Obrazy na stronie

enced late events, who can doubt the purity of theirs! The time has been, when such observations would perhaps have called forth the smile of contempt from people of ton, and they might have served as subjects for their witticisms. But what now is this ton? What became of it from the moment when the proud and manly voice of freedom made itself heard !"

This ton in truth is vanished.. But whether the fishwomen have substituted anything better in its place, every one can judge who has since that time spent only three days at Paris.

January 1, 1791. Receive my friendly salutations, thou first day of a new year !–God be thanked! I have now turned my back upon the most unfortunate year of my life! Certain am I that the coming year cannot bring me any calamity so great as the last produced—it cannot rob me of a second Frederica ! The future can deprive me of little, but it may restore me much. I have no more hopes in this world : what I have lost is irreparable! Yet welcome, thou new year, for thou bringest me one step nearer to the joys of a better life!

On this day twelve months, as I was sitting in my study, my little William came in, and repeated courageously, and without hesitation, a pretty little newyear's wish taught him by his mother, who herself stood at the door to listen whether or not he repeated his lesson correctly.

I caught her in my arms-she wept. “Why weeps my love ?” I asked.

“ Alas !” she said, a year ago I wished the restoration of your health, but in vain—and I fear that my wishes now should prove equally vain.”

“ Make yourself easy, dearest Frederica," I replied; “ I am notwithstanding happy. Many a joyful day have I experienced in this year, and for the most joyful I am indebted to thee.'' Yes, I was indeed happy in spite of my


frame. My health is now amended, but my happiness is gone for ever. The only enjoyment that remains to me, is in recurring to the past; my only hopes are in futurity,—that futurity that will re-unite me to her—to her, who alone among a thousand women could make me completely happy. Ah! why was she given me only to lose her again! And yet I would not for all the treasures this world could bestow, strike out of my life the six years of bliss I experienced with her! would not for a moment lose the recollection of the most trifling joy we have shared together! The waters of Lethé appear to me an illinvented fable. Do we not find everywhere, and even hereafter 'twill doubtless be the same, that the recurrence to past joys forms one of the primary sources of those we deem present? Yes, my lost, adored Frederica! doubtless a part of thy happiness consists in thinking of me!— Perhaps thou art so occupied on this very day, if yet thy time be measured by days and hours; perhaps at this very moment, when the tears called forth by these recollections stream down my cheeks, falling on the little dog, once thy favourite. Ah! this poor animal now lies constantly on my lap; an indulgence which, in former times, he, as thou knowest, was never allowed.

I was this morning in the ancient church of Notre Dame. It is an old, tasteless, Gothic building, yet awakens in the heart a kind of solemn and reverential

It contains some very excellent pictures. The catholic churches are in general much handsomer buildings, and much more richly ornamented than those of the protestant religion. One is irresistibly excited to devotion, and most irresistibly, when a solemn silence reigns throughout, interrupted only at intervals by the soft whispers of a single voice pouring forth its pious orisons. This silence is never observed in a protestant place of worship. It seems the idea there, that piety must be kept constantly in motion, lest the thread should snap. Thus, hymn, psalm, prayer, and litany, course each other so closely, that they are in danger of producing a surfeit ; and when all is over, the church-doors are closed, and God is not permitted to give audience to those who would like to kneel and pour out their souls to him in private. That I may not be reproached with partiality, I must add, that I am myself a Lutheran.


In the great church of Notre Dame we found several people on their knees, who did not seem at all to heed us. By one of the pillars sat a nun, with six little girls, all dressed alike. Our guide told us that they were foundlings, and that the Foundling Hospi. tal was close at hand.

We immediately went thither, and I thank God for the delightful feelings with which I there commenced the new year. We were conducted into a large room, where stood a hundred little beds ranged in four rows, in each of which lay a child of above a year old, all as clean and neat as possible. The air in the room was perfectly sweet and wholesome, without the least bad smell whatever.

An old nun came towards us, and received us with the most frank serenity. “You come,” said she, “to visit my numerous family. I am a happy mother: I have just received a new-year's present of ten additional children.”

These she shewed us. The attendants were then washing and feeding them. A number of girls grown up, all foundlings, sat round the chimney, and by their care of these newly-arrived guests, strove to repay the kindness they had themselves received. It might have been expected that a hundred children would make a great noise and crying, but they were all perfectly quiet, and seemed perfectly contented; an additional proof that they are well taken care of, and want nothing

Five thousand eight hundred and forty-two chil. dren were received into this hospital in the course of the last year. Seventeen hundred nurses are retained

in its service in the country; but the good old nun complained that it was now difficult to get nurses, as she could not pay them, since she had not received any money for a long time, and the national assembly had not yet taken the institution into their hands. She shewed us how the children were fed with rice and milk; a method she did not approve.

Some years ago, she said, the nurses were all discharged to introduce this new mode of feeding ; but a little experience sufficiently proved that it would not do, and the purpose was of necessity relinquished.

This nun is certainly one of the happiest of people, not only in Paris, but in the world at large. Never did I see in any countenance so much sweet composure and serenity. She carries a heaven in her heart, the effect of her mildness and patience here on earth. Towards the grown-up children her deportment was equally like one of the most affectionate of mothers. They all appeared to place unreserved confidence in her, and spoke without any shyness or distrust. She shewed us a pretty little girl, and begged of us to ask her where she was found.

“ In the snow," answered the poor little creature.

Over the door of the room is inscribed, upon a tablet, My father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord hath had compassion upon me.”

One room contains the linen of these little orphans. It was an interesting sight to see it entirely filled with clean linen, as white as snow.

We parted from the good old nun with tears in our eyes.

I never shall forget the hour that I spent there. Oh! had my Frederica but been with me !. What a feast would it have been to her gentle and benevolent soul! I could almost fancy I see her now with tears of pleasing sadness streaming down her cheeks.

The papers of to-day contained the following witticism:

“We have been informed, but we do not pledge ourselves for the authenticity of the intelligence, that

[ocr errors]

in the village of Romecourt, near Mezieres-la-vie, a woman was lately brought to bed of three boys, to which were given the nicknames of la Nation, la Loi, and le Roi. La Nation and la Loi are dead, but le Roi is alive, and likely to do well."

It was our intention to have passed the evening at the Théâtre Français Comique et Lyrique, where a favourite piece, which has been very often repeated, called “Nicodemus in the Moon,' was to be performed. But we went too late, and found the house so crowded that it was impossible to get places.

Our evil genius, therefore, led us on to the Théâtre Comique des Associés, where we found places with difficulty, where we were assailed on all sides by heat and stinks, and where a perpetual noise behind us, and before the door, deprived us of the few crumbs we might otherwise have picked up.

But it was no great loss, since there was nothing, I believe, worth hearing, for a more miserable theatre I have not seen in my Parisian pilgrimage. The first piece was ‘L'Honnéte Homme, in one act. It contained so little of novelty, that, though I saw it now for the first time, I could have fancied it the hundredth. Secondly, was represented · Le Triomphe de L'Amour,' in three whining insipid acts. Never did love solemnize a more wearying triumph. Lastly came · Les Etrennes de la Liberté Conquise,' an opera in one act.

This was beyond expression silly and absurd. Mercury appears, and announces that Minerva, Mars, Bacchus, and Cupid, are on their way to Paris, and in conforınity to the established custom, intend to open their shops on new year's day, and offer their goods to sale at very low prices. The deities announced, appeared immediately after, and sang their professions without any musical accompaniment, in the true ballad-singer tone. They then adjourned each to a corner of the stage, which they called their shops. It must be observed by the way, that the stage, in

« PoprzedniaDalej »