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trustees and the principal, as well as from personal observation, we are deeply interested, and shall watch the progress of this school with raised expectations. The instructers are zealously engaged in their profession, and neither bigotedly attached to old forms on the one hand, nor possessed of such a violent rage for improvement on the other, as will lead them much beyond the clear light of their own experience. That portion of our countrymen must be regarded as fortunate, who have in their neighbourhood an establishment so well adapted to their wants. We believe, and we cannot withhold the expression of our belief, that, although this school has less“ pomp and circumstance "—the splendid quackery of education,—than many others, yet it will prove, in the end, to be more substantially useful than any institution for similar purposes within our knowledge.
1. Memoirs of the Countess de Genlis, illustrative of the History
of the Eighteenth and Nineteenih Centuries. Written by herself.
New York, and Philadelphia. 1825. 8vo. 2. New Moral Tales, Selected and Translated from the French of
Madame De Genlis. By an American. New York. 1825.
12mo. pp. 233. The autobiography of a lady, and a French lady, and what is more an authoress of some celebrity, and one who has moved for half a century in the most literary and polished society of her country, may reasonably be expected to furnish much interesting matter. Such is the character of one of the books before us ; we accordingly formed high expectations from it, and if these have not been fully realized, they have been very nearly so. Of the literary history of the work we know nothing except what is to be gathered from the title page and some hints in the preface, that it was compiled from notes taken at various times in the course of the life of the authoress. The manner of the book is peculiar and characteristic, and accords well with the prevalent notions of the French character.
We shall begin our extracts as Madam de Genlis does her biography at the very beginning.
I was born (says she] on the 25th of January, 1746, on a little estate in Burgundy, near Autun, called Champcéri, by corruption, it is said, of
Champ de Cerès (the field of Ceres), the original name of the ground. 1 was born so small anu so weakly that they would not venture to put me in swadding-cio.hes, and in a few moments after my birth, I was on the point of losing my life. I had been placed in a down pillow, of which, to keep me warm, the two sides were folded over me, and fastened with a pin; and thus wrapped up, I was laid upon an arm-chair in the rooin. The judge of the distri who was almost blind, came to pay his visit of compliment to my father : and as, in his country fashion, he separated the huge flaps of his coat to sit down, some one saw that be was going to place hiinself in the arm-chair where I was ; luckily he was prevented from sitting down, and 1 escaped being crushed to death.
She escapes various other perils of life and limb, and arrives without material injury at the age of six years, when she makes her first appearance at Paris and there undergoes a kind of seasoning, which does not seem to have been particularly agreeable.
For the first few days of my stay at Paris I regretted St. Aubin bitterly. I bad two teeth pulled out; I had whalebone stays which pinched me terribly; my feet were iinprisoned in tight shoes, with which it was impossible for me to walk; I had three or four thousand curl-papers put on my head; and I wore, for the first time in my life, a hoop. In order to get rid of my country attitudes, I had an iron collar put on my neck, and as I squinted a little at times, I was obliged to put on goggles as soon as I awoke in the morning, and these I wore four hours. I was, moreover, not a little surprised, when they talked of giving me a master to teach me what I thought I knew well enough already to walk. Besides all this, I was forbidden to run, to leap, or to ask questions.
The following year she becomes a canoness.
After this trip, my mother, my aunt, my cousin, and myself, departed together in an immense berline for Lyons, where my cousins and I were to be received as canonesses of the noble chapter of Alix. As it was indispensible that the counts of Lyons should examine into the proofs of nobility of the candidates, we were detained about a fortnight there. Our proofs being found satisfactory, we departed for Alix, which is but a few leagues from Lyons. The chapter formed with its immense buildings a singular appearance. It was composed of a great number of pretty little houses, all alike, and each having a little garden. These houses were so arranged, that they formed a half circle, of which the palace of the abbess occupied the centre. I was highly amused at Alix: the abbess and all the ladies loaded me with caresses and sugar-plums, which gave me a great taste for the vocation of canoness.
The day of my reception was a great day to me. The evening which preceded it was by no means so agreeable : I had my hair dressed, my clothes tried on, I was catechised, &c. At last the happy moment arrived ; my cousin and I were dressed in white, and conducted in pomp to the church of the chapter. All the ladies dressed in the fashion of the day, but wearing black satin robes over their hoops, and large cloaks lined with ermine, were in the choir. A priest who officiated as Grand Prior, catechised us, made us repeat the creed, and afterward kneel up
on velvet cushions. His duty was next to cut out a small lock of our hair; but being very old and nearly blind, he cut my ear a little, but I supported the pain heroically, and the accident was only discovered by the bleeding of the ear. After this, he put on my finger a consecrated gold ring, and fastened on my head a piece of black and white stuff, about the length of one's finger, which the canonesses called un mari (a husband). I was then decorated with the signs of the order, a red ribbon with a beautiful enamelled cross, and a broad girdle of blackwatered ribbon. After the ceremony he delivered a short exhortation ; we then went and saluted all the canonesses before leaving the church; and afterwards we heard high mass. The remainder of the day after dioner, exepting the hour of church service, was spent in entertainments, in visits which we paid to all the ladies, and amusing little games. From this time I was called Madame la Comtesse de Lancy; my father being, as I have already said, lord of the manor of BourbonLancy, was the cause of my receiving that name. The pleasure I had in hearing myself called Madame surpassed every other. In this chapter every one had the choice of taking the vows at the age prescribed, or later: but those who did not take them gained nothing by their reception into the order but the title of lady and countess, and the right of wearing its decorations. Those ladies who took the vows, got in time considerable prebends : those who did not, were not obliged to reside in the chapter; but those who did, were not only prevented from marrying but compelled to reside in the chapter two years out of three, passing the year of liberty, however, where they chose.
We continue our extracts with an account of a fête given by her mother, in honour of her father's return from Paris.
She [her mother) had a great natural talent for poetry; and though not very well acquainted with its rules, has written some very charming verses. She composed a kind of comic opera, in the pastoral style with a mythological prologue, in wbich I played Love. All the chambermaids, and my mother had four, all young and pretty, had parts to perform : besides this, there was to be a tragedy, and Iphigenia in Aulis was fixed upon: my mother played Clytemnestra, and 1, Iphigenia. A physician of Bourbon-Lancy, called Doctor Pinot, took the part of Agamemnon; his eldest son, a youth of eighteen, was prodigiously applauded as the fiery Achilles, and he was in truth, fiery enough. His theatric genius had conceived all the contortions, the convulsions, the stampings of the foot, and the terrific cries, which have since been so much applauded on the Parisian stage; I bid myself in order to laugh, for, even at that age, false emphasis and all forced emotions appeared to me exceedingly ridiculous. Mademoiselle de Mars thought as I did, and we amused ourselves secretly in our own room, with imitating this great actor, whom we durst not ridicule at the rehearsals. My mother, to furnish our costume, sacrificed her handsomest dresses. I still recollect, that, in the prologue, my dress was rose colour, under point lace, ornamented with little artificial flowers of all colours; it reached only to my knee, and I had little boots, straw colour and silver, my long hair flowing, and azure wings. My dress, as Iphigenia, over a large hoop, was of China silk, cherry colour and silver, trimmed with sables. As my mother had no diamonds, she ordered from Moulios a prodigious
quantity of false stones, to complete our magnificent dresses. In the prologue, there was a passage which pleased me mightily, and of which the idea was certainly original. I represented Love, as I said before ; a little boy of the village was Pleasure; and I sung a couplet, in which I was supposed to address myself to my father, which ended with
Au Plaisir j'arrache les ailes,
Pour le mieux fixer près de vous. As I finished, I was to run to little Pleasure, and to pluck off his wings ; but it happened one day, at a grand dress-rebearsal, that his wings, being too firmly fastened, resisted : 1 sbook Pleasure in vain-his wings refused to yield; I fell furiously upon Pleasure, and threw him down; he cried piteonsly, but I never quitted my hold, until I succeeded in plucking off the wings of displeased Pleasure, wbo roared with vexation.
Among other talents Madame de Genlis excelled as a musician.
Besides the harp, (says she] on which I played six or seven hours a day, I played on the harpsichord, the guitar, the mandolin, the viol, and the bag pipe, an instrument which was exceedingly graceful; the wind was produced (as I have said) not by the mouth, but through a small pair of bellows placed under the arm.
We remember to have seen an Italian lady playing gracefully on the Jew's-harp, and we believe that a French one may do the same with the bag-pipe ; though the association of grace with the actual operation of “ doudling the bag of wind," as Niel Blane expresses it, is a difficult one.
We intended at the commencement of this article to give some sketch of the life of the authoress. This however, we find would occupy considerable space, and we think those of our readers who may not be able to obtain the book will be better entertained with some of the numerous extracts which we have marked in its perusal, and the rather as the principal interest of the book consists in the smaller details of everyday business and amusement.
The following prank was played soon after her marriage :
I remained only a few days at Genlis; I was there entertained with pond-fishing. Unluckily I went with little white embroidered shoes, and when I got to the edge of the pond, I slipped into the mud: my brother-inlaw came to my assistance, and remarking my shoes, called me a fine lady from Paris, which vexed me extremely; for, having been brought up in a country house, I had announced all the pretensions of a person to whom all sorts of rural amusements are familiar. I replied with some warmth to the pleasantries of my brother-in-law; but hearing all the neighbours assembled at the fishing, repeating that I was a fine lady from Paris, my vexation became extreme; so, stooping down, 1 picked up a small fish about the length of my finger, and swallowed it alive. saying, “ This is to show that I am a fine lady from Paris.” I have done many other foolish things in my life, but certainly nothing so whimsical as this.
Another still more remarkable happened many months after. She was then twenty years of age.
On quitting La Planchette, we all returned to Genlis. My brother passed the year at Genlis. He had just been received into the engi. neers, and undergone his examination in Bézout, with the utmost credit to himself; in fact, be showed a decided genius for the mathematics. I was transported with joy at seeing biin again; he was handsome and ingenuous, and he had a sort of childish gayety which suited my humour exactly. One evening, when there was company at the château, and while my sister-in-law and Messieurs de Genlis were playing, after supper, at reversis, my brother proposed to me a walk in the court which was spacious, covered with sand, and planted all round with flowers, to which I consented. When we reached the court, he expressed a wish to take a walk in the village. I was as willing as he. It was ten o'clock; all the public houses were lighted; and we saw through the windows peasants drinking cider. I observed with surprise that they all wore a very grave air.
My brother was seized with a fit of frolicsome gayety, and he knocked at a window, crying out, “Good people, do you sell any sacré chien?” and after this exploit, he dragged me after him, as he ran into a little dark street, where we both hid ourselves, ready to die with laughter. Our delight was increased by hearing the tavern-keeper, at the door of his house, threatening, “ to cudgel the little blackguards” who had knocked at his window. My brother explained to me that sacré chien meant brandy. I thought all this so pleasant, that I insisted on going to another little tavern adjoining, to make the same polite inquiry, which met with the same success; we repeated several times that agreeable pastime, trying which of us should say, “sacré chien," and ending by shouting it together, and every time running off to hide ourselves in the little street, where we burst into fits of laughter till we could hardly stand. Happy age ! at which we are so easily transported with gayety; when nothing has yet exalted the imagination or troubled the heart!
The following is a specimen of the amusements at the château of the President Portal at Vaudreuil.
While in the drawing-room after dinner, the day after our return, the president received a letter which he read aloud, informing him that pirates had seen Madame de Merode and me at sea, and intended to carry us off to take us to the Grand Seigneur's seraglio. We were not greatly alarmed at this : however we asked him how we could preserve ourselves from so imminent a danger, and he replied that he saw no other way than to get ourselves received as vestals in the temple of the petit bois. This was a charming hut formed like a temple, and placed in a part of the garden near the castle; it was called the convent, was surrounded with walls, and completely secluded, for it was in the president's private garden which he carefully kept under lock and key, and which nobody entered but in his company. He had taken us thither several times to breakfast. It was settled that at eight o'clock next evening we should be received into the temple of Vesta. M. de Caraman led us thither, and immediately disappeared. We found the temple adorned with flowers, and all the ladies of the party dressed as vestals, with Madame de