Imagens das páginas

graphical notes, and what not besides. This thing is like enough to grow too, to cast off other exfoliations, coming near to that vinegarplant process which goes on quietly casting off other vinegar-plants. Nay, there are rivals in the field — fellows calling themselves “ Intelligible” and “A B C's," and such queer titles,—who are but small improvements on the old-established concern. But every thing ends in the same bewilderment of figures. The Bagmenites, or monks of the third order of St. Bag, alone are proficient, as they should be, in their own breviary. They can set their finger on every text in the book, give you chapter and verse, and dive into Matins, Compline, Prime, and Vespers, at a second's warning. Pious men, these monks of St. Bag! They can run you off a Gloria Patri, a Versicle and Response, of three fifty-five mn., four thirty afts., to an infinite series. Pious men, they know their monkish Latin well.

It should be proposed that these holy fathers, in imitation of an excellent practice not unknown at our universities, should take pupils, and “grind” them in this famous text-book. We should go to school, as it were, in “ Bradshaw." There might be competitive examinations and premiums, and the idea altogether worked on and improved to a prodigious extent. The question, at all events, should be taken up without delay, for the evil threatens more and more every hour.

The Proscribed Races of France.


Whilst the garçon, who had thus briefly introduced my friend, was speaking, M. Philippe - Auguste Roget himself, avocat de la Cour Impériale de Toulouse, appeared in propriâ personâ in the salle-a-manger.

I have designated M. Roget my friend. He was not then indeed legitimately entitled to the name; he was rather an amicus in posse. I had never seen him before ; we had never corresponded ; he had never in any way obliged me; I had never conferred any favour upon him. Nevertheless, no sooner had his presence been announced than we joined hands, gave each other a hearty shake, and smiled into one another's faces as though we had been boys together, had separated for years, and now met for the first time after a long interval of painful absence.

There were, however, causes on both sides for this cordial greeting. I was alone in Toulouse; not a soul in that capital of Southern France was known to me; and, influenced by that sense of dreary isolation and solitude which sometimes comes over one when left to his own thoughts at a strange time and in a strange place, I could have saluted with equal warmth and delight a less prepossessing and agreeable person than M. Roget. M. Roget, however, was no less pleased to have the honour," as he politely phrased it, of making my acquaintance. During a sojourn of a few summer weeks in Paris, he had become acquainted with the daughter of a friend of mine, had flattered her vanity and won her heart. The little affair, however, had not yet been definitively settled ; and as there was a slight obstacle or two to be removed, he regarded my advent to Toulouse as a golden opportunity for vicariously advancing his suit. I consequently found him, I may say, more than ready to do the agreeable, to lionise me, and make my sojourn in his city an epoch in my life, -a dies albus to be remembered, he suggested, when far away, plunged in the grimy smoke and lurid fogs of Continentally-abused London.

M. Roget was round-faced, short, close-shaven, dark-eyed, of sallow complexion, and neat to a nicety; wore a long black coat buttoned tightly up to the throat, with a single line of buttons down the chest; his neck-tie was of immaculate fold and lily whiteness; his trousers matchless in cut; his boots fitted his feet as a pair of Jouvain's or Dent's gloves fit, or ought to fit, the hands. Where he procured his hat, black, smooth, and glossy, was a mystery to me. It was not, however, the only mystery that has puzzled me in connexion with a Frenchman's costume. The peculiar style of M. Roget's dress,-his closely buttoned coat, his white cravat, and his black kid gloves, suggested at first the idea of an archpriest; but this impression gradually wore off as our acquaintance progressed, and I found him ten days after, as I did on the night of our first meeting, a genial-hearted, pleasant, and frank companion.

"As you are a literary man,” was one of his earliest remarks after dinner, "you must see our bibliothèque. To-morrow, at any hour you like to name,

I am at your service.Then, without waiting for any assent or dissent on my part, he began to expatiate upon the merits and value of that noble institution, regretting that its mines of wealth were so little explored by French littérateurs.

“In that library, or rather deep down in its sealed recesses, lie heaps of historical and ethnological treasures; manuscripts six, seven, and even eight hundred years old remain there neglected and rotting. The stamp of time, the edax rerum, is upon them. Hidden from the light of day, with the dust of ages undisturbed upon them,-known not even to the antiquarian mole,--they exist useless to mankind. What light might they not let in upon the centuries gone by! what tales of men long dead might they not tell- of kings and counts, of abbots and barons, of priests and people, of customs and usages, of the thoughts of a world looming in the distance through mediaeval mist! They could reproduce to us the days when the Counts of Toulouse were sovereigns all but in name, and exercised in their own dominions regal prerogatives; when the Sieurs of Foix and Béarn and Comminges owed allegiance to the monarch of Languedoc; when the Kings of Arragon were proud to be the allies of this powerful dynasty. But the mine is still dark, its resources are unexplored, and few are the labourers willing to enter into and devote themselves to the task of ferreting out the rich mass of matter, French, Latin, Provençal, and even Moorish, which lies buried there. True, a Fauriel has now and then appeared amongst us, and by his diligence and enterprising spirit given a stimulus to our local savans; and no doubt under the auspices of the present Emperor much will be achieved towards ransacking the musty shelves and dilapidated rolls of this magnificent treasury.”

After this eloquent though not exaggerated eulogy of the Bibliothèque Impériale de Toulouse, I could not but express my earnest desire to accompany him there, and the delight which I should doubtless experience in seeing it under so enlightened and enthusiastic a guidance. It is not, however, with the library that I bave to do; I am about to give no further account of that antique institution; but an incident occurred whilst there which changed my plans, and turned the direction of my journey. A manuscript had been placed in my hands relating to that extraordinary race of outcasts the Cagots, which so impressed my imagination, with even the rapid glance I was enabled to bestow upon a few introductory chapters, that I was fired with the desire to visit the localities where they had dwelt apart from their fellow-citizens for so many centuries. I accordingly resolved to extend my peregrinations southward.

There was a diligence, the Fleur du Midi, advertised to start for Tarbes the next morning at ten. Ten is not an exceedingly early hour


any purpose, especially for travelling. Four, five, six o'clock-these may seem unnatural times to turn out of bed and be ready by. To accommodate oneself to this subversion of civilised habits, requires an apparently superhuman effort. It is not pleasant to be suddenly roused by Boots in the very strength of a deep sleep, when all the faculties are entranced, and a heavy pressure weighs down the eyelids, and the brain feels oppressed and distracted by the struggle of waking. It is not pleasant to have that beautiful dream which beguiled the delighted fancy ruthlessly dashed to pieces by a loud startling knock. It is not pleasant to dress in the dark, cold twilight of the morning; to descend the stairs of the still house, and to enter, yawning and stretching one's limbs, that room, now silent and desolate, where the night before the company merrily grouped themselves together and cheerily chattered. Yet such things have been before now; and without a grumble of discontent or weariness, I have passed through the ordeal, submitting to a little inconvenience-a gentle violence against one's usual habits — in order that a greater good might be eventually gained.

Ten o'clock, then, was not an early hour; nevertheless I resolved to postpone starting until three in the afternoon, when the express diligence, L'Empire, was supposed to leave, accomplishing the journey, it was stated, in three hours less time than the Fleur du Midi. This was a good pretext for delay, did I need one. But this was not the case, my real motive being a desire to visit the field where was fought the last of the Peninsular battles, between Marshal Soult and Wellington; a kind of posthumous engagement which took place after the articles of peace had been signed at Fontainebleau, but before the couriers could arrive to announce the intelligence that the war was over.

I accordingly notified my intention to the garrulous garçon, who was using all his eloquence to persuade me to go by the Fleur du Midi, that diligence being his master's property. I was deaf to his entreaties; and when I left the hotel to take my walk to Mount Calvinet, the vehicle was standing in the courtyard ready to depart, all but the yoking-to of the horses. Even this sight did not tempt me from my purpose. I went my way, had a good survey of the battle-field, and, the day being fine and the wind in a westerly direction, caught a glimpse of the gigantic barrier of the Pyrenees, from the Pic du Midi de Bigorre to the Canigou, including the Maladetta and Mont Perdu. I was absent more than two hours; and when I returned, the Fleur du Midi was still where it was at ten o'clock. Some female passengers were in the rotonde, a Spaniard occupied a seat on the banquette, but the coupé was empty.

On my arrival there was a little bustle; the driver cracked his whip, the horses had been put to, and the conductor ran up to a side-door of the hotel.

“How is it that the diligence is still here ?” I inquired of the waiter.
“ It is waiting your pleasure, monsieur.”
“But I told you I should go by the mail express."

“Ah, but, monsieur, the Fleur du Midi will arrive at Tarbes before L'Empire."

“Your master is not right to detain the diligence so long and keep his passengers waiting. Is it not advertised to start at ten?”

“ To start sometimes at ten."

At this moment a sharp shrill voice from the rotonde broke forth : “Mon Dieu! mon Dieu! que je suis ennuyée, que je suis fatiguée ! Conducteur, conducteur, est-ce bien plus long temps que nous allons rester ici ? deux heures d'attente ! Mon Dieu, mon Dieu, quelle bêtise! quelle méchanceté! quel" and the woman with the voice disappeared in the recesses of the rotonde, apparently exhausted with the effort of complaining

I did not catch the last word she uttered, and so could not transcribe it. Let none of my readers, however, imagine it was a word which a Frenchwoman should not speak, an Englishman write down, or a British public read.

If you could not catch the last word,” some captious Mossoo will inquire,“ how do you know the gender for quel ?I simply follow the good old plan of the Latin grammar, which says the masculine is more worthy than the feminine, &c.

“See,” I said to the waiter, after a pause, during which he appeared utterly unabashed at the reproaches of the woman, “the consequences of your want of punctuality. This good woman and her husband will be put, probably, to infinite inconvenience; besides, her patience is sorely tried."

Oui, monsieur, oui certainement,” blandly replied the garçon; “but we have been waiting for monsieur.” This argument, which appeared to him a perfect justification of the conduct of the proprietor, he kept repeating each time, with a fresh addition of smiles and apologies.

“Will monsieur go by the Fleur du Midi ?"

“No," I said, somewhat bluntly, fairly irritated at being thus pestered.

“The diligence is ready to start," he urged in a most subtle manner, unabashed at the abrupt answer I had given him. Perhaps he thought it was an element of the English character, and must be accepted as he would receive a visitation of providence.

“But I shall not go by it; besides, I wish to lunch.”
“It shall be ready in an instant."
“ There is no time.

“Monsieur is mistaken," continued this incorrigible Gil Blas. "How long does monsieur want?”

Oh, I shall take half an hour." “Half an hour, that is not much; the diligence will wait." “ It may be an hour.” “An hour? I will give instructions to the coachman." The struggle was hopeless; I blush to say, I gave it up, and went

« AnteriorContinuar »