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December 31. Once more let me recur to the public prints. The following extracts are taken from a paper of this day :
EXTRACT THE FIRST.
“A nuble deed of the minister of T'ernan, near St John
d'Angely. “ The unfortunate La Tierce, lord of the castle of Varaise, stood trembling amid a multitude of assassins, who fell upon him with knives, sickles, sythes, and clubs, when suddenly an ecclesiastic, the minister of Ternan, rushed in between him and his murderers ; his presence for a moment repressed their fury. He addressed them in the language of the God he served, the language of peace! represented to them in forcible colours the heinous nature of the offence they were about to commit; urged, that the laws alone had a right to punish in the name of heaven, and proposed their carrying monsieur La Tierce to prison, till he could be properly tried. His remonstrances were however vain, the throng that pressed around their victim increased every moment, and their rage grew every moment more unbridled.
“ At length the ecclesiastic perceived the door of a house open, against which he and La Tierce were already nearly thrust. He therefore ventured to make a bold experiment, and pushing in the latter, followed himself, and shut the door hastily, in hopes by this means to escape.
“ But in vain. The mob presently broke into the house, and tearing La Tierce from the arms of his protector, dragged him again into the market-place. The ecclesiastic still regardless of all danger to himself, pressed forcibly among the assassins; and since he could no longer make them listen to his expostulations, threw his arms round the trembling La Tierce, hoping to serve him as a shield. But at that very moment
the unfortunate victim received the stroke of a scythe over his head, and a ball in his breast. He fell, sprinkling his magnanimous defender with his blood.'
EXTRACT THE SECOND.
“On the twenty-ninth, the Royal Agricultural So. ciety held their public sitting. Among the prizes they awarded, was a silver medal of a hundred livres to madame Rattier, the wife of a car-driver.
The occasion for which it was given, affected the whole assembly with a pleasing emotion.
“ A child was, five years before, confided to the care of this admirable woman, of whose parents she has never since heard. She has four children of her own, and an income of not more than fifty dollars, which her husband earns by the sweat of his brow. Often has she been advised to send her little charge to the Foundling Hospital, but never would forsake her ; and though the constant rising of all the necessaries of life has reduced her to great shifts and want, she has uniformly continued to do the same for this poor. orphan as for her own children.”
Instances of similar generosity and magnanimity are, thanks to heaven! not rare among any people. 'Tis only to be regretted that they are not always equally known and rewarded.
A third extract from the same paper, does not, alas ! reflect quite so much honour upon the nation.
“ A young woman of pleasing deportment, who can read and write, and who understands washing, wishes to engage herself as companion to a single gentleman."
In our country, a female who could with such shameless effrontery offer herself as companion, or in plain terms, as mistress to a single gentleman, would be a marked object of public contempt.
As I was breakfasting this morning with baron
G the widow Calas sent to inform him of the death of her son, her last support in life. Unfortunate woman! I felt at this moment, that there are sufferings in the world far greater than my own. 'Tis true, that in the death of her husband, she did not lose more than I did in the loss of my Frederica; but the horrible manner in which his days were ended, was a dreadful aggravation of the blow. Scarcely can I comprehend how it was possible for her to survive such a stroke, at least to retain her senses, and I could almost exclaim with Lessing, “ They who do not, under certain circumstances, lose their understandings, can have no understanding to lose !"
Nor is this wholly inapplicable to the present case, since baron G- informed me, that she had been for some years in a very debilitated state, with little feeling for anything that passes around her. My acquaintance with this baron G
was not commenced entirely without prejudice on my side, since I had but a short time before been reading the Sequel to Rousseau's Confessions. I found my expectations by no means deceived. He is one of the most amiable old men I ever saw. ing in his manners, he charms even at first sight. Possessing a mind richly endowed with all kinds of knowledge, he never intrudes it upon any one, but only employs it to season his conversation in the most natural and unassuming manner.
Many other visits did I make this morning. Among them was one to the king's library, but I might as well have staid at home; for he who knows that it contains three hundred thousand volumes of printed books, and a hundred thousand manuscripts, knows just as much about it as I do.
To make a visit of half an hour to a large library, appears to me just as idle as to make a formal visit of the same length to a celebrated man. The inost valuable book carries in its exterior nothing by which it can be distinguished from the most contemptible
Mild and engag. production at our Leipsic fairs, nor does the most profound scholar carry about him any distinctive external characteristics, by which to discriminate him from the dullest of his brethren. Three hundred thousand men may be manœuvred so as to afford a spectacle somewhat interesting to the spectators, but three hundred thousand books can only stand dully in rows.
The manuscripts on papyrus, and on waxen tablets, 1, however, contemplated with interest, and asked myself whether yet a mouldering grain of dust remained, of the hands by which they were written? The large pair of globes, which are so much celebrated, nevertheless appeared to me sınaller than the Gottorp globes at Petersburgh, though our guide strenuously asserted to the contrary.
This guide was an abbé, whose name I have for. gotten. Instead of shewing us the curiosities of the library, or even answering our questions, he was so bitten by the dæmon of politics, that there was no getting him away from them for a single moment. He proved me, what I was before fully convinced of, that the peace with Sweden was a master-stroke on the part of Russia ; he developed a plan for a treaty of alliance between France and Russia, towards the execution of which it was little in the power of either of us to contribute; he touched slightly upon the relations of the several furopean courts towards each other; and in short, finally sent me full drive out of the library with the plaining sword of his eloquence.
The library of the Sorbonne, which we next visited, is small, but possesses many rare and valuable manuscripts. Some of these had recently been stolen, and the librarian, who went about with us, remarked that the theft must have been committed by some of the members of the Sorbonne themselves, since they alone having keys of the library, nobody else could come in. If the charge be well founded,
Í not think the gentlemen much to blame, since they expect every day a decree of the national assembly, by which this collection, now their own private property, is to be declared national property.
Cardinal Richelieu's monument, in the church of the Sorbonne, is a chef-d'ouvre of sculpture. The cardinal rests in the arms of Religion, and at his feet is Wisdom, in the form of a woman, veiled and weeping. These are things which cannot be described, they must be seen. I should, however, like much to know, since Greeks and oman French and Italians, have all agreed in representing Wisdom under the form of a woman, why a learned woman is always to be made a subject for mirth and ridicule? Is it only in marble that we can endure to see a female endowed with knowledge?
As I saw some people at work upon scaffoldings among the arches of the church, I asked what they were about.
“ Taking down cardinal Richelieu's arms, which are scattered everywhere,” was the answer. “ And by whose order?” I asked.
By order of the national assembly.” “And why this order?”
“ Because arms are forbidden throughout the kingdom.”
This is curious. But Richelieu has created him. self a name of which no national assembly can deprive him, though they may destroy all his arms.
The facade of the church of St Genéviève transported me. Could I at the same time have closed my eyes against all the little miserable huts round about, my imagination might have led to believe myself transported to Athens, for indeed there is nothing in this church, and its tower that seems to kiss the clouds, which can remind one of the Most Christian King, and the eighteenth century. But the fine large area in which it stands, is—how shall I express myself ?hedged round with huts.
A new drama was announced for representation