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champions were to come prancing by you | Constable fought Thomas of Canterbury in full armor on the highway. It was in for entrapping his brother during a tempothe chateau of Kerduel that King Arthur rary truce; and the Church of St. Sauheld a magnificent court, surrounded by veur, where his proud heart is preserved, the flower of his chivalry, Lancelot, Tris- after having run more hazards, dead and tan, Ywain, and the rest; with his fair alive, than any other heart ever outlasted. Queen Gwenarc'han and the beautiful Amongst such recollections as these, the Brangwain. The old chateau is gone, but a Breton peasant draws his first breath. His modern one stands in its place, and the earliest experiences are linked with the rename and all the memories associated with liques of the feudal ages. His boyhood is it are still reverently preserved. By the passed amongst ruins, dignified with awful way, the Breton antiquaries are very an-names and shadowy histories. His life is gry with us for changing the name of elevated and saddened by them. He steps Gwenarc'han, which means white as silver, in the daylight mournfully amongst them, to Guenever, in which its etymology is and he shudders and cowers as he passes lost; and for altering Brangwain into them at night. He has no books, no social Brangier. The reproach is probably just intercourse except amongst people like enough; but in their zeal to appropriate himself, and then only upon occasions that Arthur and his court all to themselves, admit of no play of the social feelings. they insist upon burying his majesty in the This is exactly the man to be affected by aisle of Agalon or Avalon, near this cha- the vague terrors of solitude; to see weird teau, instead of allowing him to repose in faces in the woods; to track the demons the island of that name in Somersetshire, of the storm in the clouds on the mountain where our minstrels interred him long ago. tops; to hear the shrieks of wandering We will give up the etymology of the in-spirits; to believe implicitly in omens and continent queen, if they will only leave us the bones of the king. This Breton island, we may add, was the favorite resort of Morgain, celebrated in the chronicles as a fairy and sister of Merlin the enchanter, but who was in reality a renowned priestess of the Druids.

presages, and supernatural visitations. The church seizes him up in his dreamy fears, and completes his subjugation. His whole existence is one long superstition.

Let us look at the actual life of these people for a moment, before we approach the imaginative aspect of their character.

It is here also, in this storied Brittany, The peasantry of Basse-Bretagne are that we tread upon the sites of many fear- generally short in stature, with ungainly ful tragedies and strange deeds narrated bodies, thick black hair, bushy beards, large by Froissart and Monstrelet, and others: lumpish shoulders, and a fixed expression Beaumanoir, where Fontenelle de Ligueur of seriousness in their eyes. There is as used to disembowel young girls to warm marked a difference in the special charachis feet in their blood;-Carrec, where teristics of particular districts, as there is they show the mysterious pits in which a in their costume; although the general deDuke of Bretagne hid the golden cradle scription of frankness and fidelity, coldness of his son;-Guillac, where the Combat of and indolence, credulity and ignorance, the Thirty took place, that extraordinary will apply with equal correctness to them fight towards the close of which Geoffrey all. The obstinacy of the Bretons has de Blois replied to Robert de Beaumanoir passed into a proverb in France. They when, exhausted by wounds and faint with make capital soldiers or sailors, but, left to thirst, he asked for a respite to obtain a themselves, fall into phantasies and idledrink, "Boy de ton sang, ta soif se pas-ness. Love of country showing itself in sera;"the old Château of Kertaouarn, with the most passionate excess, is a permanent its portcullis yet gaping, and its dripping dungeons still exhibiting the enormous beam loaded with rings to which the seigneur used to chain his prisoners, where the whistling of the winds in the subterranean passages is believed to be the moaning of the souls of unshrived coiners who return to their desperate work at sunset ;-the Château de la Roche, where the lord of Rhe found the Constable du Guesclin carving a boar into portions for his neighbors; --and the Square in Dinan, where the same

attribute of the national character. Bretons have never been known to seek the favor of the Court. They have always abhorred the contagion of offices and public employment: and this feeling exists so strongly even amongst the lowest classes, that a Breton peasant, after a service of twelve or fifteen years in the army or navy, always returns to the scenes of his boyhood, and lapses back again at once into his original habits-as if the interval had passed in a trance!

The inhabitants of Cornouaille, embracing | through a succession of funerals: in Corthe districts lying between Morlaix and nouaille through bridal feasts. Corhaix, in the department of Finisterre, are distinguished by some striking peculiarities. Their costume is composed of the liveliest colors, bordered with brilliant loops. They frequently embroider the fronts of their coats with the date when it was made, or the name of the tailor, wrought in various colored wools. In the mountains, the breeches are worn short and tight, and equally fit for the dance or the combat; but towards Quimper they expand into huge cumbrous trousers, that fall about their legs and embarrass all their movements. An old author says, that the nobility imposed this inconvenient dress upon them, that they might not stride too fast in the march of revolution! Their hats, not very large, and surrounded by a raised border, are ornamented with ribbons of a thousand gay colors, producing a very picturesque effect as they flutter in the wind. The mountaineers wear a girdle of leather, fastened by a copper buckle, over their working-dresses of quilted linen. The costume of the women is composed of a similar variety of vivid colors, at once sprightly and graceful, and not unlike the dresses of the peasantry in the neighborhood of Berne. The life of these people is in keeping with their gaudy apparel, and forms a remarkable contrast to the sombre aspect of the population elsewhere.

Morbihan and the Côtes-du-Nord recall still more emphatically the aspect and temperament of the middle ages. The peasantry in the neighborhood of Vannes are of the unmistakeable lineage of the old feudal races. Turbulent and choleric, they are always either fighting or drinking, frequently both. On the least excitement, they will grind their teeth and shake with violent emotions. All their evil passions are called into fierce activity by their hatred of the bourgeois. The Breton peasant has an invincible horror of modern notions, of the airs of fine breeding, the etiquette, taste, and manners of the towns. He glories in his rough candor, his vigorous arm, and his blouse. Even the richest farmer rarely aspires to the grandeur of cloth, and considers himself well off if he can wear shoes four months in the year; while the poor never ascend above coarse linen and sabots, and are often compelled to dispense with the latter. Their jealousy of the bourgeois is a natural corollary from their circumstances; but they have other and profounder reasons for disliking them-the instinctive sense of the superiority of their education, and the knowledge of the contempt with which they regard the old usages and traditions of the country. A Breton never forgives a slight offered to the objects of his habitual reverence. It The people of Léon, in the same depart- is a part of the superstitions of our univerment, are of grave and solemn manners: sal nature to defend with the greatest pereven their festivities are under the control tinacity those canons which we have ourof this natural severity, and their dance it- selves taken for granted, and for which we self is stiff, severe, and monotonous. Their can assign no better grounds than the precold and rigorous exterior, however, con- judices of custom. This smouldering feud ceals a volcano. Their life, like that in-between the large towns and the rural deed of the Bretons generally, is folded up within themselves, and is expressed with singular propriety in their dismal costume. A Léon peasant sails along in a floating black dress, large and loose, and confined at the waist by a red or blue girdle, which only makes its melancholy the more palpable; the border of his great hat rolling back over his sun-burnt features, and his profuse hair falling thickly down his shoulders. The women are not less lugubrious in their appearance, and might easily be mistaken for the religieuses who attend the hospitals. Their dress, plain black and white, is equally ample and modest. It is only when they go into mourning that they affect any thing like gaiety. On such occasions they dress in sky-blue from head to foot. They wear mourning for the living, not for the dead. In Léon, you move

population, marks very distinctly the boundary between the Breton masses, and the rest of the people. Nothing can be more dissimilar than the modes of thinking of individuals disengaged from the primitive habits of the soil, and congregated together in the stirring occupations of commerce, and the native population still haunting the pastures of their ancestors, and inheriting their manners.

The intercourse with the towns is too

slight to produce any sensible modifications of the popular characteristics. In the Côtes-du-Nord you meet country gentlemen speaking nothing but Breton, and attending the session of the States at Rennes in the dress of peasants; in sabots, with swords by their sides. The Bretons know nothing of governments or parties. They are never mixed up in the fugitive politics of the

[SEPT. country. They live and die, and there an [jects become converted by the imagination end. Their lives are passed in a tranquil into mysterious phantoms, exaggerated and routine, without change or trouble; pre-fearfully embellished by the terrors they senting no varieties of pleasure or employ-inspire. Unlike the peasantry of other ment beyond the little assemblages of their countries, the Bretons are dispersed over arrondissements, the jousts of holidays, and the soil in solitary farms, never forming the gossip of the fireside. A match of themselves into villages or societies. The bowls under the yew trees in summer, or want of constant inter-communication, penny picquet in winter, gives them more which elsewhere preserves the faculties pause for thought than wars or regicides. from that rust which eats in upon them in They believe, with Pope, that "whatever loneliness-that self-consuming moodiness is, is best ;" and they hunt the doctrine to which the ancients described under the the extremity of fatalism. They yield a image of a man feeding upon his own heart passive obedience to the principles of Good-leaves them an incessant prey to their and Evil. Whatever happens, either way, heated and unregulated fancy. As in certhey ascribe to God or the Devil. Upon tain styles of art, where the fertile invention questions of public policy, they neither ex- of the painter is unrestrained either by the press an opinion, nor feel any interest. It limits of nature or the laws of taste, (such would be impossible to inflame them into a as the arabesque, for example,) we see all revolution about such matters. But assail manner of complex monsters, centaurs, their traditional rights, and the whole popu- griffins, and chimeras, dimly revealed lation is in the field. The only instance in through an indescribable confusion of which the Bretons were ever known to com- tracery; so, in the phantasmagoria conbine for a common purpose, was when an jured up by the poor Breton, uninformed attempt was made, while the cholera was by knowledge and uncontrolled by judgraging, to inter those who died of that dis-ment, we discover all sorts of extravagant ease in detached cemeteries, for the preser-illusions mingled in a bewildering chaos of vation of the public health. The peasantry types and images. repudiated the doctrine of infection. The The lonely farm-houses of the Bretons dead cannot kill the living, was their excla- betray at once their extreme poverty, and mation: death comes only by the will of that negligence of personal comforts which God. Piety towards the dead is a senti- always marks the condition of a people ment common to all primitive communi- given up to the oppressive doctrine of neties; but the Bretons carry it out to an ex- cessity, and the reveries of superstition. cess of romantic tenderness. They believe The farm-house, built on the naked earth, that the dead are conscious of their locality, without cellerage, but sometimes with a and that they lie in their graves like sen- scanty granary overhead, is the residence tient creatures listening to high mass and of the family and the cattle. The stable is the supplications of their friends! "The generally at the end of the habitation, disouls of our fathers dwell here," they cried, vided from the principal apartment by a "far away in the cemetery they will no partition wall, with a door communicating longer hear the chants of the service, nor from the one to the other. In many inthe intercession of relatives. This is their stances this partition is only breast high: place we can see their tombs from our amongst the poorest class, men and beasts windows, we can send our children to pray herd together. The furniture is en suite— beside them in the twilight. This ground beds, formed out of a sort of narrow chest, is the property of the dead: no power can in which the sleeper is nearly stifled; a tatake it from them, or change it for another." ble, opposite the only entrance, along the It was with great difficulty the priests could sides of which run rude benches, brightenpersuade them that the dead were insensi-ed with lard; a dresser, on which are ble to their cares; an innovation upon their established creed, which caused them no small astonishment, and sent them home troubled and perplexed with profound wonder.

ranged wooden or earthen bowls, delf plates, large spoons, and scoured basins; a wooden clock; a trough near the fire;— a box for keeping eggs, milk, and butter; a recess, with an image of the Virgin in The isolation of the Bretons is peculiarly delf, dressed gaily on fete days, and at the favorable to the nurture of such fantastic sides, or hung between the beds, two or ideas. Their way of life seems to keep three images of Saint Anne, or Saint Genethem perpetually hovering between physi-vieve of Brabant. Upon the table lies a cal and spiritual existences. They live in knife, shaped like a sythe, and a black a sort of mental gloamin', in which real ob- loaf, covered with a cloth, over which is

placed a mat for the purpose of protecting miraculous cures, and ominous appearthe bread from the smoke, and from the ances; how stay-pins may be dropped into clouds of flies which the close neighbor- certain fountains, to ascertain whether hood of the stables brings through the open their anxious owners will be married in door in the warm season. The fireside is the next year; how a bevy of young girls the grand centre of attraction, with benches gathered, for a like purpose, on a certain at each side of the hearth, and the inside bridge on St. Michael's day; what crowds of the chimney garnished with an enormous of young men came to that beauty fair, pot-hook, trevets, gridiron, and pans. full of hope and curiosity; and how many Around this fireside, by the light of a re- marriages ensued thereupon. To such sin torch, fastened in a block of wood, the prattle as this, the peasants listen with delaborer and his children sit throughout light; but it is when the mendicant relates the long winter evenings, relating legends, a complete story, in all the artful pomp of or talking under their breath about appari- circumstantial details, that they crouch tions, or the voices of the dead that come wailing to them on the night-winds.

In front of these farm-houses there are, invariably, accumulating heaps that urgently remind the traveller of similar loathsome mounds he has observed at the doors of hovels in Ireland. Nor is this the only point of resemblance. When a stranger enters the humble dwelling, he exclaims, Que Dieu bênisse ceux qui sont ici! This is, word for word, the Irish greeting of "God bless all here!"

round him in the winter nights, palpitating with mixed terror and expectation, while the howling storm without, to which they assign so many significant meanings, imparts a savage wildness to the scene.

Souvestre gives us a specimen of these narratives, which it may not be uninteresting to transcribe. When a ing to transcribe. It loses, unavoidably, much of its original energy by being dilut ed from the wild imagerial Breton language into the French; and must suffer still more in our English version. But we have endeavored to preserve as close a verbal resemblance as the genius of our phraseology would admit. The mendicant begins by crossing himself, and invoking a solemn blessing, hoping that the young women will profit by his narrative, and then breaks at once into the history.

THE WINDING-SHEET.

Hospitality-the virtue, as it has been somewhat sneeringly designated, of savage life-prevails in its fullest development amongst the Bretons. The traveller may approach the wide-spread door with confidence, assured of a hearty welcome. The sight indeed of a stranger is always an event of interest to these insulated rustics, and he is instantly seated in the place of honor to dine with the family. The moment he enters they offer him a pitcher of cider, and if he refuses to drink they regard it as an insult, which they never forBut bad counsels had ruined her. Rose had give. Rank, or money, has no influence become as unstable as a straw, blown about at over this free and cordial reception. The the pleasure of the wind, dreaming only of parpoorest man is as bounteously treated as dons, flattery, and fine dresses. the richest; and, of all classes, none are longer seen at the church, nor at the confes so joyously hailed as the wandering mensional: at the hour of vespers she walked with dicants. The moment one of these gossips glected to pray over the grave of her mother. her lovers, and, even at La Toissant, she neappears in sight, the whole household. God punishes the wicked, my children. Liscrowd round him eagerly to hear his budg-ten to the story of Rose-le-Fur, of Plouescat.

et of news.

There was formerly at Plouescat a young girl, called Rose-le-Fur, beautiful as the dawn be who has just left her convent. of day, and full of spirit as a young girl should

She was no

One evening, very late, she had been at a The mendicant is, in fact, a very import- wake far from her own home, listening to the ant character in Brittany. He is the car-melancholy dirges round the fireside. She was rier-general of all sorts of intelligence, the alone, humming to herself a song which she Gazette des Tribunaux of the department: reached the cemetery, and flew up the steps as had just learned from a young Roscovite. She conveys letters and love messages, helps gaily as a bird in May. in negotiating proposals, sings popular songs, which he frequently composes him. self, for he is the bard of Lower Brittany, and adds to the rest of his functions the still higher character of a nomade novelist. His voluminous gossip, when he gets ensconsed by the chimney-corner, refers to all the tittle-tattle of the country side; the VOL. III. No. I. 5

At that instant, THE CLOCK STRUCK TWELVE! But the young girl thought only of the handsome Roscovite, who had taught her the song. She made no sign of the cross; she murmured no prayer for those who slept beneath her feet; of an infidel. she traversed the holy place with the hardihood

She was already opposite the door of the church, when, throwing her eyes around her,

she saw that over every tomb was spread a white sheet, held at the four corners by four black stones. She stopped. At this moment she was beside the grave of her mother. But instead of feeling a holy fear, possessed by a demon Rose stooped, seized the winding-sheet which covered the grave, and carried it with her to her own house.

She went to bed, and her eyes were soon closed; but a horrible dream convulsed her slumbers.

She thought she was lying in a cemetery. A tomb was open before her, from which a skeleton hand was thrust out, and a voice cried, Give me back my winding-sheet! give me back my winding-sheet! and at the same time she felt herself drawn towards the tomb by an invisible power. She awoke with a shriek. Three times she slept, and three times she had the same dream. When morning came, Rose-le-Fur, with terror in her heart and eyes, ran to the rector,* and related to him all that had happened.

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The general character of these recitations may be gathered from this example; but, to make the illusion perfect, we want the agitated group of frightened women and children, clinging to each other round mime and solemnly inflected voice of the the flickering fire, and the earnest pantotattered man, whose attitudes and accents fill them with such speechless fear.

She made her confession, and wept over her faults, for she felt then that she had sinned. The rector was a true apostle, good to the poor, But the mendicant, prominent as the and mild of speech. He said to her, "Daughter, part is which he plays on these occasions, you have profaned the tomb; this evening, at is eclipsed in importance and popularity midnight, go to the cemetery, and restore the winding-sheet to the place from whence you

took it."

Poor Rose began to weep. All her boldness was gone; but the rector said, "Be of good courage; I shall be in the church praying for you; you will hear my voice near you."

by an individual indigenous to Brittany, whose multiplex labors and versatile capacity entitle him to a separate and distinguished niche in the portrait-gallery of her historical characters. This individual is no other than the tailor: but such a tailor ap-realized in Bond-street. as was never dreamt of in May-fair, or

The young girl promised to do as the priest desired her. When night came, at the pointed hour, she repaired to the cemetery. Her limbs trembled beneath her, and every thing seemed to be in a whirl before her eyes. As she entered, the moon was suddenly obscured,

and the clock struck twelve !

For some moments all was silent. Then the rector said, with a loud voice, “Daughter, where are you? Take courage, I am praying for you!"

"I am beside the tomb of my mother," answered a feeble voice in the darkness; "father,

abandon me not!"

All was again silent. "Take courage, I am praying for you!" repeated the priest, with a loud voice.

"Father, I see the tombs opening, and the dead rising" This time the voice was so weak, that you might have believed it came from a great distance.

"Take courage!" repeated the good priest. "Father! father!" murmured the voice, more and more faintly, "they are spreading

their winding-sheets over the tombs. Father,

abandon me not!"

"Daughter, I am praying for you. What do

you see?"

"I see the tomb of my mother, who is rising. She comes! she comes! Father"

The priest bent forward to listen; but he could only catch a remote and inexplicable All of a sudden a cry was heard; a

murmur.

*The Breton name for the curé of a parish.

The Breton tailor is a complicated man in mind and person. Generally cross-made, lame, and humpbacked, red hair and a violent squint would complete the beau ideal of the class. The reason assigned for these peculiarities is, that the profession is embraced only by persons of weakly growth, although it is very difficult to conceive how such persons could perform the varied and toilsome offices monopolized by the craft. The tailor rarely marries, scarcely ever has a house of his own, and lives abroad like the birds or the wild goats. The men hold him in contempt on account of his effeminacy; but he finds an ample compensation in the ardor of the women. He seldom dines at the same table with the men; but when they are gone, a dozen glittering fair hands lay out a cozy repast for him. The source of his influence lies in his wheedling tongue. He is an eternal chatterbox, a consummate master of the art of flattery, is au fait at the whole finesse of flirtation, and can others, although never for himself. His coquet and coax with unfailing success for individual exemption on this score gives him a sort of license with the fair sex; for a pretty girl may listen with impunity to

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