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were in part built of stone, remained to attest their existence and use. The grounds exhibited similar effects of neglect, in a climate where the living wood grows so rapidly, and the dead decays so soon, as in Nova Scotia. An arbour, which had been constructed of lattice-work, for the support of a flowering vine, had fallen, and was covered with vegetation; while its roof alone remained, supported aloft by limbs of trees, that growing up near it, had become entangled in its net-work. A Chinese temple, once a favourite retreat of its owner, as if in conscious pride of its preference, had offered a more successful resistance to the weather, and appeared in tolerable preservation ; while one small surviving bell, of the numerous ones that once ornamented it, gave out its solitary and melancholy tinkling as it waved to the wind. How sad was its mimic knell over pleasures that were fled for ever!
The contemplation of this deserted house is not without its beneficial effect on the mind; for it inculcates humility to the rich, and resignation to the poor. However elevated man may be, there is much in his condition that reminds him of the infirmities of his nature, and reconciles him to the decrees of Providence. “May it please your Majesty,” said Euclid to his royal pupil, there is no regal road to science. You must travel in the same path with others, if
would attain the same end." These forsaken grounds teach us in similar terms this consolatory truth, that there is no exclusive way to happiness reserved even for those of the most exalted rank. The smiles of fortune are capricious, and sunshine and shade are unequally distributed ; but though the surface of life is thus diversified, the end is uniform to all, and invariably terminates in the grave.
“ Pallida mors æquo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas
Regumque turres.” Ruins, like death, of which they are at once the emblem and the evidence, are apt to lose their effect from their frequency. The mind becomes accustomed to them, and the moral is lost. The picturesque alone remains predominant, and criticism supplies the place of reflection. But this is the only ruin of any extent in Nova Scotia, and the only spot either associated with royalty, or set apart and consecrated to solitude and decay. The stranger pauses at a sight so unusual, and inquires the cause; he learns with surprise that this place was devoted exclusively to pleasure ; that care and sorrow never entered here; and that the voice of mirth and music was alone heard within its gates. It was the temporary abode of a prince, — of one, too, had he lived, that would have inherited the first and fairest empire in the world. All that man can give or rank enjoy awaited him ; but an overruling and inscrutable Providence decreed, at the very time when his succession seemed most certain, that the sceptre should pass into the hands of another. This intelligence interests and excites his feelings. He enters, and hears at every step the voice of nature proclaiming the doom that awaits alike the prince and the peasant. The desolation he sees appals him. The swallow nestles in the empty chamber, and the sheep find a noon-day shelter in the banquetting-room, while the ill-omened bat rejoices in the dampness of the mouldering ruins. Everything recalls a recollection of the dead ; every spot has its record of the past; every path its footstep; every tree its legend; and even the universal silence that reigns here has an awful eloquence that overpowers the heart. Death is written everywhere. Sad and dejected, he turns and
seeks some little relic, some small memorial of his decased prince, and a solitary neglected garden-flower, struggling for existence among the rank grasses, presents a fitting type of the brief existence and transitory nature of all around him. As he gathers it, he pays the silent but touching tribute of a votive tear to the memory of 'him who has de parted, and leaves the place with a mind softened and subdued, but improved and purified, by what he has seen. The affectionate remembrance we retain of its lamented owner may have added to my regret, and increased the interest I felt in this lonely and peculiar ruin. In the Duke of Kent the Nova Scotians lost a kind patron and a generous friend. The loyalty of the people, which, when all America was revolting, remained firm and unshaken, and the numerous proofs he received of their attachment to their King and to himself, made an impression upon his mind that was neither effaced or weakened by time or distance. Should these pages happily meet the eye of a Colonial Minister, who has other objects in view than the security of place or the interests of a party, may they remind him of a duty that has never been performed but by the illustrious individual, whose former residence among us gave rise to these reflections. This paper is designed for the cottage, and not for the palace; and the author has not the presumption even to hope that it can ever be honoured by the perusal of his sovereign. Had he any ground for anticipating such a distinction for it, he would avail himself of this opportunity of mentioning that, in addition to the dutiful affection the Nova Scotians have always borne to their monarch, they feel a more lively interest in, and a more devoted attachment to, the present occupant of the throne, from the circumstance of the long and close connexion that subsisted between them and her illustrious parent. He was their patron, benefactor, and friend. To be a Nova Scotian was of itself a sufficient passport to his notice, and to possess merit a sufficient guarantee for his favour. Her Majesty reigns, therefore, in this little province in the hearts of her subjects, a dominion of love inherited from her father. Great as their loss was in being thus deprived of their only protector, her faithful people of Nova Scotia still cling to the hope that Providence has vouchsafed to raise up one more powerful and equally kind in her Majesty, who, following this paternal example, will be graciously pleased to extend to them a patronage that courtiers cannot, and statesmen will not, give. While, therefore, as protegés of her royal house, they claim the right to honour and to serve the Sovereign of the empire as “ their own Queen,” they flatter themselves her Majesty, for a similar reason, will condescend to regard them as “the Queen's own."
LINES TOUCHING THE LINE.
COURTING IN BRETAGNE;
OR, THE BAZVALAN.
BY MISS LOUISA STUART COSTELLO.
AMONGST the many singular and antique customs of Brittany, one of the most remarkable is the ceremony used on occasion of a wedding, or rather, a courting. It is not sufficient for the young man who pretends to the hand of a maiden to exert his own eloquence in order to express all his devotion, and to show by every action how greatly he is enamoured ; an influential person must be employed, without whose offices his courtship would be considered out of all etiquette, and he would be looked upon as a contemptible suitor. This personage is called in Breton language,“ The Bazvalan,” his title being derived from the wand of broom, which he carries as his caduceus, a symbol of love and union, considered indispensable. The lover, then, having fixed his affections on a certain damsel, applies to the Bazvalan, and places his case in his hands. In general this important and somewhat romantic character is no other than the tailor of the village. This may sound rather undignified; but the Breton tailor is always above his fellows in wit and talent; he seems to hold a place similar to the barber in most primitive communities, but his calling is in every way superior, and he must combine a great variety of accomplishments before he is fitted to undertake the duties imposed upon him as a messenger of love. In the first place, he must possess the gift of eloquence in a superior degree, be exceedingly and imperturbably good-humoured, and of inexhaustible gaiety. He must be intimately acquainted with every particular relative to the families of those between whom he negotiates, and have collected a store of anecdotes concerning them which his business is to turn to the best advantage, so as to exhibit the characters of all in the most honourable and agreeable light, and particularly that of his immediate employer. He must know the precise extent of his possessions, the value of his flocks and herds, his granaries and granges, his pastures and his lands. In particular, he must be able to represent his personal advantages in the most favourable light, and, above all, must constantly have a ready reply to any objections which may be raised on the opposite side. The respect in which the Bazvalan was formerly held was so great that he could pass through the most disturbed places, and in the midst of contending armies, totally scathless, his flowering wand of broom being a sign which commanded respect from all. So highly appreciated was the art of carrying on an embassy of love that it was considered as an indispensable part of a young man's establishment who had pretensions to dignity that the Bazvalan should form one of his suite.
As soon as the Bazvalan presents himself at a house, and stands on the threshold of the door, saluting those within, should it happen that no one immediately invites him to enter ; if the brands of the fire are standing upright in the chimney when he does enter; or if the mistress, taking a crêpe (the species of pancake which is their ordinary food,) begins to toast it before the fire at the end of her fingers, turning her back to the guest, as may be imagined, it is a bad augury,
and the Bazvalan has nothing to do but to retire as he came. He should be cautious, also, never to continue his journey if at setting out he meets a crow, or a magpie. But should he hear a turtledove coo in the trees as he advances, and, as soon as he reaches the house, if before he has finished his salutation at the threshold he is interrupted by friendly greetings, entreated to enter, and take part in the entertainments within, he is in a fair way of success. He then begins to exercise his art, addressing the mother in a low tone, who shortly retires with him apart, listens to his eloquent pleadings, and then returns to communicate with her daughter, whose consent is thus gained. The wedding is then decided to take place in a month from that time; meanwhile every kind of preparation is made to prepare the house and household furniture for the young couple, and their dresses for the occasion.
When the bridesmaids and bridesmen are chosen, they all assemble at the priest's domicile on a Saturday evening, when the betrothment takes place, followed by a supper. The next morning, at high mass, the publication of the banns takes place, after which invitations are sent for the bridal. These are generally in verse; and here again the talent of the Bazvalan is called into play, as such compositions are from his muse. Accompanied by the nearest relations of the young pair, he makes the tour of the country, taking care always to arrive just as the families he visits are about to sit down to table. To announce his
presence he strikes three times on the door, and salutes them with, “Joy and happiness in this house: here is the wedding-messenger." He enters and explains the motive of his attendance, explains all, names the day and hour of the fête, and takes his place at the board.
On the appointed day, at sunrise, the court-yard of the bride's house is filled with a joyous group on horseback, who come to seek her to conduct her to church. The bridegroom is at their head, with his garçon d'honneur by his side. At a given signal the Bazvalan descends from his horse, goes up the steps of the house, and declaims at the door of the bride on a theme, from which he draws metaphors and tropes, as far as his imagination will carry him, singing his verses to an improvised air, to which another minstrel of the house, employed by the bride, should reply. This minstrel is called the Brotaer. Each of these bards receives as a wedding present a belt of red wool and a pair of white stockings, marked with a yellow corner.
The following dialogue may give an idea of these rustic effusions. It is in the dialect of Cornouailles.
DIALECT OP HAUTE-CORNOUAILLE.
The Bazvalan sings,
this house, and joy
The Brotaer answers,
Nestled by my pigeon's side,
Till a hawk in tow'ring pride,
Curl'd thy locks, thy garb how gay-
Hold! no more.
See, I bring a little rose,
As a balm to soothe thy woes. He goes back again, and re-appears, leading by the hand a little girl, whom he presents to the Bazvalan, who courteously regards her, and then exclaims,
Lovely flow'r! charms ever new
Do those ruddy leaves disclose :
He should in thy breast repose !*
* The similarity is very remarkable of this stanza to that in the beautiful Scotch ballad quoted by Burns, in a letter to Mr. Thomson.
“ O gin my love were yon red rose,
That grows upon the castle wa',
Into her bonnie breast to fa'!”