« AnteriorContinuar »
He complied with reluctance ; for her features were harsh and disagreeable, her eyes sunk, her forehead contracted into perpetual wrinkles, and her temples were rovered with a wreath of cypress and wormwood. From this union sprung a virgin, in whom might be traced a strong resemblance to both her parents; but the sul}en and unamiable features of her mother were so mixed and blended with the sweetness of her father, that her countenance, though mournful, was highly pleasing. The maids and shepherds of the neighbouring plains gathered round, and called her Pity. A redbreast was observed to build in the cabin where she was born while she was yet an infant, a dove pursued by a hawk flew into her bosom. This nymph had a dejected appearance, but so soft and gentle a mien that she was beloved to a degree of enthusiasm. Her voice was low and plaintive, but inexpressibly sweet, and she loved to -lie for hours together on the banks of some wild and meJancholy stream, singing to her lute. She taught men to weep, for she took a strange delight in tears; and often when the virgins of the hamlet were assembled at their evening sports, she would steal in amongst them, and captivate their hearts by her tales full of a charming sadness. She wore on her head a garland composed of her father's myrtles, twisted with her mother's cy. press,
One day, as she sat musing by the waters of Helicon, her tears by chance fell into the fountain, and ever since, the Muse's spring has retained a strong taste of the infusion. Pity was commanded by Je:piter to follow the steps of her mother through the world, dropping balm into the wounds she made, and binding up the hearts she had broken. She follows with her hair loose, her bosom bare, and throbbing, her garments torn by the briers, and her feet bleeding with the roughness of the path. The nymph is mortal, for her mother is so ; and when she has fulfilled her destined course upon the earth, they
shall both expire together, and Love be again united to Joy, his immortal and long betrothed bride.
THE DEAD ASS.
AND this, said he, putting the remains of a crust into his wallet-and this should have been thy portion, said he, hadst thou been alive to have shared it with me. I thought by the accent it had been an apostrophe to his child; but it was to his ass, and to the very ass we had seen dead in the road, which had occasioned La Fleur's misadventure. The man seemed to lament it much; and it instantly brought into my mind Sanco's lamentation for his ; but he did it with more true touches of nature.
The mourner was sitting upon a stone bench at the door, with the ass's pannel and its bridle on one side, which he took up from time to time-then laid them down---looked at them, and shook his head. He then took his crust of bread out of his wallet again, as if to eat it; held it some time in his hand—then laid it upon the bit of his ass's bridle--looked wistfully at the little arrangement he had mademand then gave a sigh.
The simplicity of his grief drew numbers about him, and La Fleur among the rest, while the horses were getting ready; as I continued sitting in the post chaise, I could see and hear over their heads.
He said he had come last from Spain, where he had been from the furthest borders of Franconia : and bad got so far on his return home, when his ass died. Ev. ery one seemed desirous to know what business could
have taken so old and poor a man so far a journey fro: his own home.
It had pleased Heaven, he said, to bless him with three sons, the finest lads in all Germany ; but having in one week lost two of them by the small-pox, and the youngest falling ill of the same distemper; he was afraid of being bereft of them all, and made a vow, if Heaven would not take him from him also, he would go ir gratitude to St. Iago in Spain.
When the mourner got thus far in his story, he stopped to pay nature her tribute--and wept bitterly.
He said Heaven had accepted the conditions ; and that he had set out from his cottage with this poor creature, who had been a patient partner of his journey—that it had eat the same bread with him all the way, and was unto him as a friendo
Every body who stood about heard the poor fellow with concerns;
La Fleur offered him money-The mourner said he did not want it it was not the value of the assa
se but the loss of him-The ass, he said, he was assured, loved him—and upon this told them a long story, of a mischance upon their passage over the Pyrenean mountains; which had separated them from each other three days ; during which time the ass had sought him as much as he had sought the ass, and that neither had scarce eat or drank till they met.
Thou hast one comfort, friend, said Igat least, in the loss of thy poor beast ; I am sure thou hast been a merciful master to him-Alas! said the mourner, I thought so, when he was alive but now he is dead I think otherwise—[ fear the weight of myself and my afflictions together have been too much for him--they have shortened the poor creature's days, and I fear I have them to answer for.-Shame on the world ! said I to myself Did we love each other, as this poor soul but lov'd his assm. 'twould be something.-
WHEN states and empires have their periods of die clension, and feel in their turns what distress and poverty is- I stop not to tell the causes which gradually brought the house d' E**** in Britany into decay. The Marquis d' E**** had fought up against his condition with great firmness ; wishing to preserve and still shew to the world some little fragments of what his ancestors had been their indiscretion had put it out of his power. There was enough left for the little exigencies of obscurity-But he had two boys who looked up to him for light-he thought they deserved it. He had tried his sword-it could not open the way the mounting was too expensive-and simple economy was not a match. for it-there was no resource but commerce.
In any other province in France, save Britany, this was smiting the root for ever of the little tree his pride and affection wished to see re-blossom--but in Britany, there being a provision for this, he availed himself of it; and taking an occasion when the states were assembled at Rennes, the Marquis, attended with his two sons, entered the court; and having pleaded a right of an an cient law of the duchy, which, though seldom claimed, he said, was no less in force ; he took his sword from his side-Here said he-take it ; and be trusty guardi·ans of it, till better times put me in condition to reclaim it.
The president accepted the Marquis's sword he staid a few minutes to see it deposited in the archives of his, house--and departed.
The Marquis and his whole family embarked the next
day for Martinico, and in about nineteenor twenty years of successful application to business, with some urlooked-for bequests from distant branches of his house-returned home to claim his nobility, and to support it.
It was an incident of good fortune which will never happen to any traveller, but a sentimental one, that I should be at Rennes at the very time of this solemn requisition : I called it solemn-it was so to me.
The Marquis entered the court with his whole family ; he supported his lady-his eldest son supported his sister, and his youngest was at the other extreme of the line next his mother-he put his handkerchief to his face twice
There was a dead' silence. When the Marquis had approached within six paces of the tribunal, he gave the Marchioness to his youngest son, and advancing three steps before his family—he reclaimed his sword.—His sword was given him, and the moment he got it into his hand he drew it almost out of the scabbard-it was the shining face of a friend he had once given up. He looked attentively a long tịme at it, beginning at the hilt, as if to see whether it was the same -when observing a little rust which it had contracted near the point, he brought it near his eye, and bending his head down over it- I think I saw a tear fall upon the place : I could not be deceived by what followed.
“ I shall find, said he, some other way to get it off.""
When the Marquis had said this, he returned his sword into its scabbard, made a bow to the guardian of it-and, with his wife and daughter and his two sons followiog him, walked out, bow I envied him his feelings