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do this, but he decided to give his friends and wellwishers a chance to be present on the field of battle -to take part in the fight themselves. Consequently he issued to all the principal members of the romantic school little squares of red paper with the single word Hierro printed thereon. Hierro is the Spanish word for “iron,” and signified the strength and inflexibility of the new school. These gave admittance to the fortunate bearers, who arrived at the theatre about midday. Towards evening they indulged in a meal. They were a motley and enthusiastic gathering. Prominent among them was Théophile Gautier, with a great shock of hair and a flaming red waistcoat, since become famous. All these enthusiasts affected a lofty disdain of conventionality, and were attired to correspond. Their hair made them look like a troop of lions. The pit of the Théâtre Français was for the time converted into "a kind of Bohemian tavern." When the regular audience-composed chiefly of supporters of the classic school-came in at the usual time an organized force of romantics was holding the pit. At its head was Victor Hugo, and Théophile Gautier was his first lieutenant. The stalls and the balcony were filled with the classic forces. Then came the battle.
The first two lines of the play contain an instance of enjambement. The heroine hears a knock at the door and says:
"Serait-ce deja lui? C'est bien a l'escalier
Dérobé-vite-ouvrons-bon jour, beau cavalier."
This "insolent straddling" of the adjective dérobé and the noun escalier began the uproar at once, and it continued throughout the play, the pit on the defensive, and the stalls and balcony attacking. "In what a way was the piece received! The benches of the Comédie Française kept the marks of it for at least three years."
At the end of the evening, however, the beauty of the play won some applause even from the classical party. Hernani ran for forty nights. But the battle may be said to have been won on the first representation, which was also the first direct conflict between the partisans of romanticism and classicism.
It is impossible at the present day to realize the excitement caused by Hernani. It is said that every single line was hissed at some time during the six weeks of its first presentation. The reason for this intense feeling lay in the fact that the play was so direct a challenge. And the fierceness of the struggle was due to the hold which classicism had obtained on French literature; for reaction from any system of treatment is in proportion to the strength of its position. Classicism had dictated the style of French literature for some two centuries past. In no other country had the tradition obtained such a hold. The revival of romanticism in England and Germany was not nearly so sweeping a change, because in Germany the romanticism of Goethe and Schiller marked practically the in
auguration of a national literature; and in Englandin spite of the "classic" influence of Pope and the eighteenth century-the work of Shakespeare (greatest of all romanticists) had prevented the foundation of a lasting classic ideal. But in the case of France, the classical feeling was so strong, and of such long life, that the return to romanticism had an importance such as was not possible with any other nation. The romanticists were inspired, moreover, by very strong examples-Shakespeare, Goethe, Schiller, and Scott. They established the point-essentially romantic-that literature is as wide as life.
A word now with regard to the men who wrought the triumph of mil-huit-cent-trente. For the sake of clearness, we may follow good authority and arrange them in a single group, comprising Hugo, Sainte-Beuve, Dumas the elder, Balzac, George Sand, Mérimée, Gautier, and De Musset. These names sum up all the valuable elements of the romantic revival.
VICTOR HUGO is certainly the most famous French writer of the century, and ranks very high in the whole range of French literature. He was born at Besançon, in East France, on the 21st February, 1802. He began writing very young, and won success in some important competitions. His education was not academic; his father was a distinguished officer under Napoleon, and the boy says of himself: "With our victorious camp I wandered over vanquished Europe, I traversed the earth be
fore traversing life!" In 1822 his first volume appeared-Odes and Various Poems. Four years later came Odes and Ballads, in which the romantic note was unmistakable.
Chateaubriand called him "l'enfant sublime" and his style of writing "style de feu." The note was stronger still in the Orientales of 1829. We have seen the effects of Cromwell and Hernani. Dame de Paris, inspired by Sir Walter Scott's Quentin Durward, came out in 1831, and produced an effect which was only less than that of Hernani. It established the position in France of the romantic novel. From 1836 to 1840 Hugo made several attempts to enter the Academy, but the classical party was too strong to allow the admission of the champion of romanticism within their charmed circle. In 1841, however, the charm was broken, and Hugo was elected to a place among the Immortals. This, of course, set the seal upon the triumph of the romantic movement. The work of the romantic leader was recognized officially by the highest court of literary appeal. Four years later the government made him a peer. In 1848 came his famous feud with Louis Napoleon, as a consequence of which he fled to Brussels and then to the Channel Islands, where he lived until 1870. The rest of his long life was comparatively uneventful except from a literary standpoint. His influence continued unabated up to the last, and his mental activity was wonderful. After his death his works were collected in an edition of
fifty-six octavo volumes-and this not including several volumes of correspondence. He died at Paris in 1885, and was honored with a state funeral. He occupies towards the nineteenth-century literature of France a position similar to Tennyson's towards that of England during the same periodmaking allowance, of course, for national differ
Victor Hugo's work falls into four principal divisions: Poems, Plays, Novels, Political Works. Among his volumes of poetry, besides those indicated above, may be mentioned, Autumn Leaves, Twilight Songs and Inner Voices, all appearing between 1832 and 1843. The Legend of the Ages (1859) contained some of his most energetic poetry. As an example of his verse we may cite some lines from Hernani, the famous speech of Don Carlos of Spain at the tomb of Charlemagne :
Speak, though thy sovereign breath
Should cleave this brazen door.
Let me thy sanctuary enter lone !
Let me behold thy veritable face,
Or rather now
And not repulse me with a freezing breath,
And let us talk. Yes, with prophetic voice
Tell me of things which make the forehead pale,