Leuven, exiled from Paris until the return of the Bourbons, resided in the village, and forming the acquaintance of young Dumas and noticing that he was ambitious, he counseled him to write dramas, and he would make money. Dumas followed his advice—wrote three, which were offered to the directors of the Paris theaters, and were each rejected by all. But Dumas was made of stuff of the better sort, and was not thus to be discouraged. Leuven soon returned to Paris, and Dumas longed to follow him there. But he was too poor. He formed a plan, however, of gaining his point, for he was anxious to see and know the actors of Paris, and with a fellow-clerk he set out on foot for the great city. The two young men were without money, but each carried a gun. They shot hares and partridges as they journeyed toward Paris, and sold them to dealers in game, and thus paid their expenses from day to day.
Leuven received him with open arms, and gave the delighted youth a ticket to hear Talma. He was privileged to go behind the scenes between the acts, and converse with the actors. He was filled with delight. Talma saw him, and at once pronounced him a genius. In his memoirs, he declares that he said, “Alexander Dumas, I baptize you a poet, in the name of Shakspeare, Corneille, and Schiller. Return to your native village, enter your study, and the angel of Poesy will find you there, and will raise you by the hair, like the Prophet Habakkuk, and transport you to the spot where duty lies before you.”
Alexander soon came to Paris again, not this time supporting himself by his gun, but with money which his mother gave him. He had letters of recommendation to some of the old generals of the empire, and installed himself comfortably in the Place des Italiens. Some of the men to whom he had letters received him coldly, but in General Foy he found a warm friend and protector. He introduced him to the notice of the duke of Orleans, who finding that the young man possessed a good hand-writing, which, by the way, he preserves to this day, he made him one of his secretaries, and gave him a salary of twelve hundred francs. Alexander now considered himself on the high road to fortune. He was in Paris—and with a salary! It was small, to be sure, but he was where he could frequent the theaters, and his patron was a man of eminence. He had little to do, and read Shakspeare, Scott, Goethe, and Schiller. He said to General Foy, “I live now by my hand-writing, but I assure you that one day I will live by my pen.” This shows that he looked forward to a literary life—that he foresaw, in a measure, his after success in literature. He soon began to write, and some of his plays were so well liked by the managers of different theaters, that they bought them and brought them out. He had already, while a secretary, begun to receive money for his writings. He wrote for his mother who came up to Paris, and the couple took up their residence