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He faltered on the threshold,
She lingered upon the stair:
Can it be that she is there?
Without is tender yearning,
And tender love is within;
But a wooden door is between.
FROM wells where Truth in secret lay
"O marvelous gift!" the many cried. "O cruel gift!” his voice replied.
The stars were far, and cold, and high,
He yearned toward the sun in vain
W. D. H.
To M'lle Sophie Surville :
It is a real pleasure, my dear niece, to dedicate to thee a book, the subject and details of which have the approbation, so difficult to obtain, of a young girl to whom the world is still unknown, and who understands no concession or compromise of those noble principles which form her saintly education.
You young girls are a formidable public; for we may let you read only books as pure as your soul is pure, and for bid certain lectures, even as we prevent you from seeing society as it is. Is it not then just motive of pride to an author, to have pleased you? Heaven grant that your affection may not have deceived you! Who shall tell us ? The Future, which thou wilt see, I hope, and when thy uncle Balzac shall have passed away.
Ursula's grandfather, the famous manufacturer of harpsichords and other musical instruments, Valentin Mirouet, one of our most celebrated organists, died in 1785, leaving a natural son, the child of his old age, recognized, bearing his name, but a very wild chap. He had not the consolation of seeing this spoiled child at his deathbed. A singer and composer, Joseph Mirouet, after having made his debut at the Italian Opera under an assumed name, had run away with a young girl into Germany. The old instrumentmaker recommended this boy, really full of talent, to his son-inlaw, Dr. Minoret ; observing that he had refused to espouse the mother, in order to avoid prejudicing the interests of Madame Minoret. The doctor promised to give this unfortunate lad half of Valentin Mirouet's legacy, converted into money, when Erard purchased his factory. He sought, through diplomatic agencies, his natural brother-in-law, Joseph Mirouet ; but Grimm told him onc evening, that after having engaged in a Prussian regiment, the artist had deserted, under an assumed name, and had baffled all researches. Joseph Mirouet, endowed by Nature with a seductive voice, a fine stature, a pretty figure, and being above all, a musical composer full of taste and of fire, led during fifteen years that bohemian life which the Berlinese Hoffman has so well described. Thus towards his fortieth year, he was a prey to such great mise
ries, that he was fain to seize, in 1806, the opportunity of reclaiming his French citizenship. He then established himself at Hamburg, where he married the daughter of a staunch citizen, enraptured with music, smitten with the artist whose glory was still in perspective and who wished to consecrate himself to it. But after fifteen years of misfortune, Joseph Mirouet found the wine of opulence too strong for him ; his natural extravagance overcame him, and while making his wife happy, he spent her fortune in a few years. Misery returned. The household must have come to the most painful straits, for Joseph Mirouet to have engaged as musician in a French regiment. In 1813, by one of the greatest chances, the surgeon-major of this regiment, struck by this name of Mirouet, wrote to Dr. Minoret towards whom he had obligations. The answer was prompt. In 1814, before the capitulation of Paris, Joseph Mirouet had there an asylum, where his wife died in giving birth to a little girl, whom the doctor wished to call Ursula, the name of his wife. The musician did not survive the mother, exhausted like her with fatigues and miseries. In dying, the unfortunate musician bequeathed his daughter to the doctor, who served as her godfather, notwithstanding his repugnance for what he called the mummeries of the Church. After having seen his children successively perish by miscarriages, or during their first year, the doctor had awaited the effect of a last experience.
The last, conceived after two years of repose, had died during the year 1792, a victim to the nervous state of the mother, if those physiologists are in the right who think that in the inexplicable phenomenon of generation, the child holds to the father by the blood and to the mother by the nervous system.
Obliged to renounce the enjoyments of the most powerful sentiment of his nature, beneficence was, doubtless, for the doctor, a consolation for his disappointed paternity. During his conjugal life, so cruelly agitated, the doctor had above all desired a little blonde girl, one of those flowers that make the joy of a household ; he accepted then thankfully the legacy that Joseph Mirouet made him, and revived upon this orphan the hopes of his vanished dreams. During two years, he assisted as Cato formerly for Pompey, at the most minute details of Ursula's life ; he would not have the nurse give her to suck, raise her or put her to bed, without him. His experience, his science, all was at the service of this child. After having felt the pains, the alternatives of fear, and
hope, the labors and joys of a mother, he had the happiness of seeing in this daughter of blonde Germany and of the French artist, a vigorous life, a profound sensibility. The pleased old man followed with a mother's sentiments the growth of her blonde tresses, first down, then silk, then hair, light and fine, so caressing to the fingers that caress them. He often kissed her little naked feet, whose toes covered with a pellicle beneath which the blood is seen, resembling rose-buds. He was beside himself about this little one. When she tried to speak, or when she bent her fine blue eyes, so mild, on objects, with that dreamy look that seems to be the dawn of thought, and which she ended with a smile, he often remained before her during whole hours, seeking with Jordy the reasons, which so many others call caprices, hidden under the least phenomena of that delicious phase of life in which the child is at once a flower and a fruit ; a confused intelligence, a perpetual movement, a violent desire. The beauty of Ursula, her gentleness, rendered her so dear to the doctor, that he would have wished to change for her the laws of Nature, and he sometimes confessed to old Jordy that his teeth ached when Ursula was cutting hers. When old men do love children, they set no bounds to their passion — they adore them. For those little beings they suppress their manias, and for them they remember all their past. Their experience, their indulgence, their patience, all the acquisitions of life, that treasure so painfully amassed, they deliver it to that young life by which they grow young again, and then supply maternity by intelligence. Their wisdoin, always awakened, is worth the mother's intuition ; they recall those delicacies of behavior which in her are divination, and carry them into the exercise of a compassion, the force of which is developed doubtless in proportion to the immense weakness of its object. The slowness of their movements replaces the maternal gentleness. Finally, with them, as with the children, life is reduced to simplicity, and if sentiment renders the mother a slave, the detachment from all passion and the absence of all interest permit the old man to devote himself entirely. Thus it is not rare to see children come to an understanding with old persons.
The old soldier, the old curate, the old doctor, happy in the caresses and coquettings of Ursula, never wearied of answering or of playing with her. Far from making them impatient, the petulance of this child charmed them, and they satisfied all her desires by making every thing a subject of instruction. Thus this little
one grew up, surrounded with old persons who smiled on her and behaved like several mothers around her, equally attentive and provident. Thanks to this education, Ursula's soul developed itself into the sphere that suited it. This rare plant met with its special soil, aspired the elements of its true life, and assimilated the floods of its sunshine.
“In what religion will you raise this little one ?” asked the Abbé Chaperon of Minoret, when Ursula was six years old.
“ In yours," replied the doctor.
Atheist, after the fashion of M. de Wolmar in the Nouvelle Heloïse, he did not recognize in himself the right to deprive Ursula of the benefits offered by the Catholic Religion.
The doctor, seated on a bank below the window of the Chinese Cabinet, then felt his hand pressed by the hand of the curate.
Yes, curate, whenever she speaks to me of God, I will send her to her friend Sapron," said he, imitating the infantine speech of Ursula. “I wish to know whether the Religious Sentiment is innate. Thus I have done nothing for or against the tendencies of this
young soul, but I have already named you in my heart as her spiritual father.”
“ This will be counted to you by God, I hope," replied the Abbé Chaperon, striking his hands gently together and raising them towards Heaven, as if he were making a short mental prayer.
Thus from the age of six, the little orphan fell under the religious power of the curate, as she had already fallen under that of his old friend Jordy.
The captain, formerly a professor in one of the old military schools, occupied, by predilection, with grammar and the differences among the European tongues, had studied the problem of a universal language. This learned man, patient like all the old masters, found delight then in teaching Ursula to read and write, in teaching her the French language, and what she ought to know of calculation. The doctor's well-stocked library permitted him to select such books as might be read by a child, and such as might amuse while instructing her. The soldier and the curate left this intellect to enrich itself with the same ease and liberty that the doctor left to the body. Ursula learned at her plays. Religion contained reflection. Abandoned to the Divine culture of a nature led into pure regions by those three prudent instructors, Ursula e aned more towards sentiment than towards duty, and took as the