+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

honeycomb the basement and not remove the
refuse passed into them, the water may be
hard, the tanks and cisterns may be in
improper places, and may also be neglected
and foul with deposited sediment. Basements,
halls, staircases, corridors, and rooms may be
unventilated, a considerable number of the rooms
may be permanently without sunshine, and some
even without any direct sunlight. A princely
income will not secure health to any person
voluntarily, or otherwise, passing the greater part
of his time in such character of house. An
untainted subsoil, a thoroughly ventilated basement,
large and lofty rooms, exposed to direct
sunshine, pure water, preserved pure for use,
afford a chance of health and comfort. Carving,
gilding, rich carpets, costly works of art, and
close and dark rooms, may only contribute to
splendid misery.

There are many houses in Great Britain which
have inherited evil reputations; there is a
"ghost's room," or "a ghost's corridor," or "a
ghost's tower," or "a ghost's terrace." The
true ghost's walk is, however, in the basement;
amongst and through foetid drains and foul
sewers, the ghost's reception-chambers are
ancient cesspools, and the ghost's nectar is drawn
from tainted wells and neglected water cisterns.
There are British ghosts; but there are also
continental ghosts, if possible, more terrible:
the chilling palaces of Italy, the gilded splendours
of Paris, are alike ghost-haunted. Your
only exorcist is the sanitary engineer.


IT is curious how little we in England, who
pique ourselves, and not without reason, on
our general knowledge of contemporary French
literature, know of certain names and popularities
and those not of the vulgar or ephemeral order
which, from time to time, spring up and grow
at the other side of the Channel, making their
way, exerting their influence, and sending forth
their voices, through the length and breadth of
France, without an echo finding its way across
so narrow a space. Few of us have heard of
PIERRE DUPONT, now living, who was born
at Lyons on the 23rd of April, 1821. His family
were simple artisans, and, at the death of his
motherwhich occurred when he was four years
oldhis godfather, a priest, took him to his
home, and commenced his education, which,
later, was advanced in the little seminary of
Largentière. On quitting the religious school
he was bound apprentice to a silk weaver, but
shortly after obtained a clerkship in a bank.

Then came the old story, often repeated but
ever new, of the poet-nature revolting against
the regular discipline, the dry details, what
appears to it the vulgar tyranny of commercial
habits and rules, and in his new position Pierre
Dupont chafed and fretted for the liberty which
poets, and especially young poets, dream, often
erroneously, as essential, not only to their
happiness, but to the development of their genius.

It happened that at Provins there resided a
grandfather of Dupont, who was acquainted
with M. Pierre Lebrun, a member of the
Academy. Occasionally our budding poet visited
this grandfather, and became an object of
considerable interest to M. Lebrun. At this time he
had completed one of his earliest poems, Les
Deux Anges, The Two Angels. Being drawn
for the conscription, he was, much to his
dissatisfaction, ordered to join a regiment of
chasseurs, but the idea occurred to M. Lebrun to
publish this poem by subscription, and thus
endeavour to obtain a sufficient sum to purchase
a substitute.

The plan was tried and succeeded, and thus
Dupont, unlike most youthful artists (using the
word in its larger and more general sense), was,
so to say, enabled to enter regularly on his
poetical career through the profits of the first
fruits of his poetical genius.

Les Deux Anges, though in many respects
incomplete, incorrect, and wanting in the vigour
that is so remarkable a characteristic of many of
his later productions, yet contained so much
promise, had in it so many indications of an
original genius and an elevated intelligence, that
in addition to the material benefit he obtained
by it, he was honoured by a prize from the
Academy, and on this, was offered a small place
in the Institute as assistant in the compiling
the Dictionnaire de l'Académie. There is no
doubt but that his labours in this department,
however material they may seem, and the
opportunities he frequently had of hearing the
sometimes stormy, often eloquent, discussions on
philological points, of such men as Victor Hugo,
Cousin, &c., went far to perfect his style, teach
him the value of words, and give force, elegance,
and correctness to his language.

But still Dupont aspired to live entirely free,
to follow poetry exclusively, to live for it and by
it; and, after a time, he resigned his post at the
Academy, explaining to M. Lebrun his reasons
for doing so, and expressing the warmest
gratitude for the interest and assistance he had
accorded him.

Free to follow the bent of his inclinations, he
worked hard to complete a series of songs
entitled Les Paysans, Chants Rustiques, Peasants,
Rustic Songs, of which not only the words but
the music (though he was utterly ignorant of
music as a science, insomuch that when he
had composed his airs he was obliged to sing
them to be noted down by another person) was
his own. A neat edition, illustrated with
tolerable lithographs, appeared, and then
commenced his popularity.

For many years the vocal drawing-room music
of the middle classes had consisted of
"romances," of which words and music rivalled
each other in mawkish sickliness and inane
monotony. Here was something new, something
sparkling with truth, and life, and freshness,
with earnestness and originality; words, now
plaintive, simple, tender, now overflowing with
a wild, turbulent, but never coarse gaiety, now
marked with the manly tone of wholesome, loving
labour; music instinct with feeling, melody,