List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew, V6, by Eugene Sue
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with the medal of which Faringhea had despoiled Djalma, Rodin shrugged
his shoulders with a contemptuous and sardonic air; then, producing his
large silver watch, he laid it on the table by the side of the letter
from Rome.  He looked at this letter with a singular mixture of suspicion
and hope, of fear, and impatient curiosity.  After a moment's reflection,
he prepared to unseal the envelope; but suddenly he threw it down again
upon the table, as if, by a strange caprice, he had wished to prolong for
a few minutes that agony of uncertainty, as poignant and irritating as
the emotion of the gambler.

Looking at his watch, Rodin resolved not to open the letter, until the
hand should mark half-past nine, of which it still wanted seven minutes.
In one of those whims of puerile fatalism, from which great minds have
not been exempt, Rodin said to himself: "I burn with impatience to open
this letter.  If I do not open it till half-past nine, the news will he
favorable."  To employ these minutes, Rodin took several turns up and
down the room, and stood in admiring contemplation before two old prints,
stained with damp and age, and fastened to the wall by rusty nails.  The
first of these works of art--the only ornaments with which Rodin had
decorated this hole--was one of those coarse pictures, illuminated with
red, yellow, green, and blue, such as are sold at fairs; an Italian
inscription announced that this print had been manufactured at Rome.  It
represented a woman covered with rags, bearing a wallet, and having a
little child upon her knees; a horrible hag of a fortune-teller held in
her hands the hand of the little child, and seemed to read there his
future fate, for these words in large blue letters issued from her mouth:
"Sara Papa" (he shall be Pope).

The second of these works of art, which appeared to inspire Rodin with
deep meditations, was an excellent etching, whose careful finish and
bold, correct drawing, contrasted singularly with the coarse coloring of
the other picture.  This rare and splendid engraving, which had cost
Rodin six louis (an enormous expense for him), represented a young boy
dressed in rags.  The ugliness of his features was compensated by the
intellectual expression of his strongly marked countenance.  Seated on a
stone, surrounded by a herd of swine, that he seemed employed in keeping,
he was seen in front, with his elbow resting on his knee, and his chin in
the palm of his hand.  The pensive and reflective attitude of this young
man, dressed as a beggar, the power expressed in his large forehead, the
acuteness of his penetrating glance, and the firm lines of the mouth,
seemed to reveal indomitable resolution, combined with superior
intelligence and ready craft.  Beneath this figure, the emblems of the
papacy encircled a medallion, in the centre of which was the head of an
old man, the lines of which, strongly marked, recalled in a striking
manner, notwithstanding their look of advanced age, the features of the
young swineherd.  This engraving was entitled THE YOUTH of SIXTUS V.; the
color print was entitled The Prediction.[22]

In contemplating these prints more and more nearly, with ardent and
inquiring eye, as though he had asked for hopes or inspirations from
them, Rodin had come so close that, still standing, with his right arm
bent behind his head, he rested, as it were, against the wall, whilst,
hiding his left hand in the pocket of his black trousers, he thus held
back one of the flaps of his olive great-coat.  For some minutes, he
remained in this meditative attitude.

Rodin, as we have said, came seldom to this lodging; according to the
rules of his Order, he had till now lived with Father d'Aigrigny, whom he
was specially charged to watch.  No member of the Society, particularly
in the subaltern position which Rodin had hitherto held, could either
shut himself in, or possess an article of furniture made to lock.  By
this means nothing interferes with the mutual spy-system, incessantly
carried on, which forms one of the most powerful resources of the Company
of Jesus.  It was on account of certain combinations, purely personal to
himself, though connected on some points with the interests of the Order,
that Rodin, unknown to all, had taken these rooms in the Rue Clovis.  And
it was from the depths of this obscure den that the socius corresponded
directly with the most eminent and influential personages of the sacred
college.  On one occasion, when Rodin wrote to Rome, that Father
d'Aigrigny, having received orders to quit France without seeing his
dying mother, had hesitated to set out, the socius had added, in form of
postscriptum, at the bottom of the letter denouncing to the General of
the Order the hesitation of Father d'Aigrigny:

"Tell the Prince Cardinal that he may rely upon me, but I hope for his
active aid in return."

This familiar manner of corresponding with the most powerful dignitary of
the Order, the almost patronizing tone of the recommendation that Rodin
addressed to the Prince Cardinal, proved that the socius, notwithstanding
his apparently subaltern position, was looked upon, at that epoch, as a
very important personage, by many of the Princes of the Church, who wrote
to him at Paris under a false name, making use of a cipher and other
customary precautions.  After some moments passed in contemplation,
before the portrait of Sixtus V., Rodin returned slowly to the table, on
which lay the letter, which, by a sort of superstitious delay, he had
deferred opening, notwithstanding his extreme curiosity.  As it still
wanted some minutes of half-past nine, Rodin, in order not to lose time,
set about making preparations for his frugal breakfast.  He placed on the
table, by the side of an inkstand, furnished with pens, the slice of
bread and the radish; then seating himself on his stool, with the stove,
as it were, between his legs, he drew a horn-handled knife from his
pocket, and cutting alternately a morsel of bread and a morsel of radish,
with a sharp, well-worn blade, he began his temperate repast with a
vigorous appetite, keeping his eye fixed on the hand of his watch.  When
it reached the momentous hour, he unsealed the envelope with a trembling

It contained two letters.  The first appeared to give him little
satisfaction; for, after some minutes, he shrugged his shoulders, struck
the table impatiently with the handle of his knife, disdainfully pushed
aside the letter with the back of his dirty hand, and perused the second
epistle, holding his bread in one hand, and with the other mechanically
dipping a slice of radish into the gray salt spilt on a corner of the
table.  Suddenly, Rodin's hand remained motionless.  As he progressed in
his reading, he appeared more and more interested, surprised, and struck.
Rising abruptly, he ran to the window, as if to assure himself, by a
second examination of the cipher, that he was not deceived.  The news
announced to him in the letter seemed to be unexpected.  No doubt, Rodin
found that he had deciphered correctly, for, letting fall his arms, not
in dejection, but with the stupor of a satisfaction as unforeseen as
extraordinary, he remained for some time with his head down, and his eyes
fixed--the only mark of joy that he gave being manifested by a loud,
frequent, and prolonged respiration.  Men who are as audacious in their
ambition, as they are patient and obstinate in their mining and
countermining, are surprised at their own success, when this latter
precedes and surpasses their wise and prudent expectations.  Rodin was
now in this case.  Thanks to prodigies of craft, address, and
dissimulation, thanks to mighty promises of corruption, thanks to the
singular mixture of admiration, fear, and confidence, with which his
genius inspired many influential persons, Rodin now learned from members
of the pontifical government, that, in case of a possible and probable
occurrence, he might, within a given time, aspire, with a good chance of
success, to a position which has too often excited the fear, the hate, or
the envy of many sovereigns, and which has in turn, been occupied by
great, good men, by abominable scoundrels, and by persons risen from the
lowest grades of society.  But for Rodin to attain this end with
certainty, it was absolutely necessary for him to succeed in that
project, which he had undertaken to accomplish without violence, and only
by the play and the rebound of passions skillfully managed.  The project
was: To secure for the Society of Jesus the fortune of the Rennepont

This possession would thus have a double and immense result; for Rodin,
acting in accordance with his personal views, intended to make of his
Order (whose chief was at his discretion) a stepping-stone and a means of
intimidation.  When his first impression of surprise had passed away--an
impression that was only a sort of modesty of ambition and self-
diffidence, not uncommon with men of really superior powers--Rodin looked
more coldly and logically on the matter, and almost reproached himself
for his surprise.  But soon after, by a singular contradiction, yielding
to one of those puerile and absurd ideas, by which men are often carried
away when they think themselves alone and unobserved, Rodin rose
abruptly, took the letter which had caused him such glad surprise, and
went to display it, as it were, before the eyes of the young swineherd in
the picture: then, shaking his head proudly and triumphantly, casting his
reptile-glance on the portrait, he muttered between his teeth, as he
placed his dirty finger on the pontifical emblem:  "Eh, brother? and I

After this ridiculous interpolation, Rodin returned to his seat, and, as
if the happy news he had just received had increased his appetite, he
placed the letter before him, to read it once more, whilst he exercised
his teeth, with a sort of joyous fury, on his hard bread and radish,
chanting an old Litany.

There was something strange, great, and, above all, frightful, in the
contrast afforded by this immense ambition, already almost justified by
events, and contained, as it were, in so miserable an abode.  Father
d'Aigrigny (who, if not a very superior man, had at least some real
value, was a person of high birth, very haughty, and placed in the best
society) would never have ventured to aspire to what Rodin thus looked to
from the first.  The only aim of Father d'Aigrigny, and even this he
thought presumptuous, was to be one day elected General of his Order--
that Order which embraced the world.  The difference of the ambitious
aptitudes of these two personages is conceivable.  When a man of eminent
abilities, of a healthy and vivacious nature, concentrates all the
strength of his mind and body upon a single point, remaining, like Rodin,
obstinately chaste and frugal, and renouncing every gratification of the
heart and the senses--the man, who revolts against the sacred designs of
his Creator, does so almost always in favor of some monstrous and
devouring passion--some infernal divinity, which, by a sacrilegious pact,
asks of him, in return for the bestowal of formidable power, the
destruction of every noble sentiment, and of all those ineffable
attractions and tender instincts with which the Maker, in His eternal
wisdom and inexhaustible munificence, has so paternally endowed His

During the scene that we have just described, Rodin had not perceived
that the curtain of a window on the third story of the building opposite
had been partially drawn aside, and had half-revealed the sprightly face
of Rose-Pompon, and the Silenus-like countenance of Ninny Moulin.  It
ensued that Rodin, notwithstanding his barricade of cotton handkerchiefs,
had not been completely sheltered from the indiscreet and curious
examination of the two dancers of the Storm-blown Tulip.

[22] According to the tradition, it was predicted to the mother of Sixtus
V., that he would be pope; and, in his youth, he is said to have kept



Though Rodin had experienced much surprise on reading the second letter
from Rome, he did not choose that his answer should betray any such
amazement.  Having finished his frugal breakfast, he took a sheet of
paper, and rapidly wrote in cipher the following note, in the short,
abrupt style that was natural to him when not obliged to restrain himself:

"The information does not surprise me.  I had foreseen it all.
Indecision and cowardice always bear such fruit.  This is not enough.
Heretical Russia murders Catholic Poland.  Rome blesses the murderers,
and curses the victims.[23]

"Let it pass.

"In return, Russia guarantees to Rome, by Austria, the bloody suppression
of the patriots of Romagna.

"That, too, is well.

"The cut-throat band of good Cardinal Albani is not sufficient for the
massacre of the impious liberals.  They are weary of the task.

"Not so well.  They must go on."

When Rodin had written these last words, his attention was suddenly
attracted by the clear and sonorous voice of Rose-Pompon, who, knowing
her Beranger by heart, had opened Philemon's window, and, seated on the
sill, sang with much grace and prettiness this verse of the immortal

     "How wrong you are!  Is't you dare say
	That heaven ever scowls on earth?
	The earth that laughs up to its blue,
	The earth that owes it joy and birth?
	Oh, may the wine from vines it warms,
	May holy love thence fluttering down,
	Lend my philosophy their charms,
	To drive away care's direful frown!
	So, firm let's stand,
	Full glass in hand,
	And all evoke
	The God of honest folk!"

This song, in its divine gentleness, contrasted so strangely with the
cold cruelty of the few lines written by Rodin, that he started and bit
his lips with rage, as he recognized the words of the great poet, truly
Christian, who had dealt such rude blows to the false Church.  Rodin
waited for some moments with angry impatience, thinking the voice would
continue; but Rose-Pompon was silent, or only continued to hum, and soon
changed to another air, that of the Good Pope, which she entoned, but
without words.  Rodin, not venturing to look out of his window to see who
was this troublesome warbler, shrugged his shoulders, resumed his pen,
and continued:

"To it again.  We must exasperate the independent spirits in all
countries--excite philosophic rage all over Europe make liberalism foam
at the mouth--raise all that is wild and noisy against Rome.  To effect
this, we must proclaim in the face of the world these three propositions.
1. It is abominable to assert that a man may be saved in any faith
whatever, provided his morals be pure.  2. It is odious and absurd to
grant liberty of conscience to the people.  3.  The liberty of the press
cannot be held in too much horror.[24]

"We must bring the Pap-fed man to declare these propositions in every
respect orthodox--show him their good effect upon despotic governments--
upon true Catholics, the muzzlers of the people.  He will fall into the
snare.  The propositions once published, the storm will burst forth.  A

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