« НазадПродовжити »
It was our intention when we commenced these remarks, to give a full view of these Tales by a separate analysis of each; but the limits within which our reviews of works of this kind must be embraced, and the length to which these introductory remarks, have already run out, render this impossible. We shall, therefore, confine ourselves to an extract from each tale.
The first of this series is “ Caribert the Bear-Hunter." From this we extract the description of a bear-hunt and the death of Caribert's father.
Soon after Caribert and his father had quitted their bome, the morning, which had only just broke, began to be more than commonly overcast. A snow shower, mixed with rain, assailed them ere they reached the Pic du Midi; and the piercing cold of the air, added to the sleet beating cuttingly into his face, brought on, with Caribert, repeated attacks of violent and alternate fever and shivering. When they arrived at the den of the bear, wbich was formed of a cavity in the western side of the mountain, close to that terrific precipice which I have already endeavoured to describe, they were both benumbed, and scarcely capable of exertion; but the old man, rousing up all his wrath and courage for the onset, approached the cave, and with loud shouts of defiance, endeavoured to stir up the savage animal's rage. The summons was no sooner heard than answered. A horrible growl sent out from the recess, was followed by the appearance of the bear, which rushed forth as if in conscious recollection of yesterday's triumph. At the appalling sound and sight, Pero, the faithful and courageous dog, unsupporte
his former ally, and having his share of brute remembrance too, of the late rencontre, hung down his head, dropped his tail, and fled yelping down the mountain. Old Lareole grasped his pike firmly, and advanced. The hideous monster reared itself up on its hind legs, stretched out its fore paws, and as, with its jaws yawning wide, its fearful tusks displayed, and growling with horrid energy, it was in the very act of springing forward, the veteran hunter stepped close up, and aimed a thrust, with no flinching strength, right at his enemy's heart. He was not far wide of that vital spot. His pike pierced the left breast, and went out clearly at the shoulder. Rendered frantic by the pain, the bear bounded up, flung itself full upon its undaunted assailant, and fell upon him to the earth. The old man, burying his head under the body of his foe, received on the back and shoulders of bis doublet its unavailing efforts to penetrate the thick folds of armour with tusks and nails. He tugged at the pike to extricate it from the body, but his position was such that he could not succeed, and every new effort only tended to give issue to the thick stream of blood which flowed from the wound. During this frightful struggle, the yells of the bear were mixed with and smothered by the loud execrations of the old man. The latter, at length, gave up the hope of recovering his pike, but strove fairly next to get rid of his terrific burden. He succeeded so far as to get one leg clear, and with his nervous grasp, entwined round the body of the brute; he was rising on his knee, and called out, “Now, Caribert, now! To his heart-to his heart
the death blow, now! strike, strike !'-but Caribert struck not ! He stood gazing on the scene-panic-struck-fixed to the spot with emotions not fathomable to man,-a terrible but not solitary instance of the perilous risks run by mental courage, as well as by human virtue. I do not inquire into the mystery-but there he stood, its horrible and shuddering illustration !
The old man was now getting clear, but the bear had his hold in turn. His huge paws were fastened with a dreadful force round one of his victim's thighs; and recovering from his sprawling posture, he began to draw him backwards, evidently in the design of regaining bis den. The old man's courage rose with his danger, for he alertly drew his knife from his belt, opened the blade, and plunged it repeatedly into the body of the bear. The latter leaped and bounded with agony; and Lareole, recovering his feet once more, succeeded in grasping the savage in his arms. But the trial could not be prolonged. He was drooping under the dreadful gripe.-Breathless and faint, he could only utter some terrific curses against the recreant who had abandoned him; and while Caribert gazed, his brain on fire, his hands outstretched, his tongue cleaving to his mouth, but his limbs trembling, his heart sunk, and his feet rooted to the earth, he saw the white locks of his aged father floating over the neck of his destroyer; while the dying animal, in bis blind- . ness, not knowing what he did, had retreated to the very edge of the precipice, slipping at every backward plunge in the slough formed by the snow and his own heart's blood, by which it was dissolved. The old man, seeing his terrible fate, seemed to acquire for an instant the gigantic energy of despair. Throwing one glance across the horrid space on the border of which he stood, he screamed in a voice of thunder, · Caribert! Caribert!' The terrible expression conveyed in this hoarse scream, struck on the mind of his son with an electrical shock. Suddenly roused from his stupor, he recovered for an instant all his recol. lection and his courage. He uttered a cry of corresponding fierceness,swung his brandished pike-rushed forwards, with open arms to seize his father, and snatch him from his destiny, but it was too late! The monster touched on the extreme edge-lost his footing-plunged instinctively forward-took another backward step,—and just as Caribert believed he had grasped his father in his outstretched arms, both man and bear were lost to his sight, and their groans came mingling in the air, as they went crashing down below.
The second tale, “ The Priest, and the Garde-du-Corps,” is one of uncommon interest, and decidedly the best of the three. The principal hero of the piece is a garde-du-corps of the sixteenth Louis—a young Irishman, who had attached himself most devotedly to the person and declining fortunes of Marie Antoinette, every particular of whose conduct in the troubled and trying times of the revolution, is deeply interesting. But our author has not exhibited her in public life alone. He has allowed us to see her in the rich and virtuous enjoyment of that seclusion, which she found in the Trianon with the circle of her royal and chosen friends around her. And it is from
this happy retirement, that we see her coming to perform her part in the bloody tragedy. The following is a part of our author's description of the assault of the populace upon the splendid palace of Versailles, and the catastrophe of the eventful night of the fifth of October.
While this was passing at the hospital, the palace presented a scene of indescribable terror and confusion; the splendid hails and tapestried apartments being the theatre of bloody and protracted outrage. As soon as the queen fled from her sleeping-room, and the doors of the antechamber were forced open, some of the Garde-du-corps had dexterously thrown themselves between the mob and the room where they supposed she was still in her bed. They there renewed the contest with the assailants, who were at last persuaded by the assurances of the household servants that the queen had escaped. Quitting the point of immediate attack, they then rushed by another passage towards the gallery called l'oeil de Boeuf, hoping there to intercept her flight; but she was safely sheltered in the apartment of the king, where with her children in her arms and her husband beside her, she was firmly prepared to meet wbatever might happen. The small but devoted band of the Garde-du-Corps, on being assured of the queen having left her bed-room, passed through it into the wil de Boeuf, and by barricadoing the doors, were able for a while to resist the efforts of the grenadiers of the Parisian National Guard to burst them open. But as the resistance must have been in the end unavailing, one of the guardsmen, named De Chevanne, resolved to devote himself a victim to the chance of saving his comrades; and he threw himself into the ante-chamber alone in the midst of his foes. Struck by this act of isolated intrepidity, the assailants paused, and he in a few moments of earnest eloquence made one of those effective appeals to the turbulent passions of men, which are oftener successful in France than in all other countries of the globe. In a few minutes the National Guard and the Garde-du-Corps were seen like brothers, exchanging cockades and caps, embracing and shouting together, “ Vive le Roi! Vive la Nation! Vivent les Gardes-du-Corps.
From this moment all was safe. The impulsion spread like wild fire through the troops, and from them was caught by the people. The palace was cleared, and instead of the atrocious threats and murderous vociferations, mixed with the clash of arms and tramp of a furious multitude, the profaned but now uncrowded corridors and halls echoed the joyons embracings of the household, the boisterous gratulation of men, and the hysteric laugh of women, all nearly as frantic with delight as they had so lately been with fear.
For some hours after this, a boisterous incertitude prevailed throughout. The struggling elements of the mob power, which had been decomposed during the night, were now rapidly massing once more, under the effect of the stimulus which the attack on the palace had given to all. The Place d'Armes, the court-yards, and the terraces were thickly thronged with the armed multitude, who insisted with imperative demands that the king and his family should abandon Versailles, and accompany them to Paris. Resistance was at this crisis vain, and it is useless to record the nam of those who advised an impotent refusal.
The king gave his consent to the measure. I confide myself to the people,' said he, let them do with me as they please ;' and the preparations for departure were hurried on. But the outrageous impatience of the rabble would not be satisfied without the visible testimony of obedience to their commands, and the actual presence of their victims. They vociferated in angry tones for the queen's appearance at the balcony which opens from the room where Louis XIV. expired, upon the marble-paved court called la Cour de Marbre. Imprecations and threats accompanied the call, and those who surrounded the queen and who heard the tone, tremblingly intreated her not to appear, as they little doubted their intention to fire at her as she stood, and thus complete their diabolical design against her life. She alone stood calm and courageous at this awful moment. She took her children one in each hand, and stepped out upon the balcony with a confident mien. “No children; no children! send them back-stand out alone!' shouted by a thousand voices, were the horrid orders which assailed her. She did not hesitate a moment, but putting the children in at the window-door behind her, she turned round again towards the crowd, and raising her eyes and her clasped bands to heaven, she stood a while in the undismayed conviction that each successive moment was her last. A murmur of astonished approbation rolled hoarsely through the throng, and of all the sinewy arms that bore a weapon among it, but one was raised to take her life, thus offered as it were to their assault. One ruffian, flushed with fury and covered with clotted blood from the morning's conflict, stood at the corner on the left of the Cour de Marbre, on the very spot where the assassin Damiens had placed himself to strike at the heart of Louis XV. Seeing the queen thus exposed, within thirty paces of his design, and while the rushing tide of popular inconstancy was on the point of turning in her favour, he levelled a musquet at her breast, and snapped the trigger. The piece went off; but the bullet few high in the air, almost perpendicularly over the roof of the palace; for an arm beside the murderer had struck the weapon up at the very instant of its being discharged. The wretch looked round on him who had frustrated his aim, but did not recognise Cornelius in the pale and wounded being who leaned against the corner of the wall beside him. Our hero, who, devoured by agitation, bad insisted on crawling from the hospital, weak as he was, and had placed himself in this position, supported by Father O’Collogan, thus saved the life of her, for whose service he lived, and instantly knew in the would-be-murderer, that very soldier of the Regiment of Flanders, who a short month before had in an explosion of unprincipled loyalty climbed up the palace walls to shout blessings on the king! Prompt as the voice of the storm, which answers the lightning's flash, the voice of Cornelius followed the flash of this inebriate madman's weapon. “Long live the queen!' once more burst from his pallid lips, and the words were repeated in a shout from the tumultuous assemblage which rung from the fifty niches in the surrounding walls, filled with the busts and statues of emperors and kings.
The author would have succeeded better in this exhibition of the deserted but undaunted queen coming before her persecuting people,'had he deviated less from history, and introduced the patriot Lafayette; who, despairing of being heard
in the tumult around him, turned, and with an eloquence more impressive than words, kissed the hand of the royal sufferer.
The third and last tale is “The Vouée au Blanc." Its date is that eventful epoch in the history of France and of the world,—the fall of Napoleon. One extract will afford a speci. men of our author's humour.
Monsieur Hippolite Emmanuel Narcisse de Choufleur was an offshot from one of those ancient and noble families, which, had I at hand a blood-hound of heraldry, I might perhaps succeed in tracing back to the most dismal depths of the dark ages. This gentleman was an hereditary royalist, a prating, busy, and empty-pated fellow, who had owed the good luck of keeping his head on his shoulders in the stormy seas of the revolution, merely to the lightness of the freight it carried. He floated on the waters like the buoy of an anchor, and just served to denote the grounds where his family had fixed, and where the privateers that were then abroad might find safe harbourage and shelter. Persecution and confiscation had driven all the other individuals of his race far from their native land, and left him pennyless. His whole possessions on the establishment of the republic, consisted in some half-dozen sky-blue, peagreen, and rose-coloured coats; about twenty pair of nankeen breeches; à large quantity of ruffles, with shirts and frills in the proportion of one of the first to every dozen of the latter; some silk stockings, snuff boxes, pastebuckles, rings, and brooches; and a satin-wood casket, containing sundry patents of pobility, marriage articles, grants of estates, and other proofs of gentle blood, legitimacy, and feudal rights. With this stock of merchandize, Monsieur de Choufleur, or, as he was more familiarly called, Monsieur Hippolite, commenced his trade of emigrant, knigbt-errant, fortune-hunter, and soi-disant marquis. After buzzing and bustling about his native Normandy for some years following the annihilation of such pretensions as were his only inheritance, he determined to expatriate himself to the hospitable shores of Great Britain ; and as his stay in his own country had attracted no attention, so did his departure meet with no difficulty. He landed from a fishing boat at Brighton, in a miserable plight; told a long lying story of misfortunes, imprisonment, and escape ; was warmly received by some honest John Bull; remained two years or more in our island, acquiring a marvel. lously insufficient knowledge of the language, and a perfect taste for roast beef; and having supported himself by his skill in dancing, which no native teacher could compete with, and upheld his claims to the title of marquis by appeals to his satin-wood casket, which no one would take the trouble to examine, he availed himself of the first amnesty granted by Napoleon, and returned to look after the remnants of his family inheritance, which he protested most solemnly were buried somewhere adjacent to the site of the three villages.
He was in the first place precisely five feet and an inch in height, and, being then somewhat turned of forty, it was commonly believed that he had acquired his complete growth. There was no proportion between the length and thickness, either of the whole person or its component parts, and, geographically described, it would not offer a favourable specimen man's fair proportion. The head leaning forward like a