網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

an

is, I presume, to all persons; yet neither gods nor mortal men can like a dirty bed-room; and in bed I thought of the proverb so often quoted by the wife of the conducteur, and that she had quoted it wiong; I could not help thinking that I had heard it ihus:-It takes twelve Flemings and a pig to make one Walloon.

The Liege newspaper is called Mathicu Laensbergh. I was told that Matthew was formerly a celebrated maker of almanacks. I suppose that his name is used as Dr. Franklin makes use of the name “ Peor Richard.” I heard frequently in the evening a deep-toned bell; it was, I think, the finest and deepest tone I had ever heard. I could not learn any thing about it of the people then present. I was much amused with a person I met with in the barge; he was,or had been, iron-merchant, and had travelled a great deal, probably in the way of his trade: hc was a singular man, and seemed to be a worthy person. He was on the point of being married, and the childish joy, and the childish communicativeness he displayed, were the most amusing parts of his character. Every thing that an Englishman would have concealed most studiously, he as studiously strove to make manifest. I never saw a person so truly happy, and so entirely engrossed by any object. We do all in our power to subdue this kind of feeling; but, if love makes a person so happy, it would be much wiser to cultivate habits of love. It may be urged, the mischief is that the illusion is so very liable to be suddenly dispersed; but is it not because habits contrary to this passion are formed? Would it not be otherwise if youth were carefully trained in a different manner. Be this as it may, he was the happiest of men. The lady was of a certain age, the widow of a French officer; her father was a German, her mother an Italian, she was therefore born to be musical, and had cultivated music: according to her lover's account she was a great proficient. She had been ten years a widow, and had a child, a boy, twelve years of age. It was four years since her intended had first seen her, and he assured me that he was captivated by the sensible and judicious manner in which she educated her son. If he was a competent judge, this was no small merit, for herein ladies in her situation most commonly fail. The only son of a widow seldom turns out well, or even the sons of a widow, as women lave rarely firmness enough to manage the turbulent spirit of a boy. The betrothed man was forty or forty-five years old, and in delicate health, and a poor-looking fellow.' Being joked with a little about a certain probable event, he bore quizzing well, but he frequently recurred to that subject of his own accord: he hoped it would not be so-his wife was a woman of too much sense—her mind was not unoccupied. To be sure, fond of dress; but it became her; and she went to mass every morning. At all events, women have so much art, that, if it must happen, it will be kept snug; he would never know it. “ And if I do, I hope I shall bear it like a philosopher. I have always lived like a philosopher; I have endeavoured to live according to the law of nature; I hate all other laws; and this would be according to the law of nature. But it is impossible. I wish you knew my wife; I am sure you would think so. I call her my wife because she will be in a fortnight.” In this course ran the stream of his thoughts; and he often expressed them thus, with a certain anxiety, but without alarm. Throughout Flanders the people seemed to take a most lively interest in the cause of the Greeks, and spoke warmly on the subject, and with much more zeal, I am sorry to say, than my countrymen; even persons in a rank of life where such enthusiasm would not be looked for.

she was

I read in Matthew Laensbergh, that five curės at Ghent, in their different parish churches, preached violently on the same Sunday against the editor of a Ghent newspaper by name, and that the next morning his printers came to him and said that they would no longer work for such an impious wretch. How would the editors of our London newspapers, morning and evening, like this kind of persecution? They would think, most justly, that for such a wicked conspiracy to injure an individual, the reverend offenders ought respectively to have a year's imprisonment, preceded and followed by one hour of the pillory. These consecrated persons wisely enjoin a repose from secular labours on the Sabbath, but are unable to rest even one day in seven from the eternal obligations of malice and hatred, which they have imposed upon themselves.

Sunday, Aug. 14th.-It had rained all the evening, and I had not seen any thing of the town; my kind friend, the lover, walked with me through two of the principal churches. They were, as usual, handsome, with pictures, statues, and altars : in both the vaulted roofs were painted with arabesques, which had a pleasing effect. In one church a man was preaching in bad French, which is the language of the country. There were many people present, I had therefore an opportunity of observing the Walloons ; they are not sallow and swarthy like the Flemings, but fair and light-haired like the English. From the coarse quality of the wine of the first vineyards which wo met with, I was led to suppose, that if the schemes for making wine from grapes grown in England should succeed, the wine would be of little value. But perhaps there may be something in the manner of preparing it, for the wine in the North of France is by no means unpleasant. I left the city of hardware, the Sheffield of the Netherlands, amongst good wishes of a pleasant journey from the Walloons, which somewhat softened my heart towards them. The country as far as dix la Chapelle is beautiful, divided by hedges, with Ledge-rows, with woods, field-paths, stiles, and villages, like the best and inland parts of England. The people were dressed in their best; I saw a great number turn out of a church: the men wore blue frocks, reaching down to the knee, like the Flemings and our butchers; and caps instead of hats, which distinguished them from our country-folks, but the women were exactly like our villagers, somewhat plain in their dress, but still their appearance was the same. I remarked that, like our women, most of them carried a prayer-book, bound, as with us, in red or black, the edges of the leaves smeared with brimstone, a rude and cheap mode of gilding; and that the book was folded in a clean pockethandkerchief, which is never used, but merely produced to show that the fair owner has such an article of superfluous luxury, and it is carefully laid by to be produced again in the like manner on the next Sunday. We had four horses, harnessed in pairs in the English fashion, but without bearing reins. On this road, as on all the others, there were plenty of beggars; the people gave to them liberally. It is a great bore to be tormented by them, and it is a great borc to pay the poor-rates. It may be a question, whether the exercise of actual almsgiving be not salutary to the giver. If I were obliged to live amongst bigots, (which would be a great evil,) I had rather live amongst bigots who held good works in repute, than amongst bigots who despise them, and stand entirely upon faith. (The remainder, embracing a route through Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, will

appeur in subsequent Numbers.)

THE TEMPLE OF BUTTERFLIES. Toe Chevalier de Boufflers, whom Delille characterised as “the • honour of kuighthood and the flower of Troubadours,” the erotic poet, the agreeable novelist, so long the delight of the salons of Paris, the true sage, who preferred the society of the Muses, and the happy independence without which it is difficult to obtain their favours, to the splendour of wealth or the glory of an illustrious name, was by turns an abbot, a colonel of hussars, a painter, an academician, a legislator, and, under all these characters, the most gay, careless, and witty of French cavaliers.

I was long acquainted with this highly-gifted man. I saw him in 1780 at the beautiful estate of Chantelour, near Amboise, whither the Duke de Choiseul, then an exile from the Court, attracted all the most distinguished men of France, whether for birth or merit. It was the focus of the most brilliant wits and beauties of the day. The Duchess de Choiseul, whose memory is still cherished on the lovely banks of the Loire, had a regard for the Chevalier de Boufflers which did her honour; he was her companion in her walks, in the chace, and still more frequently in ber visits to the cottages of the poor peasants, to whom this accomplished and excellent woman constantly administered comfort and assistance.

Madame de Choiseul, who was in her youth extremely intimate with Buffon, had imbibed from that celebrated man a strong taste for the observation of natural objects. Her library contained a complete collection of natural historians, ancient and modern; she was particu, larly fond of the study of Reaumur, who, though he does not, like Buffon, describe the beauties of nature in a style of rich 'and varied eloquence, displays more patient and accurate observation.

This delightful and exhaustless study had inspired Madame de Choiseul with a new and fanciful idea. Opposite to the windows of her own room she had erected a temple of gauze of antique form, and sheltered by an ample roof; during the summer she amused herself with collecting in this airy palace all the most beautiful butterflies of the country. A limpid brook flowed through the floor of turf, and the senses were feasted by the brilliant hues of the flowers, the refreshing coolness and the balmy perfume of the air.

The Duchess alone had a key of the Temple of Butterflies, which was peopled by the assiduity of the village girls of the neighbourhood. They strove, by presenting her with some new species, to obtain the privilege of speaking to their beloved and respected patroness, and

they were sure to receive a reward proportioned to the beauty and rarity of their offerings, so that the banks of the Cher and the Loire, and the extensive meadows which skirt them, were full of young girls, with gauze nets in their hands, breathless with the chace of their frail and beautiful prey.

Boufflers was frequently a witness to the Duchess's assiduous cares about her favourite temple. “ Chevalier,” said she to him, with an agreeable smile, “ I run no risk in introducing you among my butterflies, they will take you for one of themselves, and will not be frightened.”

On one occasion, when Madame de Choiseul was compelled by illness to keep her room for some weeks, she gave the key of her temple to the Chevalier, who found ample compensation for the trouble of his charge, in the pleasure of receiving the country girls who daily came to recruit the numerous family of butterflies. He encouraged them to talk about their rural sports, their love affairs, and all their little secrets; so that he was soon master of the chronicles of all the surrounding villages. In this way he frequently caught ideas and expressions with which he afterwards adorned his poems.

It was, however, remarked that Bouffiers almost always preferred the butterflies brought by the prettiest girls; his scrutiny turned rather upon their charming features, their natural and simple graces, than upon the objects it was his office to select. An engaging face, a graceful carriage, or a well-turned person, was pretty sure not to be rejected; he was not very rigorous in his examination, and he trusted that the same indulgence would be extended to him. Thus the beautiful temple declined in splendour; but fewer poor little girls went away disappointed; and the Duchess's bounty, passing through the easy hards of the Chevalier, was diffused more widely, and gladdened more hearts.

Among the villagers who came to offer Boufflers the fruits of their day's chace, he had frequently remarked a girl of abont fifteen, whose large deep blue eyes, jet black eyebrows, rosy and laughing mouth, graceful and easy carriage, and sweet, penetrating voice, realized the most poetical descriptions of rural beauty. To crown her attractions, he found that she was the daughter of a forester of Amboise, and that her name was Alina. This pretty name was the title of a tale of his which had been greatly admired. It may be imagined what an interest he took in this innocent and ingenuous girl, with what pleasure he rewarded her in the Duchess's name, and how eagerly he took advantage of the pretext afforded by the beauty of any of her butterflies to' double the gift, accompanying it with some protecting caress, sometimes even with a kiss, which Alina thought too great an honour to be resented. Boufflers soon drew from her the secrets of her guileless heart; he learnt how she loved Charles Verner, son of the keeper of the castle, but that his father opposed their union on account of the disparity of their fortune. Boufflers, who thought love levelled all distinctions, secretly resolved to serve the sweet Alina.

He sent for Charles Verner, found him worthy to be the possessor of so lovely a creature, and spoke in his behalf to the Duchess, who, wishing to have some fair pretext for contributing towards the marriage portion of the Chevalier's protégé, made it known in the neighbourhood, that at the end of the scason she would give a prize of twenty

five louis d'ors to the girl who had brought her the greatest number of rare and beautiful butterflies. The emulation excited among the young villagers may easily be imagined ; and whether it was that the fresh verdure of Alina's native forest of Amboise was propitious to her, or whether she was more agile and dexterous than the others, it fell out that she often presented Madame de Choiseul, through her kind protector, with the butterflies upon which Reaumur had fixed the highest value.

One day, when the Duke and Duchess, accompanied hy the numerous train of nobles and ladies who formed the usual society of Chanteloup, were walking in that part of the park bordering on the forest, Alina, with a gauze net in her hand, and panting for breath, came running joyously up to Bouffiers, and said to him, with that innocent familiarity he had encouraged in her: “Look, Monsieur de Chevalier, what do you think of my butterflies? you are such a fine judge of them.” This speech was susceptible of an application so curiously fitted to the known character of Boufflers, that every body laughed. He took the butterflies from Alina's hands, and told her they were really of a rare and most valuable kind; one, especially, which, with its four azure wings of enormous size, studded with flame-coloured eyes, and its long black proboscis, supplied the only deficiency in the temple, and completed the Duchess's immense collection. It was instantly decided that Alina had won the promised prize; she soon after received it from the hands of Madame de Choiseul, and Boufilers added a golden cross, which Alina promised to wear as long as she lived.

It was now the middle of autumn, and as the pleasures of Paris became daily more brilliant and inviting, the Chevalier de Boufflers could not resist their attractions, though he left the delightful abode of Chanteloup with regret. Before he went away he saw the sweet girl whose name, countenance, and disposition had so deeply interested him, and obtained from the father of her lover the promise that he would consent to their marriage as soon as Alina had a sufficient portion. He recommended her warmly to the Duchess's kindness, and departed for the capital. He was welcomed back to the society he adorned by bis wit, tempered as it was by grace and courtesy, and by the exhaustless fertility of his fancy.

A short time after, the Duke de Choiseul quitted a world in which he had exercised such vast power, and so courageously withstood his numerous enemies. His widow was compelled to sacrifice nearly the whole of her own fortune to pay the enormous debts contracted by her husband, who had outdone all the nobles of the court in magnificence. Sbe sold the estate of Chanteloup to the excellent Duke de Peuthièvre, and went to live at Paris, in the midst of her old friends. Alina, thus deprived of her illustrious patroness, lost all hope of being united to Charles Verner, whose father remained inflexible, and the young man, in a fit of desperation, enlisted in a regiment of dragoons. Boufflers heard of this. By a fortunate chance thc Colonel of the regiment was his near relative and friend, and Charles did so much credit to his recommendation, that he soon rosc to the rank of Maréchal des Logis. On his first leave of absence he hastened to Chantelour, where he found his beloved Alina provided

« 上一頁繼續 »