His second wife now died, and it is said that after the event, he carried on intrigues with women; it is certain that he was very susceptible to female beauty and accomplishments. He was thought fine-looking by the ladies, and did not lack admirers among them. It is said by his enemies that he greatly admires himself, and that his home abounds with portraits of himself from chamber to kitchen. It is also told of him, to illustrate his hatred of M. Thiers, that when he was ambassador in London, he would not receive his instructions from his enemy, who was the minister in power, but received secret notes from Louis Phillippe, and in the king’s own hand.
But the system adopted by the king and M. Guizot, ended in ruin. The latter saved himself by ignominious flight. He clothed himself as a peasant, and in this manner crossed the frontier. He afterward gave an eloquent description of his escape. So hurried was his departure from Paris, that he could not even bid his mother good-bye. He loved her fondly; indeed his affection for her was the strongest sentiment of his heart. It was the link which connected him with humanity. His mother set out to rejoin him in London, and died on the way. It was unquestionably the hardest trial, the most dreadful shock of his life, but he was true to his stoical nature, and manifested not the sign of an emotion when the news came to him.
The king and the minister were together in England, in exile, but they did not visit each other. They had had both learned a lesson—that a system of corruption will in the end defeat itself. Since his flight to London, M. Guizot has written two or three works, but they have not had a marked success, and only prove that he clings tenaciously to his old conservative opinions.
[Illustration: Alexander Dumas.]
Alexander Dumas, one of the most celebrated authors of France, was born on the 24th of July, 1802, in the village of Villars-Coterets. His grandfather, the marquis de la Pailletrie, was governor of the island of St. Domingo, and married a negress called Tiennette Dumas. Some declare that this woman was his mistress, and not his wife, but we will not pronounce upon this point. The marquis returned to France, bringing with him a young mulatto—the father of the subject of this sketch. The youth took the name of his mother, and entered the army as a private soldier. He soon achieved renown and rose step by step to the rank of general of a division. Under the empire, he died without fortune, leaving his son—Alexander Dumas—to the care of his widow, who was quite poor. Alexander commenced his studies under the Abbe Gregoire, who found it impossible to teach him arithmetic, and with great difficulty beat a little Latin into him. This arose, not from the boy’s stupidity, but because he did not apply himself. He was exceedingly fond of out-door sports and exercise, and to such an extent did he follow his inclinations in this particular, that he laid the foundation for a vigorous health, that years of labor have never impaired. He was very handsome when a boy, with long, curling hair, blue eyes, and a skin a little tinged with the tropical hue, to denote his African descent. At the age of eighteen, he entered a notary’s office in his native village, with the purpose of studying law.