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CONJURATION SOUS LOUIS XIII
LE CTE ALFRED DE VIGNY
Grammatical and Explanatory Notes
and Victoria University.
SOLE AUTHORISED EDITION.
LIBRAIRIE HACHETTE & Cie
PARIS: 79, BOULEVARD SAINT-GERMAN.
All Rigns reserved.
INSTEAD of discussing the theory on which the author of Cinq-Mars based his work, we have extracted from M. Sainte-Beuve's Causeries and Portraits a brief notice on Alfred de Vigny, and an exhaustive criticism on Cinq-Mars, which require no comment on our part.
In the Notes are pointed out some of the anachronisms which the author thought justifiable from an artistic point of view; but it is not necessary to discuss his opinions and statements, Cing-Mars being avowedly a work of fiction, not a history. The Notes are intended to elucidate the text and to aid the reader in understanding and rendering into English the difficult expressions with which the book abounds. They will be found to contain also short notices on the names of persons and places introduced into the narrative, and much attention has been devoted to the difficulties in French construction suggested by the text. Finally, the important and novel addition of an Index to the principal notes will facilitate reference to them after as well as during the reading of the book.
I. The Comte Alfred de Vigny was born at Loches in Touraine, March 27th, 1797, and died Sept. 17th, 1863; he entered as lieutenant (June ist, 1814) the regiment of “gendarmes de la Maison rouge” of Louis XVIII., and accompanied that Sovereign to the frontier, March 20th, 1815. After the hundred days he entered (March, 1816) as sub-lieutenant the Royal bodyguard, became lieutenant in July, i822, and passed a
year later to the 55th Foot with the grade of captain ; but enfeebled in health and weary of an inactive garrison life he retired from the service (22nd April, 1827). He had already published anonymously in 1822 his first volume of poetry containing Héléna and other poems, followed in 1823 by the Trappiste, also without the author's name, and in 1824 by Eloa ou la sæur des Anges, "mystère,” to which for the first time M. de Vigny attached his name, and which he republished in 1826 with Moïse (inscribed to Victor Hugo) and Dolorida. Although containing great beauties (M. Sainte-Beuve calls Eloa and Dolorida "des chefs-d'ouvre "), all those poems were indifferently received, and, but for the success of CingMars, their author's name would probably have long remained unknown. M. de Vigny, profoundly wounded at the indifference with which his poems had been received, wrote Cinq-Mars" un peu au hasard d'abord,” says M. Sainte-Beuve, and he smiled "avec une gracieuse amertume" on hearing it extravagantly praised. Soon afterwards M. de Vigny left the army, married a wealthy English wife, and turned his ambition towards the stage ; he produced (October 24th, 1829) a French adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello, followed (June 25th, 1831) by the Maréchale d'Ancre ; he also translated Macbeth, and obtained at last an unqualified success with his Chatterton (Feby. 12th, 1835). “Il en demeura sur cette victoire unique et s'y reposa comme sur une ère mémorable et solennelle, sur une hégire de laquelle il aimait à dater.” (Sainte-Beuve.)
The overthrow of the Bourbon Monarchy in 1830 exercised upon M. de Vigny's mind a great influence, which is seen in Stello and Servitude et grandeur militaires, "noble livre, tout plein de choses fières, fines, maniérées et charmantes, où il sculpta d'un ciseau coquet et qu'il croyait sévère, la statue de l'Honneur, le dernier