Random Quote #38 topic: zola-dictionary, A Zola Dictionary; the Characters of the Rougon-Macquart Novels of Emile Zola, Patterson, J. G

ROUGON, alias SACCARD (ARISTIDE), born 1815, youngest son of Pierre
Rougon, was educated, like his brothers, at Plassans and Paris, but
failed to pass his examinations. His character was a combination of
covetousness and slyness: his greatest desire was the acquisition of
rapid fortune, gained without work. In 1836 he married Angele Sicardot,
who brought him a dowry of ten thousand francs. As Aristide did no work,
and lived extravagantly, the money was soon consumed, and he and his
wife were in such poverty that he was at last compelled to seek a
situation. He procured a place at the Sub-Prefecture, where he remained
nearly ten years, and only reached a salary of eighteen hundred francs.
During that time "he longed, with ever-increasing malevolence and
rancour, for those enjoyments of which he was deprived" by his lowly
position. In 1848, when his brother Eugene left for Paris, he had a
faint idea of following him, but remained in the hope of something
turning up. In opposition to his father, he expressed Republican
principles, and edited a newspaper called the _Independant_. At the time
of the _Coup d'Etat_, he became alarmed at the course of events, and
pretended that an accident to his hand prevented him from writing. His
mother having given him private information as to the success of the
Bonapartist cause, he changed the politics of his paper, and became
reconciled to his parents. La Fortune des Rougon.

Early in 1852 he went to Paris, taking with him his wife and daughter
Clotilde, then a child of four; his son Maxime he left at Plassans.
Through the influence of his brother Eugene, he got an appointment as
assistant surveying clerk at the _Hotel de Ville_, with a salary of two
thousand four hundred francs. Before entering on his duties, however, he
changed his name to Saccard on the suggestion of his brother, who feared
that he might be compromised by him. In 1853, Aristide was appointed
a surveying commissioner of roads, with an increased salary. At this
period great schemes of city improvement were under discussion, and
Aristide by spying and other shady means got early information as to
the position of the proposed new streets. Great chances of fortune were
arising, but he had no capital. The death of his wife enabled him to
enter into a plan proposed by his sister Sidonie, who had heard of
a family willing to make a considerable sacrifice to find a not too
inquisitive husband for their daughter. He accordingly married Renee
Beraud du Chatel, and gained control of a considerable sum of ready
money, in addition to the fortune settled on his wife. By means of
a cleverly contrived swindle, in which he was assisted by his friend
Larsonneau, he got a fabulous price for some property acquired by him,
and the foundation of his fortune was laid. From this time, he lived a
life of the wildest extravagance, and, though his gains were frequently
enormous, his expenses were so great that it was only with difficulty
that he was able to prevent a catastrophe. La Curee.

He as appointed by Pauline Quenu's family council to be her "surrogate
guardian." La Joie de Vivre.

After a last and disastrous land speculation, Saccard was obliged to
leave his great house in the Parc Monceau, which he abandoned to his
creditors. At first undecided as to his movements, he took a flat in the
mansion in Rue Saint-Lazare, which belonged to Princess d'Orviedo. There
he met Hamelin, the engineer, and his sister Caroline, with whom he soon
became on intimate terms. Hamelin having spent much time in the East,
had formed many schemes for great financial ventures, and Saccard was
so impressed with these that he formed a syndicate for the purpose of
carrying some of them out. With this view the Universal Bank was formed,
and was at first very successful. By persistent advertising, and other
means, the shares of the Bank were forced to an undue price, and then
Saccard began to speculate in them on behalf of the Bank itself. The
great financier Gundermann, with whom Saccard had quarrelled, then began
a persistent attack on the Bank, selling its shares steadily day after
day. Saccard continued to buy as long as he was able; but the end came,
the price broke, and he, as well as the Bank, which was now one of
its own largest shareholders, was ruined. Since his previous failure,
Saccard had not been on friendly terms with his brother Eugene Rougon,
and, some time before the collapse of the Bank, had made violent attacks
upon him in his newspaper. Consequently Rougon did nothing to assist him
in the criminal proceedings which followed the final catastrophe; he did
not, however, wish to have a brother in jail, and arranged matters
so that an appeal was allowed. Next day Saccard escaped to Belgium.

After the fall of the Second Empire, he returned to Paris, despite the
sentence he had incurred. Some complicated intrigue must have been at
work, for not only did he obtain a pardon, but once more took part in
promoting large undertakings, with a finger in every pie and a share of
every bribe. In 1872 he was actively engaged in journalism, having been
appointed Director of the _Epoque_, a Republican journal which made a
great success by publishing the papers found in the Tuileries. Covetous
of his son's fortune, he hastened a disease from which Maxime suffered,
by encouraging him in vicious courses, and in the end got possession
of the whole estate. By a singular irony, Aristide, now returned to his
original Republicanism, was in a position to protect his brother Eugene,
whom in earlier days he had so often compromised. Le Docteur Pascal.


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