Imagens das páginas

he finds the lily crushed and soiled and withered, and the sun cannot revive her, and man grieves for her in vain. *I see the Maclure, with his plaid around his knees; they are driving the herd to fall by the chieftain's hand; his deer-hounds strain in the leash, and a mighty black stag is brought to bay in the waters of the Garran; old Bran would fain be at his throat, but the wide branching horns pass through the dog's body, and Bran floats away down the brawling stream. Luath fastens on his haunch; when was the chieftain's eye dim and his hand powerless? The bullet speeds through Luath's trusty heart, and the black stag flies away to the hill, free as the wind upon the loch.

"I see the Maclure with his plaid around his middle. The chieftain walks silent and slow, and his head is bent down as he muses on the tones of a gentle voice and the touch of a soft hand; a bunch of white heather grows in his path. Gather it whilst thou canst, my chief; it will look white and pure amidst the braids of silken hair, and to-morrow may be too late. But he passes on to the chase, and again the herd are driven through the glen, and the black stag leads the van of the noblest harts, and he tramples on the modest bunch of bonnie white heather, and his cloven hoof cuts asunder its tendrils and crushes its blossoms into the soil. The Maclure passes homewards, and he seeks for his posy, and finds it withered and destroyed; then the chief looks up once more, for he thinks of the fair face that shall smile on him, and he recks not of trampled flowers or fond hopes that blossom but to die.

"I see the Maclure with his plaid around his shoulders; he is fording the Garran where it rushes down the glen raving and whirling in its spate; strong and undaunted my chief wades on; can he but reach that huge grey rock in the middle of the stream, he may rest awhile and recover his breath and strength; but the waters are rising fast, and the fleet foot is stumbling-the manly limbs are failing at their need. Oh for a hand to help! Where are thy clansmen now? Why didst thou cross the stream in its wrath? why must thou breast the waters unassisted and alone? Can you keep the hound from the quarry? the hand from the sword-hilt? the lover from his mistress? or a Maclure from the chase? He has followed the black stag from Corrie-Garran-he has stalked him since sun-rise; shall his heart fail him now for the angry waves? The waters rise to his breast; the wind moans sadly above the roar of the maddened river. Dark is the heaven-unchanged and pitiless the frown of the mountain that looks down upon its lord. I see his plaid whirling amongst the eddies-the sun breaks forth into a transient gleam; the bird carols in the copse; there is light once more in the sky, and life on the hill-side ;-but, where is Maclure?"

As the old man ceased his ill-omened prophecy, his whole frame collapsed as it were, after the past excitement of the vision, and he sank back powerless as a child, with his limbs trembling as though palsied, and the foam yet wet upon his lip. The young chieftain sat calm and unmoved, but already murmurs of indignation were heard amongst his

* It was a common superstition amongst the believers in second-sight (we say was, though in these days of spirit-rappings and table-turnings, there may be, for aught we know, people who place credence in every description of magic still) to suppose that the mode in which the plaid was worn by the vision denoted the approaching period of its decease: the higher the folds, the nearer the catastrophe. The gens togata of the north have an immense respect for the plaid.

clansmen, who, notwithstanding their respect for second-sight in general, and old Eachan in particular, did not quite appreciate the merits of a prophecy which bore so dark an omen for the future of their lord. Brows were knit, eyes flashed, and hands grasped at the handle of dirk and broadsword. The chieftain's own foster-brother, Angus "the hawkeyed," as he was surnamed, being amongst the most violent, when Maclure arose, and filling a bumper to the brim, drank it to the health of old Eachan" the bard," said he, "of fate, who has not shrunk from fulfilling her behests, and who shall find the Maclure ever ready to meet his destiny, and to dare man and fiend as becomes his clan and his name!"

"The evening passed with more than usual revelry; if any solemn thoughts or dark misgivings remained in consequence of Eachan's prophecy, they were speedily drowned in floods of wassail and debauchery; only Angus sat apart moody and thoughtful, brooding apparently over the insult that, to his idea, seemed to have been put upon his chief-and so night sank upon Glen-Garran and the grey towers that surrounded the Hold of Maclure.

When the sun rose in the morning, his light disclosed a foul and impious deed the dead body of old Eachan was discovered lying on the moor within a few hundred yards of the castle; there had been a struggle at the spot, and the heather was torn and trampled all round the seer's last resting-place; stabbed to the heart he lay on his back, his venerable grey hair twining amongst the wild flowers and heather-bells, and there were no traces by which his slayer could be discovered, nor was it apparent whether he had been murdered or killed in fair fight, for the old man was no mean swordsman. So time passed on, and Eachan and his prophecy were alike forgotten.

(To be continued.)





Between the town of Mâcon and that of Bourg-en-Bresse, and at a short distance from the little bourg called Neuville-les-Dames, formerly celebrated for its convent for young ladies of noble birth, there is situated, at no great distance from the high road, a small, insignificant looking village, which bears the name of Châles upon the map of the Department of the Ain. Sixty mud cottages covered with thatch are irregularly dispersed on either side of the cross country road, the site of which becomes an impassable quagmire after the rains of autumn have saturated the spongy soil of the fertile Bresse,

but which during the heat of summer is as easily traversed as one of the alleys of the "Bois de Boulogne." This village, or, to speak more correctly, this hamlet, possesses a small church, pretty enough in its rustic architecture, and a spacious and commodious parsonage house, which give between them an extraordinary contrast when compared with the wretched houses of the immediate neighbourhoodbuilt, as one would imagine, for a clergyman of large fortune, and in every way unnecessarily large for a population of three or four hundred souls.

The country is low, wet, and cold. The fields, separated from each other by thick and high hedges, however, give it during summer a smiling and fertile appearance; and the general aspect of the landscape at that season of the year has a more undulated character than it otherwise would have. What contributes also much to this appearance is, that like many of the plains of Bugey and of the Dombes, that in the middle of which the village of Châles is situated offers at every turn the remains of some ancient ravines, which the perseverance of a population essentially agricultural has by degrees converted into little valleys. After you may have passed a league and a half in a direction eastward, you will encounter some enormous forests; then again some little plains and marshes, and then again hills: and about this locality commences the mountainous part of Buzey, the first ladder of the Alps.

The commercial traveller, the hawker of goods from Savoy, the poet in search of inspirations, the painter dreaming of the picturesque, passing by this obscure little market-town, of which the illiterate population now purchase nothing but a few almanacks-not one of them has the least idea that little more than sixty years ago there dwelt in a sumptuous mansion a "grand seigneur," sumptuous and liberal, who in his bounty used to say to the commercial traveller, "Send me, as usual, five hundred bottles more of your best champagne" to the hawker, "Here are ten louis for you; now go and open your booth on the village green"-who has invited the poet to sit on the seat of honour at his table, and who was wont to whisper these words of encouragement to the poor painter, " I have not much to offer you in the way of landscape scenery, but come and stay with me for a fortnight, and the faces of all the pretty women of the province will be, I am sure, at the service of your brush and palette.' That grand seigneur," who never did a wrong to any man in his life, and whose good deeds are now all forgotten, was the Marquis de Montrevel, the last surviving descendant of one of the most ancient families of Forey-that little province which the brave and good King Henry the Fourth, who knew it well, designated as the nurserygarden of gentlemen. The Marquis de Montrevel was the greatgrandson of that Maréchal de Montrevel whose renown became so unhappily celebrated during the persecutions which followed the revocation of the edict of Nantes. He was the intimate friend of Bâville, but less of a cringing courtier, although quite as ardent and inflexible as the Intendent of Languedoc had proved himself, and who left to his heirs, together with an immense fortune, a memory execrated by the descendants of those families who have suffered from his cruelties. At an early age the Marquis de Montrevel seemed to



feel the painfulness of his situation, which gave him rather a melancholy turn of mind; he retired altogether from Court, and established himself at Mâcon, of which town he was governor, and resided there until the chateau which he was then building was finished. The whole of the life of this man was spent in doing good to his fellowcreatures to the utmost of his power-all conditions and all ranks were unanimous in proclaiming the praises of Monsieur le Gouverneur du Mâconnais. Affable, courteous, magnificent from principle, and charitable from instinct, he at once became the mutual friend of the rich and the poor, and the very bond which united them. He assisted by his loans the embarassed fortunes of the higher classes, and established by his gifts the prosperity of innumerable persons in humbler life, whom he knew to be worthy of his assistance. During summer he animated the country by giving the most splendid fêtes: during the chilling rigours of winter he consoled himself by distributing to the poor and needy his well-timed and bountiful charities. He took upon himself to repair the public monuments if there were not sufficient funds for the purpose; or where any new public institution was required to be founded for the good of his fellow-townsmen, the Marquis de Montrevel immediately advanced the required sum from his own fortune, not only without ostentation, but with a sort of carelessness about spending his income for the entire benefit of others, which throughout his career was one of the most striking features of his noble character. His château at Châles was a residence truly royal-it mattered not how many visitors arrived, there was a place for all of them. His stables contained a hundred horses always at the service of his friends. In his kennel were kept numerous packs of hounds, which had no rivals excepting those belonging to "Monseigneur le Prince de Condé," at Chantilly. There was no tournebride"-that miserable compromise between vanity and parsimony, which our nobility have invented when they fell from their feudality and aristocracy, had never found its way into the domain of Monsieur de Montrevel; and whilst he himself did the honours of his table to his guests, his servants entertained with hospitality the servants of the When the revolution arrived, the Marquis de Montrevel gave up his rank as Governor of Mâcon without a murmur; and if he curtailed his magnificence so as not to mock at the misfortune of the times, he redoubled his zeal and his expenses in trying to do good. "The governor is dead," he used to say," and the gentleman feels very ill; but the citizen continues extremely well at present." After this outbreak of anarchy, he founded an hospital, built a theatre for the town, which before that was without one, and also a markethouse, to which place he was one of the first to send his own wheat during a time of great scarcity, and consequent dearness, and gave orders for it to be sold at the same price as during the seasons of plenty. This was the last act of all the innumerable benefits that the Marquis was able to perform. He would on no account emigrate; and the Revolution, which chose to regard this virtue as a social distinction, cut off his head, as if he had been a forestaller of grain! It found it, without doubt, more convenient to take at one coup the whole of that fortune which he was generously giving little by little to his fellow-creatures.


I have often heard this story recounted by my father, and also by several of his old friends, who used to speak with perfect enthusiasm of the delightful days they had spent at Châles, "before the Revolu tion." When the conversation ever stumbled upon this favourite subject, there was no stopping them: it mattered not whether it turned upon a stag-hunt or a love-chase, the finish was the same; and there was no failing of a joyous hallali in the one any more than in the other-I ask pardon of my grandmothers and grand-aunts. I was generally in a violent state of agitation during the whole night after one of these romantic recitals. I fancied I could see wander before me, in my hallucinations, those lovely marquises, in their hoops, their tightly-laced waists, their coiffures whence escaped whole clouds redolent of" la poudre à la maréchale." Next to them came the piquantes canonesses, with the cross on their shoulders, the rouge on their cheeks, and the patch above the eyelid-all the world seemed flaunting, gossiping, coquettish, witty, and polite; and when I drew a comparison, the next morning, between these fancies of my dreams and the country ladies of the present day, with their muslin gowns at fifty sous the yard, I really almost fancied that I would willingly give in exchange the realities of my day for the piquants souvenirs of my father, even if I were to throw my youth into the bargain. I had a good and amiable aunt-La Marquise de Chevigné, who, without having emigrated, had passed through the Revolution safe and sound, thanks to a husband who was a gamester, and who had ruined her from top to bottom. As she had been a canoness before her marriage, she had retired to Neuville-les-Dames, to the same little mansion which my great-aunts, Mesdames de Choiseul and de Foudras, had formerly inhabited, each successively abbesses of the noble chapter of which I have been speaking.

During the month of August, 1819, my father said to me one day, after he had a long time promised to pay his sister a visit, that, if I felt disposed to accompany him, he would take me with him; and as he spoke, I could plainly see what sorrowful feelings were mingled with his anticipated joy, for he added, sighing, "Do you know, I have not been to Neuville nor Châles since 1789!"

We passed a week with my aunt, which passed away most agreeably and rapidly for every one; for the brother and sister employed their time in making long and frequent excursions into the cherished reminiscences of their youth. You may imagine, then, that the deeds of the Seigneur of Châles, and the chronicles of the noble chapter, were not forgotten. I ought to add that those subjects were brought up much oftener than any other. On the last evening but one of our visit, during their accustomed tête-à-tête conversation upon all the old and nearly-exhausted topics, You have not yet forgotten (said my aunt to her brother), your first visit at Châles after the enrolling of the gendarmerie of Luneville?

I remember it as well (said my father), as if it had occurred only yesterday-taking at the same moment an enormous pinch of snuff, and looking anxiously through one of the windows, from which he seemed to enjoy the beautiful prospect before him to any other; adding-Yes, indeed, and it was in 1785, on the first and second of September. The year previous to the one I am speaking about, I found it im

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