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the fabled eagle, that is fond to gaze upon the sun, he fixed his eyes, alone, on what was bright. He would ask himself, Why might not France produce a Brutus or a Cato? Was the soul of man degenerate ? had it lost that power which sustained it in the inspiring days of ancient glory?-No! He felt the same spirit stirring within his bosom, and he resolved that he at least would live a Roman.
Such were the aspirations of his youth; but they were mixed with little of that wild, warm glow, which animates the enthusiast. His feelings, like the waters of a deep mountain lake, were calm and cold, though they were clear and profound. When he did feel, he felt strongly; but the lighter things of the world passed him by as if they had not been.
In the same old, ill-fashioned town of Arles, which gave birth to Armand Villars, lived another youth, somewhat elder in years, but far younger in character. We will call him Durand. He was one out of the many. A gay, brave, thoughtless boy, with a touch of pride, a good deal of vanity, and an infinity of good-nature. He was one of those pieces of unmoulded clay, which the world forms, and hardens. He might have been any thing; but in that same school of the world, he that at first may be any thing, generally, at last, learns to be bad. I have said he was thoughtless; but he was by no means without talents, and those which he had were suited to his character. He was penetrating, but not profound; he was active, but not industrious; he had more quickness ihan wit, more imagination than judgment.
As we generally over-estimate that which we do not possess, we are inclined to admire qualities opposite to our own. Durand had early fallen into society with Armand Villars. Habit did much to unite them, but the very difference of their minds did more ; and dissimilar tastes often led them to the same pursuits.
They would wander together through all the remains of antiquity with which the neighbourhood of Arles is enriched. Sometimes they would linger for hours in the Champs Elysées, poring over the tombs and sarcophagi; sometimes they wonld stray near St. Jean, along the banks of the Rhone, trying to trace out the ancient palace of Constantine; and sometimes they would stand and gaze upon the river itself, and almost worship it, as it rolled on in proud magnificence towards the ocean.
But still the objects which led them, and the combinations produced in the mind of each, were very, very different. Durand did not look upon the Rhone merely as an object of picturesque beauty; he loved it as a mountaineer loves his mountains : he loved it with that instinctive affection which we feel towards all objects associated with the earlier and brighter hours of our existence, connected with the first expansion of our feelings, and commingled with all our youngest ideas. The grand and the great in nature are always matter for remembrance. They are the landmarks in the waste of years, that guide our meinory back to every thing that is pleasing in the past.
The scene where it happened is still intimately mixed with every circumstance of happiness, and we love the spot, even when the pleasure has passed away. The Rhone was the grandest object connected with any of his infant recollections; and as such he loved it, without any farther combination, or any endeavour to know why.
Villars would not have been satisfied to feel, without knowing why he felt. The Rhone was nothing to him, without its name in history. But it recalled to him the days of Cæsar, and every struggle the ancient Gauls made for the independence of their country; and there was a feeling of pride mixed with the remembrance, which seemed in a degree to transfer itself to the object that excited it; and he became almost proud of the Rhone, because he admired the deeds which its banks had witnessed.
It is a country fertile in ruins. It seems as if Time had taken a barbarous pleasure in leaving there the wreck of mighty works, as trophies of his all-destroying power; and in wandering amidst them, Durand would mark the elegance of the capital, or the fair proportion of the architrave, which had once adorned some palace or some temple, whose lord and his parasites, whose idol and its worshippers, had long been forgotten, in the silence of things that are no more ; and he would point out the beauties to his companion, who, for his part, would carry his thoughts back to the days of Rome-to the minds whose energy had conceived, and to the men whose labour bad perfected, those giant fabrics that shame the pigmy efforts of our later times : and while Durand would laughingly contend that the Romans were neither braver, wiser, nor better than the race of moderns, Villars would exclaim against the degeneracy of mankind, and grieve that he had not lived in those days of glory and of liberty.
They were at that period of life when passion is strongest, and imagination most vivid, and when judgment, like a young monarch, forgets his painful duties, and leaves his throne vacant while he wanders amongst the pleasures and diversions of his new estate. They were at this period of life, when the Revolution began to throw a new, and too strong light upon the world. In the enthusiasm of republican spirit, the revival of ancient institutions, and all the brilliant fantasies which rapidly succeeded each other, many of the wisest and the best got be. wildered; nor was Durand one of the last to adore this phantasmagoria of antique forms. His course is soon told :-he quitted his native city; but before he went, he embraced Villars with all the ardour of his new sect : he called him “ citizen," and “brother," and he vowed that their friendship should be everlasting. He joined the army formed for the defence of the Republic. His talents, his daring courage, and some of those accidental circumstances of fortune which decide, not only the fate of men, but of empires, combined to raise him above his compeers. His mind readily embraced every thing that was brilliant. He was naturally witty; and shrewdly perceiving that a jest would often pass where a reason would not, he raised up for himself a sort of philosophy which taught him to laugh at every thing, or good or bad, and with this he passed safely and honourably through all the vicissitudes of a chang. ing state, and found himself in the end, even as he could have wished to have been, selfish, heartless, rich, respected, and in power.
The life of Armand Villars was different. For a while he looked upon the grand scene which was playing before him, and rejoiced at the revival of ancient virtues—for he hoped that it was so ;-but yet there was something in it that he distrusted. He looked for the great independence of soul, the generous self-devotion, the steady purpose of right, and the stern patriotism, which sacrificed all private feeling to
public good-he looked for Roman laws and Roman spirit, and he found but a wild chaos of idle names and an empty mockery of ancient institutions; and unwilling to yield the favourite illusion, he turned his eyes away.
It was then that every Frenchman was called to bleed for his country, and Villars willingly quitted the ungrateful scenes that were passing in France, to place himself in the ranks of her defenders. In the field as in the city, the same calm, firm spirit still animated him. He fought as if life had for him no charms, nor death any terrors. But it was not the courage of romance. There was none of the headlong ardour of enthusiasm—there was none of the daring of thoughtless temerity-there was none of the reckless valour of despair: there was in his bosom, alone, the one fixed remembrance that he was doing his duty --that he was fighting for his country—and that calm reasoning courage which knows danger and despises it.
He rose in command, but he rose slowly; and it was not till late in the campaign of Italy, that he attained the rank of Colonel. Italy was a land which had long been the theme of his thoughts. He was now there, amongst the ruins of that stupendous fabric, the record of whose ancient glory had been his admiration and delight. He was on the spot where Romans had dwelt, and he fought where Romans had bled; and if any thing like ardour ever entered into his nature, it was then. The habits, too, of his boyish days seemed here to resume their empire. He would wander, as he had done in youth, among the wreck of ages past, and indulge in long and deep meditations, in the midst of empty palaces and neglected fanes. He would repeople them with the generations gone, and conjure up the great and wise of other days. The first and second Brutus seemed to rise before him—the men who had expelled a Tarquin, and slain a Cæsar-he that had sacrificed his children, and he that had sacrificed his friend, to his country : Virginius too, and his daughter; and Manlius-and, in short, all the train of those whose deeds gave a splendour to the times in which they lived, and whose names history has for ever consecrated.
Italy teems with recollections of every kind; for courage, and wisdom, and power, and arts, and sciences, and beauty, and music, and desolation, have all in turn made it their favourite dwelling-place; and though the train of thought which Villars followed was but of one description, there was matter enough for that, and he might have indulged it for ever, but that the more busy and warlike occupations of the present gave him but little time to ponder over the past. Another fate, too, awaited him—a fate which he little dreamed of. In a skirmish, which took place near Bologna, he was severely wounded, and carried to the house of an old Bolognese lady, whose rank was rather at variance with her fortune ; for though she prized illustrious birth, as the purest and most permanent species of wealth, and perhaps valued it the more, inasmuch as it was the only sort of riches that remained to her, she nevertheless found it very difficult to make this refined treasure supply the place of that coarser material, gold; at least in the opinion of others, who obstinately continued to think that rank must have fortune to support its pretensions, or else it is worse than nothing. It is supposed that sometimes their pertinaciy almost persuaded her of this also; but as the old Countess had not the one, she endeavoured to
make the other do; and like a poor man, ostentatious of his last guinea, she contrived to make every one well aware of her rank and family. However, she was a kind-hearted woman; and though she would talk of her cousin the Prince, and her nephew the Duke, the poor and the sick would always share of what little she had, and when she had nothing else, she would give them a tear.
She received the wounded soldier with all the kindness of her nature. It mattered not to her of what party or of what country he was ; she was happy enough to have no politics; and as to country, the sick were always of her own. She received Colonel Villars, therefore, as her son; she nursed him herself; she did more, she made her daughter nurse him; and it never seemed to enter into the head of Beatrice, or her mother, or Villars, that there could be any thing dangerous in it to either. Yet Villars was handsome, strikingly handsome, and Beatrice was an Italian beauty, dark, and soft, and graceful; and it was not long before the touch of her small hand, as she fastened the bandages on his arm, made a thrill pass through the soldier's breast which he did not understand. He fancied that Beatrice must have touched his wound, and yet ber fingers went so softly that they seemed to tremble lest they should press it roughly. Still Villars attributed the strange thrill that passed across his boson to that cause. “ Or else what could it be?” he would ask himself. And yet, by some odd perversion of reasoning, Villars always preferred that Beatrice should fasten the bandages, rather than her mother ; although the old Countess went so dextrously to work, that she produced no thrill at all.
Such were his feelings. Now this was the first time that Villars had ever been tended by female hands. But though this was not the first time that Beatrice had given her aid to the wounded-for a long war, and its consequent miseries, bringing many calls upon their kindness, and their hearts being naturally benevolent towards all mankind, the two ladies had learned to act almost the part of dames of romance, and unblushing to assist to their utmost all those who needed it-though this, I say, was not the first time that Beatrice had lent her aid to the wounded, it was the first time that she had ever felt that anxiety for any one which she now experienced towards Villars. The loss of blood had weakened him much : his heart was all the softer for it, and his manner more gentle ; and Beatrice began to feel pity, and admiraration, and love; especially when she perceived that the being, so cold and stern to all others, was softened towards her. But it went on in silence in her heart, and in that of Villars, till the assurance gradually crept upon him that he loved; and he wondered at bis weakness-and then he asked himself “ Was it possible that his affection could be returned ?” and sometimes he would hope, and sometimes he would doubt, till his feelings became too painful for endurance; and he resolved that he would conquer the passion which unmanned him, and fily for ever from the object that had excited it.
Women are taught to keep their affection, like a rare gem, hidden from all eyes in the casket of their heart ; and it is not till, by some mishap, the key is lost or stolen, that man finds out what a treasure there is within.
Beatrice heard Villars name the day of his departure without an apparent emotion. , She saw that day approach, too, as calmly as she had heard it appointed. It is true, her cheek grew a little paler, and her eye would often rest upon the ground that in singing her voice would tremble, and that she did not seem so fond of music as she had been formerly. But she would laugh when any one called her thoughtful, and assured her mother that she had never been in better health.
Villars, as I have said, had made a firm resolution to depart; but like most other resolutions in this changeable world, it was not destined to be kept. The day previous to that which he had fixed for his departure, the mother of Beatrice was struck with apoplexy, and in two hours after, the fair creature that he loved, was an orphan, alone in the wide world, drooping in sorrow, and clinging to him for support in her affliction. Could he leave her? He never asked himself the question. He stayed, and after a time Beatrice became the bride of Armand Villars.
New feelings now began to spring up in his heart. The sweeter, gentler associations of existence now began to cling round him, and mellow the harshness of his character, like the green ivy twining round the rugged bark of the oak, and softening its rude majesty. Life took a new aspect. A brighter sun seemed to have risen over the world. He forgot the past, and in the delight of the present, found a boundless store of anticipation for the future.
There are few whose fate has been so desolate, that one clear day has not, at some time, shone through and brightened their existence. Oh, it is like being in a boat upon a summer sea. Every circumstance of joy dances round us, like the ripple of the waves in the morning sun. Heaven seems to smile upon us like the clear blue sky, and the breath of time wafts us gently but swiftly on our course, while Hope points onwards to the far faint line of the horizon, and tells us of a bright and golden shore beyond.
And who is there, that when all seems sunshine, would look around him for a cloud ?
Villars dreamed ; but that dream of joy was soon to be broken. The tie which linked him to social being was soon to be rent. Beatrice died, and with her every gentler feeling of his bosom ; and his heart became their sepulchre, never to be opened again.
Villars became old in an hour. There is no such thing as time. It is but space occupied by incident. It is the same to eternity as matter is to infinite space,-portion out of the immense occupied by something within the sphere of mortal sense. We ought not to calculate our age by the passing of years, but by the passing of feelings and events. It is what we have done, and what we have suffered, makes us old.
Beatrice died, and the heart of her husband became as a thing of stone. To any other, perhaps, the daughter she had left him, would have recalled in a tenderer manner the joys he had lost, and re-illumined the bright affections wbich her death had extinguished. There are some persons in whose bosom the necessity of affection seems placed by nature never to be eradicated. But with Villars it was not so. He cursed the weakness which had enthralled his heart and made it either a prey to love or sorrow; and he fortified himself against the assault of any mortal feeling. He would do his duty, strictly, fully, towards his child ; but that was all which he ever proposed to his own mind.