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sandy complexion, and the physiognomy and gestures of a monkey. His character corresponded to his outward lineaments; for he had all a monkey's busy and curious impertinence. Nevertheless, such as he was, the village Æsculapius strutted forth the little great man of Auteuil. The peasants looked up to him as to an oracle; he contrived to be at the head of everything, and laid claim to the credit of all public improvements in the village ; in fine, he was a great man on a small scale.
It was within the dingy walls of this little potentate's imperial palace that I chose my country residence.
I had a chamber in the second story, with a solitary window, which looked upon the street, and gave me a peep into a neighbor's garden. This I esteemed a great privilege ; for, as a stranger, I desired to see all that was passing out of doors; and the sight of green trees, though growing on another's ground, is always a blessing. Within doors — had I been disposed to quarrel with my household gods — I might have taken some objection to my neighborhood ; for on one side of me was a consumptive patient, whose graveyard cough drove me from my chamber by day; and on the other, an English colonel, whose incoherent ravings, in the delirium of a high and obstinate fever, often broke my slumbers by night; but I found ample amends for these inconveniences in the society of those who were so little indisposed as hardly to know what ailed them, and those who, in health themselves, had accompanied a friend or relative to the shades of the country in pursuit of it. To these I am indebted for much courtesy ; and particularly to one who, if these pages should ever meet her eye, will not, I hope, be unwilling to accept this slight memorial of a former friendship
It was, however, to the Bois de Boulogne that I looked for my principal recreation. There I took my solitary walk, morning and evening ; or, mounted on a little mouse-colored donkey, paced demurely along the woodland pathway. I had a favorite seat beneath the shadow of a venerable oak, one of the few hoary patriarchs of the wood which had survived the bivouacs of the allied armies. It stood upon the brink of a little glassy pool, whose tranquil bosom
was the image of a quiet and secluded life, and stretched its parental arms over a rustic bench, that had been constructed beneath it for the accommodation of the foot-traveller, or, perchance, some idle dreamer like myself. It seemed to look round with a lordly air upon its old hereditary domain, whose stillness was no longer broken by the tap of the martial drum, nor the discordant clang of arms; and, as the breeze whispered among its branches, it seemed to be holding friendly colloquies with a few of its venerable contemporaries, who stooped from the opposite bank of the pool, nodding gravely now and then, and gazing at themselves, with a sigh, in the mirror below.
In this quiet haunt of rural repose I used to sit at noon, hear the birds sing, and “possess myself in much quietness.” Just at my feet lay the little silver pool, with the sky and the woods painted in its mimic vault, and occasionally the image of a bird, or the soft, watery outline of a cloud, floating silently through its sunny hollows. The water-lily spread its broad, green leaves on the surface, and rocked to sleep a little world of insect life in its golden cradle. Sometimes a wandering leaf came floating and wavering downward, and settled on the water; then a vagabond insect would break the smooth surface into a thousand ripples, or a greencoated frog slide from the bank, and, plump! dive headlong to the bottom.
I entered, too, with some enthusiasm, into all the rural sports and merrimakes of the village. The holidays were so many little eras of mirth and good feeling ; for the French have that happy and sunshiny temperament -that merry-go-mad character — which renders all their social meetings scenes of enjoyment and hilarity. I made it a point never to miss any of the fêtes champêtres, or rural dances, at the wood of Boulogne; though I confess it sometimes gave me a momentary uneasiness to see my rustic throne beneath the oak usurped by a noisy group of girls, the silence and decorum of my imaginary realm broken by music and laughter, and, in a word, my whole kingdom turned topsy-turvy with romping, fiddling, and dancing. But I am naturally, and from principle, too, a lover of all those innocent amusements which cheer the laborer's
Etaient à bon marché
toil, and, as it were, put their shoulders to the wheel of life, and help the poor man along with his load of cares. Hence I saw with no small delight the rustic swain astride the wooden horse of the carrousel, and the village maiden whirling round and round in its dizzy car; or took my stand on a rising ground that overlooked the dance, an idle spectator in a busy throng. It was just where the village touched the outward border of the wood. There a little area had been levelled beneath the trees, surrounded by a painted rail, with a row of benches inside. The music was placed in a slight balcony, built around the trunk of a large tree in the centre; and the lamps, hanging from the branches above, gave a gay, fantastic, and fairy look to the scene. How often in such moments did I recall the lines of Goldsmith, describing those “ kinder skies" beneath which “ France displays her bright domain," and feel how true and masterly the sketch, “ Alike all ages ; dames of ancient days Have led their children through the mirthful maze, And the gray grandsire, skilled in gestic lore, Has frisked beneath the burden of threescore.”
Nor must I forget to mention the fête patronale, - a kind of annual fair, which is held at midsummer, in honor of the patron saint of Auteuil. Then the principal street of the vil. lage is filled with booths of every description ; strolling players, and rope - dancers, and jugglers, and giants, and dwarfs, and wild beasts, and all kinds of wonderful shows, excite the gaping curiosity of the throng; and in dust, crowds, and confusion, the village rivals the capital itself. Then the goodly dames of Passy descend into the village of Auteuil; then the brewers of Billancourt and the tanners of Sèvres dance lustily under the greenwood tree; and then, too, the sturdy fishmongers of Brétigny and Saint-Yon regale their wives with an airing in a swing, and their customers with eels and crawfish ; or, as is more poetically set forth in an old Christmas carol,
I found another source of amusement in observing the various personages that daily passed and repassed beneath my window. The character which most of all arrested my attention was a poor blind fiddler, whom I first saw chanting a doleful ballad at the door of a small tavern near the gate of the village. He wore a brown coat, out at elbows, the fragment of a velvet waistcoat, and a pair of tight nankeen trousers, so short as hardly to reach below his calves. A little foraging-cap, that had long since seen its best days, set off an open, goodhumored countenance, bronzed by sun and wind. He was led about by a brisk, middleaged woman, in straw hat and wooden shoes ; and a little barefooted boy, with clear, blue eyes
and flaxen hair, held a tattered hat in his hand, in which he collected eleemosynary
The old fellow had a favorite song, which he used to sing with great glee to a merry, joyous air, the burden of which ran, “Chantons l'amour et le plaisir !” I often thought it would have been a good lesson for the crabbed and discontented rich man to have heard this remnant of humanity, - poor, blind, and in rags, and dependent upon casual charity for his daily bread, singing in so cheerful a voice the charms of existence, and, as it were, fiddling life away to a merry tune.
I was one morning called to my window by the sound of rustic music. I looked out and beheld a procession of villagers advancing along the road, attired in gay dresses, and marching merrily on in the direction of the church. I soon perceived that it was a marriage-festival. The procession was led by a long orang-outang of a man, in a straw hat and white dimity bob-coat, playing on an asthmatic clarionet, from which he contrived to blow unearthly sounds, ever and anon squeaking off at right angles from his tune, and winding up with a grand flourish on the guttural notes, Behind him, led by his little boy, came the blind fiddler, his honest features glowing with all the hilarity of a rustic bridal, and as
“ Vous eussiez vu venir
Tous ceux de Saint-Yon, Et ceux de Brétigny
Apportant du poisson, Les barbeaux et gardons,
Anguilles et carpettes
he stumbled along, sawing away upon his fiddle till he made all crack again. Then came the happy bridegroom, dressed in his Sunday suit of blue, with a large nosegay in his button-hole; and close beside him his blushing bride, with downcast eyes, clad in a white robe and slippers, and wearing a wreath of white roses in her hair. The friends and relatives brought up the procession ; and a troop of village urchins came shouting along in the rear, scrambling among themselves for the largess of sous and sugar-plums that now and then issued in large handfuls from the pockets of a lean man in black, who seemed to officiate as master of ceremonies on the occasion. I gazed on the procession till it was out of sight; and when the last wheeze of the clarionet died upon my ear, I could not help thinking how happy were they who were thus to dwell together in the peaceful bosom of their native village, far from the gilded misery and the pestilential vices of the town.
On the evening of the same day, I was sitting by the window, enjoying the freshness of the air and the beauty and stillness of the hour, when I heard the distant and solemn hymn of the Catholic burial-service, at first so faint and indistinct that it seemed an illusion. It rose mournfully on the hush of evening, died gradually away, — then ceased. Then it rose again, nearer and more distinct, and soon after a funeral procession appeared, and passed directly beneath my window. It was led by a priest, bearing the banner of the church, and followed by two boys, holding long flambeaux in their hands. Next came a double file of priests in their surplices, with a missal in one hand and a lighted wax taper in the other, chanting the funeral dirge at intervals, — now pausing, and then again taking up the mournful burden of their lamentation, accompanied by
others, who played upon a rude kind of bassoon, with a dismal and wailing sound. Then followed various symbols of the church, and the bier borne on the shoulders of four men. The coffin was covered with a velvet pall, and a chaplet of white flowers lay upon it, indicating that the deceased was unmarried. A few of the villagers came behind, clad in mourning robes, and bearing lighted tapers. The procession passed slowly along the same street that in the morning had been thronged by the gay bridal company. A melancholy train of thought forced itself home upon my mind. The joys and sorrows of this world are so strikingly mingled! Our mirth and grief are brought so mournfully in contact! We laugh while others weep, — and others rejoice when we are sad! The light heart and the heavy walk side by side and go about together! Beneath the same roof are spread the weddingfeast and the funeral-pall! The bridal-song mingles with the burial-hymn! One goes to the marriage-bed, another to the grave; and all is mutable, uncertain, and transitory.
It is with sensations of pure delight that I recur to the brief period of my existence which was passed in the peaceful shades of Auteuil. There is one kind of wisdom which we learn from the world, and another kind which can be acquired in solitude only. In cities we study those around us; but in the retirement of the country we learn to know ourselves. The voice within us is more distinctly audible in the stillness of the place; and the gentler affections of our nature spring up more freshly in its tranquillity and sunshine, — nurtured by the healthy principle which we inhale with the pure air, and invigorated by the genial influences which descend into the heart from the quiet of the sylvan solitude around, and the soft serenity of the sky above.
Death lies on her, like an untimely frost
"DEAR mother, is it not the bell I hear ?”
“Yes, my child ; the bell for morning prayers. It is Sunday to-day.”
"I had forgotten it. But now all days are alike to me. Hark! it sounds again, — louder, - louder. Open the window, for I love the sound. The sunshine and the fresh morning air revive me. And the church - bell, – 0 mother, -it reminds me of the holy Sunday mornings by the Loire, — so calm, so hushed, so beautiful! Now give me my prayer-book, and draw the curtain back, that I may see the green trees and the church-spire. I feel better to-day, dear mother.”
It was a bright, cloudless morning in August. The dew still glistened on the trees; and a slight breeze wafted to the sick-chamber of Jacqueline the song of the birds, the rustle of the leaves, and the solemn chime of the church-bells. She had been raised up in bed, and, reclining upon the pillow, was gazing wistfully upon the quiet scene without. Her mother gave her the prayer-book, and then turned away
to hide a tear that stole down her cheek.
At length the bells ceased. Jacqueline crossed herself, kissed a pearl crucifix that hung around her neck, and opened the silver clasps of her missal. For a time she seemed wholly absorbed in her devotions. moved, but no sound was audible. At intervals the solemn voice of the priest was heard at a distance, and then the confused responses of the congregation, dying away in inarticulate murmurs. Ere long the thrilling chant of the Catholic service broke upon the ear. At first it was low, solemn, and indistinct; then it became more earnest and entreating, as if interceding and imploring pardon for sin ; and then arose louder and louder, full, harmonious, majestic, as it wafted the song of praise to heaven
and suddenly ceased. Then the sweet tones of the organ were heard, — trembling, thrill
ing, and rising higher and higher, and filling the whole air with their rich, melodious music. What exquisite accords ! — what noble harmonies ! — what touching pathos ! The soul of the sick girl seemed to kindle into more ardent devotion, and to be rapt away to heaven in the full, harmonious chorus, as it swelled onward, doubling and redoubling, and rolling upward in a full burst of rapturous devotion! Then all was hushed again. Once more the low sound of the bell smote the air, and announced the elevation of the host. The invalid seemed entranced in prayer. Her book had fallen beside her, — her hands were clasped, closed, — her soul retired within its secret chambers. Then a more triumphant peal of bells arose. The tears gushed from her closed and swollen lids; her cheek was flushed; she opened her dark eyes, and fixed them with an expression of deep adoration and penitence upon an image of the Saviour on the cross, which hung at the foot of her bed, and her lips again moved in prayer. Her countenance expressed the deepest resignation. She seemed to ask only that she might die in peace, and go to the bosom of her Redeemer.
The mother was kneeling by the window, with her face concealed in the folds of the curtain. She arose, and going to the bedside of her child, threw her arms around her and burst into tears.
My dear mother, I shall not live long; I feel it here. This piercing pain, - at times it seizes me, and I cannot cannot breathe.”
“My child, you will be better soon.”
“ Yes, mother, I shall be better soon. All tears, and pain, and sorrow will be over. The hymn of adoration and entreaty I have just heard, I shall never hear again on earth. Next Sunday, mother, kneel again by that window as to-lay. I shall not be here, upon this bed of pain and sickness; but when you hear the solemn hymn of worship, and the beseeching