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Chapter 25

THE SUICIDE OF ANTONIN MOYNE.

April, 1849.

Antonin Moyne, prior to February, 1848, was a maker
of little figures and statuettes for the trade.

Little figures and statuettes! That is what we had
come to. Trade had supplanted the State. How empty
is history, how poor is art; inasmuch as there are no more
big figures there are no more statues.

Antonin Moyne made rather a poor living out of his work.
He had, however, been able to give his son Paul a good
education and had got him into the Ecole Polytechnique.
Towards 1847 the art-work business being already bad, he
had added to his little figures portraits in pastel. With a
statuette here, and a portrait there, he managed to get
along.

After February the art-work business came to a complete
standstill. The manufacturer who wanted a model for a
candlestick or a clock, and the bourgeois who wanted a
portrait, failed him. What was to be done? Antonin
Moyne struggled on as best he could, used his old clothes,
lived upon beans and potatoes, sold his knick-knacks to
bric-à-brac dealers, pawned first his watch, then
his silverware.

He lived in a little apartment in the Rue de Boursault,
at No. 8, I think, at the corner of the Rue Labruyère.

The little apartment gradually became bare.

After June, Antonin Moyne solicited an order of the
Government. The matter dragged along for six months.
Three or four Cabinets succeeded each other and Louis
Bonaparte had time to be nominated President. At length
M. Leon Faucher gave Antonin Moyne an order for a bust,
upon which the statuary would be able to make 600
francs. But he was informed that, the State funds being
low, the bust would not be paid for until it was finished.

Distress came and hope went.

Antonin Moyne said one day to his wife, who was still
young, having been married to him when she was only
fifteen years old: "I will kill myself."

The next day his wife found a loaded pistol under a piece
of furniture. She took it and hid it. It appears that
Antonin Moyne found it again.

His reason no doubt began to give way. He always carried
a bludgeon and razor about with him. One day he
said to his wife: "It is easy to kill one's self with blows of
a hammer."

On one occasion he rose and opened the window with
such violence that his wife rushed forward and threw her
arms round him.

"What are you going to do?" she demanded.

"Just get a breath of air! And you, what do you want?"

"I am only embracing you," she answered.

On March 18, 1849, a Sunday, I think it was, his wife
said to him:

"I am going to church. Will you come with me?"

He was religious, and his wife, with loving watchfulness,
remained with him as much as possible.

He replied: "Presently!" and went into the next room,
which was his son's bedroom.

A few minutes elapsed. Suddenly Mme. Antonin
Moyne heard a noise similar to that made by the slamming
of a front door. But she knew what it was. She started
and cried: "It is that dreadful pistol!"

She rushed into the room her husband had entered, then
recoiled in horror. She had seen a body stretched upon
the floor.

She ran wildly about the house screaming for help. But
no one came, either because everybody was out or because
owing to the noise in the street she was not heard.

Then she returned, re-entered the room and knelt beside
her husband. The shot had blown nearly all his head away.
The blood streamed upon the floor, and the walls and
furniture were spattered with brains.

Thus, marked by fatality, like Jean Goujon, his master,
died Antonin Moyne, a name which henceforward will
bring to mind two things--a horrible death and a charming
talent.

Victor Hugo