THE RED AND THE BLACK
A Chronicle of 1830
TRANSLATED BY HORACE B. SAMUEL,
Late Scholar Corpus Christi College,
TRUBNER & Co.,
NEW YORK: E.P.
DUTTON AND CO.
The inconvenience of the reign of public opinion is that though,
it secures liberty,
it meddles with what it has nothing to do with --private life,
Hence the gloominess of America and England.
In order to avoid infringing on private life,
the author has invented a little town --Verrières,
and when he had need of a bishop,
an assize court,
he placed all this in Besançon,
where he has never been.
CHAPTER I A SMALL TOWN
CHAPTER II A MAYOR
CHAPTER III THE POOR FUND
CHAPTER IV A FATHER AND A SON
CHAPTER V A NEGOTIATION
CHAPTER VI ENNUI
CHAPTER VII THE ELECTIVE AFFINITIES
CHAPTER VIII LITTLE EPISODES
CHAPTER IX AN EVENING IN THE COUNTRY
CHAPTER X A GREAT HEART AND A SMALL FORTUNE
CHAPTER XI AN EVENING
CHAPTER XII A JOURNEY
CHAPTER XIII THE OPEN WORK STOCKINGS
CHAPTER XIV THE ENGLISH SCISSORS
CHAPTER XV THE COCK'S SONG
CHAPTER XVI THE DAY AFTER
CHAPTER XVII THE FIRST DEPUTY
CHAPTER XVIII A KING AT VERRIÈRES
CHAPTER XIX THINKING PRODUCES SUFFERING
CHAPTER XX ANONYMOUS LETTERS
CHAPTER XXI DIALOGUE WITH A MASTER
CHAPTER XXII MANNERS OF PROCEDURE IN 1830
CHAPTER XXIII SORROWS OF AN OFFICIAL
CHAPTER XXIV A CAPITAL
CHAPTER XXV THE SEMINARY
CHAPTER XXVI THE WORLD,
OR WHAT THE RICH LACK
CHAPTER XXVII FIRST EXPERIENCE OF LIFE
CHAPTER XXVIII A PROCESSION
CHAPTER XXIX THE FIRST PROMOTION
CHAPTER XXX AN AMBITIOUS MAN
CHAPTER XXXI THE PLEASURES OF THE COUNTRY
CHAPTER XXXII ENTRY INTO SOCIETY
CHAPTER XXXIII THE FIRST STEPS
CHAPTER XXXIV THE HÔTEL DE LA MOLE
CHAPTER XXXV SENSIBILITY AND A GREAT PIOUS LADY
CHAPTER XXXVI PRONUNCIATION
CHAPTER XXXVII AN ATTACK OF GOUT
CHAPTER XXXVIII WHAT IS THE DECORATION WHICH CONFERS DISTINCTION?
CHAPTER XXXIX HE BALL
CHAPTER XL QUEEN MARGUERITE
CHAPTER XLI A YOUNG GIRL'S DOMINION
CHAPTER XLII IS HE A DANTON?
CHAPTER XLIII A PLOT
CHAPTER XLIV A YOUNG GIRL'S THOUGHTS
CHAPTER XLV IS IT A PLOT?
CHAPTER XLVI ONE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING
CHAPTER XLVII AN OLD SWORD
CHAPTER XLVIII CRUEL MOMENTS
CHAPTER XLIX THE OPERA BOUFFE
CHAPTER L THE JAPANESE VASE
CHAPTER LI THE SECRET NOTE
CHAPTER LII THE DISCUSSION
CHAPTER LIII THE CLERGY,
CHAPTER LIV STRASBOURG
CHAPTER LV THE MINISTRY OF VIRTUE
CHAPTER LVI MORAL LOVE
CHAPTER LVII THE FINEST PLACES IN THE CHURCH
CHAPTER LVIII MANON LESCAUT
CHAPTER LIX ENNUI
CHAPTER LX A BOX AT THE BOUFFES
CHAPTER LXI FRIGHTEN HER
CHAPTER LXII THE TIGER
CHAPTER LXIII THE HELL OF WEAKNESS
CHAPTER LXIV A MAN OF INTELLECT
CHAPTER LXV A STORM
CHAPTER LXVI SAD DETAILS
CHAPTER LXVII A TURRET
CHAPTER LXVIII A POWERFUL MAN
CHAPTER LXIX THE INTRIGUE
CHAPTER LXX TRANQUILITY
CHAPTER LXXI THE TRIAL
Some slight sketch of the life and character of Stendhal is particularly necessary to an understanding of _Le Rouge et Le Noir_ (_The Red and the Black_) not so much as being the formal stuffing of which introductions are made,
but because the book as a book stands in the most intimate relation to the author's life and character.
is no doubt,
albeit a person who will alternate the moist eye of the sentimentalist with the ferocious grin of the beast of prey.
But Stendhal so far from putting forward any excuses makes a specific point of wallowing defiantly in his own alleged wickedness.
"Even assuming that Julien is a villain and that it is my portrait,"
he wrote shortly after the publication of the book,
"why quarrel with me.
In the time of the Emperor,
Julien would have passed for a very honest man.
I lived in the time of the Emperor.
So --but what does it matter?"
Henri Beyle was born in 1783 in Grenoble in Dauphiny,
the son of a royalist lawyer,
situated on the borderland between the gentry and that bourgeoisie which our author was subsequently to chastise with that malice peculiar to those who spring themselves from the class which they despise.
The boy's character was a compound of sensibility and hard rebelliousness,
virility and introspection.
Orphaned of his mother at the age of seven,
hated by his father and unpopular with his schoolmates,
he spent the orthodox unhappy childhood of the artistic temperament.
Winning a scholarship at the Ecole Polytechnique at the age of sixteen he proceeded to Paris,
where with characteristic independence he refused to attend the college classes and set himself to study privately in his solitary rooms.
In 1800 the influence of his relative M. Daru procured him a commission in the French Army,
and the Marengo campaign gave him an opportunity of practising that Napoleonic worship to which throughout his life he remained consistently faithful,
for the operation of the philosophical materialism of the French sceptics on an essentially logical and mathematical mind soon swept away all competing claimants for his religious adoration.
Almost from his childhood,
he had abominated the Jesuits,
and "Papism is the source of all crimes,"
was throughout his life one of his favourite maxims.
After the army's triumphant entry into Milan,
Beyle returned to Grenoble on furlough,
whence he dashed off to Paris in pursuit of a young woman to whom he was paying some attention,
resigned his commission in the army and set himself to study "with the view of becoming a great man."
It is in this period that we find the most marked development in Beyle's enthusiasm of psychology.
This tendency sprang primarily no doubt from his own introspection.
For throughout his life Beyle enjoyed the indisputable and at times dubious luxury of a double consciousness.
He invariably carried inside his brain a psychological mirror which reflected every phrase of his emotion with scientific accuracy.
the critical spirit,
half-demon inside his brain,
would survey in the semi-detached mood of a keenly interested spectator,
the actual emotion itself,
applaud or condemn it as the case might be,
and ticket the verdict with ample commentations in the psychological register of its own analysis.
But this trend to psychology,
while as we have seen,
to some extent,
the natural development of mere self-analysis was also tinged with the spirit of self-preservation.
With a mind,
which in spite of its natural physical courage was morbidly susceptible to ridicule and was only too frequently the dupe of the fear of being duped,
Stendhal would scent an enemy in every friend,
and as a mere matter of self-protection set himself to penetrate the secret of every character with which he came into contact.
One is also justified in taking into account an honest intellectual enthusiasm which found its vent in deciphering the rarer and more precious manuscripts of the "human document."
With the exception of a stay in Marseilles,
with his first mistress Mélanie Guilhert ("a charming actress who had the most refined sentiments and to whom I never gave a sou,") and a subsequent sojourn in Grenoble,
Stendhal remained in Paris till 1806,
living so far as was permitted by the modest allowance of his niggard father the full life of the literary temperament.
of his character was that he was at the same time a man of imagination and a man of action.
We consequently find him serving in the Napoleonic campaigns of 1806,
1809 and 1812.
He was present at the Battle of Jena,
came several times into personal contact with Napoleon,
discharged with singular efficiency the administration of the State of Brunswick,
and retained his sangfroid and his bravery during the whole of the panic-stricken retreat of the Moscow campaign.
to this period that we date Stendhal's liaison with Mme. Daru the wife of his aged relative,
This particular intrigue has,
a certain psychological importance in that Mme. Daru constituted the model on whom Mathilde de la Mole was drawn in _The Red and the Black_.
The student and historian consequently who is anxious to check how far the novelist is drawing on his experience and how far on his imagination can compare with profit the description of the Mathilde episode in _The Red and the Black_ with those sections in Stendhal's Journal entitled the _Life and Sentiments of Silencious Harry_,
_Memoirs of my Life during my Amour with Countess Palfy_,
and also with the posthumous fragment,
_Le Consultation de Banti_,
a piece of methodical deliberation on the pressing question.
"Dois-je ou ne dois-je pas avoir la duchesse?"
written with all the documentary coldness of a Government report.
It is characteristic that both Bansi and Julien decide in the affirmative as a matter of abstract principle.
For they both feel that they must necessarily reproach themselves in after life if they miss so signal an opportunity.
Disgusted by the Restoration,
Stendhal migrated in 1814 to Milan,
his favourite town in Europe,
whose rich and varied life he savoured to the full from the celebrated ices in the entreates of the opera,
to the reciprocated interest of Mme. Angelina Pietragrua (the Duchesse de Sansererina of the Chartreuse of Parma),
"a sublime wanton à la Lucrezia Borgia" who would appear to have deceived him systematically.
It was in Milan that Stendhal first began to write for publication,
producing in 1814 _The Lives of Haydn and Mozart_,
and in 1817 a series of travel sketches,
which was published in London.
It was in Milan also than Stendhal first nursed the abstract thrills of his grand passion for Métilde Countess Dunbowska,
whose angelic sweetness would seem to have served at any rate to some extent as a prototype to the character of Mme. de Rênal.
In 1821 the novelist was expelled from Milan on the apparently unfounded accusation of being a French spy.
It is typical of that mixture of brutal sensuality and rarefied sentimentalism which is one of the most fascinating features of Stendhal's character,
that even though he had never loved more than the lady's heart,
he should have remained for three years faithful to this mistress of his ideal.
In 1822 Stendhal published his treatise,
a practical scientific treatise on the erotic emotion by an author who possessed the unusual advantage of being at the same time an acute psychologist and a brilliant man of the world,
who could test abstract theories by concrete practice and could co-ordinate what he had felt in himself and observe in others into broad general principles.
In 1825 Stendhal plunging vigorously into the controversy between the Classicists and the Romanticists,
published his celebrated pamphlet,
_Racine and Shakespeare_,
in which he vindicated with successful crispness the claims of live verse against stereotyped couplets and of modern analysis against historical tradition.
His next work was the _Life of Rossini_,
whom he had known personally in Milan,
while in 1827 he published his first novel _Armance_,
while not equal to the author's greatest work,
give none the less good promise of that analytical dash which he was subsequently to manifest.
After _Armance_ come the well-known _Promenades Rome_,
while the Stendhalian masterpiece _Le Rouge et Le Noir_ was presented in 1830 to an unappreciative public.
Enthusiasm for this book is the infallible test of your true Stendhalian.
Some critics may prefer,
the more Jamesian delicacy of _Armance_,
and others fortified by the example of Goethe may avow their predilection for _The Chartreuse de Parme_ with all the _jeune premier_ charm of its amiable hero.
But in our view no book by Stendhal is capable of giving the reader such intellectual thrills as that work which has been adjudged to be his greatest by Balzac,
Certainly no other book by Stendhal than that which has conjured up _Rougistes_ in all countries in Europe has been the object of a cult in itself.
if there is any other modern book whether by Stendhal or any one else,
which has actually been learnt by heart by its devotees,
if we may borrow the story told by M. Paul Bourget,
are accustomed to challenge the authenticity of each other's knowledge by starting off with some random passage only to find it immediately taken up,
as though the book had been the very Bible itself.
The more personal appeal of what is perhaps the greatest romance of the intellect ever written lies in the character of Julien,
In view of the identification of Julien with Stendhal himself to which we have already alluded,
it is only fair to state that Stendhal does not appear to have ever been a tutor in a bourgeois family,
nor does history relate his ever having made any attempt at the homicide of a woman.
as what we may call the external physical basis of the story is concerned,
the material is supplied not by the life of the author,
but by the life of a young student of Besançon,
of the name of Berthet,
who duly expiated on the threshold that crime which supplied the plot of this immortal novel.
But the soul,
the brain of Julien is not Berthet but Beyle.
And what indeed is the whole book if not a vindication of _beylisme_,
if we may use the word,
coined by the man himself for his own outlook on life?
For the procedure of Stendhal would seem to have placed his own self in his hero's shoes,
to have lived in imagination his whole life,
and to have recorded his experience with a wealth of analytic detail,
which in spite of some arrogance,
is yet both honest and scientific.
And the life of this scoundrel,
certainly seems to have been eminently worth living.
In its line,
it constitutes a veritable triumph of idealism,
a positive monument of "self-help."
For judged by the code of the Revolution,
when the career was open to talents,
the goodness or badness of a man was determined by the use he made of his opportunities.
Efficiency was the supreme test of virtue,
as was failure the one brand of unworthiness.
And measured by these values Julien ranks high as an ethical saint.
For does he not sacrifice everything to the forgiving of his character and the hammering out of his career?
He is by nature nervous,
he forces himself to be courageous,
fighting a duel or capturing a woman,
less out of thirst for blood or hunger for flesh,
than because he thinks it due to his own _parvenu_ self-respect to give himself some concrete proof on his own moral force.
"Pose and affection" will sneer those enemies whom he will have to-day as assuredly as he had them in his lifetime,
the smug bourgeois and Valenods of our present age.
But the spirit of Julien will retort,
"I made myself master of my affectation and I succeeded in my pose."
And will he not have logic on his side?
For what after all is pose but the pursuit of a subjective ideal,
grotesque no doubt in failure,
but dignified by its success.
And as M. Gaultier has shown in his book on _Bovarysme_,
is not all human progress simply the deliberate change from what one is,
into what one is not yet,
but what nevertheless one has a tendency to be?
Viewed from this standpoint Julien's character is what one feels justified in calling a _bonâ fide_ pose.
For speaking broadly his character is two-fold,
half ferocious ambition,
and his pose simply consists in the subordination of his softer qualities for the more effective realization of his harder.
Considered on these lines _Le Rouge et Le Noir_ stands pre-eminent in European literature as the tragedy of energy and ambition,
the epic of the struggle for existence,
the modern Bible of Nietzschean self-discipline.
And from the sheer romantic aspect also the book has its own peculiar charm.
How truly poetic,
are the passages where Julien takes his own mind alone into the mountains,
plots out his own fate,
and symbolizes his own solitary life in the lonely circlings of a predatory hawk.
Julien's enemies will no doubt taunt him with his introspection,
while they point to a character distorted,
so they say,
by the eternal mirror of its own consciousness.
Yet it should be remembered that Julien lived in an age when introspection had,
so to speak,
been only recently invented,
and Byronism and Wertherism were the stock food of artistic temperaments.
In the case of Julien,
even though his own criticisms on his own acts were to some extent as important to him as the actual acts themselves,
his introspection was more a strength than a weakness and never blunted the edge of his drastic action.
the character of Julien with the character of Robert Greslou,
the hero of Bourget's _Le Disciple_,
and the nearest analogue to Julien in _fin de siècle_ literature,
and one will appreciate at once the difference between health and decadence,
virility and hysteria.
One of the most essential features of the book,
is the swing of the pendulum between Julien's ambition and Julien's tenderness.
For our hunter is quite frequently caught in his own traps,
so that he falls genuinely in love with the woman whom,
as a matter of abstract principle,
he had specifically set himself to conquer.
The book consequently as a romance of love,
ranks almost as high as it does as a romance of ambition.
The final idyll in prison with Mme. de Rênal,
is one of the sweetest and purest in literature,
painted in colours too true ever to be florid,
steeped in a sentiment too deep ever to be mawkish.
orthodox and suburban minds tend to regard all French novels as specifically devoted to obscene wallowings,
it seems only relevant to mention that Stendhal at any rate never finds in sensualism any inspiration for ecstatic rhapsodies,
and that he narrates the most specific episodes in the chastest style imaginable.
Though too the sinister figure of the carpenter's son looms large over the book,
the characterization of all the other personages is portrayed with consummate brilliancy.
For Stendhal standing first outside his characters with all the sceptical scrutiny of a detached observer,
then goes deep inside them so that he describes not merely what they do,
but why they do it,
not merely what they think,
but why they think it,
while he assigns their respective share to innate disposition,
and criticizes his creations with an irony that is only occasionally benevolent.
For it must be confessed that Stendhal approves of extremely few people.
True scion of the middle-classes he hates the bourgeois because he is bourgeois,
and the aristocrat because he is aristocrat.
as a gallery of the most varied characters,
patricians and plebeians,
prudes and profligates,
Jesuits and Jansenists,
Kings and coachmen,
bishops and bourgeois,
whose mutual difference acts as a most effective foil to each other's reality,
_Le Rouge et Le Noir_ will beat any novel outside Balzac.
We would mention in particular those two contrasted figures,
Mme. de Rênal the _bourgeoise passionée_,
and Matilde de la Mole the noble damozel who enters into her intrigue out of a deliberate wish to emulate the exploits of a romantic ancestress.
But after all these individuals stand out not so much because their characterization is better than that of their fellow-personages,
but because it is more elaborate.
Even such minor characters,
as de Frilair,
the lascivious Jesuit,
the avaricious gaoler,
Mme. de Fervaques,
the amoristic prude,
are all in their respective ways real,
no mere padded figures of the imagination,
but observed actualities swung from the lived life on the written page.
The style of Stendhal is noticeable from its simplicity,
clear and cold,
devoid of all literary artifice,
characteristic of his analytic purpose.
He is strenuous in his avoidance of affection.
he never holds out his style as an aesthetic delight in itself,
he reaches occasionally passages of a rare and simple beauty.
We would refer in particular to the description of Julien in the mountains,
which we have already mentioned,
and to the short but impressive death scene.
of using language as a means and never as an end,
occasionally revenges itself upon him in places where the style,
is none the less slovenly,
After the publication of _Le Rouge et Le Noir_ Stendhal was forced by his financial embarrassment to leave Paris and take up the post of consul at Trieste.
Driven from this position by the intrigues of a vindictive Church he was transferred to Civita Vecchia where he remained till 1835,
solacing his ennui by the compilation of his autobiography and thinking seriously of marriage with the rich and highly respectable daughter of his laundress.
He then returned to Paris where he remained till 1842,
where he died suddenly at the age of fifty-nine in the full swing of all his mental and physical activities.
His later works included,
_La Chartreuse de Parme_,
Leuwen_ and _Lamiel_,
of which the _Chartreuse_ is the most celebrated,
but _Lamiel_ certainly the most sprightly.
But it is on _Le Rouge et Le Noir_ that his fame as a novelist is the most firmly based.
It is with this most personal document,
this record of his experiences and emotions that he lives identified,
just as D'Annunzio will live identified with _Il Fuoco_ or Mr. Wells with the _New Machiavelli_.
_Le Rouge et Le Noir_ is the greatest novel of its age and one of the greatest novels of the whole nineteenth century.
It is full to the brim of intellect and adventure,
introspection and action,
cynicism and rebellion.
It is in a word the intellectual quintessence of the Napoleonic era.
HORACE B. SAMUEL,