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by [?]

Many years ago, a gentleman with whom I was driving in a distant quarter of Paris took me to a house on the rue Montparnasse, where we remained an hour or more, he chatting with its owner, and I listening to their conversation, and wondering at the confusion of books in the big room. As we drove away, my companion turned to me and said, “Don’t forget this afternoon. You have seen one of the greatest writers our century has produced, although the world does not yet realize it. You will learn to love his works when you are older, and it will be a satisfaction to remember that you saw and spoke with him in the flesh! “

When I returned later to Paris the little house had changed hands, and a marble tablet stating that Sainte-Beuve had lived and died there adorned its fa�ade. My student footsteps took me many times through that quiet street, but never without a vision of the poet-critic flashing back, as I glanced up at the window where he had stood and talked with us; as my friend predicted, Sainte-Beuve’s writings had become a precious part of my small library, the memory of his genial face adding a vivid interest to their perusal.

I made a little Pilgrimage recently to the quiet old garden where, after many years’ delay, a bust of this writer has been unveiled, with the same companion, now very old, who thirty years ago presented me to the original.

There is, perhaps, in all Paris no more exquisite corner than the Garden of the Luxembourg. At every season it is beautiful. The winter sunlight seems to linger on its stately Italian terraces after it has ceased to shine elsewhere. The first lilacs bloom here in the spring, and when midsummer has turned all the rest of Paris into a blazing, white wilderness, these gardens remain cool and tranquil in the heart of turbulent “Bohemia,” a bit of fragrant nature filled with the song of birds and the voices of children. Surely it was a gracious inspiration that selected this shady park as the “Poets’ Corner” of great, new Paris. Henri Murger, Leconte de Lisle, Théodore de Banville, Paul Verlaine, are here, and now Sainte-Beuve has come back to his favorite haunt. Like Fran�ois Coppée and Victor Hugo, he loved these historic allées, and knew the stone in them as he knew the “Latin Quater,” for his life was passed between the bookstalls of the quays and the outlying street where he lived.

As we sat resting in the shade, my companion, who had been one of Sainte-Beuve’s pupils, fell to talking of his master, his memory refreshed by the familiar surroundings. “Can anything be sadder,” he said, “than finding a face one has loved turned into stone, or names that were the watchwords of one’s youth serving as signs at street corners-la rue Flaubert or Théodore de Banville? How far away they make the past seem! Poor Sainte-Beuve, that bust yonder is but a poor reward for a life of toil, a modest tribute to his encyclopædic brain! His works, however, are his best monument; he would be the last to repine or cavil.

“The literary world of my day had two poles, between which it vibrated. The little house in the rue Montparnasse was one, the rock of Guernsey the other. We spoke with awe of ‘Father Hugo’ and mentioned ‘Uncle Beuve’ with tenderness. The Goncourt brothers accepted Sainte-Beuve’s judgment on their work as the verdict of a ‘Supreme Court.’ Not a poet or author of that day but climbed with a beating heart the narrow staircase that led to the great writer’s library. Paul Verlaine regarded as his literary diploma a letter from this ‘Balzac de la critique.’ “