Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

scene.

influences which have produced in towns tinctive garb with the conservatism which a nervous, irritable, sceptical generation is the foundation of the French national There is, of course, another side to this character; each province displays its pepicture, and the ease with which the wear. culiarities of race and of language. Party ers of the blue blouse, whether peasant or feeling often runs high in secluded remechanic, are enabled to assume the gions; here, the Church is all powerful ; broadcloth of the bourgeoisie is beginning there, is found a Protestant remnant to be regarded as a national danger by descendants of the combatants in religious observers who are neither reactionary nor wars; on one side of a river men's hopes alarmist. The increasing number of the run high that a monarch will one day rule youth of France, who have acquired just over France again; beyond the stream enough education to make them despise survives some of the spirit which sacked manual labor, without the necessary con. the châteaux and the convents a hundred plement of commanding ability or indus. years ago. Yet amid all this variety of trious determination, is not a source of race and of occupation, of sentiment and strength to the nation,

of class, there are two characteristics Vigor and health are the chief impres. which throughout France are universal sions which a sojourn in the French every one works, and every one is imbued provinces leaves upon the observer, both with an intense love of country. The injo the ple and in the soil. As one dustry and the riotism of France more travels through France what variety of than counterbalance all her national de. landscape meets the eye day after day fects, and, in spite of her misfortunes, and week after week, though strangers who guard her in the front rank of nations. make a rapid transit through the country There are many features in the life of often complain of the monotony of the provincial France which, with deep regret,

The vast horizons of the plains we refrain from touching upon, some of unbroken by acclivity or hedgerow; the which are suggested by the volumes bewaving fields of corn which stretch to such fore us. We should have liked to enter at boundless distance that they remind one some length on the subject of peasant of the forests of Canada when golden in proprietary, and of the French farming the autumn; the hillsides covered with system generally, a topic which is often vineyards; the royal forests pierced with referred to in England, and usually with paths affording endless vistas of verdure; considerable misapprehension.

Many ihe orchards laden with fruit; the rugged English writers upon French economics slopes of the mountains where the un- seem to imagine that the whole agricultu. promising soil is subdued to fertility by ral area in France is cut up into small iodesatigable labor. Then there are the portions, whereas large landowners are larger villages clustered round the tower found in almost every department. In the of an ancient church, with irregular, ill. Nièvre, for instance, although the greater paved streets impregnated with a rustic number of proprietors are small owners, odor; the little towns, half asleep beneath the greater proportion of the district is in the shadow of historic walls, which revive the hands of large proprietors. This is memories of the romantic age of France; an example of the extreme difficulty of Chinon, Blois, and Fontainebleau, once making any general statements which are the residence of kings; Vendôme, Loches, correct regarding France, apart from her Gisors, and Amboise, ancient capitals, and administrative institutions.

The metayonce strong places which sustained war-age system, too, is deserving of careful like sieges, whereon depended the desti. examination, and it will be surprising to nies of France. At this place the heroic many English readers to know that there maid of Orleans halted on her patri. are parts of rural France, which they may otic progress through the land; a few pass through by railway half a day's jourleagues hence the associations of the grey ney from Paris, where the corvéé is still towers, now grim with age, are with the in operation. We should have liked also gentler tradition of Agnes Sorel or of to consider the position of the clergy in Diane de Poitiers. Again there is the the provinces. Although the Church has varying aspect of the different classes of unhappily lost a large proportion of the the people; the laborious, sturdy peasant, intellectual and vigorous manhood of frugally self-denying in order that he may France, yet the vast majority of the nation own a scrap of the earth's surface; the continues to enter upon life baptized in more active and nervous mechanic ; the the ancient faith, and to pass from it at its industrious trader. Each class and call- close fortified by the sacraments. Pering bas, to some extent, retained its dis. I haps, on a future occasion, we may be

permitted to review the present condition | liable for warlike service every husband, and the future prospects of the Catholic son, and brother in the land is a guarantee Church in France, but in the mean while against rash enterprise. Although, on the we would say that the truth of the matter one hand, the genuine royalist sentiment is to be found peither in the heated pois almost extinct, the republican sentilemics of pamphleteers, who hold a brief ment, on the other hand, has become cool. for the extreme clerical faction which The younger generation is republican in longs for the day when the civil power the sense of disbelieving in the possibility shall make absolute submission to the of a monarchical restoration, but the Church, nor in the repressive policy of the ardent republicanism of the old doctri. secular party which, not content with naires is almost as dead as the advocacy curbing the pretensions of arrogant eccle of the divine right of kings. In the pres. siastics, would do away with the religious eot state of Europe it is impossible to faith of the mothers of France after having make a forecast of even a few years first outraged it.

ahead; but it seems likely that the present Every writer, empirical or experienced, form of government will continue in who describes French life, has a remedy France, until disturbed by a European to offer, sometimes indeed for ills which commotion which shall gravely affect the do not exist. Our excellent but insular French nation. Britons, who have pleasantly described We feel that our observations upon protheir home in the Aveyron, seem to think vincial France are imperfect and cursory, that there must be something radically but we shall be content in the thought wrong in a country where man can go that perhaps they may be the means of forth to work in the morning without hav. attracting some of our countrymen in their ing exercised his carnivorous appetite at days of leisure to a personal study of a an early breakfast. The American dem- great people who, though our nearest ocratic editor professes that all would be neighbors, know us as imperfectly as we well with France if the detestable institu. know them. To study a tract of France, tion called a republic could give place to to become acquainted with its natural a monarchy of ultramontane tendencies; features, the way of life of its people, and while the accomplished English_maiden its historical associations, is a holiday lady, who describes“ The Roof of France," occupation as easy of accomplishment as joins direct issue with him, gallantly and it is interesting; but if life be too short gaily proposing that for the salvation of for a space of it to be devoted to a minute France the clergy should renounce their examination of a portion of this sunny celibacy. France is as likely to accept land, then we would counsel travellers to one of these prescriptions as the other. take some simple series of historical What she really requires has been discovo events as a guide for their more extended ered by the author of " Round my House,” | journeyings. For example, no better genwho in his recent work sagaciously ob- eral idea of provincial France could be serves that the chief desire at present in obtained in a brief tour than by visiting France is rest; that there is a weariness all the chief places associated with the of change after the most disturbed century brief story of Joan of Arc. The towns of national existence, and that the single and villages must of course be taken in wish of the people is to pursue their avo. geographical order, and not in the chrono. cations in peace. It sounds like a paradox, !ogical sequence of the rapid events in the but is none the less true, that the chief crowded life of La Pucelle. The traveller barrier to a monarchical restoration in may, however, start at her birthplace at France is the growing conservatism which Domremy almost beneath the shadow of has always, amid all ebullitions of excited the Vosges. Thence making his way feeling, been inherent in the French char- westward he would halt at Reims where acter. The people know that-a change in the Maid brought Charles VII. to be the form of government could only be crowned, at Compiègne where she was brought about by a revolution or as the imprisoned, at Rouen where she laid down result of a war, and they shrink from the her life; then turning to the south he contemplation of either eventuality, pre would come to Orleans, the city which ferring to accept the present condition of delivered by her had the honor of giving things though it rouses no enthusiasm. to her its name, passing on his way Patay, It must always be remembered that the where Joan took prisoner the invincible French, though a nation of soldiers, are Talbot, defeating the English on an 18th far from being a bellicose people, and the of June, four centuries before Waterloo ; fact, that universal conscription makes thence to Chinon, where rise the crum.

[graphic]

mon

bling walls of the vast castle whither sir. I hanna ever heered on a place wi' came the Maid to seek the crownless king, that name.” and so to Poitiers. Here the journey may But if the stranger should improve upon well end, for if the chief cities on the road the mistake by saying that he meant Arbetween Lorraine and Poitou have been bury Hall, the miner's face would smile visited, if their monuments have been even through its duskiness, and he would examined and their traditions noted, the be sure to say, “Oh! you mean Old Chartraveller will take home with him a living ley's place. Poor old Charley Newdigate, knowledge of the history of France, and a him as died two or three years ago, as vivid reminiscence of the scenes in which good a gaffer, sir, as 'appen I shall ever it has been made, such as years of literary drive a pick for, above ground or below study might not afford, and moreover will ground either. O yes, sir, I cao show you gais ap insight into the life of the people the way to Harbury Hall, an' I shanna be which will help to a better understanding long about it, I reckon. But as for Chevof the problems which have to be solved 'ral Manner, or what you calls it, as you by France of to-day.

just spoke on, why I hanna ever heered on Whether Paris be the heart of France, that name i' these parts; and I've lived i' or the head of France, has never been Griff and Beddorth boy an'man this fortydecided to the satisfaction of disputants three year." who do battle about words ; but, in the By the same token that a man is no hero mean while, it is true that the soul and to his valet, a mere writer of books is a body of France, which suffers for the poor critter" in the eyes of Strephon, errors of its rulers and afterwards com- even when Strephon is covered with coal pensates for them with wealth, and enter- dust instead of the agricultural loam. A prise, and bravery, to the admiration of writer born in the midst of squalid and the world, are found remote from the rural surroundings may often be “ capital in the workshops and the homes strously, clever" in the art of making of provincial towns, and among the vine- books, but to his neighbors who know yards and the cornfields of the pleasant nothing of books, except the Bible, and land.

sometimes not much of that, he is a pitiful object indeed, and fair game for the wit that is indigenous to the bucolic and the mining mind. Those whose armor has been pierced by a jagged shaft of humor

shot from the broad mouth of a villager, be From The Gentleman's Magazine. he miner, ploughman, cowman, or village GEORGE ELIOT AND HER NEIGHBOR- molecatcher, will know that sometimes HOOD.

this wit, by its very rawness and crudeness, If a stranger were wandering down the wounds more deeply than the satiric arrow Qarrow and leafy Warwickshire lanes be- of a polished and cultivated mind. tween Bedworth and Nuneaton, and were And so George Eliot, “a monstrously to halt, say, in front of that well-looking clever woman," as a friend of mine, a forhouse at Griff — the largest among the mer Bedworth coal-master and a man who oine or twelve that constitute the coal- knew Mary Ann Evans in the flesh some bound parish – under the rooftree of eighteen years ago, is always fond of rewhich till lately lived, in genial fellowship peating, is no heroine to her own countrywith the world at large, Mr. Isaac Pearson men. Some of the more rough diamonds Evans, brother to the late George Eliot ; among them would look as confused at if this stranger were to stop one of those the name of George Eliot as at Cheveral dark-skinned men he might by chance Manor; and the stranger who had the meet there, though they spend most of hardihood to ask for direction to Sheptheir waking and working hours in the perton Church would be met with the sunless streets of a coal mine, and ask him reply that “Theer inna a church o' that the way to Cheveral Manor, the man name i' these parts. Theer be Coten, would take his pipe from his mouth — for Beddorth, Exhul, Astley, an' Corley, but a collier will smoke in spite of all the I donna mind heerin' tell on such a place legislators in the world --- look hard at the as Shep'ton. You mun mean Coten 1 siranger, shake his woolly head, and say, 'spect, or 'appen Beddorth wheer Muster with a half smile upon his face at the hu. Evans be the parson.” mor of a person having missed his road, Perhaps this, to the literary mind, pain. “Ney, you mun be cum the wrong road, ful lack of knowledge or remembrance of I doubt. 'Appen you ar' missed your way, a singularly gifted writer on the part of

[ocr errors]

her own immediate country people may | Leicester, brings the traveller to Griff and be accounted for with two reasons; one, Bedworth, and close to the Cheveral that many of the inhabitants of those little Manor of " Mr. Gilfil's Love Story.” That villages, clustered together in small, loving South Farm, too, where George Eliot was groups, from which George Eliot drew born on that dull November morning in most of her characters, have ceased to 1819, will be within measurable distance weave the warp and woof of life, being of the traveller's survey. A very long long ago laid to rest under the chestnuts time ago, before the Newdigates became in the quaint little graveyards; and, two, possessors of Arbury, there was in exist. because the average villager is no more ence, near the park, a farm known as bookish now than in the days when “Adam Temple House. It was an old building, Bede” found its way to Griff and clove an surrounded by a inoat, and belonged to entrance into the hermetically sealed in the principals of an ancient manor there. tellects there, and this is simply owing to abouts, called the Manor of St. John of the fact that so many of them knew for Jerusalem. Surely the South Farm, in certain that they were "put in " the book. which Mr. Robert Evans used to reside,

Extended education makes little head and in which his illustrious daughter first way in small towns and villages. The saw the light, must have risen from the oldest inhabitant dies, perhaps, however, ruins of Temple House. not before having performed the duty of Before it was ecclesiastic – which it handing down to his children and grand became under the head of Sir Roger children the oral traditions of the place; Newdigate, the Gothic-loving baronet of but, alas ! his children and grandchildren Cheveral Manor — Arbury Hall was mo"ipna given to the writin' o' things nastic. It was called Erebury Priory down," on paper or in their memory; and then, and was founded in the reign of so, as one by one the old inhabitants dis. Henry II. by Ralph de Sudely as a home appear, the oral traditions of the village for the St. Augustine Order of Canons. disappear with them, until there is but At the dissolution of monasteries, in the one left of all that there might have been, twenty-seventh year of the reign of Henry and that so faintly remembered as to be vill. Erebury Priory was suppressed, almost a doubt.

and its possessions granted by royal letBut the cadaverous and painfully careful ters patent to Charles Brandon, Duke of historian, a man from the bricked-in square Suffolk. It is at this point in the history of a big city, who writes for the future at of Cheveral Manor that the romance a very small price per page, makes some comes in, which is not to be found in any amends for the forgetfulness of the oldest of George Eliot's books, and does not inhabitant. He writes everything down, figure in the topographical prints of the prints everything he has written, places period. his book in a library where it is never or A very rare pamphlet, of which it is hardly ever opened, and then dies of a supposed there are only two copies now broken heart, accelerated by long years of extant, entitled “English Adventures," wanton neglect and biting poverty. was printed and published in 1667. It

Arbury Hall will in the ages to come dealt with strange occurrences that had be noted for its connection with George befallen old and noble families of the Eliot, who has made it the Cheveral time; and no doubt, as many of the advenManor about which the Griff minertures related were repugnant to the de" hanna ever heered on.". In the far past, scendants of the families concerned, being however, that lean and pale man, the thus publicly promulgated, steps were writer of contemporary history, was busy taken to suppress as many of the pamthere; and there is, also a glamor of ro. phlets as possible. One of the adventures mance associated with a former owner of was connected with the life of Charles the ball, which has not even found its way Brandon, one of the early owners and into George Eliot's books or the guide occupiers of Arbury Hall, or Cheveral books of the day, but which is neverthe Manor, when in its more monastic form, less a fact which greatly adds to the and was as follows: interest of this neighborhood, in the midst • Upon the death of his lady, the father of which the famous Sir Roger Newdi. of Charles Brandon retired to an estate gate raised his ecclesiastic and semi- on the borders of Hampshire. His family Gothic pile.

consisted of two sons, and a young lady, A six.inile walk from the “city of three the daughter of a friend lately deceased, tall spires," along the leafy and pleasant whom he adopted as his own child. This road that leads to Nuneaton, and on to lady being singularly beautiful, as well as

[ocr errors]
[graphic]

amiable in her manners, attracted the at- standing his fits of caprice, he was capable teption of both brothers. The elder, how. of a cordial and steady friendship. He ever, was the favorite, and he privately was sitting in Council when the news of married her; which the younger not know- Suffolk's death reached him, and he pubing, and overhearing an appointment of licly took that occasion, both to express the lovers the next night in her bed his own sorrow, and to celebrate the mer. chamber, he, thinking it was mere its of the deceased. He declared that intrigue, contrived to get his brother during the whole course of their acquaintotherwise employed, and made the signal ance his brother-in-law had not made a of admission himself. His design, unfor. single attempt to injure an adversary, and tunately, answered only too well.

had never whispered a word to the disad"On a discovery the lady lost her rea vantage of any one ; . And are there any son, and soon afterwards died. The two of you, my lords, who can say as much ?' brothers fought, and the elder fell, cut | The king looked round in all their faces, through the heart. The father broke and saw that confusion which the condown, and went to his grave in a very sciousness of secret guilt naturally drew short time. Charles Brandon, the younger upon them." brother, and unintentional author of all From the fact related in the early his. this misery, quitted England in despair, tory of Charles Brandon, who upon being with a fixed determination of never return created Duke of Suffolk, and baving the ing. Being abroad for several years, his estates of Arbury granted to him by the gearest relations supposed him to be king, came to live there, the poet, Thomas dead, and began to take the necessary Otway, took the plot of his tragedy, “The steps for obtaining his estates. Aroused Orphan.” To avoid causing unnecessary by this intelligence, he returned privately pain, however, to descendants of the famto England, and for a time took private ilies affected who were living at that time, lodgings in the vicinity of his family Otway transferred the scene of his trag. mansion.

edy from England to Bohemia. The “While he was in this retreat, the character of Antonio, which the dramatist young king, Henry VIII., who had just would appear to have elaborated with great buried his father, was one day hunting on pains into an old debauched senator, ravthe borders of Hampshire, when he heard ing about plots and political intrigues, is the cries of a female in distress issuing supposed to have been intended for that from an adjoining wood. His gallantry eminent personage, Anthony, the first Earl immediately summoned him to the place, of Shaftesbury. though he then happened to be detached So late ago as 1825 there was a large from all his courtiers, when he saw two painting of the Brandon incident at Wo. ruffians attempting to violate the honor of burn, the seat of his Grace the Duke of a young lady. The king instantly drew Bedford, and the old dowager duchess in his sword upon them ; a scuffle ensued, showing this picture to a nobleman a few which roused the reverie of Charles Bran. years before her death, is said to have don, who was taking his morning walk in related all the particulars of the story. an adjacent thicket. He immediately Associations like these serve to make ranged himself on the side of the king, the site of the Cheveral Manor of George whom he then did not know, and, by his Eliot doubly interesting, and the marvel dexterity, soon disarmed one of the ruf- is that the author of “Scenes of Clerical fians, while the other fied.

Life” did not make use of this pretty “The king, charmed with this act of romance in some way – either in describgallantry, so congenial to his own mind, sing the ancient history of the place, or in inquired the name and family of the stran- a neatly woven story, such as she knew ger; and not only repossessed him of his well how to weave ; but George Eliot was patrimonial estates, but took him under essentially a delineator of modern man. his own immediate protection.

ners, not a writer of historical scenes, and " It was this same Charles Brandon who so the visitor to Arbury Hall must look afterwards privately married King Henry's elsewhere for the primeval history of the sister, Margaret queen dowager of France; place. It is a little impressive, however, which marriage the king not only forgave, to find out that an ex-queen of France and but created him Duke of Suffolk, and a noble duke used formerly to walk continued his favor towards him to the through the fine tree-studded park where last hour of the duke's life. He died be the late Charles N. Newdigate was wont fore Henry; and the latter showed in his to sit and frame his measures for keeping attachment to this nobleman that, notwith atheists out of the House of Commons;

« ElőzőTovább »