13 JANUARY 1906, Page 25

The Love Letters of a Genius. A Translation of Prosper

Merimee's "Lettres 3 une Inconnue." (Harrison and Sons. 7s. 6d. net.)—These famous letters were published three years after Meringe's death. (It would have been as well to tell us all that is known about the circumstances of this publication.) The earliest date is " September 26" (1841), I.-IV. being undated, but apparently only a little earlier. The latest, written two hours before his death, is inscribed September 21st, 1870. To the first three years belong Letters I.-C. These may be called " love letters," though there is not much glow about them. Then they begin to be more objective, and naturally more interesting to the outsider. They are dated from various places in Europe, some from England and Scotland, and are mostly characterised by a not unkindly satire. Public events did not greatly move M. Merimee. He is surprised that the "conquerors" in February, 1848, behave like gentlemen, and is inclined to become a staunch Republican, if they continue to do so. Anyhow, he can console himself with the reflection : "The pleasure of seeing you will be as great under the Republic as it was under the Monarchy." In December, 1857, he doubts who is going to get the upper hand, but does not seem to care much. (Ledru Rollin is spelt "Rolttin," and this is not the only misprint in names.) In 1870 he was near his end, and had lost interest in the outside world.