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The following article was published in The Colophon, part 17, 1934. It is reissued here without permission.
M. Dumas Obliges

The Story of a Romance with Two Endings


ORE than one of Alexandre Dumas' great plays have been characterized, in the course of their development, by notable changes in dénouement. In the same way several of the romances, when they came to be adapted for the stage, have had a sad ending changed for one of happiness and well-being. It comes, however, as a distinct surprise to find one of this author's most famous and best-known romances with two entirely different conclusions, affecting not a page or two merely, but more than four chapters. Dumas has always been credited with never touching up or in any way varying the text of his romances when once they had left his hands. This difference in the texts, and probable reason for it, since the fact has apparently not been previously noticed, may be interesting enough to describe.
     The younger Dumas wrote this letter to his father, almost certainly early in 1852.

     I shall write you this morning a very brief and very hasty letter, because M. Perrin has been here. I will send you another note this evening to remove any further suspense concerning that of which you wrote to me. Once he is at Brussels he will loosen his purse-strings better than he would for me, who am only your mandatory and have not the influence of your standing.
     In particular reserve the rights for France following the month of publication in Italy,
             I embrace you,
                     ALEX. DUMAS.

     After a tremendous struggle against the disastrous effects upon his finances of the Revolution of 1848, the elder Dumas had voluntarily exiled himself to Belgium. He desired to free himself by unremitting toil from the mountain of debt which was crushing him, but in Paris the ceaseless interruptions from duns, bailiffs, actors, editors and beggars of every sort made this impossible. Thus we find him installed at No. 73 Boulevard Waterloo, Brussels, where, in a little attic illuminated by day only by a skylight over his head, he sped pen over paper often for sixteen hours daily. In that place were written, in eighteen months, faster than secretaries and the friends who willingly dropped in to help them could make the copies for foreign lands, some forty volumes. A volume as Dumas considered it comprised some thirty thousand words. Shall we say one million, two hundred thousand words for this period? How could he do it? Well, in the first place, he said, and often proved, that he never commenced to write a romance or story or play until the entire scheme was clearly arranged in his mind. Then, too, though he wrote a most clear and beautiful hand, he ignored all stops save an occasional dash; the printer supplied what were required. There lies before me the manuscript of one of the romances written during this very period; it is entirely in his own handwriting, and consists of some one hundred and fifty thousand words. The beautiful script, almost free of erasures and corrections, and as devoid of punctuation, shows by its very clarity and flow the ease with which it had been put upon paper. He had a purpose, a clear objective — that of re-establishing himself at Paris — and he accomplished it with scarcely believable rapidity. With the first week of January 1854, that is to say in twenty-five months, he had paid off the great bulk of his indebtedness and was able to return from his self-imposed banishment.
     The letter quoted from young Alexandre refers to Charles Perrin, an important publisher of Turin. At this period Italy was just drawing breath after her first, and vain, effort to secure freedom and unity. The old order of small states and divided interests had for the moment renewed its grip upon the life and patriotism of the land. All thinking citizens were looking to the House of Savoy as the hope of Italy. Victor Emmanuel II had just succeeded to the throne, and was revealing initiative and ability. The desire for nationality and progress was everywhere stirring, and the future seemed one of promise and even of hope. What could be more fitting and timely than the issue of a popular and interestingly written narrative, a romantic record of the career of this reigning House of Savoy, if not from its earliest inception, at least from its re-establishment in the middle of the sixteenth century? Who, furthermore, so capable of producing such a work as Alexandre Dumas, then perhaps the most popular romancer of his day, and at the summit of his career? Perrin approached him, and the suggested work was approved. Anything promising a considerable sum in ready cash was at that time most welcome to Dumas. Apparently Perrin found it desirable to discuss details and to arrange the final terms in a personal interview; he evidently came to Paris and was there directed to Brussels by Dumas fils.
     The proof of a satisfactory understanding lies in the fact that Perrin published four volumes, totalling two thousand sixteen pages, and with some two hundred plates, under the title of La Maison de Savoie Depuis 1555 jusqu'a 1850. We are now interested only in the two first of these, which bore as sub-title "Emmanuel Philibert, ou la France et I'ltalie au XVI Siècle." These two volumes were issued respectively in 1852 and 1854. It is natural to wonder why the two portions of one compact romance should have been issued at so wide an interval. It now seems likely that this can be explained. But first a few words must be devoted to the later fate of this romance. No doubt the elder Alexandre acted upon his son's suggestion regarding the retaining of the right of issue in France after the Italian edition had been given to the public in its completeness, for this romance ran through the pages of Le Constitutionnel during 1854, but under the title of Le Page du Duc de Savoie. Probably Perrin had made the stipulation that the original title should remain his property.1 In 1854 also two Belgian editions appeared, each in five volumes, identical in setting and evidently printed from the same type, but with different title-pages. One was issued by Kiessling, Schnée et Cie., and the other by Alphonse Lebègue et Cie. Only in the following year, 1855, did the first French edition appear, Paris, Cadot, 8 vols., 8vo. All these exactly followed the text of Perrin's edition, which is precisely what might be expected. It is, however, assuredly matter for surprise to find that an early American edition exists in which the matter of the last thirty-one pages is totally different from every other known issue. This was published by D. Appleton and Co., New York, in 1854, under the title of Emmanuel Philibert; or, The European Wars of the XVIth. Century. By its title this would seem to point to a translation from Perrin's publication, but the variation in the conclusion makes this very unlikely.
     1 Dumas was notoriously indifferent to his titles and their effectiveness or lack of it.
     Among the advertisements inserted at the back of Appleton's Emmanuel Philibert one reads:

Dumas's last and best Book.

Have just ready the Fifth Thousand of
Translated from the Author's original MS.

     This work, known in French as "Catherine Blum," first appeared in this same year 1854. If then Appletons received the "Author's original MS" of Catherine Blum — though actually it is more likely to have been one of those made by Dumas' secretary, Noel Parfait — what is more likely than that they also received a comparable manuscript of Emmanuel Philibert?
     The suggestion here advanced is that when Perrin received the third and concluding portion of his first romance, perhaps early in 1853, he read its last chapters with something like consternation. In all probability he held up the type-setters and returned the concluding portion (the last four chapters) with a request that it should be modified. As will presently be seen, he had good cause for this, and doubtless Dumas, never unreasonable and possessed of wonderful good-nature, accepted the view of his publisher. Thereupon the romancer rewrote the four final chapters and the epilogue and forwarded them to Italy. Time had been occupied in this process, however, and it was only at the commencement of 1854 that the final portion of the romance was distributed to subscribers.
     The change thus effected, it became necessary for all the copies made for other European countries — France, Belgium, England and Germany — to have the new conclusion supplied. If Perrin was offended with the original, it would be unwise further to irritate him by perpetuating the cause in neighboring countries, especially as there were two more long volumes to be supplied and paid for. With America it was not quite the same. Do not let us forget the tremendous amount of work Dumas and his secretaries were accomplishing in 1853 and 1854. Loath to waste good copy already made, Dumas apparently allowed the original draft to go to America — that which Perrin had rejected. New York was far enough from Turin, and the work would in addition be published in an English translation. It was very unlikely that Perrin would ever hear of it, or, if he did, that he would be concerned.about it. Apparently that expectation was correct, for until today it seems that no one has discovered that in America and nowhere else was published what is almost certainly the story as Dumas conceived it and first wrote it. While on this part of the matter it is necessary to admit that it is quite possible that the American copy may have been accidently sent without the alterations having been effected, or, again, it may have been despatched before Perrin made his objections.
     Such, then, is the suggestion brought forward for this variation in the ending of the romance. To substantiate it, thus allowing readers to form their own judgment, it is desirable briefly to summarize the two conclusions.
     In all versions Chapter XVI of Part III ends with the marriage of the Duke of Savoy to the Princess Margaret, sister of Henri II of France, and with the death of that king. Following this in all editions save the American, Chapter XVII,which is mainly history, deals with events in France at the commencement of the reign of Francis II, the dissatisfaction of almost all the French notables with the strict keeping of the Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis, the return of Emmanuel Philibert to his states, and the condition in which he found his territory.
     Chapter XVIII deals with the annual visit which the Duke has promised to pay to Leona, his girl page, in her country retreat. There she brings him, incognito, into touch with the peasantry. Finally she tells him that she has seen and spoken with her dead mother, who has given her as a sign a statement regarding several small future happenings which will prove to the Duke that what Leona says is reliable. Emmanuel Philibert is in fact convinced when these things come to pass.
     Chapter XIX describes the restoration of order in Piedmont; the war against the Vaudois, which Dumas suggests may have been the result of a pledge exacted by the Guises and Philip of Spain from the Duke; and lastly another annual visit paid to Leona. The one-time page, having again spoken with the spirit of her mother, exacts a promise from the Duke that, instead of bringing his wife to Savoy by the beautiful coast road, as he had intended, he will convey her over the mountains, sending meanwhile an empty litter, escorted by a hundred soldiers, by the route originally chosen.
     Chapter XX follows the journey of the closed litter, which is guarded by Scianca Ferro and his hundred troopers. In a defile they are attacked by a band of pirates, led, as appears later, by the Duke's old enemy the Bastard of Waldeck. There is a splendid fight between the latter and the squire, whom he believes to be the Duke. Waldeck is finally killed, but meanwhile a discharge of musketry aimed purposely at the litter has killed Leona, who had taken the place of the Duchess. That night she appears to Emmanuel Philibert and foretells to him the birth of a son.
     There follows an epilogue of one chapter in which, after an interval of twenty years, as some of Henri III's Forty-Five are loitering in the courtyard of the Louvre, there comes to them a maimed beggar asking alms. He proves to be Malemort, and he relates the varied fates of the band of adventurers. Finally, while the young men are at mass, he helps himself to such of their possessions as he is able to lay hands on.
     On turning to Appleton's translation we find, as stated, that the third part of the romance ends with Chapter XVI, common to all forms of the story. The remainder is epilogue, and consists of four chapters and a brief conclusion.
     Chapter I of the epilogue describes the return of the Duke of Savoy to his principality. He manifests a growing melancholy. Scianca Ferro has taken Leona to a convent, where he frequently visits her to console her in her sadness, occasionally being accompanied by the Duke. In five months Leona is to become a mother.
     In Chapter II, we learn that Leona has given birth to a son, whom, by the Duke's orders, Scianca Ferro has immediately removed, no one but the physician knowing its sex, which is declared to be female. From this time the Duke seems to recover his natural vivacity and happiness of disposition. He tells his squire, Scianca Ferro, that France has offered him a close alliance, and, on the day when Madame Margaret shall present him with a son and heir to his principalities, it has undertaken to evacuate all the cities and fortresses of his domains which it still holds, conditional also upon him undertaking to extirpate the Vaudois heretics. Scianca Ferro is horrified at such cruelty to inoffensive peasants, but the Duke smiles and says he will recover his cities without a massacre. "But," says his faithful attendant, "what if Madame Margaret gives birth to a daughter?"—"You should know well that such a thing is now not possible," replies the Duke. In fact, two months later the Duchess is delivered of a girl, but this is known only to the physician in attendance, who has already received his instructions, and a skilful substitution of Leona's boy for the daughter of the Duchess is effected.
     Chapters III and IV show us Emmanuel Philibert anxious to see the last of the French and Spanish garrisons, but to obtain this aim he must proceed against the Vaudois. He sends Scianca Ferro to discuss matters with their leaders. Geneva also sends a deputation to stir up opposition. The elders offer loyal obedience and tribute; the Duke determines to visit them in person, and does so accompanied only by his squire. There they are attacked by Waldeck and the remnant of the band of adventurers: the gigantic Heinrich, Procope, Malemort and Maldent. The Duke kills Waldeck, but he and Scianca Ferro are in danger from the others, who have been joined by some of the Genevan delegation. The peasants, indignant at this attack upon their Duke, who had been so trustful of them, seize pitchforks and flails and quickly end the combat. Several of the attackers are killed, others captured and executed, and Malemort, thought to be dead, recovers once more by aid of his salve and is allowed to depart with a warning not to return. The Duke then advises France and Spain that, after a fight in which several of their leaders have been killed and others taken and executed, the Vaudois have submitted. This was the extent of the persecution, and his cities were now evacuated by the foreign soldiery.
     The brief conclusion mentions that Leona became abbess of the convent in which she had taken refuge, that Emmanuel Philibert's son succeeded him, and that his adopted daughter, in reality Madame Margaret's, taking the veil, became the successor to Leona, who died in 1579.
     Except for the fight with Waldeck, which is a decidedly better narrative in the more familiar version, the material in the Appleton edition is better handled and better plotted.
     An Italian patriot such as Perrin, a loyal supporter of the House of Savoy, from which he hoped for much future good to Italian unity, would be almost certain to find grave risk of misunderstanding, if not worse, in the plot of Dumas' story. He could hardly feel other than annoyance to have this princely house represented as being descended from an illegitimate child, a changeling, and this in an historical romance which had been produced to his order and to glorify this very family. No doubt Dumas had only perceived the picturesque aspect of his plot until its more serious side was pointed out. Then he would certainly meet the wishes of the publisher, for there was no more whole-hearted supporter of freedom anywhere, and especially for Italy, his second home, than Alexandre Dumas. Six years later he was to join Garibaldi in his Sicilian expedition and spend four years in unselfish support of the dictator, willingly devoting to the winning of Italian unity his time, his efforts, his money, and, greatest of all, his pen.

     We are surely happy in finding preserved for us under such unlikely circumstances the original form in which the famous author of The Three Musketeers conceived and developed the romance of The Page of the Duke of Savoy.

Written at Whangarei, New Zealand, for the Colophon.

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