« AnteriorContinuar »
poor servant girl to whom, on the 11th of December 1845, the French Academy awarded a prize of three thousand francs (£120).
PIERRE BÉCARD. PIERRE FRANCOIS JOSEPH BÉCARD was a servant in the household of the Marquis de Stinfort, a nobleman who lived towards the close of the last century, and resided in the town of Arras, in the north-eastern part of France. Among the many persons of rank who visited the marquis, a gentleman and lady named De Chavilhac were the most assiduous. Madame de Chavilhae, who was of a kind and amiable disposition, found opportunities of noticing Bécard's good conduct and respectful demeanour; she spoke of him with praise to his master, and was the indirect means of ameliorating his condition.
In the year 1793, at the epoch of the Revolution, the Marquis de Stinfort was imprisoned. Bécard showed himself a most devoted servant to his master; but this was a misfortune which he had no power of remedying. The atrocious Lebon was then master of Arras, and sent his victims to the guillotine with the sound of music. The marquis was condemned after a mock trial, and perished on the scaffold. In the meantime, Monsieur de Chavilhac had also become a prisoner, and in going to visit his master, Bécard had several times met Madame de Chavilhac. A sort of intimacy had thus sprung up between the lady and the servant, whose poverty and obscurity now proved his greatest blessing, since they insured his safety. Monsieur de Chavilhac was, however, fortunate enough to escape the guillotine; and although much reduced in fortune, he continued to reside in Arras with his wife, who entertained a grateful recollection of the sympathy Bécard had shown her. But soon after his master's death and Monsieur de Chavilhac's liberation, Bécard left his native town for Paris, and for many years neither he nor Madame de Chavilhac heard any more of one another.
In 1812 this lady became a widow, and by the death of her husband was left entirely destitute. Several large sums were due to him by government, and she came to Paris in the hope of recovering them. In this she unfortunately proved unsuccessful. The expenses of the journey and of her stay had exhausted her resources, and she was reduced to great misery, when she met Bécard, who was then a hawker in the streets, and nearly as poor as herself. Madame de Chavilhac, who was well acquainted with his honesty and native goodness of heart, did not endeayour to conceal from him the state of distress into which she had fallen; she, on the contrary, confided to him both the object of her journey and its unfortunate consequences, asking his advice and assistance. Bécard could give her little or no advice by which to regulate her conduct, but assisted her to the utmost
2.SINI YOYI/OM IRT
extent of his means, and that
little he had torinis power to perform. 29404195 to JIH bis 90. an unib (IA2 Grief and misery had impaired the health of Madame de Chat ac' she soon fell into a very declining
ng state, and all her resources being exhausted, she became wholly dependent on the charity of Bécard. Notwithstanding his own poverty, and the vélyi slight claims she had on him, he could not bring himself to abandon her in this distress, büt, moved with compassion, resolved those
to the Paris
poor, their names being inscribed on a register, they each receive either a certain sum monthly or an allowance of food. Bécard, with the delicacy of real charity, guessed that Madame de Chavilhac could never submit to the mortification of having
her name thus publicly exposed; and although he was not without his own share of honest pride, yet, to spare her feelings, and afford her relief, he gladly consented to undergo the humiliation of asking and res ceiving álms.
by this Was brilya small portion of brown
yn and need Madame de Chavilhac, he ate white bread for her. Was this all. He soon began to per ceive that it was in vain self by the little he earned, and which had proved be resource to hope to support both her and him
sufficient for his this er on maintenance before he met her. One! alone remained, and this was to 's
solicit alms in the streets. Bécard'hesitated long; his very soul 'revolted from the idea; but the sight of the unhappy lady gave him the courage which might otherwise have failed him he became a beggar.
Biation for more than a short time. He was obliged to give úp the attempt; and as his trade of a hawker had not proved sufficiently profitable, he resolved to the world under a new aspect. By straining every nerve, he as a buyer and seller of old clothes ; about the streets for this
purpose during the whole day, he made but little by this new trade, and that little was expended on Madame de Chavilhac. Yet Bécard, if not satisfied, was resigned to his fate. His hapless friend was not in absolute want and though he had to endure the severest privations in order to
ve, the contrived to do 'so' without having again recourse to mendicity.
Several years passed thus, during which Madame de Chavilhac had continued to be in the same precarious state of health, when, worke, and indeed was so hat, that evene became montere aimed mint hopes of her recovery. "Before long, he was obliged to watch
try teceeded in setting up
THE MONTYON PRIZES.
posoul96 has, 229alat19919 sdiiy tedt bre 201690 zid to toetx9 by her bedside during the whole of the night, and, notwith, standing his fatigue and want of repose, to go out early in thermorning in order to attend ţo his business, but, un
unwilling that the sick woman should
remain alone during
his absence, he prevailed on a
a female neighbour to attend to her wants in the daytime. Bécard himself
call in during the course of the day, either to know how the patient was getting ion, or to bring sery, medicines. And yet, at this very time he was an intim and asthmatig old
man, himself in need of repose, and suffering under prixations, of every kind in order to relieve the hapless lady His whole sustenance throughout the day was thin porridges Yet, although he thus sacrificed everything for Madame de Chaz vilhac's comfort, he never uttered a murmur of complaint. When he spoke to her, it was always with the deep respect of a servant addressing his mistress. Her least commands he scrupulously obeyed, and notwithstanding that her temper had been considerably soured by her misfortunes and infirmities, he bore her unjust reproofs and caprices with a patience which could only spring from true Christian charity d bo9, nord to Toittoa hora Ten days before
her death, he found her so much worse, that, notwithstanding his own pressing wants, he resolved to remain entirely with her, and give up the little business by which he had hitherto supported himself. With the most heroic patience and devotedness he thus stayed with the unfortunate lady, soothing her last moments with the consolations of friendship and religion, until the acute sufferings she endured were termi
He who alone had watched by her in her agony, was also the only one who followed Madame de Chavilhac to the grave; and,
hands a such as marks every grave in Catholic countries, inscribing on it the name of her who, in the days of her riches and splendour, little deemed that the poor and obscure Bécard should be her last and only friend.
The very same year Bécard, who was pursuing his trade of seller of old clothes, was surprised by the announcement that the French Academy, having learned his conduct towards Madame de Chavilhac, had voted him one of the medals distributed that year,. The sum he thus received was of the greatest use to him, enabling him to begin a small but more lucrative business than that he had hitherto followed, and in which he proved entirely successful.
EUSTACHE. EUSTACAE, a poor negro slave, was born in the year 1773, on a plantation situated in the northern part of the island of St Domingo, and belonging to a rich proprietor named Monsieur
Belin de Villeneuve. This gentleman, who was of a kind and humane disposition, soon noticed the industry and zeal for the accomplishment of his duties by which, even when a child, Eustache was strikingly characterised; and no less to indulge in the natural benevolence of his heart, than to reward the good qualities of his young slave, he treated him with even more than the usual kindness which marked his deportment towards his companions.
This conduct made a deep impression upon Eustache. He became' most ardently attached to his master, and persevered in his good behaviour-this being then the only means in his power of showing his gratitude. As he grew up to manhood, Eustache was intrusted with an important post on his master's plantations of sugar-cane. In this office he not only displayed his usual zeal, but also a considerable degree of acuteness and intelligence. Like other slaves, Eustache was devoid of even the ordinary principles of an elementary education ; he knew neither how to read nor write. It does not appear that he endeavoured to supply this deficiency in his instruction; his daily pursuits, doubtless, left him little time to spare; it may also be, that knowledge appeared to him in a merely secondary light, and not as the most important basis of all human happiness, and even of virtue. Monsieur Belin seems to have viewed the matter under the same aspect, since, notwithstanding his kindness to Eustache, he did no more for him in this respect than for his companions. Little did he then think of what importance, even to him, it might one day be that Eustache the slave should know how to read.
But although Monsieur Belin so far owned the deeply-rooted prejudices of caste as to allow Eustache to remain in this state of ignorance, it is but justice to add, that he ever endeavoured to instil into his mind the maxims of virtue, and of a cheerful and simple, but sincere piety. Eustache faithfully adhered to these instructions; and the integrity, as well as the touching earnestness and simplicity of his character, secured to him the merited esteem of all. His disposition, though mild, was thoughtful, and led him carefully to avoid the society of such among his fellow-slaves as were of vicious or intemperate habits, whilst it made him eagerly seek that of white men, in the hope of gathering from their conversation some useful knowledge.
Eustache was not yet twenty, when the insurrection of the blacks broke out in St Domingo. As ample details concerning this event, its causes and consequences, have already been given in a preceding number of this series, * we will now merely allude to it, so as to render the facts narrated intelligible to the reader.
The great cruelties exercised by the planters on their slaves
* No. 57, entitled "Toussaint L'Ouverture and the Republic of Hayti.".. occasioned the most fearful retaliation, from which the innocent as well as the guilty were to suffer. Notwithstanding his wellknown goodness and benevolence of heart, Monsieur Belin would not have escaped from the general massacre, but for the heroic exertions of his slave Eustache. He spared neither prayers nor remonstrances with the insurrectionary chiefs, until he had attained his object; and such were the influence and esteem which his blameless and upright character had secured him, even with lawless and exasperated men, that, besides the safety of his master, he also succeeded in obtaining that of a large number of proprietors, who but for him must have certainly perished. But although this much had been won, the danger to which Monsieur Belin and his friends were exposed had not vanished; far from this being the case, it became evidently greater every day, Flight, though a hazardous experiment, was at length resolved upon. Eustache, owing to his knowledge of the country, and his influence with the insurgents, was named the guide of the fugitives no enviable post, if we consider that he had now to lead a band of four hundred men, scarcely armed, and dispirited by fatigue and privations to which they were not inured, through the rocky valleys, narrow defiles, and thick woods of the island, at the imminent risk of meeting on the way a párty of blacks, and of being instantly massacred. After almost unexampled toil and suffering, borne with heroie courage, Eustache safely. arrived with his companions at Limbè, where they embarked on board an American ship, by which they hoped to reach America, and there find a safe retreat.
But wo seemed to follow the exiles. They had not been long at sea, when the American vessel was attacked by an English corsair of superior strength, and notwithstanding the heroic resistence of all on board, among whom Eustache distinguished himself by indomitable bravery, it was captured. But far from despairing, Eustache resolved that one great effort should at least be made for freedom. The conquerors, suspecting no attempt on the part of their captives, had left them comparatively free. Eustache now went amongst them, bearing to every one words of comfort and encouragement, and urging them not to yield to grief, but to do some deed by which they might be freed. His words produced the desired effect, and a plan for overpowering their enemies was agreed upon. The corsairs had gathered together, and were now feasting and rejoicing over their prize, which was very valuable, as many of the captives had carried off with them some of their most precious goods. Eustache, being a negro and a slave, found no difficulty in introducing himself amongst them, under the pretence of amusing them by those feats of agility in which the blacks are acknowledged to be very expert. So successful was he in thus engaging their attention, that they never perceived or heard the approach of his comrades, who gradually surrounded the spot where they were assembled.