Part 5 out of 6
resolved ever to cherish and elevate the Gascon dialect.
"Popular and purely natural poetry," said Montaigne in the 16th
century, "has a simplicity and gracefulness which surpass the
beauty of poetry according to art." Jasmin united the naive
artlessness of poetry with the perfection of art. He retained
the simplicity of youth throughout his career, and his domestic
life was the sanctuary of all the virtues.
In his poems he vividly described filial love, conjugal
tenderness, and paternal affection, because no one felt these
graces of life more fervently than himself. He was like the
who never went beyond his home for a beautiful model.
Victor Hugo says that a great man is like the sun--most beautiful
when he touches the earth, at his rising and at his setting.
Jasmin's rising was in the depths of honest poverty,
but his setting was glorious. God crowned his fine life by a
special act of favour; for the last song of the poet was his
"act of faith"--his address to Renan.
Jasmin was loyal, single-minded, self-reliant, patient,
temperate, and utterly unselfish. He made all manner of
sacrifices during his efforts in the cause of charity. Nothing
was allowed to stand in the way of his missions on behalf of the
poor. In his journey of fifty days in 1854, he went from Orthez
--the country of Gaston Phoebus--to the mountains of Auvergne,
in spite of the rigours of the weather. During that journey he
collected 20,000 francs. In all, as we have said, he collected,
during his life-time, more than a million and a half of francs,
all of which he devoted to the cause of philanthropy.
Two words were engraved on the pedestal of his statue, Poetry
and Charity! Charity was the object and purpose of his heroic
programme. Yet, in his poetry he always exhibited his
tender-hearted gaiety. Even when he weeps, you see the ray of
sunlight in his tears. Though simple as a child in ordinary
life, he displayed in his writings the pathos and satire of the
ancient Troubadours, with no small part of the shrewdness and
wit attributed to persons of his calling.
Although esteemed and praised by all ranks and classes of people
--by king, emperor, princes, and princesses; by cardinals and
bishops; by generals, magistrates, literary men, and politicians
--though the working people almost worshipped him, and village
girls strewed flowers along his pathway--though the artisan
quitted his workshop, and the working woman her washing-tub, to
listen to his marvellous recitations, yet Jasmin never lost his
head or was carried away by the enthusiastic cheers which
accompanied his efforts, but remained simple and unaffected to
Another characteristic of him was, that he never forsook his
friends, however poor. His happiest moments were those in which
he encountered a companion of his early youth. Many still
survived who had accompanied him while making up his bundle of
fagots on the islands of the Garonne. He was delighted to shake
hands with them, and to help, when necessary, these playmates of
He would also meet with pleasure the working women of his
acquaintance, those who had related to him the stories of Loup
Garou and the traditions of the neighbourhood, and encouraged
the boy from his earliest youth. Then, at a later period of his
life, nothing could have been more worthy of him than his
affection for his old benefactor, M. Baze, and his pleading with
Napoleon III., through the Empress, for his return to France
"through the great gate of honour!"
Had Jasmin a fault? Yes, he had many, for no one exists within
the limits of perfection. But he had one in especial, which he
himself confessed. He was vain and loved applause, nor did he
conceal his love.
When at Toulouse, he said to some of his friends, "I love to be
applauded: it is my whim; and I think it would be difficult for
a poet to free himself from the excitement of applause." When at
Paris, he said, "Applaud! applaud! The cheers you raise will be
heard at Agen." Who would not overlook a fault, if fault it be,
which is confessed in so naive a manner?
When complimented about reviving the traditions of the
Troubadours, Jasmin replied, "The Troubadours, indeed! Why, I am
a better poet than any of the Troubadours! Not one of them could
have composed a long poem of sustained interest, like my
Any fault or weakness which Jasmin exhibited was effaced by the
good wishes and prayers of thousands of the poor and afflicted
whom he had relieved by his charity and benevolence. The reality
of his life almost touches the ideal. Indeed, it was a long
Cardinal Donnet, Archbishop of Bordeaux, said of him, that "he
was gifted with a rich nature, a loyal and unreserved character,
and a genius as fertile as the soil of his native country. The
lyre of Jasmin," he said, "had three chords, which summed up the
harmonies of heaven and earth--the true, the useful, and the
Did not the members of the French Academy--the highest literary
institution in the world--strike a gold medal in his honour,
with the inscription, "La medaille du poete moral et populaire"?
M. Sainte-Beuve, the most distinguished of French critics,
used a much stronger expression. He said, "If France had ten
poets like Jasmin--ten poets of the same power and influence--
she need no longer have any fear of revolutions."
Genius is as nothing in the sight of God; but "whosoever shall
give a cup of water to drink in the name of Christ, because they
belong to Christ, shall not lose his reward." M. Tron, Deputy
and Mayor of Bagnere-du-luchon, enlarged upon this text in his
eulogy of Jasmin.
"He was a man," he said, "as rich in his heart as in his genius.
He carried out that life of 'going about doing good' which
Christ rehearsed for our instruction. He fed the hungry, clothed
the naked, succoured the distressed, and consoled and
sympathised with the afflicted. Few men have accomplished more
than he has done. His existence was unique, not only in the
history of poets, but of philanthropists."
A life so full of good could only end with a Christian death.
He departed with a lively faith and serene piety, crowning by a
peaceful death one of the strangest and most diversified careers
in the nineteenth century. "Poetry and Charity," inscribed on
the pedestal of his statue in Agen, fairly sums up his noble
life and character.
Footnotes for Chapter XX.
 'Lou Poeto del Puple a Moussu Renan.'
JASMIN'S DEFENCE OF THE GASCON DIALECT.
To M. SYLVAIN DUMON, Deputy-Minister, who has condemned
to death our native language.
There's not a deeper grief to man
Than when our mother, faint with years,
Decrepit, old, and weak, and wan,
Beyond the leech's art appears;
When by her couch her son may stay,
And press her hand, and watch her eyes,
And feel, though she survives to-day,
Perchance his hope to-morrow dies.
It is not thus, believe me, Sir,
With this enchantress, we will call
Our second mother. Frenchmen err,
Who cent'ries since proclaimed her fall!
Our mother tongue, all melody,
While music lives, shall never die.
Yes! still she lives, her words still ring,
Her children yet her carols sing;
And thousand years may roll away
Before her magic notes decay.
The people love their ancient songs, and will
While yet a people, love and keep them still.
These lays are like their mother--they recall
Fond thoughts of brother, sister, friends, and all
The many little things that please the heart--
Those dreams and hopes, from which we cannot part;
These songs are as sweet waters, where we find
Health in the sparkling wave that nerves the mind.
In every home, at every cottage door,
By every fireside, when our toil is o'er,
These songs are round us, near our cradles sigh,
And to the grave attend us when we die.
Oh! think, cold critic! 'twill be late and long
Ere time shall sweep away this flood of song!
There are who bid this music sound no more,
And you can hear them, nor defend--deplore!
You, who were born where the first daisies grew,
Have 'fed upon its honey, sipp'd its dew,
Slept in its arms, and wakened to its kiss,
Danced to its sounds, and warbled to its tone--
You can forsake it in an hour like this!
Weary of age, you may renounce, disown,
And blame one minstrel who is true--alone!
For me, truth to my eyes made all things plain;
At Paris, the great fount, I did not find
The waters pure, and to my stream again
I come, with saddened and with sobered mind;
And now the spell is broken, and I rate
The little country far above the great.
For you, who seem her sorrows to deplore,
You, seated high in power, the first among,
Beware! nor make her cause of grief the more;
Believe her mis'ry, nor condemn her tongue.
Methinks you injure where you seek to heal,
If you deprive her of that only weal.
We love, alas! to sing in our distress;
For so the bitterness of woe seems less;
But if we may not in our language mourn,
What will the polish'd give us in return?
Fine sentences, but all for us unmeet--
Words full of grace, even such as courtiers greet:
A deck'd out miss, too delicate and nice
To walk in fields; too tender and precise
To sing the chorus of the poor, or come
When Labour lays him down fatigued at home.
To cover rags with gilded robes were vain--
The rents of poverty would show too plain.
How would this dainty dame, with haughty brow,
Shrink at a load, and shudder at a plough!
Sulky, and piqued, and silent would she stand
As the tired peasant urged his team along:
No word of kind encouragement at hand,
For flocks no welcome, and for herds no song!
Yet we will learn, and you shall teach--
Our people shall have double speech:
One to be homely, one polite,
As you have robes for different wear;
But this is all:-- 'tis just and right,
And more our children will not bear,
Lest flocks of buzzards flit along,
Where nightingales once poured their song.
There may be some who, vain and proud,
May ape the manners of the crowd,
Lisp French, and maim it at each word,
And jest and gibe to all afford;
But we, as in long ages past,
Will still be poets to the last!
Hark! and list the bridal song,
As they lead the bride along:
"Hear, gentle bride! your mother's sighs,
And you would hence away!
Weep, weep, for tears become those eyes."
--- "I cannot weep--to-day."
Hark! the farmer in the mead
Bids the shepherd swain take heed:
"Come, your lambs together fold,
Haste, my sons! your toil is o'er:
For the setting sun has told
That the ox should work no more."
Hark! the cooper in the shade
Sings to the sound his hammer made:
"Strike, comrades, strike! prepare the cask.
'Tis lusty May that fills the flask:
Strike, comrades! summer suns that shine
Fill the cellars full of wine."
Verse is, with us, a charm divine,
Our people, loving verse, will still,
Unknowing of their art, entwine
Garlands of poesy at will.
Their simple language suits them best:
Then let them keep it and be blest.
Let the wise critics build a wall
Between the nurse's cherished voice,
And the fond ear her words enthral,
And say their idol is her choice.
Yes!--let our fingers feel the rule,
The angry chiding of the school;
True to our nurse, in good or ill,
We are not French, but Gascon still.
'Tis said that age new feeling brings,
Our youth returns as we grow old;
And that we love again the things
Which in our memory had grown cold.
If this be true, the time will come
When to our ancient tongue, once more,
You will return, as to a home,
And thank us that we kept the store.
Remember thou the tale they tell
Of Lacuee and Lacepede,
When age crept on, who loved to dwell
On words that once their music made;
And, in the midst of grandeur, hung,
Delighted, on their parent tongue.
This will you do: and it may be,
When weary of the world's deceit,
Some summer-day we yet may see
Your coming in our meadows sweet;
Where, midst the flowers, the finch's lay
Shall welcome you with music gay;
While you shall bid our antique tongue
Some word devise, or air supply,
Like those that charm'd your youth so long,
And lent a spell to memory.
Bethink you how we stray'd alone
Beneath those elms in Agen grown,
That each an arch above us throws,
Like giants, hand-in-hand, in rows.
A storm once struck a fav'rite tree,
It trembled, shook, and bent its boughs,--
The vista is no longer free:
Our governor no pause allows;
"Bring hither hatchet, axe, and spade,
The tree must straight be prostrate laid!"
But vainly strength and art were tried,
The stately tree all force defied;
Well might the elm resist and foil their might,
For though his branches were decay'd to sight,
As many as his leaves the roots spread round,
And in the firm set earth they slept profound.
Since then, more full, more green, more gay,
The crests amid the breezes play:
And birds of every note and hue
Come trooping to his shade in Spring;
Each summer they their lays renew,
And while the years endure they sing.
And thus it is, believe me, sir,
With this enchantress--she we call
Our second mother; Frenchmen err
Who, cent'ries since, proclaimed her fall.
No! she still lives, her words still ring,
Her children yet her carols sing;
And thousand years may roll away
Before her magic notes decay.
September 2nd, 1837.
Footnotes to JASMIN'S DEFENCE OF THE GASCON DIALECT.
 Jasmin here quotes several patois songs,
well known in the country.
 Both Gascons.
THE MASON'S SON.
[LA SEMMANO D'UN FIL.]
Riches, n'oubliez pas un seul petit moment
Que des pauvres la grande couvee
Se reveille toujours le sourire a la bouche
Quand elle s'endort sans avoir faire!
(Riche et Pauvre.)
The swallows fly about, although the air is cold,
Our once fair sun has shed his brightest gold.
The fields decay
On All-saints day.
Ground's hard afoot,
The birds are mute;
The tree-tops shed their chill'd and yellow leaves,
They dying fall, and whirl about in sheaves.
One night, when leaving late a neighb'ring town,
Although the heavens were clear,
Two children paced along, with many a moan--
Brother and sister dear;
And when they reached the wayside cross
Upon their knees they fell, quite close.
Abel and Jane, by the moon's light,
Were long time silent quite;
As they before the altar bend,
With one accord their voices sweet ascend.
"Mother of God, Virgin compassionate!
Oh! send thy angel to abate
The sickness of our father dear,
That mother may no longer fear--
And for us both! Oh! Blessed Mother,
We love thee, more and more, we two together!"
The Virgin doubtless heard their prayer,
For, when they reached the cottage near,
The door before them opened wide,
And the dear mother, ere she turned aside,
Cried out: "My children brave,
The fever's gone--your father's life is safe!
Now come, my little lambs, and thank God for His grace."
In their small cot, forthwith the three,
To God in prayer did bend the knee,
Mother and children in their gladness weeping,
While on a sorry bed a man lay sleeping--
It was the father, good Hilaire!
Not long ago, a soldier brave,
But now--a working mason's slave.
The dawn next day was clear and bright,
The glint of morning sunlight
Gleamed through the windows taper,
Although they only were patched up with paper.
When Abel noiseless entered, with his foot-fall slight,
He slipped along to the bedside;
He oped the little curtain, without stirring of the rings;
His father woke and smiled, with joy that pleasure brings.
"Abel," he said, "I longed for thee; now listen thou to me:
We're very poor indeed--I've nothing save my weekly fee;
But Heaven has helped our lives to save--by curing me.
Dear boy, already thou art fifteen years--
You know to read, to write--then have no fears;
Thou art alone, thou'rt sad, but dream no more,
Thou ought'st to work, for now thou hast the power!
I know thy pain and sorrow, and thy deep alarms;
More good than strong--how could thy little arms
Ply hard the hammer on the stony blocks?
But our hard master, though he likes good looks,
May find thee quite a youth;
He says that thou hast spirit; and he means for thy behoof.
Then do what gives thee pleasure,
Without vain-glory, Abel; and spend thy precious leisure
In writing or in working--each is a labour worthy,
Either with pen or hammer--they are the tools most lofty;
Labour in mind or body, they do fatigue us ever--
But then, Abel my son, I hope that never
One blush upon you e'er will gather
To shame the honour of your father."
Abel's blue eyes were bright with bliss and joy--
Father rejoiced--four times embraced the boy;
Mother and daughter mixed their tears and kisses,
Then Abel saw the master, to his happiness,
And afterwards four days did pass,
All full of joyfulness.
But pleasure with the poor is always unenduring.
A brutal order had been given on Sunday morning
That if, next day, the father did not show his face,
Another workman, in that case,
Would be employed to take his place!
A shot of cannon filled with grape
Could not have caused such grief,
As this most cruel order gives
To these four poor unfortunates.
"I'm cured!" Hilaire cried; "let me rise and dress;"
He tried--fell back; and then he must confess
He could not labour for another week!
Oh, wretched plight--
For him, his work was life!
Should he keep sick, 'twas death!
All four sat mute; sudden a my of hope
Beamed in the soul of Abel.
He brushed the tear-drops from his een,
Assumed a manly mien,
Strength rushed into his little arms,
On his bright face the blushes came;
He rose at once, and went to reason
With that cruel master mason.
Abel returned, with spirits bright,
No longer trembling with affright;
At once he gaily cries,
With laughing mouth and laughing eyes:--
"My father! take your rest; have faith and courage;
Take all the week, then thou shalt work apace;
Some one, who loves thee well, will take thy place,
Then thou may'st go again and show thy face."
Saved by a friend, indeed! He yet had friends in store!
Oh! how I wish that in this life so lonely. . . .
But, all will be explained at work on Monday;
There are good friends as yet--perhaps there's many more.
It was indeed our Abel took his father's place.
At office first he showed his face;
Then to the work-yard: thus his father he beguiled.
Spite of his slender mien, he worked and always smiled.
He was as deft as workmen twain; he dressed
The stones, and in the mortar then he pressed
The heavy blocks; the workmen found him cheerful.
Mounting the ladder like a bird:
He skipped across the rafters fearful.
He smiled as he ascended, smiled as he descended--
The very masons trembled at his hardiness:
But he was working for his father--in his gladness,
His life was full of happiness;
His brave companions loved the boy
Who filled their little life with joy.
They saw the sweat run down his brow,
And clapped their hands, though weary he was now.
What bliss of Abel, when the day's work's o'er,
And the bright stars were shining:
Unto the office he must go,
And don his better clothing--
Thus his poor father to deceive, who thought he went a-clerking.
He took his paper home and wrote, 'midst talk with Jane so shyly,
And with a twinkling eye he answered mother's looks so slyly.
Three days thus passed, and the sick man arose,
Life now appeared to him a sweet repose.
On Thursday, tempting was the road;
At midday, Friday, he must walk abroad.
But, fatal Friday--God has made for sorrow.
The father, warmed up by the sun's bright ray,
Hied to the work-yard, smiling by the way;
He wished to thank the friend who worked for him,
But saw him not--his eyes were dim--
Yet he was near; and looking up, he saw no people working,
No dinner-bell had struck, no workmen sure were lurking.
Oh, God! what's happened at the building yard?
A crowd collected--master, mason--as on guard.
"What's this?" the old man cried. "Alas! some man has fallen!"
Perhaps it was his friend! His soul with grief was burning.
He ran. Before him thronged the press of men,
They tried to thrust him back again;
But no; Hilaire pressed through the crowd of working men.
Oh, wretched father--man unfortunate;
The friend who saved thee was thy child--sad fate!
Now he has fallen from the ladder's head,
And lies a bleeding mass, now nearly dead!
Now Hilaire uttered a most fearful cry;
The child had given his life, now he might die.
Alas! the bleeding youth
Was in his death-throes, he could scarcely breathe;
"Master," he said, "I've not fulfilled my task,
But, in the name of my poor mother dear,
For the day lost, take father on at last."
The father heard, o'erwhelmed he was with fear,
Abel now saw him, felt that he was near,
Inclined his head upon his breast, and praying -
Hand held in hand, he smiled on him while dying.
For Hilary, his place was well preserved,
His wages might perhaps be doubled.
Too late! too late! one saddened morn
The sorrow of his life was gone;
And the good father, with his pallid face,
Went now to take another place
Within the tomb, beside his much loved son.
Footnotes to THE MASON'S SON.
 Jasmin says, "the subject of this poem is historical, and
recently took place in our neighbourhood."
THE POOR MAN'S DOCTOR.
[LOU MEDICI DES PAURES.]
Dedicated to M. CANY, Physician of Toulouse.
With the permission of the Rev. Dr. J. Duncan Craig,
of Glenagary, Kingston, Dublin, I adopt, with some alterations,
his free translation of Jasmin's poem.
Sweet comes this April morning, its faint perfumes exhaling;
Brilliant shines the sun, so crisp, so bright, so freshening;
Pearl-like gleam and sparkle the dew-drops on the rose,
While grey and gnarled olives droop like giants in repose.
Soundeth low, solemnly, the mid-day bell in th' air,
Glideth on sadly a maiden sick with care;
Her head is bent, and sobbing words she sheds with many a tear,
But 'tween the chapel and the windmill another doth appear.
She laughs and plucks the lovely flowers with many a joyous
The other, pale and spiritless, looks upward from the ground;
"Where goest thou, sweet Marianne, this lovely April day?"
"Beneath the elms of Agen--there lies my destined way.
"I go to seek this very day the Doctor of the Poor.
Did'st thou not hear how skilfully he did my mother cure?
Behold this silver in my hand, these violets so sweet,
The guerdon of his loving care--I'll lay them at his feet.
"Now, dost thou not remember, my darling Marianne,
How in our lonely hut the typhus fever ran?
And we were poor, without a friend, or e'en our daily bread,
And sadly then, and sorrowful, dear mother bowed her head.
"One day, the sun was shining low in lurid western sky,
All ,all, our little wealth was gone, and mother yearned to die,
When sudden, at the open door, a shadow crossed the way,
And cheerfully a manly voice did words of comfort say:
"'Take courage, friends, your ills I know, your life I hope to
'Too late!' dear mother cried; 'too late! My home is in the
Our things are pledged, our med'cine gone, e'en bread we cannot
The doctor shudder'd, then grew pale, but sadly still drew nigh.
"No curtains had we on our bed: I marked his pallid face;
Five silver crowns now forth he drew with melancholy grace--
'Poor woman, take these worthless coins, suppress your bitter
Don't blush; repay them when you can--these drops will give
"He left the hut, and went away; soon sleep's refreshing calm
Relieved the patient he had helped--a wonder-working balm;
The world now seemed to smile again, like springtide flowers so
While mother, brothers, and myself, incessant worked away.
"Thus, like the swallows which return with spring unto our shore,
The doctor brought rejoicing back unto our vine-wreathed door;
And we are happy, Isabel, and money too we've made;
But why dost weep, when I can laugh?" the gentle maiden said.
"Alas! alas! dear Marianne, I weep and mourn to-day,
From your house to our cottage-home the fever made its way;
My father lies with ghastly face, and many a raving cry--
Oh, would that Durand too might come, before the sick man die!"
"Dear Isabel, haste on, haste on--we'll seek his house this hour!
Come, let us run, and hasten on with all our utmost power.
He'll leave the richest palace for the poor man's humble roof--
He's far from rich, except in love, of that we've had full
The good God bless the noble heart that careth for the poor;
Then forth the panting children speed to seek the sick man's
And as beneath our giant elms they pass with rapid tread,
They scarcely dare to look around, or lift their weary head.
The town at last is reached, by the Pont-Long they enter,
Close by the Hue des Jacobins, near Durand's house they venture.
Around the portals of the door there throngs a mournful crowd;
They see the Cross, they hear the priests the Requiem chaunt
The girls were troubled in their souls, their minds were rent
One above all, young Marianne, was trembling like a leaf:
Another death--oh, cruel thought! then of her father dying,
She quickly ran to Durand's door, and asked a neighbour, crying:
"Where's the good doctor, sir, I pray? I seek him for my
He soft replied, "The gracious God into His fold doth gather
The best of poor folks' doctors now, to his eternal rest;
They bear the body forth, 'tis true: his spirit's with the
Bright on his corpse the candles shine around his narrow bier,
Escorted by the crowds of poor with many a bitter tear;
No more, alas! can he the sad and anguished-laden cure--
Oh, wail! For Durand is no more--the Doctor of the Poor!
Footnotes to THE POOR MAN'S DOCTOR.
 In the last edition of Jasmin's poems (4 vols. 8vo, edited by
Buyer d'Agen) it is stated (p. 40, 1st vol.) that "M. Durand,
physician, was one of those rare men whom Providence seems to
have provided to assuage the lot of the poorest classes. His
was full of noble acts of devotion towards the sick whom he was
called upon to cure. He died at the early age of thirty-five, of
stroke of apoplexy. His remains were accompanied to the grave
by nearly all the poor of Agen and the neighbourhood.
To MADAME LOUIS VEILL, Paris.
Dear lady, it is true, that last month I have signed
A little scrap of parchment; now myself I find
The master of a piece of ground
Within the smallest bound--
Not, as you heard, a spacious English garden
Covered with flowers and trees, to shrine your bard in--
But of a tiny little vineyard,
Which I have christened "Papilhoto"!
Where, for a chamber, I have but a grotto.
The vine-stocks hang about their boughs,
At other end a screen of hedgerows,
So small they do not half unroll;
A hundred would not make a mile,
Six sheets would cover the whole pile.
Well! as it is, of this I've dreamt for twenty years--
You laugh, Madame, at my great happiness,
Perhaps you'll laugh still more, when it appears,
That when I bought the place, I must confess
There were no fruits,
Though rich in roots;
Nine cherry trees--behold my wood!
Ten rows of vines--my promenade!
A few peach trees; the hazels too;
Of elms and fountains there are two.
How rich I am! My muse is grateful very;
Oh! might I paint? while I the pencil try,
Our country loves the Heavens so bright and cheery.
Here, verdure starts up as we scratch the ground,
Who owns it, strips it into pieces round;
Beneath our sun there's nought but gayest sound.
You tell me, true, that in your Paris hot-house,
You ripen two months sooner 'neath your glass, of course.
What is your fruit? Mostly of water clear,
The heat may redden what your tendrils bear.
But, lady dear, you cannot live on fruits alone while here!
Now slip away your glossy glove
And pluck that ripened peach above,
Then place it in your pearly mouth
And suck it--how it 'lays your drouth--
Melts in your lips like honey of the South!
Dear Madame, in the North you have great sights--
Of churches, castles, theatres of greatest heights;
Your works of art are greater far than here.
But come and see, quite near
The banks of the Garonne, on a sweet summer's day,
All works of God! and then you'll say
No place more beautiful and gay!
You see the rocks in all their velvet greenery;
The plains are always gold; and mossy very,
The valleys, where we breathe the healthy air,
And where we walk on beds of flowers most fair!
The country round your Paris has its flowers and greensward,
But 'tis too grand a dame for me, it is too dull and sad.
Here, thousand houses smile along the river's stream;
Our sky is bright, it laughs aloud from morn to e'en.
Since month of May, when brightest weather bounds
For six months, music through the air resounds--
A thousand nightingales the shepherd's ears delight:
All sing of Love--Love which is new and bright.
Your Opera, surprised, would silent hearken,
When day for night has drawn aside its curtain,
Under our heavens, which very soon comes glowing.
Listen, good God! our concert is beginning!
What notes! what raptures? Listen, shepherd-swains,
One chaunt is for the hill-side, the other's for the plains.
"Those lofty mountains
Far up above,
I cannot see
All that I love;
Move lower, mountains,
That I may see
All that I love."
And thousand voices sound through Heaven's alcove,
Coming across the skies so blue,
Making the angels smile above--
The earth embalms the songsters true;
The nightingales, from tree to flower,
Sing louder, fuller, stronger.
'Tis all so sweet, though no one beats the measure,
To hear it all while concerts last--such pleasure!
Indeed my vineyard's but a seat of honour,
For, from my hillock, shadowed by my bower,
I look upon the fields of Agen, the valley of Verone.
How happy am I 'mongst my vines! Such pleasures there are none.
For here I am the poet-dresser, working for the wines.
I only think of propping up my arbours and my vines;
Upon the road I pick the little stones--
And take them to my vineyard to set them up in cones,
And thus I make a little house with but a sheltered door--
As each friend, in his turn, now helps to make the store.
And then there comes the vintage--the ground is firm and fast,
With all my friends, with wallets or with baskets cast,
We then proceed to gather up the fertile grapes at last.
Oh! my young vine,
The sun's bright shine
Hath ripened thee
All--all for me!
No drizzling showers
Have spoilt the hours.
My muse can't borrow;
My friends, to-morrow
Cannot me lend;
But thee, young friend,
Grapes nicely drest,
With figs the finest
And raisins gather
Bind them together!
Th' abundant season
Will still us bring
A glorious harvesting;
Close up thy hands with bravery
Upon the luscious grapery!
Now all push forth their tendrils; though not past remedy,
At th' hour when I am here, my faithful memory
Comes crowding back; my oldest friends
Now make me young again--for pleasure binds
Me to their hearts and minds.
But now the curtained night comes on again.
I see, the meadows sweet around,
My little island, midst the varying ground,
Where I have often laughed, and sometimes I have groaned.
I see far off the leafy woodland,
Or near the fountain, where I've; often dreamed;
Long time ago there was a famous man
Who gave its fame to Agen.
I who but write these verses slight
Midst thoughts of memory bright.
But I will tell you all--in front, to left, to right,
More than a hedgerow thick that I have brought the light,
More than an apple-tree that I have trimmed,
More than an old vine-stalk that I have thinned
To ripen lovely Muscat.
Madame, you see that I look back upon my past,
Without a blush at last;
What would you? That I gave my vineyard back--
And that with usury? Alack!
And yet unto my garden I've no door--
Two thorns are all my fence--no more!
When the marauders come, and through a hole I see their nose,
Instead of taking up a stick to give them blows,
I turn aside; perhaps they never may return, the horde!
He who young robs, when older lets himself be robbed!
Footnotes to MY VINEYARD.
 Jasmin purchased a little piece of ground, which he dedicated
to his "Curl-papers" (Papilhoto), on the road to Scaliger's
and addressed the above lines to his lady-admirer in Paris,
Madame Louis veill.
 From a popular song by Gaston Phebus.
 Referring to Verona, the villa of Scaliger, the great
Blaise de Montluc--Festival at Roquefort--The Prettiest
Maiden--The Soldier and the Shepherds--Kissing and Panting--
Courage of Pascal--Fury of Marcel--Terrible Contest.
'Twas at the time when Blaise the murderous
Struck heavy blows by force of arms.
He hewed the Protestants to pieces,
And, in the name of God the Merciful,
Flooded the earth with sorrow, blood, and tears.
Alas! 'twas pitiful--far worse beyond the hills,
Where flashing gun and culverin were heard;
There the unhappy bore their heavy cross,
And suffered, more than elsewhere, agonising pain,
Were killed and strangled, tumbled into wells;
'Tween Penne and Fumel the saddened earth was gorged.
Men, women, children, murdered everywhere,
The hangman even stopped for breath;
While Blaise, with heart of steel, dismounted at the gate
Of his strong castle wall,
With triple bridge and triple fosse;
Then kneeling, made his pious prayers,
Taking the Holy Sacrament,
His hands yet dripping with fraternal blood!
Now every shepherd, every shepherd lass,
At the word Huguenot shuddered with affright,
Even 'midst their laughing courtship.
And yet it came to pass
That in a hamlet, 'neath a castled height,
One Sunday, when a troop of sweethearts danced
Upon the day of Roquefort fete,
And to a fife the praises sang
Of Saint James and the August weather--
That bounteous month which year by year,
Through dew-fall of the evening bright,
And heat of Autumn noons doth bring
Both grapes and figs to ripening.
It was the finest fete that eyes had ever seen
Under the shadow of the leafy parasol,
Where aye the country-folk convene.
O'erflowing were the spaces all,
From cliff, from dale, from every home
Of Montagnac and Sainte-Colombe,
Still they do come,
Too many far to number;
More, ever more, while flames the sunshine o'er,
There's room for all, their coming will not cumber,
The fields shall be their chamber, and the little hillocks green
The couches of their slumber.
What pleasure! what delight! the sun now fills the air;
The sweetest thing in life
Is the music of the fife
And the dancing of the fair.
You see their baskets emptying
Of waffles all home-made.
They quaff the nectar sparkling
Of freshest lemonade.
What crowds at Punchinello,
While the showman beats his cymbal!
But who is this appears below?
Ah! 'tis the beauteous village queen!.
Yes, 'tis she; 'tis Franconnette!
A fairer girl was never seen.
In the town as in the prairie,
You must know that every country
Has its chosen pearl of love.
Ah, well! This was the one--
They named her in the Canton,
The prettiest, sweetest dove.
But now, you must not fancy, gentlemen,
That she was sad and sighing,
Her features pale as any lily,
That she had dying eyes, half-shut and blue,
And slender figure clothed with languishing,
Like to a weeping willow by a limpid lake.
Not so, my masters. Franconnette
Had two keen flashing eyes, like two live stars;
Her laughing cheeks were round, where on a lover might
Gather in handfuls roses bright;
Brown locks and curly decked her head;
Her lips were as the cherry red,
Whiter than snow her teeth; her feet
How softly moulded, small and fleet;
How light her limbs! Ah, well-a-day!
And of the whole at once I say,
She was the very beau-ideal
Of beauty in a woman's form, most fair and real.
Such loveliness, in every race,
May sudden start to light.
She fired the youths with ready love,
Each maiden with despair.
Poor youths, indeed! Oh! how they wished
To fall beneath her feet!
They all admired her, and adored,
Just as the priest adores the cross--
'Twas as if there shone a star of light
The young girl's brow across!
Yet, something vexing in her soul began to hover;
The finest flower had failed her in this day of honour.
Pascal, whom all the world esteemed,
Pascal, the handsomest, whose voice with music beamed,
He shunned the maid, cast ne'er a loving glance;
Despised! She felt hate growing in her heart,
And in her pretty vengeance
She seized the moment for a brilliant dart
Of her bright eyes to chain him.
What would you have? A girl so greatly envied,
She might become a flirt conceited;
Already had she seemed all this,
Self-glorious she was, I fear,
Coquetting rarely comes amiss,
Though she might never love, with many lovers near!
Grandmother often said to her, "Child, child!" with gentle frown,
"A meadow's not a parlour, and the country's not a town,
And thou knowest well that we have promised thee lang syne
To the soldier-lad, Marcel, who is lover true of thine.
So curb thy flights, thou giddy one,
The maid who covets all, in the end mayhap hath none."
"Nay, nay," replied the tricksy fay,
With swift caress, and laughter gay,
"There is another saw well-known,
Time enough, my grannie dear, to love some later day!
'She who hath only me, hath 'none.'"
Now, such a flighty course, you may divine,
Made hosts of melancholy swains,
Who sighed and suffered jealous pains,
Yet never sang reproachful strains,
Like learned lovers when they pine,
Who, as they go to die, their woes write carefully
On willow or on poplar tree.
Good lack! thou could'st not shape a letter,
And the silly souls, though love-sick, to death did not incline,
Thinking to live and suffer on were better!
But tools were handled clumsily,
And vine-sprays blew abroad at will,
And trees were pruned exceeding ill,
And many a furrow drawn awry.
Methinks you know her now, this fair and foolish girl;
Watch while she treads one measure, then see her dip and twirl!
Young Etienne holds her hand by chance,
'Tis the first rigadoon they dance;
With parted lips, right thirstily
Each rustic tracks them as they fly,
And the damsel sly
Feels every eye,
And lighter moves for each adoring glance.
Holy cross! what a sight! when the madcap rears aright
Her shining lizard's head! her Spanish foot falls light,
Her wasp-like figure sways
And swims and whirls and springs again.
The wind with corner of her 'kerchief plays.
Those lovely cheeks where on the youths now gaze,
They hunger to salute with kisses twain!
And someone shall; for here the custom is,
Who tires his partner out, salutes her with a kiss;
The girls grow weary everywhere,
Wherefore already Jean and Paul,
Louis, Guillaume, and strong Pierre,
Have breathless yielded up their place
Without the coveted embrace.
Another takes his place, Marcel the wight,
The soldier of Montluc, prodigious in his height,
Arrayed in uniform, bearing his sword,
A cockade in his cap, the emblem of his lord,
Straight as an I, though bold yet not well-bred,
His heart was soft, but thickish was his head.
He blustered much and boasted more and more,
Frolicked and vapoured as he took the floor
Indeed he was a very horrid bore.
Marcel, most mad for Franconnette, tortured the other girls,
Made her most jealous, yet she had no chance,
The swelled-out coxcomb called on her to dance.
But Franconnette was loth, and she must let him see it;
He felt most madly jealous, yet was maladroit,
He boasted that he was beloved; perhaps he did believe it quite--
The other day, in such a place,
She shrank from his embrace!
The crowd now watched the dancing pair,
And marked the tricksy witching fair;
They rush, they whirl! But what's amiss?
The bouncing soldier lad, I wis,
Can never snatch disputed kiss!
The dancing maid at first smiles at her self-styled lover,
"Makes eyes" at him, but ne'er a word does utter;
She only leaped the faster!
Marcel, piqued to the quick, longed to subdue this creature,
He wished to show before the crowd what love he bore her;
One open kiss were sweeter far
Than twenty in a corner!
But, no! his legs began to fail, his head was in a trance,
He reeled, he almost fell, he could no longer dance;
Now he would give cockade, sabre, and silver lace,
Would it were gold indeed, for her embrace!
Yet while the pair were still afoot, the girl looked very gay--
Resolved never to give way!
While headstrong Marcel, breathless, spent, and hot in face,
He reeled and all but fell; then to the next gave place!
Forth darted Pascal in the soldier's stead,
They make two steps, then change, and Franconnette,
Weary at last, with laughing grace,
Her foot stayed and upraised her face!
Tarried Pascal that kiss to set?
Not he, be sure! and all the crowd
His vict'ry hailed with plaudits loud.
The clapping of their palms like battle-dores resounded,
While Pascal stood among them quite confounded!
Oh, what a picture for the soldier who so loved his queen!
Him the kiss maddened! Measuring Pascal with his een,
He thundered, "Peasant, you have filled my place most sly;
Not so fast, churl!"--and brutally let fly
With aim unerring one fierce blow,
Straight in the other's eyes, doubling the insult so.
Good God! how stings the madd'ning pain,
His dearest happiness that blow must stain,
Kissing and boxing--glory, shame!
Light, darkness! Fire, ice! Life, death! Heaven, hell!
All this was to our Pascal's soul the knell
Of hope! But to be thus tormented
By flagrant insult, as the soldier meant it;
Now without fear he must resent it!
It does not need to be a soldier nor a "Monsieur,"
An outrage placidly to bear.
Now fiery Pascal let fly at his foe,
Before he could turn round, a stunning blow;
'Twas like a thunder peal,
And made the soldier reel;
Trying to draw his sabre,
But Pascal, seeming bigger,
Gripped Marcel by the waist, and sturdily
Lifted him up, and threw his surly
Foe on the ground, breathless, and stunned severely.
"Now then!" while Pascal looked on the hound thrown by him,
"The peasant grants thee chance of living!"
"Despatch him!" cried the surging crowd.
"Thou art all cover'd o'er with blood!"
But Pascal, in his angry fit of passion,
Had hurt his wrist and fist in a most serious fashion.
"No matter! All the same I pardon him!
You must have pity on the beaten hound!"
"No, finish him! Into morsels cut him!"
The surging, violent crowd now cried around.
"Back, peasants, back! Do him no harm!"
Sudden exclaimed a Monsieur, speaking with alarm;
The peasants moved aside, and then gave place
To Montluc, glittering with golden lace;
It was the Baron of Roquefort!
The frightened girls, like hunted hares,
At once dispers'd, flew here and there.
The shepherds, but a moment after,
With thrilling fife and beaming laughter,
The brave and good Pascal attended on his way,
Unto his humble home, as 'twere his nuptial day.
But Marcel, furious, mad with rage, exclaimed,
"Oh! could I stab and kill them! But I'm maimed!"
Only a gesture of his lord
Restrained him, hand upon his sword.
Then did he grind his teeth, as he lay battered,
And in a low and broken voice he muttered:
"They love each other, and despise my kindness,
She favours him, and she admires his fondness;
Ah, well! by Marcel's patron, I'll not tarry
To make them smart, and Franconnette
No other husband than myself shall marry!"
The Enamoured Blacksmith--His Fretful Mother--The Busking
Soiree--Pascal's Song--The Sorcerer of the Black Forest--
The Girl Sold to the Demon.
Since Roquefort fete, one, two, three months have fled;
The dancing frolic, with the harvest ended;
The out-door sports are banished--
For winter comes; the air is sad and cold, it sighs
Under the vaulted skies.
At fall of night, none risks to walk across the fields,
For each one, sad and cheerless, beelds
Before the great fires blazing,
Or talks of wolfish fiends amazing;
And sorcerers--to make one shudder with affright--
That walk around the cots so wight,
Or 'neath the gloomy elms, and by farmyards at night.
But now at last has Christmas come,
And little Jack, who beats the drum,
Cries round the hamlet, with his beaming face:
"Come brisken up, you maidens fair,
A merry busking shall take place
On Friday, first night of the year!"
Ah! now the happy youths and maidens fair
Proclaimed the drummer's words, so bright and rare.
The news were carried far and near
Light as a bird most fleet
With wings to carry thoughts so sweet.
The sun, with beaming rays, had scarcely shone
Ere everywhere the joyous news had flown;
At every fireside they were known,
By every hearth, in converse keen,
The busking was the theme.
But when the Friday came, a frozen dew was raining,
And by a fireless forge a mother sat complaining;
And to her son, who sat thereby,
She spoke at last entreatingly:
"Hast thou forgot the summer day, my boy, when thou didst come
All bleeding from the furious fray, to the sound of music home?
How I have suffered for your sorrow,
And all that you have had to go through.
Long have I troubled for your arm! For mercy's sake
Oh! go not forth to-night! I dreamt of flowers again,
And what means that, Pascal, but so much tears and pain!"
"Now art thou craven, mother! and see'st that life's all black,
But wherefore tremble, since Marcel has gone, and comes not
"Oh yet, my son, do you take heed, I pray!
For the wizard of the Black Wood is roaming round this way;
The same who wrought such havoc, 'twas but a year agone,
They tell me one was seen to come from 's cave at dawn
But two days past--it was a soldier; now
What if this were Marcel? Oh, my child, do take care!
Each mother gives her charms unto her sons; do thou
Take mine; but I beseech, go not forth anywhere!"
"Just for one little hour, mine eyes to set
On my friend Thomas, whom I'm bound to meet!"
"Thy friend, indeed! Nay, nay! Thou meanest Franconnette,
Whom thou loves dearly! I wish thou'd love some other maid!
Oh, yes! I read it in thine eyes!
Though thou sing'st, art gay, thy secret bravely keeping,
That I may not be sad, yet all alone thou'rt weeping--
My head aches for thy misery;
Yet leave her, for thine own good, my dear Pascal;
She would so greatly scorn a working smith like thee,
With mother old in penury;
For poor we are--thou knowest truly.
"How we have sold and sold fill scarce a scythe remains.
Oh, dark the days this house hath seen
Since, Pascal, thou so ill hast been;
Now thou art well, arouse! do something for our gains
Or rest thee, if thou wilt; with suffering we can fight;
But, for God's love, oh! go not forth to-night!"
And the poor mother, quite undone,
Cried, while thus pleading with her son,
Who, leaning on his blacksmith's forge
The stifling sobs quelled in his gorge.
"'Tis very true," he said, "that we are poor,
But had I that forgot?... I go to work, my mother, now, be sure!"
No sooner said than done; for in a blink
Was heard the anvil's clink,
The sparks flew from the blacksmith's fire
Higher and still higher!
The forgeman struck the molten iron dead,
Hammer in hand, as if he had a hundred in his head!
But now, the Busking was apace,
And soon, from every corner place
The girls came with the skein of their own making
To wind up at this sweethearts' merry meeting.
In the large chamber, where they sat and winded
The threads, all doubly garnished,
The girls, the lads, plied hard their finger,
And swiftly wound together
The clews of lint so fair,
As fine as any hair.
The winding now was done; and the white wine, and rhymsters,
Came forth with rippling glass and porringers,
And brought their vivid vapours
To brighten up their capers--
Ah! if the prettiest were the best, with pride
I would my Franconnette describe.
Though queen of games, she was the last, not worst,
It is not that she reigned at present, yet was first.
"Hold! Hold!" she cried, the brown-haired maid,
Now she directed them from side to side--
Three women merged in one, they said--
She dances, speaks, sings, all bewitching,
By maiden's wiles she was so rich in;
She sings with soul of turtle-dove,
She speaks with grace angelic;
She dances on the wings of love--
Sings, speaks, and dances, in a guise
More than enough to turn the head most wise!
Her triumph is complete; all eyes are fixed upon her,
Though her adorers are but peasants;
Her eyes are beaming,
Blazing and sparkling,
And quite bewitching;
No wonder that the sweetheart lads are ravished with her!
Then Thomas rose and, on the coquette fixing
His ardent eyes, though blushing,
In language full of neatness,
And tones of lute-like sweetness,
This song began to sing:
THE SYREN WITH A HEART OF ICE.
"Oh, tell us, charming Syren,
With heart of ice unmoved,
When shall we hear the sound
Of bells that ring around,
To say that you have loved?
Always so free and gay,
Those wings of dazzling ray,
Are spread to every air--
And all your favour share;
Attracted by their light
All follow in your flight.
But ah! believe me, 'tis not bliss,
Such triumphs do but purchase pain;
What is it to be loved like this,
To her who cannot love again?
"You've seen how full of joy
We've marked the sun arise;
Even so each Sunday morn
When you, before our eyes,
Bring us such sweet surprise.
With us new life is born:
We love your angel face,
Your step so debonnaire,
Your mien of maiden grace,
Your voice, your lips, your hair,
Your eyes of gentle fire,
All these we now admire!
But ah! believe me, 'tis not bliss,
Such triumphs do but purchase pain;
What is it to be loved like this,
To her who cannot love again?
"Alas! our groves are dull
When widowed of thy sight,
And neither hedge nor field
Their perfume seem to yield;
The blue sky is not bright
When you return once more,
All that was sad is gone,
All nature you restore,
We breathe in you alone;
We could your rosy fingers cover
With kisses of delight all over!
But ah! believe me, 'tis not bliss,
Such triumphs do but purchase pain;
What is it to be loved like this,
To her who cannot love again?
"The dove you lost of late,
Might warn you by her flight,
She sought in woods her mate,
And has forgot you quite;
She has become more fair
Since love has been her care.
'Tis love makes all things gay,
Oh follow where she leads--
When beauteous looks decay,
What dreary life succeeds!
And ah! believe me, perfect bliss,
A joy, where peace and triumph reign,
Is when a maiden, loved like this,
Has learnt 'tis sweet to love again!"
The songster finished, and the ardent crowd
Of listeners clapped their hands in praises loud.
"Oh! what a lovely song!" they cried. "Who is the poet?"
"'Tis Pascal," answered Thomas, "that has made it!"
"Bravo! Long live Pascal!" exclaimed the fervent crowd.
Nothing said Franconnette; but she rejoiced--was proud--
At having so much love evoked,
And in a song so touching,
Before this crowd admiring.
Then she became more serious as she thought of Pascal;
"How brave he is! 'Tis all for him; he has not got his equal!
How he paints love! All praise him without doubt;
And his sweet song--so touching!" for now by heart she knows it.
"But if he loves at last, why does he hide away?"
Then turning suddenly, she says--
"Thomas, he is not here, away he stays;
I would him compliment; can he not come?"
"Oh! now he cannot; but remains at home."
Then spoke the jealous Lawrence: "Pascal knows
He cannot any other songs compose;
Poor fellow! almost ruined quite he is;
His father's most infirm--stretched out, and cannot rise;
The baker will not give him bread, he is constrained to debts."
Then Franconnette grew pale, and said, "And he so very good!
Poor lad! how much he suffers; and now he wants his food!"
"My faith!" said Lawrence, a heart of goodness aping,
"They say that now he goes a-begging!"
"You lie!" cried Thomas, "hold thy serpent's tongue!
Pascal, 'tis true, is working, yet with harm,
Since, for this maiden, he has suffered in his arm;
But he is cured; heed not this spiteful knave!
He works now all alone, for he is strong and brave."
If someone on the girl his eyes had set,
He would have seen tears on the cheeks of Franconnette.
"Let's 'Hunt the Slipper!"' cried the maids;
Round a wide ring they sat, the jades.
Slipper was bid by Franconnette,
But in a twinkle, Marionette--
"Lawrence, hast thou my slipper?" "No, demoiselle!"
"Rise then, and seek it now, ah, well!"
Lawrence, exulting in his features,
Said, "Franconnette, hast thou my slipper?"
"No, sir!" "'Tis false!" It was beneath her seat!
"Thou hast it! Rise! Now kiss me as the forfeit!"
A finch, just taken in a net,
First tries some gap to fly at;
So Franconnette, just like a bird, escaped
With Lawrence, whom she hated;
Incensed he turned to kiss her;
He swiftly ran, but in his pursuit warm,
The moment she was caught he stumbled,
Slipped, fell, and sudden broke his arm.
Misfortunes ne'er come single, it is said.
The gloomy night was now far spent;
But in that fright of frights, quite in a breath,
The house-door creaked and ope'd! Was it a wraith?
No! but an old man bearded to the waist,
And now there stood before the throng the Black Wood Ghaist!
"Imprudent youths!? he cried; "I come from gloomy rocks up
Your eyes to ope: I'm filled with wrath and wonder!
You all admire this Franconnette;
Learn who she is, infatuate!
From very cradle she's all evil;
Her wretched father, miserable,
Passed to the Hugnenots and sold her to the Devil;
Her mother died of shame--
And thus the demon plays his game.
Now he has bought this woman base,
He tracks her in her hiding-place.
You see how he has punished Pascal and Lawrence
Because they gave her light embrace!
Be warned! For who so dares this maid to wed,
Amid the brief delight of their first nuptial night,
Will sudden hear a thunder-peal o'er head!
The demon cometh in his might
To snatch the bride away in fright,
And leave the ill-starred bridegroom dead!"
The Wizard said no more; but angry, fiery rays,
From scars his visage bore, seemed suddenly to blaze.
Four times he turned his heel upon,
Then bade the door stand wide, or ere his foot he stayed;
With one long creak the door obeyed,
And lo! the bearded ghaist was gone!
He left great horror in his wake! None stirred in all the
They looked nor left nor right, when he away had gone,
They seemed all changed to stone--
Only the stricken maid herself stood brave against her wrong;
And in the hope forlorn that all might pass for jest,
With tremulous smile, half bright, half pleading,
She swept them with her eyes, and two steps forward pressed;
But when she saw them all receding,
And heard them cry "Avaunt!" then did she know her fate;
Then did her saddened eyes dilate
With speechless terror more and more,
The while her heart beat fast and loud,
Till with a cry her head she bowed
And sank in swoon upon the floor.
Such was the close of Busking night,
Though it began so gay and bright;
The morrow was the New Year's day,
It should have been a time most gay;
But now there went abroad a fearful rumour--
It was remembered long time after
In every house and cottage home throughout the land--
Though 'twas a fiction and a superstition,--
It was, "The De'il's abroad! He's now a-roaming;
How dreadful! He is now for lost souls seeking!"
The folks were roused and each one called to mind
That some, in times of yore, had heard the sound
Of Devil's chains that clanked;
How soon the father vanished,
The mother, bent in agony,
A maniac she died!
That then all smiled; they felt nor hurt nor harm,
They lived quite happy on their cottage farm,
And when the fields were spoilt with hail or rain,
Their ground was covered o'er with plums and grain.
It was enough; the girls believed it all,
Grandmothers, mothers--thoughts did them appal--
Even infants trembled at the demon's name;
And when the maiden hung her head in pain,.
And went abroad, they scarce would give her passage;
They called to her, "Away! Avaunt! thou imp of evil,
Behold the crime of dealing with the Devil!"
The Maid at Estanquet--A Bad Dream--The Grandmother's Advice--
Blessed Bread--Satisfaction and Affection--First Thought of Love
Beside a cot at Estanquet,
Down by a leafy brooklet,
The limpid stream
Lapped o'er the pebbles murmuring.
Last summer sat a maid, with gathered flowers,
She was engaged in setting,
Within her grassy bowers;
She sang in joy her notes so thrilling,
As made the birds, their sweet songs trilling,
Why does she sing no more? midst fields and hedgerows verdant;
'The nightingales that came within her garden,
With their loud "jug! jug!" warbling,
And their sweet quavers singing;
Can she have left her cottage home?
No! There's her pretty hat of straw
Laid on the bench; but then they saw
There was no ribbon round it;
The garden all neglected;
The rake and wat'ring-pot were down
Amongst the jonquils overthrown;
The broken-branched roses running riot;
The dandelion, groundsell, all about;
And the nice walks, laid out with so much taste,
Now cover'd with neglected weeds and wanton waste.
Oh! what has happened here? Where is the lively maid?
The little birds now whispering said;
Her home is sparkling there beyond,
With tufted branch of hazel round;
Let's just peep in, the door is open,
We make no noise, but let us listen.
Ah! there's grandmother, on her arm-chair, fast asleep!
And here, beside the casement deep,
The maid of Estanquet, in saddened pain and grief,
The tears down-falling on her pretty hand;
To whom no joy nor hope can ever give relief!
Ah! yes,'twas dark enough! for it is Franconnette,
Already you've divined it is our pet!
And see her now, poor maiden,
Bending beneath the falsest blow, o'erladen;
She sobs and weeps alternately--
Her heart is rent and empty,
Oft, to console herself, she rises, walks, and walks again;
Alas! her trouble is so full of pain--
Awake or sleeping--
she's only soothed by weeping.
Daughter of Huguenot accursed,
And banished from the Church!
Sold to the demon; she's for ever cursed!
Grandmother, waking, said, "Child, 'tis not true;
It matters not; 'tis but thy father fled,
No one can contradict that raving crew;
They know not where he is, and could they see him,
They would so frightened be, they'd not believe their een!"
"How changed things are," said Franconnette, "before I was so
Then I was village queen, all followed love in harmony;
And all the lads, to please me,
Would come barefooted, e'en through serpents' nests, to bless me!
But now, to be despised and curst,
I, who was once the very first!
And Pascal, too, whom once I thought the best,
In all my misery shuns me like a pest!
Now that he knows my very sad mishaps,
He ne'er consoles with me at all--perhaps----"
She did deceive herself. Her grief to-day was softened
By hearing that Pascal 'gainst slanders her defended;
Such magic help, it was a balm
Her aching soul to calm;
And then, to sweeten all her ill,
She thought always of Pascal--did this softened girl.
What is that sound? A sudden shriek!
Grandmother dreamt--she was now wide awake;
The girl sprang to her; she said, "Isn't the house aflame?
Ah! twas a dream! Thank God!" her murmur came.
"Dear heart," the girl said softly; "what was this dream of
"Oh, love! 'twas night, and loud ferocious men, methought
Came lighting fires all round our little cot,
And thou did'st cry unto them, daughter mine,
To save me, but did'st vainly strive,
For here we too must burn alive!
The torment that I bore! How shall I cure my fright
Come hither, darling, let me hold thee tight!"
Then the white-headed dame, in withered arms of love,
With yearning tenderness folded the brown-haired girl, who
By many a smile, and mute caress,
To hearten her, until at length
The aged one cried out, her love gave vital strength,
"Sold to the Demon, thou? It is a hideous lie!
Therefore, dear child, weep not so piteously;
Take courage! Be thou brave in heart once more,
Thou art more lovely than before--
Take grannie's word for that! Arise!
Go forth; who hides from envious eyes
Makes wicked people spiteful; I've heard this, my pet;
I know full well there's one who loves thee yet--
Marcel would guard thee with his love;
Thou lik'st not him? Ah! could he move
Thy feelings, he would shield thee, dear,
And claim thee for his own.
But I am all too feeble grown;
Yet stay, my darling, stay! To-morrow's Easter Day,
Go thou to Mass, and pray as ne'er before!
Then take the blessed bread, if so the good God may
The precious favour of his former smile restore,
And on thy sweet face, clear as day,
Own thou art numbered with his children evermore!"
Then such a gleam of hope lit the old face again,
Furrowed so deep with years and pain,
That, falling on her neck, the maiden promised well,
And once more on the white cot silence fell.
When, therefore, on the morrow, came the country-side,
To hear the Hallelujas in the church of Saint Pierre;
Great was the wonderment of those that spied
The maiden, Franconnette, silently kneeling there,
Telling her beads with downcast eyes of prayer.
She needs, poor thing, Heaven's mercy to implore,
For ne'er a woman's will she win!
But then, beholding her sweet mien,
Were Marvel and Pascal, eyeing her fondly o'er;
She saw them with her glances, dark as night,
Then shrinking back, they left her all alone,
Midway of a great circle, as they might
Some poor condemned one
Bearing some stigma on her brow in sight.
This was not all, poor child! It was well known--
The warden, uncle to Marcel,
Carried the Blessed Bread;
And like a councillor, did swell
In long-tailed coat, with pompous tread:
But when the trembling maid, making a cross, essayed
To take a double portion, as her dear old grandame bade,
Right in the view of every eye,
The sacred basket he withdrew, and passed her wholly
And so, denied her portion of the bread whereby we live,
She, on glad Easter, doth receive
Dismissal from God's house for aye.
The maid, trembling with fear, thought all was lost indeed!
But no! she hath a friend at need;
'Twas Pascal, who had seen her all the while--
Pacal, whose young foot walked along the aisle,
He made the quest, and nothing loth,
In view of uncle and of nephew both,
Doth quietly to her present,
Upon a silver plate, with flowers fair blossoming,
The crown-piece of the Holy Sacrament--
And all the world beholds the pious offering.
Oh! moment full of joy; her blood sprang into fleetness;
Warmth was in all her frame, her senses thrilled with sweetness;
She saw the bread of God arisen
Out of its earthly prison,
Thus life unto her own was given:
But wherefore did her brow quite blushing grow?
Because the angel bright of love, I trow,
Did with her glowing breath impart
Life to the flame long smouldering in her heart.
It did become a something strange, and passing all desire
As honey sweet, and quick as fire
Did her sad soul illuminate
With a new being; and, though late,
She knew the word for her delight,
The fair enigma she could guess.
People and priest all vanish'd from her sight,
She saw in all the church only one man aright--
He whom she loved at last, with utmost gratefulness.
Then from Saint Peter's church the throng widely dispersed,
And of the scandal they had seen, now eagerly conversed;
But lost not sight of her at all
Who bore the Bread of Honour to the ancient dame, ere this,
She sitteth now alone, shut in her chamber small,
While Franconnette beams brightly with her new-found bliss.
On the parched earth, where falls the earliest dew,
As shines the sun's first rays, the winter flown--
So love's first spark awakes to life anew,
And fills the startled mind with joy unknown.
The maiden yielded every thought to this--
The trembling certainty of real bliss;
The lightning of a joy before improved,
Flash'd in her heart, and told her that she loved.
She fled from envy, and from curious eyes,
And dreamed, as all have done, their waking dreams,
Bidding in thought bright fairy fabrics rise
To shrine the loved one in their golden gleams.
Alas! the sage is right, 'tis the distrest
Who dream the fondest, and who love the best.
But when the saddened heart controls us quite,
It quickly turns to gall the sweets of our delight.
Then she remembered all! The opening heaven turned grey,
Dread thought now smites her heavily.
Dreams she of love? Why, what is she?
Sweet love is not for her! The dreaded sorcerer
Hath said she's fore-sold for a price--a murderer!
With heart of dev'lish wrath, which whoso dares to brave
To lie with her one night, therein shall find his grave.
She, to see Pascal perish at her side!
"Oh God! have pity on me now!" she cried.
So, rent with cruel agonies,
And weeping very sore,
Fell the poor child upon her knees,
Her little shrine before.
"Oh, Holy Virgin!"--sighing--"on thee alone relying,
I come; I'm all astray! Father and mother too
Are dead lang syne, and I accursed! All tongues are crying
This hideous tale! Yet save me if't be true;
If they have falsely sworn, be it on their souls borne
When I shall bring my taper on the fete-day morn
Oh! blessed Mother, let me see
That I am not denied of thee!"
Though 'tis sincere,
To Heaven mounts quickly,
Sure to have won a gracious ear;
The maid her purpose holds, and ponders momently,
And oftentimes grows sick, and cannot speak for fear,
But sometimes taketh heart, and sudden hope and strong
Shines in her soul, as brightest meteor gleams the sky along.
The Fete at Notre Dame--Offering to the Virgin--Thunderstroke
and Taper Extinguished--The Storm at Roquefort--
Fire at Estanquet--Triumph of Pascal--Fury of Marcel--
Power of a Mother--Bad Head and Good Heart--Conclusion.
At last, behold the day she longed for, yet so fearfully,
But lo! the sun rose cheerfully;
And long, long lines of white-robed village girls
From all the country round, walked tow'rds the tinkling bells,
And soon, proud Notre Dame appeared in sight,
As 'midst a cloud of perfume!
'Twas if the thirty hamlets in their might
Were piled together into one.
What priests! What candles! Crucifixes! Garlands!
What Angels, and what banners!
You see there Artigues, Puymiral, Astafort,
Saint-Cirq, Cardonnet, Lusignan, Brax, Roquefort,
But this year, Roquefort first, o'erleapeth all.
What crowds there are of curious people,
To watch the girl sold to the Devil!
The news has travelled everywhere;
They know that she, in silent prayer,
Implores the Virgin to protect her there!
Her neighbours scoff, and her menace,
But saddened friends grieve at her sore disgrace,
Love, through their heart, in fervour rills,
Each one respects this plaintivest of girls;
And many a pitying soul a prayer said,
That some great miracle might yet be made
In favour of this poor and suppliant maid.
She saw, rejoiced, more hope with her abode;
Though voice of people is the voice of God!
Oh! how her heart beat as the church she neared,
'Twas for the Virgin's indulgence she cared.
Mothers with heartaches; young unfortunates;
The orphan girls; the women without mates;
All knelt before, with tapers waxen,
The image of the Virgin;
And there the aged priest, in surplice dressed,
Placed the crosses at their lips, and afterwards them blessed.
No sign of sorrow did on any suppliant fall,
But with their happy hearts, their ways went one and all,
So Franconnette grew happy too,
And most because Pascal prayed fervent in her view;
She dared t'raise her eyes to the holy father's face,
It seemed to her that love, hymns, lights, and the incense
United, cried out, "Grace!"
"Grace, grace divine," she sighed, "and love! Let them be mine!"
Then stretching out her taper lit, and followed to the shrine,
Bearing a garland in her hand; and all about her strove
To give a place to her, and bade her forward move.
They fixed their eyes upon the sacred priest and her,
And scarce a breath was drawn, and not a soul did stir;
But when the priest, holding the image of redeeming love,
Had laid it on the orphan's lips; before her kiss was given,
Burst a terrific thunderpeal, as if 'twould rend the heaven,
Blowing her taper out, and all the altar lights above.
Oh, what is this? The crashing thunder!
Her prayer denied, the lights put out!
Good God! she's sold indeed! All, all is true, no doubt,
So a long murmur rose of horror and of wonder;
For while the maiden breathlessly
Cowering like some lost soul, their shuddering glances under,
Sudden crept forth, all shrunk away, and let her pass them by.
Howbeit, that great peal was the opening blow
Of a wild storm and terrible,
That straightway upon Roquefort fell,
The spire of Saint Pierre lay in ruins low,
And, smitten by the sharp scourge of the hail,
In all the region round, men could but weep and wail.
The angel bands who walked that day
In fair procession, hymns to sing,
Turned sorrowing, all save one, away,
Ora pro nobis chaunting.
Yet, in those early times, though not as now,
The angry waves to clear;
To other jealous towns could Agen show
Great bridges three, as she a royal city were;
Then she had only barges two, by poles propelled slow,
That waited for the minstrels, to bear them to Roquefort,
Whose villagers heard rumours of the widespread woe;
Ere landing, they were ranged for singing on the shore.
At first the tale but half they heed,
But soon they see in very deed,
Vineyards and happy fields with hopeless ruin smit;
Then each let fall his banner fair,
And lamentations infinite
Bent on all sides the evening air,
Till o'er the swelling throng rose deadly clear the cry,
"And still we spare this Franconnette!" Then suddenly,
As match to powder laid, the words
"Set her on fire! That daughter of the Huguenot,
Let's burn her up, and let her ashes rot."
Then violent cries were heard.
Howls of "Ay! Ay! the wretch! Now let her meet her fate!
She is the cause of all, 'tis plain!
Once she has made us desolate,
But she shall never curse again!"
And now the crowd grew angrier, wilder too.
"Hunt her off face of earth!" one shouts anew;
"Hunt her to death! 'Tis meet," a thousand tongues repeat,
The tempest in the skies cannot with this compete.
Oh, then, to see them as they came,
With clenched fists and eyes aflame,
Hell did indeed its demons all unchain.
And while the storm recedes, the night is growing clear,
But poison shoots through every vein
Of the possess'd madmen there.
Thus goaded they themselves to crime; but where was she,
Unhappy Franconnette? To her own cottage driven--
Worshipping her one relic, sad and dreamily,
And whispered to the withered flowers Pascal had loving given:
"Dear nosegay, when I saw thee first,
Methought thy sweetness was divine,
And I did drink it, heart athirst;
But now thou art not sweet as erst,
Because those wicked thoughts of mine
Have blighted all thy beauty rare;
I'm sold to powers of ill, for Heav'n hath spurned my prayer;
My love is deadly love! No hope on earth have I!
So, treasure of my heart, flowers of the meadow fair,
Because I bless the hand that gathered thee, good-bye!
Pascal must not love such as I!
He must th' accursed maid forswear,
Who yet to God for him doth cry!
In wanton merriment last year,
Even at love laughed Franconnette;
Now is my condemnation clear,
Now whom I love, I must forget;
Sold to the demon at my birth!
My God, how can it be? Have I not faith in Thee?
Oh! blessed blossoms of the earth;
Let me drive with my cross the evil one from me!
And thou, my mother, in the star-lit skies above,
And thou, my guardian, oh! mother of our God,
Pity me: For I bless Pascal, but part from him I love!
Pity the maid accursed, by the rod
Sore smitten, to the earth down-trod,
Help me, thy Heart Divine to move!"
"Franconnette, little one, what means thy plaintive moan?"
So spake the hoary dame. "Didst thou not smiling say
Our Lady did receive thy offering to-day?
But sure, no happy heart should make so sad a groan.
Thou hast deceived me? Some new ill," she said,
Hath fall'n upon us!" "Nay, not so; be comforted.
I--I'm quite happy!" "So my sweetest deary,
God grant that some good respite we may have,
For your sad sorrow diggeth up my grave;
And this hath been a lonesome, fearsome day, and weary;
That cruel dream of fire I had some time ago,
Howe'er I strove, did always haunt me so!
And then, thou know'st the storm; oh, I was terrified,
So that, to-night, my dear, I shudder in my fright!"
What sudden noise is this outside?
"Fire! Fire! Let's burn them in their cot!"
Flames shine through all the shutters wide,
Then Franconnette springs to the doorway tremblingly,
And, gracious Heaven! what doth she see?
By light of burning reek,
An angry people huddled thick;
She hears them shout, "Now, to your fate!
Spare ne'er the young one, nor the old,
Both work us ruin manifold.
Sold to the demon, we must burn you straight!"
The girl fell on her knees, before the face
Of that most furious populace.
She cried, "Grandmother will you kill? Oh, pity, grace!"
"Twas of no use, the wretches, blind with fury,
In viewing her bareheaded, in their hurry,
Saw but a cursed leman,
Sold bodily to the demon.
The fiercest cried "Avaunt!"
While the more savage forward spring,
And on the door their feet they plant,
With fiery brand in their hand brandishing.
"Hold! I implore you! "cried a voice, before unheard;
And sudden leapt before the crowd like lightning with the word,
A man of stately strength and tall,
It was the noble, brave Pascal!
"Cowards!" he cried. "What? Will you murder women then,
And burn their cot? Children of God! Are you the same?
Tigers you are, and cannot then be men;
And after all that they have suffered! Shame!
Fall back! Fall back! I say; the walls are growing hot!"
"Then let her leave us quite, this wretched Huguenot,
For she was long since by the devil bought,
God smites us 'cause we did not drive her forth before."
"Quick! quick!" cried Pascal, "living they will burn!
Ye dogs, who moved ye to this awful crime?"
"'Twas Marcel," they replied. "See, now he comes in time!"
"You lie!" the soldier thundered in his turn;
"I love her, boaster, more than thou!"
Said Pascal, "How wilt prove thy love, thou of the tender heart?"
"I come," the other said, "to save her. I come to take her part.
I come, if so she will, to wed her, even now."
"And so am I," replied Pascal, and steadfastly
Before his rival's eyes, as bound by some great spell.
Then to the orphan girl turned he,
With worship all unspeakable.
"Answer me, Franconnette, and speak the truth alone;
Thou'st followed by the wicked with spite and scorn, my own;
But we two love thee well, and ready are to brave
Death! Yes, or hell, thy precious life to save.
Choose which of us thou wilt!" "Nay," she lamented sore,
"Dearest, mine is a love that slays!
Be happy, then, without me! Forget me! Go thy ways!"
"Happy without thee, dear! That can I never more: