The Romance of Violette

Alexandre Dumas Pere


I have spent thousands of years in this earthly world, it would appear, and the spiritualistic component of my own being must have been successively transmitted in the continuity of human creatures, before it became my privilege to be one of the denizens of the planet of Mars, my present dwelling.

“How happy he will be,” will exclaim those unfortunate mortals who still weep on earth, “for has he not left our vale of tears?”

No such thing! You are entirely mistaken, for I feel very dull here, in spite of the evident superiority, as a place of residence, of the planet I am now exploring.

Indeed, I frequently suffer from fits of depression, and often glance back longingly on a past which was not unmixed with bliss. That is why you behold me now with pen in hand, calling up the most pleasurable recollections of my earthly life and trying to retrace them to the reader.

I must own to many sins in the course of my terrestrial incarnations. My future readers will therefore understand why, among the outlines, which like dim shadows are evoked before my eyes, I look upon those of women with the most gratified feelings.

She who now receives my slumbering sensations, numbed, alas, by the ethereal poetry of the ambient atmosphere in which I breathe when on earth, went by euphonious name of Violette. She gave me all the joys of that paradise promised to the faithful by Mahomet, and when she died my grief was unspeakable.

Nobody now knows who was concealed under this pretty pseudonym. I may therefore freely pen her history, that of our loves! She had no other!

Before entrusting these sheets to the amorous zephyr which is to waft them on to the desk of some enterprising publisher, I would have my future readers know that they are not exactly suitable for young ladies.

And now, squeamish reader, and you, bashful lady, who are fearful of calling a spade a spade, you have had due warning; therefore tarry you a while, or else go no further, for these pages were not designed for you.

Let only those follow me, who understand love, and practise thy sweet science, O voluptas! the author


I was thirty years of age when I made the acquaintance of Violette.

I lived at the time on the fourth floor of a rather fine house in the Rue de Rivoli, just beneath rooms occupied by domestics and young girls employed in a linen drapery establishment on the ground floor under the arcades.

I was then on intimate terms with a very handsome and aristocratic lady. Her complexion was of that description which Theophile Gautier celebrates in his Emaux et Camees. Her hair was such as that with which Aeschylus adorns Electra's head and which compares to the fair corn of Argolide. But the lady had become rather too plump and stout at an early period of her career, and highly incensed at her premature embonpoint, displeased with herself and all the world, she worried all those who approached her, as if they should be made responsible for her misfortune.

As a consequence our intimacy went on the decline, and though I duly provided for all her wants and whims, I made no effort to bring into closer vicinity our respective bedchambers, situated at opposite ends of the suite of rooms. I had made choice of my own for the sake of the fine view on the Tuileries. I aspired already to be an author, and truly nothing can be finer, sweeter, more refreshing for a writer than the sight of this sombre mass of foliage formed by the ancient trees of the garden.

In summer the wood pigeons sport and frolic about the tall bough till twilight, when calm and silence begin to reign in their aerial abodes.

At ten o'clock the tattoo is heard and the gates are closed, and when the night is fine the moon slowly sails along the heavens, leaving its silvery track on the lofty tree tops.

Sometimes a light breeze makes the pale light tremble in the rustling leaves, which then seem to awaken, to live, and breathe of love and pleasure.

And by degrees, the noises of the big city grow more and more faint and distant to the ear which rests in the enjoyment of this delightful silence, while the eye gazes admiringly on the chateau and the dark, deep majestic masses of the huge trees. Often I would thus remain for hours at my window, dreaming and wrapped in thought.

What were the subjects of my dreams? I could hardly tell. I probably dreamt of what one dreams when one is thirty years of age; of love, of the women one has seen, and more often still, of those unseen as yet.

And in truth, are not the charms of the unknown fair ones the most potent of all?

There are men unfavoured by nature, whose hearts never thrill under a ray of sunlight. They live on as if in a kind of semi-darkness and accomplish as a duty, not as a joy, the act which is the supreme happiness of life, and which brings such rapture to the senses that if it lasted a minute instead of lasting five seconds it would kill even a Hercules.

These men in their passage through life, eat, drink and sleep; they indeed beget children, but they will never be able to say: “I have loved!” And surely is there anything worth living for, unless it be love?

I was wrapped in one of those dreams which have neither horizon nor limits, in which heaven and earth are mingled; I had just heard the bell in the neighbouring clock tower chime two o'clock, when I thought I heard a knock at my door. But perhaps I was mistaken, so I listened. The knock was repeated. Wondering who could come to visit me at this unwonted hour I ran to the door and opened it.

A young girl, almost a child slipped in and said:

“Oh, let me take refuge here, monsieur, I beseech you!”

I motioned her to be silent and softly shut the door. I then encircled her waist to my arm and took her to my bedroom. There I was enabled to have a view of the bird just escaped from its cage and which had flown to me for protection.

My supposition was correct; it was indeed a lovely girl, barely fifteen, straight and pliant as a reed, though her form already showed signs of womanhood.

I placed my hand on her bosom by chance, and I felt a living globe as firm as marble.

The mere contact sent a thrill through my veins. There are indeed women who have received from nature the fascinating gift of exciting sensual desires at the slightest touch.

“How frightened I was!” she murmured.


“Oh yes! How fortunate that you were not yet in bed!”

“And what was the cause of that great fright?”

“Monsieur Beruchet.”

“Who is this Monsieur Beruchet?”

“The husband of the seamstress with whom I worked below.”

“And pray tell me, what did this Monsieur Beruchet do to you?”

“But you will keep me all night, will you not?”

“I shall keep you as long as you like. It is not my custom to turn pretty girls out of doors.”

“Oh, I am only a little girl. I am not a pretty girl.”

“Well! well!” I gave a look at her bosom and what I saw through the half-opened chemise gave me reason to think she was not such a little girl as all that.

“Tomorrow, at break of day, I must go!” she murmured softly.

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