toulouse, who incessantly wrote to enough among French writers in the composition him to go and establish himself in Paris, where of fables and the like, has never been considered he would make his fortune.” It is too long to by them admissible in the more elevated style ; quote entire, but we select from it some passages, but Jasmin's innovation is as successful as it was of which even the author of the ode, “ Rectius daring. But if his rhythm is irregular, his rhymes vives,” would have had no cause to be ashamed.
are still more so. It is not by such rudders that
his courses are steered. His rhyming lines follow Why do you always repeat to me, (he says,) each other in every possible order; they are of that money is money, and that fame is only fame? My eye is fixed on a laurel; a little sprig
most unequal and disproportioned lengths; the of it will, I hope, one day be mine; and compared
same assonance often unites three, four, or even with that sprig, all the riches of the world are to live, and these are sometimes consecutive, someme as nothing. Besides, 1 do not know how to times widely separated ; in short, the movement use wealth-wealth would spoil me. I cannot of his verses is an intricate and fantastic dance, employ it usefully as you do ; you, who while you where the partners are perpetually meeting and enrich yourself, enrich a hundred others.
leaving each other, where dissyllabic pigries are
coupled with monstrous Alexandrines, where the No! I should do as upstarts always do,
eye can discover neither method nor design, but Become, perhaps, stiff, haughty, proud, And ape high lords as best I could,
where, nevertheless, there exists an evident harAnd in a handsome carriage go.
mony, which pleases though it may perplex. The Deny, whilst to the great I bend,
following quotation will exemplify this. It is the My kindred, and each former friend.
opening of the third canto of Françouncto. And act so, that from nought refraining,
Al tour del mayne d'Estanquet,
d Full soon my coffers would be drained.
Sus bors d'aquel riou tan fresquet, When, now no more rich, proud, disdaining,
Doun la fino aygueto, I should be wretched, poor, disdained.
Tout l'an à l'ombreto,
Sul caillaou caqueto,
Uno poulido fillo, en amassan de flous,
L'estiou passat, sul la pelouzo, Each summer, happier than a king,
Al brut de soun himou jouyouzo, I glean my little winter store.
De sa bouès et de sas cansous And then I carol out the day
Randið lous aouzelous
Perquè nou canto plus ? Prats et sègos berdejoa,
Lous roussignols que cansounejon When once is come the summer sky,
Bènon l'agarreja jusquo dins soun cazal ; And grasshoppers are heard to ply
Es qu'aouyò quitat soun oustal.
Nou; soun capèl de paillo fino
Soun cazalet tapaou n'a plus tan bouno mino; He ever loves the ancient roof
Soun rastèl, soun arrouzadou, That sheltered first his youthful brad.
Soun pel las jounquillos boulcâdos;