home | authors | books | about

Home -> Victor Hugo -> Les MisÚrables -> Cambronne

Les MisÚrables - Cambronne

1. M. Myriel

2. M. Myriel becomes M. Welcome

3. A Hard Bishopric for a Good Bishop

4. Works corresponding to Words

5. Monseigneur Bienvenu made his Cassocks last too long

6. Who guarded his House for him

7. Cravatte

8. Philosophy after Drinking

9. The Brother as depicted by the Sister

10. The Bishop in the Presence of an Unknown Light

11. A Restriction

12. The Solitude of Monseigneur Welcome

13. What he believed

14. What he thought

15. The Evening of a Day of Walking

16. Prudence counselled to Wisdom

17. The Heroism of Passive Obedience

18. Details concerning the Cheese-Dairies of Pontarlier

19. Tranquillity

20. Jean Valjean

21. The Interior of Despair

22. Billows and Shadows

23. New Troubles

24. The Man aroused

25. What he does

26. The Bishop works

27. Little Gervais

28. The Year 1817

29. A Double Quartette

30. Four and Four

31. Tholomyes is so Merry that he sings a Spanish Ditty

32. At Bombardas

33. A Chapter in which they adore Each Other

34. The Wisdom of Tholomyes

35. The Death of a Horse

36. A Merry End to Mirth

37. One Mother meets Another Mother

38. First Sketch of Two Unprepossessing Figures

39. The Lark

40. The History of a Progress in Black Glass Trinkets

41. Madeleine

42. Sums deposited with Laffitte

43. M. Madeleine in Mourning

44. Vague Flashes on the Horizon

45. Father Fauchelevent

46. Fauchelevent becomes a Gardener in Paris

47. Madame Victurnien expends Thirty Francs on Morality

48. Madame Victurnien's Success

49. Result of the Success

50. Christus nos Liberavit

51. M. Bamatabois's Inactivity

52. The Solution of Some Questions connected with the Municipal Police

53. The Beginning of Repose

54. How Jean may become Champ

55. Sister Simplice

56. The Perspicacity of Master Scaufflaire

57. A Tempest in a Skull

58. Forms assumed by Suffering during Sleep

59. Hindrances

60. Sister Simplice put to the Proof

61. The Traveller on his Arrival takes Precautions for Departure

62. An Entrance by Favor

63. A Place where Convictions are in Process of Formation

64. The System of Denials

65. Champmathieu more and more Astonished

66. In what Mirror M. Madeleine contemplates his Hair

67. Fantine Happy

68. Javert Satisfied

69. Authority reasserts its Rights

70. A Suitable Tomb

71. What is met with on the Way from Nivelles

72. Hougomont

73. The Eighteenth of June, 1815

74. A

75. The Quid Obscurum of Battles

76. Four o'clock in the Afternoon

77. Napoleon in a Good Humor

78. The Emperor puts a Question to the Guide Lacoste

79. The Unexpected

80. The Plateau of Mont-Saint-Jean

81. A Bad Guide to Napoleon; a Good Guide to Bulow

82. The Guard

83. The Catastrophe

84. The Last Square

85. Cambronne

86. Quot Libras in Duce?

87. Is Waterloo to be considered Good?

88. A Recrudescence of Divine Right

89. The Battle-Field at Night

90. Number 24,601 becomes Number 9,430

91. In which the reader will peruse Two Verses which are of the Devil's Composition possibly

92. The Ankle-Chain must have undergone a Certain Preparatory Manipulation to be thus broken with a Blow from a Hammer

93. The Water Question at Montfermeil

94. Two Complete Portraits

95. Men must have Wine, and Horses must have Water

96. Entrance on the Scene of a Doll

97. The Little One All Alone

98. Which possibly proves Boulatruelle's Intelligence

99. Cosette Side by Side with the Stranger in the Dark

100. The Unpleasantness of receiving into One's House a Poor Man who may be a Rich Man

101. Thenardier at his Manoeuvres

102. He who seeks to better himself may render his Situation Worse

103. Number 9,430 reappears, and Cosette wins it in the Lottery

104. Master Gorbeau

105. A Nest for Owl and a Warbler

106. Two Misfortunes Make One Piece of Good Fortune

107. The Remarks of the Principal Tenant

108. A Five-Franc Piece Falls on the Ground and Produces a Tumult

109. The Zigzags of Strategy

110. It Is Lucky That the Pont D'Austerlitz Bears Carriages

111. To Wit, the Plan of Paris in 1727

112. The Gropings of Flight

113. Which Would be Impossible With Gas Lanterns

114. The Beginning of an Enigma

115. Continuation of the Enigma

116. The Enigma Becomes Doubly Mysterious

117. The Man with the Bell

118. Which Explains How Javert Got on the Scent

119. Number 62 Rue Petit-Picpus

120. The Obedience of Martin Verga

121. Austerities

122. Gayeties

123. Distractions

124. The Little Convent

125. Some Silhouettes of this Darkness

126. Post Corda Lapides

127. A Century under a Guimpe

128. Origin of the Perpetual Adoration

129. End of the Petit-Picpus

130. The Convent as an Abstract Idea

131. The Convent as an Historical Fact

132. On What Conditions One can respect the Past

133. The Convent from the Point of View of Principles

134. Prayer

135. The Absolute Goodness of Prayer

136. Precautions to be observed in Blame

137. Faith, Law

138. Which treats of the Manner of entering a Convent

139. Fauchelevent in the Presence of a Difficulty

140. Mother Innocente

141. In which Jean Valjean has quite the Air of having read Austin Castillejo

142. It is not Necessary to be Drunk in order to be Immortal

143. Between Four Planks

144. In which will be found the Origin of the Saying: Don't lose the Card

145. A Successful Interrogatory

146. Cloistered

If any French reader object to having his susceptibilities offended,
one would have to refrain from repeating in his presence what is
perhaps the finest reply that a Frenchman ever made. This would
enjoin us from consigning something sublime to History.

At our own risk and peril, let us violate this injunction.

Now, then, among those giants there was one Titan,--Cambronne.

To make that reply and then perish, what could be grander?
For being willing to die is the same as to die; and it was not this
man's fault if he survived after he was shot.

The winner of the battle of Waterloo was not Napoleon, who was put
to flight; nor Wellington, giving way at four o'clock, in despair
at five; nor Blucher, who took no part in the engagement.
The winner of Waterloo was Cambronne.

To thunder forth such a reply at the lightning-flash that kills
you is to conquer!

Thus to answer the Catastrophe, thus to speak to Fate, to give
this pedestal to the future lion, to hurl such a challenge to the
midnight rainstorm, to the treacherous wall of Hougomont, to the
sunken road of Ohain, to Grouchy's delay, to Blucher's arrival,
to be Irony itself in the tomb, to act so as to stand upright
though fallen, to drown in two syllables the European coalition,
to offer kings privies which the Caesars once knew, to make the lowest
of words the most lofty by entwining with it the glory of France,
insolently to end Waterloo with Mardigras, to finish Leonidas
with Rabellais, to set the crown on this victory by a word impossible
to speak, to lose the field and preserve history, to have the laugh
on your side after such a carnage,--this is immense!

It was an insult such as a thunder-cloud might hurl! It reaches
the grandeur of AEschylus!

Cambronne's reply produces the effect of a violent break.
'Tis like the breaking of a heart under a weight of scorn.
'Tis the overflow of agony bursting forth. Who conquered?
Wellington? No! Had it not been for Blucher, he was lost.
Was it Blucher? No! If Wellington had not begun, Blucher could
not have finished. This Cambronne, this man spending his last hour,
this unknown soldier, this infinitesimal of war, realizes that here is
a falsehood, a falsehood in a catastrophe, and so doubly agonizing;
and at the moment when his rage is bursting forth because of it,
he is offered this mockery,--life! How could he restrain himself?
Yonder are all the kings of Europe, the general's flushed with victory,
the Jupiter's darting thunderbolts; they have a hundred thousand
victorious soldiers, and back of the hundred thousand a million;
their cannon stand with yawning mouths, the match is lighted; they grind
down under their heels the Imperial guards, and the grand army;
they have just crushed Napoleon, and only Cambronne remains,--
only this earthworm is left to protest. He will protest. Then he seeks
for the appropriate word as one seeks for a sword. His mouth froths,
and the froth is the word. In face of this mean and mighty victory,
in face of this victory which counts none victorious, this desperate
soldier stands erect. He grants its overwhelming immensity, but he
establishes its triviality; and he does more than spit upon it.
Borne down by numbers, by superior force, by brute matter,
he finds in his soul an expression: "Excrement!" We repeat it,--
to use that word, to do thus, to invent such an expression, is to be
the conqueror!

The spirit of mighty days at that portentous moment made its descent
on that unknown man. Cambronne invents the word for Waterloo as
Rouget invents the "Marseillaise," under the visitation of a breath
from on high. An emanation from the divine whirlwind leaps forth
and comes sweeping over these men, and they shake, and one of them
sings the song supreme, and the other utters the frightful cry.

This challenge of titanic scorn Cambronne hurls not only at Europe
in the name of the Empire,--that would be a trifle: he hurls it at
the past in the name of the Revolution. It is heard, and Cambronne
is recognized as possessed by the ancient spirit of the Titans.
Danton seems to be speaking! Kleber seems to be bellowing!

At that word from Cambronne, the English voice responded, "Fire!"
The batteries flamed, the hill trembled, from all those brazen
mouths belched a last terrible gush of grape-shot; a vast volume
of smoke, vaguely white in the light of the rising moon, rolled out,
and when the smoke dispersed, there was no longer anything there.
That formidable remnant had been annihilated; the Guard was dead.
The four walls of the living redoubt lay prone, and hardly was
there discernible, here and there, even a quiver in the bodies;
it was thus that the French legions, greater than the Roman legions,
expired on Mont-Saint-Jean, on the soil watered with rain and blood,
amid the gloomy grain, on the spot where nowadays Joseph, who drives
the post-wagon from Nivelles, passes whistling, and cheerfully
whipping up his horse at four o'clock in the morning.

© Art Branch Inc. | English Dictionary