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notice, however remarkable or meritorious these may be, many must remain unknown. Nor does the Academy pretend to pay the authors of those deeds which have merited its applause; those men possessed of providential courage, those poor women endowed with angelical devotedness, have placed their reward elsewhere. The French Academy acts merely in the capacity of executor; it simply delivers the pious legacy, which has been destined to them. At the same time that it loudly proclaims their actions, it takes pleasure in having the knowledge spread far and wide; not that their vanity may enjoy a puerile satisfaction, but that others may be improved, that this simple recital may touch those who will read it, and create in the hearts of all the love of virtue and the desire of imitation. Philosophers have often shown themselves embarrassed to define virtue, to assign it its distinctive marks, and divide it into classes. The Academy is not so critical. It prefers, amongst different virtues, when a choice must be made, that which includes and inspires them all, and to which Christianity has given the name of charity.”
A history of a few of the cases which merited prizes, will serve much better than any harangue to point out the utility of this benevolent foundation. The cases occur under four different heads-Filial Piety, Charity, Fidelity, and Courage.
In the year 1838, a lawyer was directed to take the necessary steps for recovering a debt which was due to one of his clients by a man named Copain, then residing with his family in the village of Saint-Marc sur Seine, in the north-eastern part of France. In order to ascertain what likelihood there was of the debt being paid, the lawyer proceeded himself to the house of the debtor. Never,” he afterwards declared, “ did I witness a sight more touching than that offered to me on this occasion.” He was introduced into a small and humbly-furnished, but strictly-clean room. An infirm and aged man, in whom it was not difficult to recognise an old soldier, was sitting near the fireplace, and with difficulty rose to receive the visitor; his wife, whom her advanced age evidently rendered incapable of any save the slightest exertion, was busying herself in some trifling household work; and on a bed, in a recess of the apartment, lay a poor helpless girl, seemingly deprived of the use of her limbs, and whom her vacant and wandering look but too evidently proclaimed to be an idiot. Almost immediately a fourth person appeared; this was Mademoiselle Pauline Copain, a poor village schoolmistress, and daughter of the debtor. "Shé seemed to be about thirty-five years of age, and was neatly but simply attired; her appearance was mild and interesting, but without anything very remarkable; indeed the lawyer would certainly have paid them
no attention to her but for one circumstance-it was on her single and unaided exertions that the three helpless beings he had seen depended for their daily bread,
Struck with this fact, he made a few inquiries, and was still more astonished at what he learned. For nearly twenty years Pauline had been the only support of her parents and her unfortunate sister; she was, moreover, known throughout the village for acts of universal benevolence and charity; yet the number of her scholars was limited, they paid but little, and many of
gratuitously instructed. Many people were found who asserted that, if Pauline and her family could subsist on her small earnings, it must be through a miracle. It was indeed through a miracle; but through such a one as charity, industry, and economy can alone achieve. The lawyer could not without diffieulty bring himself to believe what he saw. He at length did so, but it was by concluding that the blessing of Heaven rested on this humble roof; nor was he mistaken, for Pauline dwelt beneath it.
Anxious to know more of what he rightly considered surprising, he purposely prolonged his visit, and thus only acquired stronger grounds for admiring the noble character of Pauline Copain. The love and attention she displayed not only for her parents, but also towards the children confided to her care, her gentleness and affection for all were so touching, and yet exercised with such simplicity, that the lawyer knew not which to admire most; her calm unostentatious manner, or the extent of the daily sacrifices her position compelled her to make. So astonished and struck was he with all he saw, that he was on the point of departing with the conviction that not only those poor people could never pay the debt which had caused his visit, but that there would also be direct cruelty and inhumanity in endeavouring to force them into compliance, when Mademoiselle Pauline Copain, having learned with what object he had come, and ascertained that the claim of his client was founded on justice, firmly and unhesitatingly declared that her father's debts were like her own, and insisted that he should receive her personal engagement for the payment of the sum which was due. And not only did she pay this debt, but also every other which came to her knowledge; and, lest any should escape, she industriously
out one by On being remonstrated with on this subject, she earnestly exclaimed – What! disown my father's debts ! allow his honour to suffer such a stain ! Nay, by working assiduously, I can accomplish everything !" Years have passed since then, and still Pauline
Copain labours in her filial task, cheerfully and undauntedly. Nor is her pride misplaced : her father is an old and honourable soldier, whose infirmities proceed from the wounds received in his country's service; his poverty, and the debts he has unfortunately been obliged to contract, are the result of the severe losses he expe
rienced in 1814 and 1815, when his house was twice pillaged of all that it contained by the allied troops; and he was, moreover, deprived by the new government of the small benefit he reaped by holding a tobacconist's shop-an office which, in France, is not the property of private individuals, but a post of trust depending on the state. But for his daughter Pauline, the unfortunate Copain and his family must undoubtedly have fallen into the deepest misery. At the epoch of his misfortunes, she was living in Paris in a comfortable place; but on hearing of his unhappy position, she immediately relinquished it to join him, and resume her former humble station of village schoolmistress. Seventeen years have passed since then. Pauline has spent her youth in poverty and obscurity; but, thanks to her unwearied efforts, neither the old soldier, nor his helpmate, nor poor insane daughter, have lacked bread.
Noble as is the conduct of Pauline Copain towards her parents, it is not her only claim on admiration and respect. She has ever given proofs of her charitable and benevolent disposition; and though many instances of this might be quoted, a few will suffice.
In the year 1819, Pauline was returning home towards evening, and following the high road which leads to the village of Saint-Marc, when the loud cries of a child suddenly attracted her attention. Hastening towards the spot whence the sounds proceeded, she perceived a poor woman lying in a ditch, and evidently in great bodily anguish. A little girl, of about four or five years of age, and the same whom Pauline had heard, was standing near her, and crying bitterly. Moved at the sight of their distress, Pauline inquired into the causes of it, and learned that the woman before her, after wandering for several days with her child about the country in a state of great destitution, without a shelter or the means of procuring one, had suddenly, and on the spot where she now saw her, been overtaken with the pains of premature labour, which, unless she received proper assistance, threatened speedily to end her life. Without a moment's hesitation or delay Pauline hastily summoned several persons to the spot; a rude litter was immediately procured; and on it Pauline had the poor creature conveyed to her father's dwelling; Although this was the epoch of their greatest poverty, the worthy family gladly received the unfortunate woman and her child, immediately showing them every attention in their power. Pauline especially attended the sick woman with unremitting zeal, until death, brought on by exposure and fatigue, put an end to her sufferings. But her last moments were at least soothed by the promise which Pauline made, and faithfully per-formed--that the little girl, her only surviving child, should never want a home. And she kept her word.
A band of those Savoyards who annually emigrate from their country, and generally return towards spring to their native
hills, was in the vicinity of Saint-Marc, when one of the boys who accompanied the caravan having severely wounded his foot on the road, was compelled to remain behind, whilst his companions continued their journey. The poor little fellow had no money, his feet were very sore, and totally hindered him from working; he knew not in this state of distress to whom to apply for help, when Pauline Copain, on learning his case, immediately gave him an asylum, dressed his wounds herself, and treated him with as much kindness as though he were her own brother. When he was cured, she procured him some slight employment, by which he was enabled to earn his livelihood, until spring having once more come round, and a new band of Savoyards crossing Saint-Marc on their way homewards, he was enabled to join them, and continue his journey. It is pleasant to record that the young Savoyard, who is now a man, and comfortably settled in his own country, did not show himself ungrateful for the kindness he had experienced from Pauline Copain. Every winter, when some of his countrymen cross Saint-Marc on their way to Paris or England, they never fail to bring some gift from him as a token of remembrance to his benefactress; and however slight the value of the present may be, it is not the less acceptable to Pauline, as a proof of his gratitude for past favours, and of the recollection he has preserved of them.
Another instance will suffice to show the native goodness of Pauline Copain.
A poor shepherdess of Saint-Marc, who had six young children to support, took in a child to nurse in the hope of thus alleviating her great misery. After having paid her regularly for some time, the parents of the child absconded, and were never more heard of, leaving their infant daughter to her care. Although burdened herself with a large family, and in a state of deep distress, the woman felt unwilling to part from the poor abandoned little creature: she resolved to keep it, and bring it up with her own children, as long as she was able to do so. But as her family grew up, her expenses increased; the produce of her daily labour was no longer sufficient for the support of all, and she was at last compelled to have recourse to begging. She accordingly sent her children and their adopted sister on the high roads for this purpose. On learning this, Pauline Copain, moved with compassion, offered to take the forsaken child under her own care. posal was gratefully accepted; and after keeping the little girl for two years, Pauline found her a place in an asylum opened to poor
and deserted children, still continuing to aid, as much as her slender means permitted, the shepherdess and her family.
After thus speaking of Pauline Copain's filial piety and charity, we must now give a few details concerning her character as a schoolmistress, no less admirable than the rest of her life might lead one to expect. Of the exact extent of her acquirements we are not able to speak; but, from what is required in France of
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