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His face is as multi-sided as are the movements of his mind, especially when young. One may say that there were three Dumas. The practical Dumas, the one who wrote Antony, Henri III, Christine, wild, sentimental, passionate living outside this world and creating another one in the clouds for himself. That was the Dumas of love, the man women dreamt of after having seen one of his dramas, the one whose look expressed the lofty emotions of the soul all at once, whose brow would light up like an aureole when he would let himself dream and would express what he knew so well how to depict and feel. That Dumas has long since disappeared ; he would be an anachronism nowadays ; he is the one who took down most of his dramas that his heart dictated. And that's why today's youth makes out that his dramas have become outdated ; they are unable to raise themselves to such high impressions. They have abolished love and are only looking for gallantry ; obviously these full of passion scenes must seem strange to them, they are out of fashion. They were very true when they were written ; they are not anymore now that everything is reduced to the bare minimum, now that what doesn't go straight to the point is a waste of time. They may be right ; it is more rational, wiser, safer and less deceptive, as the song goes, but it far less great, far less noble, far less heady. That's happiness while suffering ; the soul gets purged with such emotions. Nowadays, one must have fun and snap one's fingers at the rest ! What's the use ?
Then there was Dumas as a gentleman, quite well-mannered, distinguished, never forgetting any custom, knowing how to pay tribute to anyone according to their merit, and being able to associate with the greatest lords That one too has died down ; he has let himself be overcome by the lack of consideration, by modern customs, he has put on the nerve his success was bound to give him. He shows himself as he really is, he doesn't restrain himself ; society bores him, and, when he decides to mix with them, he makes a concession in which he won't be taken. Dumas hasn't forgotten his savoir-faire ; he has it back as soon as he needs it ; it is a precious jewel locked up in a casket, it won't rust, nor will it tarnish ; it comes out on gala nights, everyone marvels at it, and then when he doesn't want to adorn with it, he locks it up again, until the next occasion.
The third side is the one which persisted for the longest time, that is the good-natured, witty Dumas, the one who wrote "Impressions de voyage", the one who creates better than anyone, the brilliant conversationalist, whose words are spread and remembered, the one who entertained Europe for more than thirty years, who kept the universe hung upon his quill, that one exists and will live forever ; if he has got faults, his faults make him up ; he would be who he is if he dared to put them right. No one will hold the pace he held, for no one fulfils all the requirements. It would take not only a mind like his, - and I don't know another one, - it would take his inexhaustible verve, it would take his imagination, it would take his strength, his ease with work, it would take his constitution, his vigour, his cheerfulness, his instincts ; it would take what a single nature doesn't combine twice in a generation.
Mémoires des autres, souvenirs anecdotiques sur mes contemporains
Sixth volume, chapter XVII
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