Victor Hugo is a little over fifty years of age, and is full of life and animation. Let us hope that by political changes, or the clemency of the tyrant who sits upon the French throne, that he may soon return to the land he loves so well.
[Illustration: JULES JANIN.]
“Oh! what a year in which to be born!” exclaims Janin of the year 1804—the year in which Napoleon, conqueror at the Pyramids and Marengo, placed upon his head the imperial crown—and the year which gave birth to the prince of French critics—Jules Janin. His parents were poor and humble, but honest and intelligent, and resided in Saint Etienne, near Lyons. At Lyons he entered school and became distinguished. At fifteen he imagined himself well versed in Greek and Latin, and in short, was a young egotist. His family fostered this self love. An uncle said, “Let me send the prodigy to college in Paris!” An aunt paid the expenses of the first year—for he entered the college of Louis-le-Grand. This aunt loved the boy dearly, and for a week before he left, could not see him, such was her tenderness.
The whole family expected great things of him, and thought that his talents would be immediately recognized. But they were doomed to disappointment. He gained no prize in college, and no honors. His aunt had expected that after one year, such were his talents, that the college would gladly give him the rest of his education, but she was obliged to support him for two years more.
He made himself unpopular with his teachers in college from fighting the Jesuits. When he left college he would not return to Saint Etienne, where his companions would mock him. He resolved to stay in Paris, even if he starved. He wrote to his kind old aunt, who at once came to Paris and made a quiet home for him. But this would not do—the rent of the house was half her income. He first took a class of pupils and taught them Latin, Greek, and history. This was a slight addition to their income. Summer came and his pupils left. He now was forced to engage with a professor of a boarding-school, at the rate of ten dollars a month, to teach. The professor was unfortunate and his furniture was attached, he, at the time, owing Jules for three months’ work. He was an honest and good man, and Jules offered to give him the sum due, though he had not money enough left to get him a dinner. But he contrived a plan by which he cheated the law officers of a part of their goods, and got his pay. He was noted at this time more for his appetite than anything else, and would sacrifice more for a good dinner, probably, than for aught else. But in the absence of good living he took to solitary reading, and acquired a taste for literature.
He one day chanced to meet a college-friend who was a journalist.
“I am miserable,” said Janin.
“Become a journalist, then,” the friend replied, “if you have not an income”