VIGNY, ALFRED VICTOR, COMTE DE, a French author; born during his parents' imprisonment in the prison at Loches (Indre-et-Loire), March 27, 1797; entered the army at the Restora tion; and served 14 years. Garrison life wearied a soul athirst for glory, but his pride found a solitary consolation in verse. As early as 1822 he published anonymously a small volume of verse, followed in 1824 by "Eloa, or the Sister of an Angel," an exquisite piece of mystic phantasy. Before the Revolution of July he had published his collected Antique and Modern" (1826), containing "Molse" and "Dolorida"; "Cinq Mars" (1826), a historical ro mance; a translation of "Othello" (1829) ; and a drama "The Farrier of Ancre" (1830). After that year he pub lished only works in prose: "Stello" (1832) ; "Grandeur and Military Ser vitude" (1835) ; and a drama, "Chat terton" (1835)—the highest moment of his fame. From that time he ceased not to write but to print. He left a volume of verse —"Destinees"— published in 1864, which contains some of his finest and most virile work, and a collection of personal notes, printed with doubtful wisdom by Louis Ratisbonne under the title "Journal of a Poet" (1867). While still young he attached himself to the Romanticists, with Hugo, Deschamps, Mme. Desbordes-Valmore, and Mdlle. Delphine Gay. But he was never a mili tant or thorough-going member of the party—"he retired," says Sainte-Beuve, "to his ivory tower before the heat of the day." His "Fifth of March" was a
romance based on the most tragic of the crimes of Richelieu, inspired by Scott, but intended to be minutely true to history throughout. The author's connection with the theater led to an equivocal friendship with Mine. Dorval, commencing about the close of 1830, but the woman's heart soon found poetry a poor substitute for passion, and the tragedy left the poor idealist stripped of his last illusion. In 1845 Vigny was gratified by election to the Academy, on which occasion he made a long and wearisome address, which was listened to with unconcealed impatience. There after till the close he lived but little in the world, in familiarity with no one, not even himself, his thought wrapped up in a pessimistic gloom from which he found escape only by the avenues of art. His was that profoundest kind of moral misery which needs no external reason for its being, incurable because itself its own poison. He died in Paris after the long agony of cancer, Sept. 17, 1863. Vigny's work was elegant but cold. No poet has had grander conceptions than the few fundamental ideas that inform his work, and it is not so much inspira tion as meditation that gives the key note to all his poetry.