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The Immortal Or, One Of The "Forty." (L'immortel) - 1877   By: (1840-1897)

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By Alphonse Daudet,

Translated From The French By A. W. Verrall And Margaret D. G. Verrall

Rand, McNally & Company, Publishers 1889



In the 1880 edition of Men of the Day, under the heading Astier Réhu , may be read the following notice:

Astier, commonly called Astier Réhu (Pierre Alexandre Léonard), Member of the Académie Française, was born in 1816 at Sauvagnat (Puy de Dôme). His parents belonged to the class of small farmers. He displayed from his earliest years a remarkable aptitude for the study of history. His education, begun at Riom and continued at Louis le Grand, where he was afterwards to re appear as professor, was more sound than is now fashionable, and secured his admission to the Ecole Normale Supérieure, from which he went to the Chair of History at the Lycée of Mende. It was here that he wrote the Essay on Marcus Aurelius, crowned by the Académie Française. Called to Paris the following year by M. de Salvandy, the young and brilliant professor showed his sense of the discerning favour extended to him by publishing, in rapid succession, The Great Ministers of Louis XIV. (crowned by the Académie Française), Bonaparte and the Concordat (crowned by the Académie Française), and the admirable Introduction to the History of the House of Orleans, a magnificent prologue to the work which was to occupy twenty years of his life. This time the Académie, having no more crowns to offer him, gave him a seat among its members. He could scarcely be called a stranger there, having married Mlle. Rèhu, daughter of the lamented Paulin Réhu, the celebrated architect, member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, and granddaughter of the highly respected Jean Réhu, the father of the Académie Française, the elegant translator of Ovid and author of the Letters to Urania, whose hale old age is the miracle of the Institute. By his friend and colleague M. Thiers Léonard Astier Réhu was called to the post of Keeper of the Archives of Foreign Affairs. It is well known that, with a noble disregard of his interests, he resigned, some years later (1878), rather than that the impartial pen of history should stoop to the demands of our present rulers. But deprived of his beloved archives, the author has turned his leisure to good account. In two years he has given us the last three volumes of his history, and announces shortly New Lights on Galileo, based upon documents extremely curious and absolutely unpublished. All the works of Astier Réhu may be had of Petit Séquard, Bookseller to the Académie.

As the publisher of this book of reference entrusts to each person concerned the task of telling his own story, no doubt can possibly be thrown upon the authenticity of these biographical notes. But why must it be asserted that Léonard Astier Réhu resigned his post as Keeper of the Archives? Every one knows that he was dismissed, sent away with no more ceremony than a hackney cabman, because of an imprudent phrase let slip by the historian of the House of Orleans, vol. v. p. 327: 'Then, as to day, France, overwhelmed by the flood of demagogy, etc.' Who can see the end of a metaphor? His salary of five hundred pounds a year, his rooms in the Quai d'Orsay (with coals and gas) and, besides, that wonderful treasure of historic documents, which had supplied the sap of his books, all this had been carried away from him by this unlucky 'flood,' all by his own flood! The poor man could not get over it. Even after the lapse of two years, regret for the ease and the honours of his office gnawed at his heart, and gnawed with a sharper tooth on certain dates, certain days of the month or the week, and above all on 'Teyssèdre's Wednesdays.' Teyssèdre was the man who polished the floors. He came to the Astiers' regularly every Wednesday. On the afternoon of that day Madame Astier was at home to her friends in her husband's study, this being the only presentable apartment of their third floor in the Rue de Beaune, the remains of a grand house, terribly inconvenient in spite of its magnificent ceiling... Continue reading book >>

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