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among men, and more accus- turn to the Ardennes, Verlaine tomed to the highway than to fired on him with a revolver. literary clubs; and at least it One shot might have escaped may be put down to his credit notice, but a second attracted that the most extravagant flat- the police; and while the one tery failed to turn his head. poet was captured by Belgian Even when the Olympian Hugo justice, the other was tended himself dubbed him “Shake- in the hospital. speare Enfant” he broke into The gossip tongue of scandal a laugh, and he treated the has been only too busy with sincere appreciation of Banville this disastrous friendship, and with no better respect. This as usual the tongue of scandal in itself, when all men clamour has wagged without knowledge for recognition, is a point of of the truth. Those there are sympathy, and this unworldly for whom no poet is complete determination not to get on without a vice, and the same more than condones a ferocity spirit of tattle which has eleof temperament. So installed vated Shelley's Harriett into a by friends, he remained in Paris heroine would degrade without until 1872, when, suspected for warrant the memory of Arthur his part in the Commune, he Rimbaud. . Concerning whom fled with Verlaine to Belgium, no more is certain than that he and thence to London. Thus
Thus left Brussels determined to forhe lived again the life of the get not only the friendship of scholar gipsy-poor in money, Verlaine but the practice of rich in companionship.
. Once again he met worked, he wrote, he taught, Verlaine, and then the meeting never regretting in penury the was unsought by him. A tutor debauch which the last sov- in Germany, he believed himself ereign had purchased. Born
Born safe from pursuit; but Verlaine with the faculty of assimila- discovered his hiding-place, and tion, he easily acquired English, came to insist upon reconciliaand so began his vast collec- tion. The scene was grotesque, tion of foreign tongues; and he and acted on either side in the was able, whenever he would, spirit of melodrama. Verlaine, to earn the hard bread of a wishing no doubt to amuse the tutor. But
a quarrel with friend whom he had shot, came Verlaine put an end to his in the habit of a brigand, an wandering life. He was alone indiscretion quite sufficient to without a penny in a strange disgust Rimbaud, who for the country, and no sooner had he moment was scrupulously exact. acquired the means of travel However, a sort of truce was than followed his friend made between the two poets, to Brussels, determined upon a truce no
sooner made than a final reckoning. Verlaine broken. For Rimbaud, still suggested that they should set furious at the other's revolver, out
their followed Verlaine into the travels; and when Rimbaud forest, and gave him a sound obstinately announced his re- thrashing. The influence of
VOL. CLXV.-NO, M.
the strife upon the two men he destroyed the whole edition was characteristic. The feebler as soon as printed, partly besensibility of Verlaine not only cause he disapproved his own continued to regret the friend, work, partly because the pages but persuaded him to an in- were set askew. So from 1872 discreet publication of the onwards he was no longer a friend's works. Rimbaud, a poet, and with a truly admirman of stronger fibre, savagely able discretion he never again shut down a past which had be- mentioned the exploits of his come distasteful to him. Prob- youth. Those who met him in ably he never again mentioned Africa might have guessed from the name of Verlaine ; and his silence that there was someassuredly he would have been thing in the past which he preincensed, with justice too, had ferred to forget. But none, not he ever known that poems lent even the traveller Borelli, who in confidence had been betrayed knew him well, could detect in to print.
this purchaser of ivory and But, after all, a quarrel is an gold-dust a poet, with whom incident of the commonplace, criticism was still busy. Preand what is far more inter- cocity may half explain the esting than Rimbaud's parting sudden abandonment of an from Verlaine is his separation art, practised in childhood with from poetry
At eighteen he unique distinction; but had laid aside his lyre for ever, planation is superfluous, and as our grandfathers would have no man has the right to quessaid; and the single essay of tion an abandonment which his maturity is to be found in was, in the phrase of Verlaine, the archives of the Geographical logical, honest, and inevitable. Society. To whomsoever had In 1873, then, Arthur Rimthe effrontery in after - years baud, poet, died; and there to mention his poems he had grew up in his stead another but one reply, Ridiculous, Rimbaud, whose wider ambiabsurd, disgusting." But, after tion might still be realised. all, this desertion of his art is The aspiration of his verse is not so strange as it appears. naturally vague and heroic. He had never in any sense been His prose poems
have a professsonal man of letters. elemental space and largeness Doubtless, poetry was to him which are rare in French lit
many trades erature. Uncertain desires, illwhich he detested. He wrote, imagined aims, are hinted on when he wrote, with the facility every page : the essence,
in of impulsion, and while he did brief, is as indefinite as the not care for the praise of others, form.
sooner did he he never knew the foolish am- cast poetry aside than this bition of seeing his words in wild boar of the Ardennes deprint. One pamphlet only did clared a single worship, an eterhe publish himself — his mar- nal dream—the East. He, too, vellous. Saison en Enfer! like a greater than he, turned and it is characteristic that his eyes to the Orient, and, ab
sorbed by the cult of the dawn, but ill-luck clove to him, and determined to change the cold being sunstruck at Leghorn, he sky of France. So he prophe- was forced to ask the aid of his sies of the future in the best- consul, who sent him back to quoted passage of his works : France.
The next few years “Here I am upon the Breton he passed in turbulent wanderbeach. How the towns twinkle ing. Now he is at Vienna, in the evening! My day is robbed by a cabman, to whom done. I leave Europe. The he had shown a too facile gensea air shall burn my lungs; erosity; now he enlists in the lost climates shall tan me. To Carlist army at Marseilles, and swim, to trample the grass, to having touched the "shilling," hunt, to smoke above all; to forthwith deserts. Wherever drink strong liquors, like boil- he went he supported himself ing metal, as did our dear by begging, or by such unancestors round their fires." skilled labour as porterage in At last his mind was made up the docks. And at any
rate and if he did not instantly turn he proved that, despite a comhis project to fact, it was be- plex civilisation, the cultured cause he did not think himself gipsy, that prince of the Middle properly equipped.
Ages, is still a possibility. Of For the master quality of this course he had the temperament feckless wanderer was a hard of his trade. He could, if he practicality; and though in an would, adapt himself to all austere gaiety of heart he would societies, and in these enterthrow away an opportunity, prises his marvellous faculty of though he would squander in a adaptation stood him in good night the money that might stead. Acutely conscious of his have taken him to his goal, own talent, he proclaimed it he would not set out upon a
in a passage of half-humorous journey unprepared. “I would reproach. “But who has made
“ keep my place,” he says some- my tongue so perfidious,” says where, “ upon the top rung of he, “that until now it has this angelic ladder of good guided and kept safe my idlesense.” And it is character- ness? Without making use of istic that once he had resolved my bodily strength, and more upon the East he began the idle than a toad, I have lived study of German. For him everywhere. There is no family who had the gift of tongues in Europe which I do not now the acquisition was easy, and know. I mean families such after a few months at Stuttgart as mine, which cling to the Dehe took to the road, with the claration of the Rights of Man. Cyclades as his distant goal. I have known every son of these At Altorf, his slender purse families. ,
” was empty; he crossed the St Perfidious is too mean a word Gothard on foot, and stumbled for his eloquent tongue-perinto Milan, weary and half- suasive would better have destarved. Here the kindness of scribed its quality; as since it an Italian lady saved his life, was inspired by a not too scrupulous morality, it was indeed a But at last-it is in 1880– formidable ally. But by this Arthur Rimbaud had found his time Rimbaud had narrowed true career. Now he began that his ambition to a point, and it life in Africa to which he was is not astonishing that now and devoted until his death. Esagain he believed that the end tablished first at Aden, then justified whatever means he at Harrar, he made long jour
, chose to employ. For a while neys into the desert, whence he contemplated the career of a he returned with a rich treasmissionary; but, his paganism ure of gold, perfumes, and revolting, he crossed Belgium, ostrich feathers. With his on foot as usual, and at Am- notorious facility he mastered sterdam enlisted in the Dutch the native languages, and won army. Shipped to Java, he the native confidence. He traimmediately deserted into the velled far afield, and everywhere jungle, and lived for a while an was received with a respectful uncertain life with the beasts enthusiasm. The Arabs and of prey, his brothers. Thence Abyssinians recognised a friend he worked his passage home in in this proud, exclusive Frenchan English ship, and having at man, and it is said that, howlast discovered an easy method ever disturbed the country, he of money-making, he enlisted might go where he would withrecruits himself, and sold his out risk or hindrance. Nor ragged regiment to Holland for was his ambition bounded by a comfortable sum. At last the mere hope of gain. He his end seemed attainable ; but was determined to take civilia few days in Hamburg, where sation wherever he found profit. he meant to take ship, dissi- His demand for books is incespated his little fortune, and he sant; but it is practical science, was next employed as inter- not literature, which engrosses preter in a circus, which was him. He is curious concerning bound for a tour in Scandinavia. tanneries and artesian wells; From Stockholm he was re- he orders treatises upon maturned to France by his consul, sonry, mineralogy, and naval and then at last he realised his architecture. How far has he hopes. A Hamburg firm offered journeyed on the road of life, him employment at Alexandria. since he left Verlaine halfOnce more he crossed the St conscious in the Black Forest ! Gothard on foot, setting out In truth, this French poet, with a grim humour to walk to whom idle curiosity has turned Egypt. Presently he is heard into a scandal, was more richly of in Cyprus, where as fore- gifted in the art of colonisation man of the works he watched than any of his contemporaries. the making of the Governor's Had France many sons heroic palace; and it might be a source as Rimbaud, she would not be of pride to the Englishman who compelled to deplore her policy rules this fortunate isle, that a wherever she unfurls her flag. man of rare genius had a hand But Rimbaud was no comedian : in the building of his house. he could not win a triumph in
the journals. He did his work, years of African toil were reand treasured his reward, with- warded not only with considout discovering his success to eration, but with a sufficient the politicians of Paris.
measure of wealth. Abyssinia he was a veritable Meanwhile he won golden pioneer. He knew the court opinions, not only for his knowof Menelik, to whom he sold ledge but his character. The guns and the munitions of war, scholar gipsy was as dead as long before that King of kings the poet; there remained the became the object of European just man of affairs, the patron intrigue.
the sover- of the oppressed. One trait eign's favourite minister, recog- only did he preserve from the nised the services, and deferred wreck of his ancient qualities to the experience, of Arthur Rim- contempt. His wit baud. The natives regarded caustic as ever; he was no less with awe this tall, lank, large- scornful of other men's follies handed, blue-eyed Frenchman, than when he murmured mono
, who spoke their tongues, es- syllables in the Latin Quarter. poused their just cause, and Among his own countrymen he permitted no familiarity. Being made enemies, and he made a à trader, and loving the dark them righteously. He could man better than the white, tolerate neither stupidity nor Rimbaud was incensed against unjust dealing. A traffic in bad the policy of all nations. He coffee inspired him to a literary did not foresee (how should he ?) effort, and quite honourably the ultimate success of Great he concealed the true kindness Britain. But he was witness of his heart beneath a mask of of our misguided failure twenty malice and satire. But if he years since, and could not look was hostile to the charlatan forward to a desert tranquil- who trades upon the credulity lised by railways and sound ad- of a subject race, he was full of ministration. “Gordon is an charity for all who made appeal idiot,” he wrote with his habit- to him. Still, remembering his ual frankness; “Wolseley is an own years of wandering, he gave
But for his own country whatever was asked, his coat or he reserved the bitterness of his dinner. “His charity, discontempt. “I believe," said he, creet and large," said an ancient " that no country has so stupid colleague, “was the only thing a colonial policy as France. If he dispensed without a sneer. England makes mistakes and And it is not difficult to underincurs expenses, at least she stand the rare and aristocratic has serious interests and an im- temperament, at once generous portant outlook. But no power and insolent, which inflicts pain ever knew so well as France on the unworthy as easily as it how to squander its strength succours those who demand and money for pure loss, and legitimate aid. Meanwhile his in impossible regions.” How- scientific research had been ever, for himself he needed the intelligent and profound. So protection of none, and ten well did he know the country