THE REAL FLAUBERT
Ah, did you once see Shelley plain,
And did he stop and speak to you . . .
IT was some time in the late spring or early summer of 1879. I was going through the Chaussée d'Antin when a huge man, a terrific old man, passed me. His long straggling gray hair hung low. His red face was that of a soldier or a sheik, and was divided by drooping white moustaches. A trumpet was his voice, and he gesticulated freely to the friend who accompanied him. I did not look at him with any particular interest until some one behind me -- if he be dead now may he be eternally blest! -- exclaimed: "C'est Flaubert!" Then I stared; for though I had not read Madame Bovary I adored the verbal music of Salammbô, secretly believing, however, that it had been written by Melchior, one of the three Wise Kings who journeyed under the beckoning star of Bethlehem -- how else account for its planturous Asiatic prose, for its evocations of a vanished past? But I knew the name