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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.
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 my mother I owe all the consolations of my 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 child ; 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.
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 I was destined, might not, after all, she said, suit my taste ; and it appeared desirable to her, that, under all circumstances, I should be fitted for another career. Her piety led her to wish that I should decide for the Church : she therefore proposed that I should be sent to college, where I might learn mathematics, drawing, the English Language, and military exercises. She did not venture to speak of Greek or Latin, for fear of alarming my father ; but resolved that I should commence secretly, and, when I had made some progress, to proceed openly. My father agreed to her proposal ; and it was determined that I should enter the College of Dol. Preference was given to this city, because it lay on the road from St. Malo to Combourg
During the very severe winter which preceded my scholastic seclusion, a fire broke out in the hotel where we resided. I was saved by my eldest sister, who carried me through the midst of the flames. M. de Chateaubriand retired to his château, desired his wife to come to him ; but he could not join her till
The spring in Bretagne is more genial than in the environs of Paris, and the blossoms are more than three weeks in advance. The five birds which announce the coming spring -the swallow, the lorist, the cuckoo, the quail and the nightingale arrived with the breakers which sought shelter in the gulphs of the Armoricaine Peninsula. The ground was clad with daisies, pansies, jonquils, narcissus’, hyacinths, ranunculus', anemonies, like the wild spots which surround St. John of Lateran, and the Holy Cross of Jerusalem at Rome. The glades were diversified with the blended tints of tall and elegant firs, intermingled with the flowers of the broom and the furze, so brilliant that they might have been mistaken for gold-winged butterflies. The hedges, which abounded with wild strawberries, raspberries and sweet smelling violets, were decked with the hawthorn, honeysuckle and briar, whose dark and entwining stems were covered with blossoms and magnificent foliage. Bees, birds and butterflies animated every place; and the numerous birds' nests arrested the steps of children at
Here and there, in some sheltered spot, the
laurel-rose and the myrtle flourished in the open air as in Greece; the fig-tree yielded its fruit as in Provence, and every apple-tree, with its carmine flowers, resembled the bouquet of a village bride.
In the twelfth century, the cantons of Fougères, Rennes, Bécherel, Dinan, St. Malo and Dol were occupied by the forest of Brécheliant ; it had been the battle-field of the Franks and of the people of the Dommonée. Wace relates that “the savage, the fountain of Berenton and the golden basin,” might be seen here. An historical document of the fifteenth century "Usemens et coutumes de la forêt de Brécilien," confirms the Romance of Rou : it states that “it is large and of vast extent; has four castles, a great number of beautiful ponds, fine hunting tracts, where no noxious beasts are found, nor flies molest the traveller ; two hundred forests, and as many springs, especially the fountain of Belenton, by the side of which the Chevalier Pontus commenced his campaigns.”
To this day the country preserves the traits of its origin; intersected by wooded trenches, it presents from afar the appearance of a forest, and reminds one of England. It is the abode of fairies, and you will learn by and bye that I actually encountered a sylph there. The narrow valleys are watered by little rivers, which are not navigable, and separated by heaths and lofty forests of holly and vines. Along the coast rise a succession of light-houses, watch-towers, dolmins, Roman buildings, ruins of castles of the Middle Ages, and belfreys of the times of the Renaissance : the whole is bounded by the sea, Pliny says of Bretagne :-“ Péninsule spectatrice de l'océan."
Between the ocean and the land, extend the Pelagian Champaigns, the indecisive frontiers of the two elements. Here the field lark and the lark of the ocean fly side by side, the plough and the boat are a stone's throw from each other, furrowing the land and the water. The navigator and the shepherd mutually interchange their language, the sailor speaks of the “vagues moutonnent,” and the shepherd of the “flottes de moutons.” The divers coloured sands, the variegated banks of marine shells, the sea-weed, the fringes of silver foam mark the golden or verdant outline of the wavy corn. I know not
in what island of the Mediterranean I have seen a bas-relief representing the Nereides attaching festoons to the hem of the garment of Ceres.
But the object of the greatest admiration in Bretagne is the moon rising on the land and setting in the sea.
Constituted by God, arbitress of the deep, the moon has her wanes, her vapours, her rays, her eclipses, like the sun; but, unlike him, she retires not solitary—a cortige of brilliant stars accompanies her to her rest. In proportion as, on my native shores, she gradually descends the sky, she increases its silence, which she communicates to the sea ; soon she sinks to the horizon, intersects it, shows only the half of her countenance overcome by sleep, she gently inclines, and then disappears in the soft swelling of the waves. The starry retinue of this queen, before plunging to follow her, seem to stop suspended on the crested waves to wish their last good night. The moon has no sooner sunk to rest, than a stiff breeze springs up and effaces the image of the constellations, as the lamps of the festal hall are extinguished when the queen of the feast has withdrawn her shining presence.
DEPARTURE FOR COMBOURG-DESCRIPTION OF THE CHATEAU.
I was to accompany my sisters to Combourg, and we commenced our journey thither in the early part of May. We, that is to say, my mother, my four sisters and I, left St. Malo at sunrise, in a huge old-fashioned coach, with double gilt pannels and projecting steps and purple tassels pendent from the four corners of the roof. We were drawn by eight horses, decked, like the mules in Spain, with bells at their necks, and bridles caparisoned with trappings and fringes of divers coloured wools. My mother sighed, and my
sisters kept chattering till they were out of breath. As for me, I sat and listened with both my ears, and had my eyes wide open, full of astonishment at every turn of the road. It was the first step of the Wandering Jew, which could never afterwards be