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Alice, or the Mysteries — Book 06

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84 pages
Project Gutenberg EBook, Alice, or The Mysteries, by Lytton, Book VI #208 in our series by Edward Bulwer LyttonCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of thisfile. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can alsofind out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers*****Title: Alice, or The Mysteries, Book VIAuthor: Edward Bulwer LyttonRelease Date: January 2006 [EBook #9768] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was firstposted on October 15, 2003]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK, ALICE, BY LYTTON, BOOK VI ***Produced by Dagny, dagnypg@yahoo.com and David Widger, widger@cecomet.netBOOK VI. "I will bring fire to thee—I reek not of the place." —EURIPIDES: Andromache, 214.CHAPTER I. . . . ...
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Project Gutenberg EBook, Alice, or The Mysteries,by Lytton, Book VI #208 in our series by EdwardBulwer LyttonCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Besure to check the copyright laws for your countrybefore downloading or redistributing this or anyother Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen whenviewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do notremove it. Do not change or edit the headerwithout written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and otherinformation about the eBook and ProjectGutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included isimportant information about your specific rights andrestrictions in how the file may be used. You canalso find out about how to make a donation toProject Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain VanillaElectronic Texts****EBooks Readable By Both Humans and ByComputers, Since 1971*******These EBooks Were Prepared By Thousandsof Volunteers*****
Title: Alice, or The Mysteries, Book VIAuthor: Edward Bulwer LyttonRelease Date: January 2006 [EBook #9768] [Yes,we are more than one year ahead of schedule][This file was first posted on October 15, 2003]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERGEBOOK, ALICE, BY LYTTON, BOOK VI*** Produced by Dagny, dagnypg@yahoo.com andDavid Widger, widger@cecomet.netBOOK VI.  "I will bring fire to thee—I reek not of the place."
       —EURIPIDES: Andromache, 214.CHAPTER I.  . . . THIS ancient city,  How wanton sits she amidst Nature's smiles!  . . . Various nations meet,  As in the sea, yet not confined in space,  But streaming freely through the spacious streets.—YOUNG.  . . . His teeth he still did grind,  And grimly gnash, threatening revenge in vain.—SPENSER."PARIS is a delightful place,—that is allowed by all.It is delightful to the young, to the gay, to the idle;to the literary lion, who likes to be petted; to thewiser epicure, who indulges a more justifiableappetite. It is delightful to ladies, who wish to live attheir ease, and buy beautiful caps; delightful tophilanthropists, who wish for listeners to schemesof colonizing the moon; delightful to the haunters ofballs and ballets, and little theatres and superbcafes, where men with beards of all sizes andshapes scowl at the English, and involve theirintellects in the fascinating game of dominos. Forthese, and for many others, Paris is delightful. Isay nothing against it. But, for my own part, Iwould rather live in a garret in London than in apalace in the Chaussee d'Antin.—'Chacun a son
mauvais gout.'"I don't like the streets, in which I cannot walk butin the kennel; I don't like the shops, that containnothing except what's at the window; I don't like thehouses, like prisons which look upon a courtyard; Idon't like the beaux jardins, which grow no plantssave a Cupid in plaster; I don't like the wood fires,which demand as many petits soins as the women,and which warm no part of one but one's eyelids, Idon't like the language, with its strong phrasesabout nothing, and vibrating like a pendulumbetween 'rapture' and 'desolation;' I don't like theaccent, which one cannot get, without speakingthrough one's nose; I don't like the eternal fuss andjabber about books without nature, and revolutionswithout fruit; I have no sympathy with tales thatturn on a dead jackass, nor with constitutions thatgive the ballot to the representatives, and withholdthe suffrage from the people; neither have I muchfaith in that enthusiasm for the beaux arts, whichshows its produce in execrable music, detestablepictures, abominable sculpture, and a drollsomething that I believe the French call POETRY.Dancing and cookery,—these are the arts theFrench excel in, I grant it; and excellent things theyare; but oh, England! oh, Germany! you need notbe jealous of your rival!"These are not the author's remarks,—he disownsthem; they were Mr. Cleveland's. He was aprejudiced man; Maltravers was more liberal, butthen Maltravers did not pretend to be a wit.
Maltravers had been several weeks in the city ofcities, and now he had his apartments in thegloomy but interesting Faubourg St. Germain, all tohimself. For Cleveland, having attended eight daysat a sale, and having moreover ransacked all thecuriosity shops, and shipped off bronzes andcabinets, and Genoese silks and objets de vertu,enough to have half furnished Fonthill, had fulfilledhis mission, and returned to his villa. Before the oldgentleman went, he flattered himself that changeof air and scene had already been serviceable tohis friend; and that time would work a completecure upon that commonest of all maladies,—anunrequited passion, or an ill-placed caprice.Maltravers, indeed, in the habit of conquering, aswell as of concealing emotion, vigorously andearnestly strove to dethrone the image that hadusurped his heart. Still vain of his self-command,and still worshipping his favourite virtue of Fortitudeand his delusive philosophy of the calm GoldenMean, he would not weakly indulge the passion,while he so sternly fled from its object.But yet the image of Evelyn pursued,—it hauntedhim; it came on him unawares, in solitude, incrowds. That smile so cheering, yet so soft, thatever had power to chase away the shadow fromhis soul; that youthful and luxurious bloom of pureand eloquent thoughts, which was as the blossomof genius before its fruit, bitter as well as sweet, isborn; that rare union of quick feeling and serenetemper, which forms the very ideal of what wedream of in the mistress, and exact from the wife,
—all, even more, far more, than the exquisite formand the delicate graces of the less durable beauty,returned to him, after every struggle with himself;and time only seemed to grave, in deeper if morelatent folds of his heart, the ineradicableimpression.Maltravers renewed his acquaintance with somepersons not unfamiliar to the reader.Valerie de Ventadour—how many recollections ofthe fairer days of life were connected with thatname! Precisely as she had never reached to hislove, but only excited his fancy (the fancy oftwenty-two), had her image always retained apleasant and grateful hue; it was blended with nodeep sorrow, no stern regret, no dark remorse, nohaunting shame.They met again. Madame de Ventadour was stillbeautiful, and still admired,—perhaps moreadmired than ever; for to the great, fashion andcelebrity bring a second and yet more popularyouth. But Maltravers, if rejoiced to see how gentlyTime had dealt with the fair Frenchwoman, was yetmore pleased to read in her fine features a moreserene and contented expression than they hadformerly worn. Valerie de Ventadour had precededher younger admirer through the "MYSTERIES ofLIFE;" she had learned the real objects of being;she distinguished between the Actual and theVisionary, the Shadow and the Substance; she hadacquired content for the present, and looked withquiet hope towards the future. Her character was
still spotless; or rather, every year of temptationand trial had given it a fairer lustre. Love, thatmight have ruined, being once subdued, preservedher from all after danger. The first meetingbetween Maltravers and Valerie was, it is true, oneof some embarrassment and reserve: not so thesecond. They did but once, and that slightly, recurto the past, and from that moment, as by a tacitunderstanding, true friendship between themdated. Neither felt mortified to see that an illusionhad passed away,—they were no longer the samein each other's eyes. Both might be improved, andwere so; but the Valerie and the Ernest of Napleswere as things dead and gone! Perhaps Valerie'sheart was even more reconciled to the cure of itssoft and luxurious malady by the renewal of theiracquaintance. The mature and experiencedreasoner, in whom enthusiasm had undergone itsusual change, with the calm brow and commandingaspect of sober manhood, was a being so differentfrom the romantic boy, new to the actual world ofcivilized toils and pleasures, fresh from theadventures of Eastern wanderings, and full ofgolden dreams of poetry before it settles intoauthorship or action! She missed the brillianterrors, the daring aspirations,—even the animatedgestures and eager eloquence,—that hadinterested and enamoured her in the loiterer by theshores of Baiae, or amidst the tomb-like chambersof Pompeii. For the Maltravers now before her—wiser, better, nobler, even handsomer than of yore(for he was one whom manhood became betterthan youth)—the Frenchwoman could at any periodhave felt friendship without danger. It seemed to
her, not as it really was, the natural development,but the very contrast, of the ardent, variable,imaginative boy, by whose side she had gazed atnight on the moonlit waters and rosy skies of thesoft Parthenope! How does time, after longabsence, bring to us such contrasts between theone we remember and the one we see! And what amelancholy mockery does it seem of our own vainhearts, dreaming of impressions never to bechanged, and affections that never can grow cool!And now, as they conversed with all the ease ofcordial and guileless friendship, how did Valerierejoice in secret that upon that friendship thererested no blot of shame! and that she had notforfeited those consolations for a home withoutlove, which had at last settled into cheerful norunhallowed resignation,—consolations only to befound in the conscience and the pride!M. de Ventadour had not altered, except that hisnose was longer, and that he now wore a peruquein full curl instead of his own straight hair. Butsomehow or other—perhaps by the mere charm ofcustom—he had grown more pleasing in Valerie'seyes; habit had reconciled her to his foibles,deficiencies, and faults; and, by comparison withothers, she could better appreciate his goodqualities, such as they were,—generosity, good-temper, good-nature, and unbounded indulgenceto herself. Husband and wife have so manyinterests in common, that when they have joggedon through the ups and downs of life a sufficienttime, the leash which at first galled often grows
easy and familiar; and unless the temper, or ratherthe disposition and the heart, of either beinsufferable, what was once a grievous yokebecomes but a companionable tie. And for the rest,Valerie, now that sentiment and fancy weresobered down, could take pleasure in a thousandthings which her pining affections once, as it were,overlooked and overshot. She could feel gratefulfor all the advantages her station and wealthprocured her; she could cull the roses in her reach,without sighing for the amaranths of Elysium.If the great have more temptations than those ofmiddle life, and if their senses of enjoymentbecome more easily pampered into a sickly apathy,so at least (if they can once outlive satiety) theyhave many more resources at their command.There is a great deal of justice in the old line,displeasing though it be to those who think of lovein a cottage, "'Tis best repenting in a coach andsix!" If among the Eupatrids, the Well Born, there isless love in wedlock, less quiet happiness at home,still they are less chained each to each,—theyhave more independence, both the woman and theman, and occupations and the solace without canbe so easily obtained! Madame de Ventadour, inretiring from the mere frivolities of society—fromcrowded rooms, and the inane talk and hollowsmiles of mere acquaintanceship—became moresensible of the pleasures that her refined andelegant intellect could derive from art and talent,and the communion of friendship. She drew aroundher the most cultivated minds of her time andcountry. Her abilities, her wit, and her
conversational graces enabled her not only to mixon equal terms with the most eminent, but toamalgamate and blend the varieties of talent intoharmony. The same persons, when metelsewhere, seemed to have lost their charm; underValerie's roof every one breathed a congenialatmosphere. And music and letters, and all thatcan refine and embellish civilized life, contributedtheir resources to this gifted and beautiful woman.And thus she found that the mind has excitementand occupation, as well as the heart; and, unlikethe latter, the culture we bestow upon the first everyields us its return. We talk of education for thepoor, but we forget how much it is needed by therich. Valerie was a living instance of theadvantages to women of knowledge andintellectual resources. By them she had purified herfancy, by them she had conquered discontent, bythem she had grown reconciled to life and to herlot! When the heavy heart weighed down the onescale, it was the mind that restored the balance.The spells of Madame de Ventadour drewMaltravers into this charmed circle of all that washighest, purest, and most gifted in the society ofParis. There he did not meet, as were met in thetimes of the old regime, sparkling abbes intentupon intrigues; or amorous old dowagers, eloquenton Rousseau; or powdered courtiers, utteringepigrams against kings and religions,—straws thatforetold the whirlwind. Paul Courier was right!Frenchmen are Frenchmen still; they are full of finephrases, and their thoughts smell of the theatre;they mistake foil for diamonds, the Grotesque for