Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

which they made their gentle and forbearing way. The murmurs of the city were heard upon the right, and the lofty spire of its church rose up straight and arrowy into the sky. The sullen and dull roar of the ocean used to come over the opposite hills from the Bay of Tramore. Immediately before me were the fine woods of Faithleg, and the noble seat of the Bolton family, (Protestant patricians, who have since that time made way for the more modern but wealthy Powers ;) on the left was the magnificent seat of another branch of the same opulent tribeSnowhill; and in the distance, were the three rivers, the Suir, the Nore, and the Barrow, met in a deep and splendid conflux ; the ruins of the old abbey of Dunbrody threw the solemnity of religion and of antiquity over the whole prospect, and by the exquisite beauty of the site afforded a proof that the old Franciscans, who had made a selection of this lovely spot for their monastery, and who have lain for centuries in the mould of its green and luxuriant churchyards, were the lovers of Nature, and that when they left the noise and turmoil of the world, they had not relinquished those enjoyments which are not only innocent, but may be accounted holy. I had many a time looked with admiration upon the noble landscape, in the midst of which I was born, but I never felt and appreciated its loveliness so well as when the consciousness that I was leaving it, not to return for years to it again, endeared to me the spot of my birth, and set off the beauty of the romantic place in which my infancy was passed, and in which I once hoped (I have since abandoned the expectation) that my old age should decline. It is not in the midst of its woods that I shall fall into the sere and yellow leaf!

“Something too much of this.”—The ship sailed, I landed at Bristol, and with a French clergyman, the Abbé de Grimeau, who had been my tutor, I proceeded to London. We took up our residence at the “Swan with two Necks,” in Lad-lane, and after having seen the instruments for torturing good Protestants in the Tower, and heard the roaring of the lion in Exeter Change, the Abbé informed me that I was to be sent to Kensington House, (a college established by the Pères de la Foi, for so the French Jesuits settled in England at that time called themselves,) and that he had directions to leave me there, upon his way to Languedoc, from whence he had been exiled in the Revolution, and to which he had been driven by the maladie de pays to return. Accordingly we set off for Kensington House, which is situated exactly opposite the avenue leading to the Palace, and has the beautiful garden attached to it in front. A large iron gate, wrought into rusty flowers, and other fantastic forms, showed that the Jesuit school had once been the residence of some person of distinction; and I afterwards understood that a mistress of Charles the Second lived in the spot which was now converted into one of the sanctuaries of Ignatius. It was a large oldfashioned house, with many remains of decayed splendour. In a beautiful walk of trees, which ran down from the rear of the building through the play-ground, I saw several French boys playing at swing-swang; and the moment I entered, my ears were filled with the shrill vociferations of some hundreds of little emigrants, who were engaged in their various amusements, and babbled, screamed, laughed, and shouted in all the velocity of their rapid and joyous language. I did not hear a word of Englishi, and at once perceived that I was as much amongst Frenchmen as if I had been suddenly transferred to a Parisian college. Having got this peep at the gaiety of the school into which I was to be in troduced, I was led, with my companion, to a chamber covered with faded gilding, and which had once been richly tapestried, where I found the head of the establishment, in the person of a French nobleman, Monsieur le Prince de Broglio. Young as I was, I could not help being struck at once with the contrast which was presented between the occupations of this gentleman and his name. I saw in him a little, slender, and gracefully-constructed abbé, with a sloping forehead, on which the few hairs that were left him were nicely arranged, and well-powdered and pomatum'd. He had a soft and gentle smile, full of a suavity which was made up of guile and of weakness, but which deserved the designation of aimable, in the best sense of the word. His black clothes were adapted with a peculiar nicety to his symmetrical person, and his silk waistcoat and black silk stockings, with his small shoes buckled with silver, gave him altogether a shining and glossy aspect. This was the son of the celebrated Marshal Broglio, who was now at the head of a school, and, notwithstanding his humble pursuits, was designated by every body as “ Monsieur le Prince.”

Monsieur le Prince, though neither more nor less than a pedagogue by profession, (for he had engaged in this employment to get his bread,) had all the manners and attitudes of the court, and by his demeanour put me at once in mind of the old regime. He welcomed my French companion with tenderness, and having heard that he was about to return to France, the poor gentleman exclaimed “ Helas !" while the tears came into his eyes at the recollection of “ cette belle France,” which he was never, as he then thought, to see again. He bade me welcome. These preliminaries of introduction having been gone through, my French tutor took his farewell; and as he embraced me for the last time, I well remember that he was deeply affected by the sorrow which I felt in my separation from him, and turning to Monsieur le Prince, recommended me to his care with an emphatic tenderness. The latter led me into the school-room, where I had a desk assigned to me beside the son of the Count Décar, who has since, I understand, risen to offices of very high rank in the French Court. His father belonged to the nobility of the first class. In the son, it would have been at that time difficult to detect his patrician derivation. He was a huge, lubberly fellow, with thick matted hair, which he never combed. His complexion was greasy and sudorific, and to soap and water he seemed to have such a repugnance, that he did not above once a week go through any process of ablution. He was surly, dogged, and silent, and spent his time in the study of mathematics, for which he had a good deal of talent. I have heard that he is now one of the most fashionable and accomplished men about the court, and that this Gorgonius smells now of the pastiles of RufilJus. On the other side of me was a young French West Indian, from the colony of Martinique, whose name was Devarieux. The school was full of the children of the French planters, who had been sent over to learn English among the refugees from the Revolution. He was an exceedingly fine young fellow, tbe exact reverse in all his babits to Mon-', sieur le Compte Décar, on my left hand, and expended a good deal of his hours of study in surveying a small pocket-mirror, and in arranging the curls of his rich black hair, the ambrosial plenty of which was sestooned about his temples, and fell profusely behind his head. Almost all the

French West Indians were vain, foppish, generous, brave, and passionate. They exhibited many of the qualities which we ascribe to the natives of our own islands in the American archipelago; they were a sort of Gallican Belcours in little ; for with the national attributes of their forefathers, they united much of that vehemence and habit of domination, which a hot sun and West India overseership are calculated to produce. In general, the children of the French exiles amalgamated readily with these creoles :—there were, to be sure, some points of substantial difference; the French West Indians being. all rich roturiers, and the little emigrants having their veins full of the best blood of France, without a groat in their pockets. But there was one point of reconciliation between them they all concurred in haring England and its government. This detestation was not very surprising in the West Indian French; but it was not a little singular that the boys, whose fathers had been expelled from France by the Revolution, and to whom England had afforded shelter and given bread, should manifest the ancient national antipathy, as strongly as if they had never been nursed at her bosom, and obtained their aliment from her bounty. Whenever news arrived of a victory won by Bonaparte, the whole school was thrown into a ferment; and I cannot, even at this distance of time, forget the exultation with which the sons of the decapitated or the exiled hailed the triumph of the French arms, the humiliation of England, and the glory of the nation whose greatness they had learned to lisp.. There was one boy I recollect more especially. I do not now remember his name, but his face and figure I cannot dismiss from my remembrance. He was a little effeminate creature, with a countenance that seemed to have been compounded of the materials with which waxen babies are made; his fine flaxen hair fell in girlish ringlets about his face, and the exquisite symmetry of his features would have rendered him a fit model for a sculptor who wished to throw the beau idéal of pretty boyhood into stone. He had upon him a sickly expression, wbich was not sufficiently pronounced to excite any disagreeable emotion, but cast over him a mournful look, which was seconded by the calamities of his family, and added to the lustre of misfortune which attended him. He was the child of a nobleman who had perished in the Revolution. His mother, a widow, who resided in a miserable lodging in London, had sent him to Kensington House, but it was well known that he was received there by the Prince de Broglio from charity; and I should add that his eleemosynary dependence, so far from exciting towards him any of that pity which is akin to contempt, contributed to augment the feeling of sympathy which the disasters of his family had created in his regard. This unfortunate little boy was a Frenchman to his heart's core, and whenever the country which was wet with his father's blood had added a new conquest to her possessions, or put Austria or Prussia to flight, his pale cheek used to flush into a hectic of exultation, and he would break into joyfulness at the achievements by which France was exalted and the pride and power of England were brought down. This feeling, which was conspicuous in this little fellow, ran through the whole body of Frenchmen, who afforded very unequivocal proof of the sentiments by which their parents were influenced. The latter I used occasionally to see. Old gentlemen, the neatness of whose attire was accompanied by indications of indigence, and whose seamy coats exhibited an excessive assiduity in brushing, used occasionally to visit at Kensington House. Their elasticity of back, the frequency and gracefulness of their well-regulated bows, and the perpetual smile upon their wrinkled and emaciated faces, showed that they had something to do with the “ vieille cour;" and this conjecture used to be confirmed by the embrace with which they folded the little marquises and counts whom they came to visit.

Kensington House was frequented by emigrants of very high rank. The father of the present Duke de Grammont, who was at this school, and was then Duke de Guische, often came to see his son. I recollect upon one occasion having been witness to a very remarkable scene. Monsieur, as he was then called, the present King of France, waited one day, with a large retinue of French nobility, upon the Prince de Broglio. The whole body of the schoolboys was assembled to receive him. We were gathered in a circle at the bottom of a flight of stone stairs, that led from the principal room into the play-ground. The future King of France appeared, with his cortège of illustrious exiles, at the glass folding-doors which were at the top of the stairs, and the moment he was seen, we all exclaimed, with a shrill shout of beardless loyalty, “ Vive le Roi !” Monsieur seemed greatly gratified by this spectacle, and in a very gracious and condescending manner went down amongst the little boys, who were at first awed a good deal by his presence, but were afterwards speedily familiarized to him by the natural playfulness and benignity of Charles the Tenth. He asked the names of those who were about him, and when he heard them, and saw in the boys by whom he was encompassed the descendants of some of the noblest families of France, he seemed to be sensibly affected. One or two names, which were associated with peculiarly melancholy recollections, made him thrill. “Helas! mon enfant !” he used to say, as some orphan was brought up to him ; and he would then lean down to caress the child of a friend who had perished on the scaffolds of the Revolution.

I have been drawn away from my original theme by the scenes which, in reverting to the days of my boyhood, rose upon me. This establishment was conducted by several French priests, assisted by some Germans and Italians, with the Prince de Broglio at their head. They were almost all members of the order of Jesuits, though they called themselves by the less obnoxious title of “ Pères de la Foi.” The only person of rank among them was the Prince de Broglio, who had, I am inclined to think, from motives of convenience entered into this spiritual corporation, as the best mode of earning his livelihood. At this period, the order had not been restored by any formal bull from the Pope ; but it was notoriously encouraged at Rome, and a considerable establishment had been founded in Russia, where the General of the society resided. The Jesuits at Kensington were in communication with him, and, from their antipathy to every thing English, disputed the authority of the Provincial of the Anglican Province. On the plea that they were French Jesuits, sojourning only for a short period in Great Britain, they rejected the mandates of Doctor Stone, (the Rector at Stonyhurst,) and refused to obey any injunction which was not issued by the General himself. These differences would not, in all probability, have arisen under the old system of regulation, but the order was 'only on the point of resuscitation, and of course the discipline amongst the Pères de la Foi" was a little lax. For instance, Monsieur le Prince de Broglio, the quasi head of the French Province in England, kept a very handsome curricle and pair, which he used to drive himself with equal dexterity, intrepidity, and grace, and has often won the palm of charioteering in the Olympic field of “ Rotten Row.” Certain frivolities, (for he was a perfectly moral man, and bis defects were little more than the levities of a Frenchman,) excited the censure of the more rigorous members of the establishment, and especially of the Père Alnot, who was the completest specimen of the monk—for he had little of the Jesuit about him - I have ever seen. This Père Alnot was at first regarded as a saint amongst us. He was a man of a very lofty and slender person, and was dressed in long robes of coarse black cloth, with a cowl thrown over his head, and a girdle of strong black leather round his waist, to which a massive rosary and crucifix were attached. His face, of which we could only occasionally catch glimpses, was wan and sallow, with glaring eyes, sparkling, in the midst of paleness and emaciation, with an evil and inauspicious lustre. He seldom washed himself, considering uncleanness to be an incident to devotion, and his beard, covered with filthy snuff, stood in stubbles upon his long and pointed chin. His mouth was full of false sweetness and guile. He lived in a small room adjoining the chapel, where he heard the confessions of the students; and all its furniture corresponded with the apparatus of the man himself, It consisted of a few wooden chairs, a bed of the hardest materials, and a little table, on which a skull was placed, with a perpetual lamp burning beside it. Here he used to sit with his elbow leaning on the table, and his long and skinny hand placed upon his forehead ; and when a boy told him that he had broken into an orchard, or robbed a hen-roost, he would lift up his eyes and heave a profound groan. This mysterious person was at the head of a society called “ the Sodality;" an institution which is adopted in all Jesuit seminaries, and which selects the Virgin Mary as the object of its veneration. A separate chapel was dedicated to her by the Père Alnot, which he took a special care in adorning. It was painted with green, representing heaven, and was studded over with spangles by way of stars. The Père Alnot was wont to deliver his homilies in this separate sanctuary: he attempted to introduce a practice, which has also been resorted to by a sect established in Dublin by Mr. -- , the exfellow of Trinity College, who are known by the name of the “ Oscular Society,” from the nature of the religious ceremony of a peculiar character to which they resort--their favourite text in Scripture being “ Salute each other with a holy kiss." I recollect that this grim and horrid personage strongly recommended to the members of the Sodality the adoption of this usage ; but the other Jesuits interposed, and prohibited this singular manifestation of his very peculiar zeal. A little time afterwards, the Père Alnot was dismissed from the college, and I afterwards understood that, under his sackcloth, he concealed a depraved and guilty heart. He was, it was reported, executed upon the Continent for some enormity. I always looked upon him with an instinctive aversion, in which I was confirmed by a Genoese Jesuit, the “ Père Molinari," who represented him as a person of the darkest and most evil character. Molinari was an exceedingly kind, amiable, and well-in

« ElőzőTovább »