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small scale, has perhaps outdone the heroism of Regulus, Rome and Titus Livius alone were wanting to complete his glory. In after life he became a naval officer, and was taken prisoner at the engagement of Quiberon. The action was finished, and the English continued to cannonade the republican army; Gesril threw himself into the sea, swam up to the vessel, told the English to cease their fire, and announced to them the misfortune and capitulation of the emigrants. The English wished to save him, and, throwing out a rope, conjured him to lay hold of it, and come on board : “ I am a prisoner on parole,” cried he from the bosom of the waves, and swam back to the shore. He was shot with Sombreuil and his companions.
Gesril was my first friend : we were both ill understood in our childhood ; we were bound together by an instinct, the value of which we learned at a future day. Two adventures put a stop to this first part of my history,
, and produced a complete change in the system of my education.
One Sunday we were on the shore, at the portcullis of the gate of St. Thomas, and along the Sillon; huge piles, rammed into the sand, protected the walls against the sea. We used to climb to the top of these piles, and watch the first undulations of the coming tide, as they passed beneath us. We had taken our places as usual, and several little girls had joined us. I was seated nearly at the outer extremity, having before me a pretty little girl, Hervine Magon, who laughed with joy, and wept with fear. Gesril was seated on the land-side of these piles. The wave approached, and there was a good deal of wind; the bonnes and other servants cried out, “ Come down, Miss !” Come down, Sir!" Gesril, however, waited for a huge wave ; and, as soon as it had rushed beneath the piles, he gave
the child that was seated just before him a good push ; she, of course, fell forward upon the next, and that one again upon her neighbour, and thus the whole file fell forward, as if moved by machinery. Each was upheld by the one in advance, except the little girl at the extremity of the line. I fell forward upon her; and not having any one to support
her, she, of course, fell down : the tide carried her away; shrieks resounded on every side; and the nurses, tucking up their gowns, rushed into the water, and each seizing her charge, gave it a slap. Hervine was fished up again, and declared it was François who had thrown her down. The bonnes fell upon me, but I made my escape ; and, rushing home, with an army of women at my heels, barricaded myself in the cellar. Happily my father and mother were not within. Villeneuve valiantly defended the door, and heartily cuffed the avant guard of the enemy.
The real author of all this mischief, Gesril, at last brought me succour: he rushed to his own apartment, and with his two sisters threw down pitchers-full of water and boiled potatoes upon the heads of the assailants : they raised the siege with the approach of night; but the story spread like wildfire through the city ; and the Chevalier de Chateaubriand, aged nine years, passed for an atrocious man,
-a remnant of those pirates, of whom the Holy Aaron had purged his rocky island.
And now for another adventure. I was going with Gesril to St. Servan, a suburb of St. Malo, from which it is divided by the trading port. In order to get there when the tide was out, we had to clear the little streams of water by passing over narrow bridges of flat stones, which were covered at high tide. The servants who accompanied us had remained a long way behind. At the extremity of one of these bridges, we saw two sailor-boys coming towards us. Gesril cried out, “What, shall we suffer these young scoundrels to pass us?” And then, calling to them, exclaimed, Get into the water, you ducks.” The said ducks, however, having the quality of sailors, and not understanding his raillery, continued to ad
Gesril drew back: we placed ourselves at the end of the bridge, and began pelting them with stones. They threw themselves upon us, compelled us to take to our heels, and furnishing themselves with pebbles, they continued pelting us till we fell back upon our reserve corps ; that is to say, our nursery-maids. I was not, indeed, like Horatius, struck in the eye ; but one of the stones hit my left ear so forcibly, that it was half cut off, and hung down upon my
I thought not of my misfortune, but of the reception which I should meet with at home. If my friend got a black eye, a torn jacket, or a bruised shin, in his adventures, he was pitied, caressed, and fondled, and supplied with new clothes ; but, as for me, when I was in a similar plight, I was severely scolded and punished. The wound which I had received was dangerous; but I was so excessively frightened, that La France, with all her entreaty, could not prevail upon me to return home. I went up stairs, and took shelter in my friend's apartments. Gesril bound up my head with a napkin, but this napkin again set him off. It looked to him like a mitre, and he accordingly transformed me into a bishop, and made me sing high mass with him and his sisters till supper-time. The pontiff was then compelled to go down ; but, oh! how did my heart beat! My father, surprised at my disordered look, and the blood upon my face, said not a word ; but my mother uttered a shriek. La France related my piteous tale, in which she contrived so completely to exculpate me, that I happily escaped all punishment. My ear was dressed, and Monsieur and Madame de Chateaubriand resolved to separate me from Gesril as soon as possible. *
I do not recollect whether it was this year that Count d'Artois came to St. Malo; on which occasion a naval engagement was given in his honour. I saw the
Prince standing on the bastion of the powder-mill, while I was among the crowd on the sea-shore. What unknown destinies were involved in his splendour, and in my obscurity! If my memory does not mislead me, St. Malo has been visited by only two of the kings of France, Charles IX. and Charles X.
Such is the picture of my early childhood. I know not whether the severe education which I received be good in principle, but it was adopted by my relations without design, and in consequence of their natural temperament. So much, however, is certain, that it made my ideas less similar to those of other men ; and it is yet more certain, that it imparted to all my feelings a tone of melancholy, arising from the habit of continual suffering at an age of weakness, thoughtlessness, and joy.
* I have already spoken of Gesril in my Works. One of his sisters, Angélique Gesril de la Trochardais, wrote to me in 1818, requesting me to obtain permission that the name of Gesril might be added to that of her husband and of her sister's husband. I failed in my negotiations. (Note of 1831, Geneva.)
Is it asked whether this mode of bringing me up, led me to detest the authors of my existence ? By no means ; the remembrance of their rigour is almost agreeable to me; I esteem and honour their noble qualities. On the death of my father, my comrades in the regiment of Navarre were witnesses of my grief. To
life, because from her I received my religious impressions; I cherished the truths which fell from her lips with the devotion with which Pierre de Langres studied at dead of night, in a solitary church, by the light of a lamp, which burned before the sacred altar. Would my mind have been better developed, had I been forced to study at an earlier age ? I doubt it; the waves, the winds, and the solitude, which were my first teachers, were in harmony with my natural disposition. Perhaps I owe to these rude instructors some virtues of which I should otherwise have been devoid. The truth is, that no system of education is in itself preferable to another. Do children love their parents better in these days when they address them with familiarity, and no longer tremble before them? Gesril was indulged in the paternal home, whereas I was continually scolded : yet we both grew up men of honour, tender and respectful sons. The things which you set down as evil, may call out the talents of your
and those which in your eyes seem good, may stifle those very talents. God does well whatever He does : it is Providence which directs us, when it destines us to act a part on the great theatre of the world.
Dieppe, September 1812.
NOTE FROM M. PASQUIER- DIEPPE-CHANGE IN MY EDUCATION
SPRING IN BRETAGNE HISTORICAL FOREST - PELAGIAN CHANPAIGNS-SETTING OF THE MOON AT SEA.
On the 4th of Sept. 1812, I received the following note from M. Pasquier, Prefect of Police :
- Cabinet of the Prefect. “ The Prefect of Police invites M. de Chateaubriand to take the trouble of coming to his bureau, either to-day at four o'clock in the afternoon, or to-morrow at nine o'clock in the morning."
The purport of this note was, that the Prefect of Police desired to communicate to me an order to quit Paris.
I accordingly retired to Dieppe, the ancient name of which was Bertheville ; but afterwards, about four hundred years ago, it was called Dieppe, from the English word “deep” (water). In 1788, I had been in garrison here with the second battalion of my regiment. A residence in this city, with its clean and well-lighted streets, its brick houses, and shops filled with ivory, carried me back to the days of my youth. When I walked abroad, I encountered the ruins of the Château d'Arques, with its thousand associations; nor could I forget that Dieppe was the cradle of Duquesne. When I returned home to my lodging, I had before me the wide-spread ocean : from the table at which I was seated, I contemplated the sea which had greeted me at my birth, and which washed the shores of Great Britain, where I have so long lived in exile. My eyes wandered over the waves which had carried me to America, rejected me in Europe, and then taken me back to the shores of Africa and Asia. All hail to thee, 0 Ocean, my cradle and my image! I will tell thee the remainder of my story. If I speak falsely, thy waves, intermingled with my whole career, will accuse me of imposture to the men who are yet to come.
My mother never relinquished her cherished desire that I should receive a classical education. The navy, for which