Dear Dumas, … Great hearts are like great stars; they contain their light and heat within themselves. You, then, don’t even have any need of thanks [Dumas had defended Hugo after a personal attack in a newspaper]; but I need to tell you, that every day I esteem you more, not only because you are one of the dazzling lights of our century, but also because you are one of its consolations. So come over to Guernsey; you promised me, you know. Come here so all my family and friends can shake your hand; they will treat you with just the same enthusiasm and devotion as they do me.’ Letter to Alexandre Dumas, Hauteville House, 8 March 1857
Celebrated French author and playwright, Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870), author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, was a friend of Victor Hugo since their youth. They were the same age, both their fathers had been successful generals under Napoleon, and both fathers had fallen from Napoleon’s favour. Dumas was by far the best known of Hugo’s friends from the cultural milieu in France to visit him in Guernsey. The Gazette de Guernesey noted his presence in 1857. Hugo was unable to attend Dumas’ funeral in 1870. When Dumas’ body was transferred back to his hometown in 1872, Hugo wrote to Dumas’ son, Alexandre Dumas Jr, himself an author, that
‘… the name of Alexandre Dumas is more than French, it is European; it is more than European, it is universal … Your father and I were young together. I loved him and he loved me … Today I shall not be one of those who accompanies him to his final resting-place. But his soul sees mine. In a few days I will soon do what I can’t at this moment do – I will go, alone, to his place of rest, and I shall repay at his tomb the visit he made to me in my exile’.
This rose is a scented, repeat-flowering Hybrid Perpetual, which was bred and named for Alexandre Dumas in 1861 by Margottin, France, and is planted in the southern section of the Victor Hugo Garden which represents Victor Hugo’s youth. It was obtained from Roses Loubert.