Page images
PDF
EPUB

even by the interest of the survivors, by the public health, would have passed for a crime, and he who had been guilty of such imprudence would have paid for it with his life!

One of the first victims of the massacre was the Count de la Rochefoucauld, a nobleman who, by his virtues, had acquired general esteem, and for whom the king himself appeared to entertain much regard.

even his life was not considered out of danger; and during his whole existence, the remembrance of that dreadful night caused him the most painful emotion.

Charles Beaumanois de Lavardin, whose sole crime was heresy, being no longer safe in his house, sought a hiding-place at the residence of his friend, Pierre Loup, procureur au parliament; the latter, consulting only his heart, alive to every generous sentiment, received the Calvinist, and promised to do all in his power to save him from the dreadful fate that menaced him.

The retreat of the heretic was soon known; the house of the procureur was besieged by a band of wretches, who broke the windows with

Charles, in a moment of involuntary generosity, had even sought to retain him at the Louvre that fatal night; but the count refused, and the monarch, fearing to excite his suspicions by pressing him too closely, finished by turning his instances into pleasantry, and, with the most atrocious coolness, said, "Eh, bien! cher comte; you will not be sur-stones, and, with horrible howlings and impreprised, if, this very night, I cause you to be awoke, and inflict upon you a slight correction, to punish you for the rebellion of which you are guilty this evening!"

cations, declared, that if the refugee was not instantly delivered up to them, they would massacre all the inhabitants of the house, orthodox or others. Pierre, at first, essayed to pacify the The count was far from imagining the horri-barbarians, or, at least, to moderate their fury. ble threat comprised in those few words; he but, finding that he excited rather than aptook leave of the sovereign, and returned to his peased it, hotel.

Awoke in the middle of the night by men in masks, who dragged him violently from his bed, he at first felt no alarm, thinking it was merely the execution of the king's pleasantry, to punish him, as he had laughingly said, for his refusal. A sword-wound he received in the arm convinced him, however, that it was an attempt on his life, and he endeavored to defend himself. But what chance had he against a dozen armed assassins? La Barge, gentilhomme auvergnat, who commanded the ruffians, and who had already wounded him, struck him such a furious blow in the throat, that he fell, and, with a deep groan, expired. The king, informed of these details, evinced no emotion, and yet this prince loved La Rochefoucauld, as much as such a cruel tyrant was capable of entertaining a sentiment in accordance with humanity. To recompense La Barge for his crime, he was permitted to pillage the hotel of his victim, and to share the spoil with his myrmidons.

Brion, who had attained his eightieth year, equally respectable by his talents and virtues, was governor of the Prince de Conti, brother of the Prince de Condé. But he was a heretic. Pursued by the wretches sent to abridge, by a horrible crime, the few days that, in the course of nature, remained to him, he took refuge in the apartment of his pupil, and, pressing him in his arms, implored the affrighted boy to intercede for him.

The young prince, holding out his innocent hands to the murderers, conjured them, with the most piteous cries, to spare his venerable governor. His tears flowed in vain, his prayers were unheard; his promises disregarded.

Brion was poniarded in the arms of his pupil, who was covered with his blood.

The cries of the youthful prince re-echoed through the palace, and it was only by violence that they could force him from the inanimate form of his beloved tutor. The horrible scene impressed itself so strongly on his memory, that it was frequently re-produced in his dreams. The shock was so great, that for a long time

Well," said he to them, "know, then, that heresy has not a more ardent enemy than I am; and if I have not sooner proclaimed it to you, it was to convince myself of your zeal, and to be assured that religion and the king had not more valiant, more incorruptible defenders than yourselves. Having proved the devoted zeal that animates you, I now declare that I only decoyed the Huguenot, Lavardin, to my house to prevent his escaping my just vengance elsewhere; in a few hours, my friends, he shall have ceased to exist."

"He must die this very instant,” cried the chief of the band.

"I know that he can make important revelations," resumed the procureur, "and I hope to obtain them. It is, therefore, in the interest of the good cause that his death should be retarded for some hours. Grant me this delay, I entreat you!"

"Be it so," replied the bravo; "but do not suppose that you can deceive us. A part of my followers shall remain here, and woe to yourself if you seek to save him whose head we require!"

He then withdrew, leaving a sufficient force to watch the house, who remained like serpents waiting for their pray. The generous magistrate, however, nothing daunted, had still hopes of saving his guest, when a summons came, in the king's name, immediately to deliver up the unfortunate Lavardin, under the penalty of being himself considered as a rebel, and treated as such.

The struggle became hopeless, useless; in sa-crificing himself for the proscribed heretic, he could not save the former's life; he therefore was obliged to communicate to him the rigorous orders he had just received.

The unfortunate, to whom he just conveyed the inevitable sentence of death, threw himself into the arms of his attempted liberator, exclaiming

"Generous man! Heaven forbid that I should render you a victim of your devotedness! I should be more culpable than the wretches who

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

seek my life, if I longer exposed you to their fury. Adieu!"

He then presented himself to the assassins, and boldly said:

"I am ready. Obey the king's orders. I have always respected them myself."

At the same instant several of the ruffians rushed on him, bound his hands and feet, and then dragged him, bleeding, under the windows of the Louvre; for it was there,that the principal chiefs of the heresy were taken to be immolated beneath their sovereign's eyes. Before he had arrived there, Lavardin was insensible; they stabbed him, however, in several places, and threw his body into the river.

The Captain Michel, one of the most famous, and most cruel, of the slaughterers, had received orders to proceed to the dwelling of Pierre de la Place, president of the Cour des Aides de Paris, and murder him.

To his sanguinary habits Michel added the most insatiable cupidity. La Place hoped, that by satisfying this last passion he might prevail upon the murderer to save his life. He therefore entreated a moment's private interview with him, assuring the wretch that he had something to say which was of great importance to him, Michel. The selfishness of the latter led him to acquiesce in the prayer of his devoted victim; he then made his accomplices withdraw out of hearing, having first made himself quite sure that the president had no offensive weapon about him.

"What have you to say to me ?" demanded this worthy instrument of the vengeance of Medicis.

"I seek to ransom my life, by making your fortune," replied the proscribed magistrate.

"My orders are precise; and my punishment certain, if I derogate from them, or am even suspected," replied the cunning brigand.

"What! You think me mad enough to hazard my life, for it would be nothing less than that, for such a paltry sum! It seems to me that you might value your own somewhat higher."

I fear that you may require more than it is in my power to give."

"I will do nothing for less than three thousand golden ecus."

"May I rely upon you; and you shall have them?"

"Yes-for that sum I will fulfil your wishes exactly."

"Follow me, and I will begin by realizing my promise."

"Before all, what must I say to the king?" "That I have the most important revelations to make to him, in respect to the conspiracy of which we are accused.

"Bah! who knows better than he does, that this pretended conspiracy is but a pretext to get rid of you all ?"

[ocr errors]

"And you yourself are convinced of it."
Certainly."
"Nevertheless-

"We are commanded, and it is our duty to obey."

La Place could not help shuddering with horror at such reasoning; it would have been dangerous to show it; this he knew, and remained silent. He then put the promised gold into the hands of the rapacious ruffian, over whose features passed a frightful and sinister smile; he, however, kept his

"Word of promise to the ear,
And broke it to the hope."

Michel having with difficulty persuaded his ferocious accomplices to wait, proceeded to place his ill-gotten treasure in safety, and then went to the

"I will furnish you the means of saving me,king, to tell his tale. in such a way that you shall incur no suspicion of having aided me!"

"That alters the case. But if I concur in your wishes, what recompense shall I receive, and what am I to do to gain it ?"

In the meantime La Place, left alone in his study, fell on his knees, and offered up a fervent prayer to heaven, to save him from his enemies. He then touched a secret spring behind the tapestry, the prison-door flew open, he descended a "I will begin by answering your last ques-dark passage, and hastened to his wife's chamtion. You will say to your that is, to those ber, to communicate to her his hopes of escaping who are with you, that it is necessary to make his enemies. Trembling, doubting, distracted, the king acquainted with the revelations I have between fear and hope, his tender partner atmade to you; that they are of a nature requir-tached to the sleeves of his coat, and upon his ing an interview with his majesty, and that you feel it to be your duty to retard the moment of my execution.”

"Suppose I consent to tell this falsehood, it will not save you; it can only prolong your existence for a few hours."

"You will give me my study for prison, leave me alone, and place as many guards as you think proper at the door. You will then go to the king, for the purpose of communicating what I am supposed to have told you; ere you return, I shall be in safety." "I understand,

...

[ocr errors]

hat, several bits of paper, in the form of crosses, such as the Catholics wore, not to be confounded with the Huguenots, which, however, did not prevent many of those who bore these badges of the "true faith" from being sacrificed.

Enveloped in the ample folds of his cloak, La Place left his hotel by a little door opening upon an almost desert street, and proceeded to gain the residence of his friend, the Sire de Crespy. It was necessary for him, however, to pass along the most populous quarters of the metropolis to arrive there, and what horrible spectacles, O God! met his sight, ere, through many "hairin-breadth 'scapes," he reached the dwelling of his anticipated friend in need! He knocked, but before they opened, his name was required: he pronounced it; a dead silence ensued; he knocked again, but no proscribed head was suffered

you will save yourself by some secret passage. 'Tis well; but I cur imminent risk in thus serving you, and you have not yet named the price of my complaisance."

"A thousand ecus d'or."

to enter there, even under the sacred ægis of friendship. Casting around him a melancholy look, the lips of the poor fugitive murmured the word Ingrat, and then, lowering his hat over his eyes, he went to seek an asylum elsewhere. His instances were equally fruitless with other friends. Fear had closed every heart to the implorings of pity, every one trembled for his own safety, and acts of devotedness and heroism were extremely rare during that dread period. Rejected on all sides, and having in vain attempted to quit Paris, La Place, apprehensive of being recognised, was compelled to return

home.

His wife had at first counted with terror, then with hope, the long hours that had elapsed since his absence. She at length believed that heaven had granted her prayers, and was about to offer up her thanks, when her husband again stood before her. The paleness of his visage, the despair of his soul reflected on his features, all presaged to his afflicted companion the sad reality.

"What!" exclaimed she, receiving him in her arms, "the cruel ones have then repulsed

thee?"

"Yes! all.... I come to give up my head to the executioners; my death is inevitable."

At this moment, a loud crashing was heard; the doors of the hotel were burst open, and, with horrible menaces and imprecations, the savage fanatics rushed in.

Michel had, however, been to the king, but the latter knew too well that La Place could have nothing to reveal, and reproached the captain for his little zeal: he then ordered Sennecé, prevot de l'hotel, to go and seize the president, and conduct him to the Louvre.

Sennecé understood the import of these last words, and immediately hastened to execute the royal commands. His surprise was extreme at not finding the victim in his study. The mansion was searched, and the prisoner at length secured. Affecting a tone of respect, the leader of the gang said to his destined prey,

"The king has charged me, monsieur, to conduct you into his august presence. Follow me; resistance would be unavailing."

"I have no idea of offering any; I obey.Let us go," replied the unfortunate president.

He then tore himself from the convulsive embrace of his wife, who fell on his knees before Sennecé, and with tears streaming from her eyes, implored the wretch not to bereave her of her husband. The disconsolate wife then sented her youthful son to the barbarian, but their joint entreaties were brutally spurned.

pre

"Begone, madam !" replied the fanatic; "it is time that the tree which bears only bad fruit should be uprooted."

And he repulsed the distracted wife with such violence, that she fell senseless on the floor. The child threw himself on his mother, uttering the most piercing shrieks.

"Infame!" exclaimed the president.

The wretches tried to force him away, but indignation had doubled his strength; and lifting from the floor his hapless wife and son, he embraced them for the last time, and then, confiding the precious deposit to some of his people present, he exclaimed, "I am ready."

"Come along, then," repeated the ruffians. La Place, on taking his hat, perceived the paper-cross which was still affixed to it, and tore it off; not from any irreligious feeling, but because he was convinced that it could not now protect him.

"The wretch!" cried Sennecé," he has profaned the sacred sign of the redemption."

The rest of the fanatic gang joined in chorus with their chief, and rushing upon the prisoner, threw him down, bruised him with their feet, and tied his hands so tight behind his back, that the cord penetrated their victim's flesh. They then forced him to get up, and walk in the midst of them, through an infuriated populace, drunk with human gore and carnage, who pelted him with dirt, and every moment threatened to tear him in pieces. Each time he staggered from feebleness of body, he met the sharp-pointed halberds or the swords of his destined murderers, who ceased not to excite still more the fury of the enraged multitude, crying,

"He has trampled on the cross!-he has blasphemed!"

Most of the passers-by cast stones at him, and some even threw at him the gory limbs of the victims with which the streets of the capitol were strewed. Arrived in the Rue de la Verrerie, this horrible cortège was increased by several bravoes, who fell upon the half-dead Calvinist, and put an end to his torments, by stabbing him to death. Scarcely had he fallen ere the monsters rushed upon the palpitating corse, cut it in pieces, with which they made a bonfire, and round which they danced, singing hymns of thankfulness and joy, imploring heaven to strengthen its agents of justice and vengeance, to enable them to achieve the glorious and holy undertaking it had inspired them with from on high.

RECOLLECTIONS.

From the Gentleman's Magazine.
THERE is a feeling, calm and holy,
That o'er the veriest senses steals,
It breathes a tone of melancholy,

And yet a silent joy reveals.
It is, when Memory loves to dwell
On the bright visions of the past,
Times that our fancy loved so well,

Too bright, too beautiful to last.
We love to muse on childhood's hour,
When all that met our gaze was bright,
To feel again that thrilling power,

That waked our infantile delight.
And how each fair, each winning scene,
That charm'd us with its sunny smile,
Vanish'd as though it ne'er had been,
Or lingered only for the while.

And though long years have thinn'd our brow,
And quench'd the vigor of the frame,
Each happy scene is treasured now,
In all its loveliness the same.
O yes! 'tis sweet indeed to dwell
On the bright visions of the past,
Scenes that my fancy lov'd too well,
Too bright, too beautiful to last.

LIFE OF GERALD GRIFFIN.

From the Dublin Review.

these degenerate times; but one from which, though few perhaps are called to imitate it, yet all may draw much salutary in

Life of Gerald Griffin, Esq. By his Brother. struction. It is difficult to speak of so good London:

1843.

"In the time of my boyhood, I had a strange feeling,
That I was to die ere the noon of my day;
Not quietly into the silent grave stealing,
But torn, like a blasted oak, sudden away.

"That e'en in the hour when enjoyment was keenest,
My lamp should quench suddenly, hissing in gloom ;-
That e'en when mine honors were freshest and greenest,
A blight should rush over, and scatter their bloom!"*

How is it that this presentiment of early death is so frequently an accompaniment of genius, especially genius of an imaginative

cast? Is it some natural instinct of these

finer minds—some more delicate organization of their perceptive faculties-which enables them to detect symptoms of decay invisible to grosser eyes; to see the taint upon the fairest fruit, and the canker in the freshest flower; to hear the murmur of the approaching storm, while all others are still heedlessly enjoying the glow of the sunshine? Or is it a mysterious influence from the tomb,

a man without what many will deem extravagance and enthusiasm. We know not, in the whole range of literary history, a more beautiful character; genius of the highest order united with a truly childlike simplicity; affections warm, generous, and uncalculating, yet pure and stainless as the bright spirit from which they sprung; ardent and lofty aspirings after fame, chastened throughout life by religion, and at last sacrificed, or rather forgotten, in its service. It is delightful to turn from the world of letters,-hollow, selfish, and corrupt, as it too commonly is,— to contemplate one, who, though in, was not of it; and who, though drawn for a space into its giddy whirl, exposed too by youth and poverty and friendlessness, and every form of came forth at last without carrying away a temptation, to its most corrupting influences, single stain upon his pure soul.

ised for a considerable time; and, in expecThe memoir now before us has been promwhich casts its cold shadows forward into the brightest hours of its predestined victation of its appearance, we have been delaytim,-a sympathy, active though unseen, ing, number after number, a long projected from the land of spirits, which draws their notice of the life and writings of our gifted yet living brother towards his eternal home? countryman. And yet, now that it has apOr is it not rather a merciful dispensation of peared, our task must remain half-unaccoma wise Providence, to remind these gifted plished. We never anticipated that a life so children of earth, that, with all its bright quiet and retiring as that of Griffin, would and beauteous scenery, still they are but "strangers and pilgrims" here,-to wean them from the smiling visions which woo their young hearts, and whose unalloyed enjoyment would rivet their affections to the things be

low?

have furnished materials so varied and so in

teresting as those collected in the present volume; but we now feel that it will be impossible to do justice to the life, without devoting to it all the space at present at our disposal, and we must reluctantly reserve for future occasion all notice of the works,

a

which are now for the first time collected into a uniform edition.

Happy they who read this lesson aright! Happy they who hearken wisely to this warning who learn in time that they are born for better and greater things than the highest ef- Griffin, M. D., a younger brother of the deThe memoir is from the pen of Daniel forts of mere earthly genius can accomplish; ceased. Except one or two of the opening who cheerfully devote to God's true service the gifts which men would fain claim exclusively chapters, which are a little prolix, it is in all for themselves; and, even when earth is fair-respects worthy of the subject; and, while it est and most attractive, when its triumphs ration which it would be impossible not to feel every where bespeaks the affectionate admiare spread out in all their freshness before their yet unsated eye, and glory beckons them onward with smiling looks and flattering words,-pause in their giddy course, and remember, like St. Augustine, "Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless till it rest in thee!"

Such was the happiness vouchsafed to our gifted and lamented countryman, Gerald He has left behind him an example

Verses found among Griffin's papers after his

death.

for such a brother, is altogether free from vades biography, even where it has not the that idolizing tone which too frequently perplea of kindred to render it tolerable to the reader. We are particularly pleased with the manly and judicious, but yet modest, motives which influenced his brother in restrain, in which Dr. Griffin describes the tiring from the world and relinquishing his literary pursuits. He seems to us to have caught up the mantle of the departed, and to have entered fully into all his thoughts and

feelings on this, the most important occasion [thor of the memoir), while playing incau

of his life.

tiously with a loaded pistol. When we add that he was passionately fond (though excessively timid) of ghost stories, we have put the reader in possession of all that is told of the domestic history of Gerald Griffin, as a boy.

[ocr errors]

With the exception of a short journal of a Highland tour, Griffin seems never to have made any attempt at autobiography. It is possible indeed that among the manuscripts which he destroyed before he entered the monastery, there may have been some frag- His first master was a Mr. M'Eligot, one ments of this character; but, in one so mod- of that now nearly extinct race of classical est and distrustful of himself, it is hardly schoolmasters which flourished about sixty probable. His biographer once entertained years back, in almost every district of the the idea of keeping some record of his con- south of Ireland. Of Mr. M'Eligot's attainversations, but circumstances rendered it im-ments, we may form an idea from one record possible for him to put it in practice. It is which is preserved, an advertisement commuch to be regretted that they are entirely mencing with these words,-" When ponderlost, as not only his own family, but all his in-ous polysyllables promulgate professional timate friends, concur in representing them powers.' Griffin, however, did not remain as brilliant and instructive in the highest de- long under his care; his father having regree. But, as it is, we learn a good deal of moved his residence, when Gerald was about his mind from the copious and interesting se- seven years old, to a place called Fairy Lawn, lection from his correspondence, contained at some distance from the city. His educain the present volume; and this, for our own tion, therefore (except a few lessons in French part, we infinitely prefer to the affectedly from his elder sisters), fell, for a time, into modest, or openly egotistical stuff written for the hands of a tutor, who, among his other the public eye, and made up entirely with a acquirements, was a passionate admirer of view to effect, which we are sure to meet even Goldsmith, and inoculated his young pupil in the very best specimens of autobiography. with his own tastes. A few years later, in If, therefore, we may be allowed to judge the his eleventh year, he was sent back to Limreader's taste from our own, we are sure he erick, and entered the school of a Mr. O'Briwill not object to our forgetting the critical en, a person of refined taste, and consideracharacter altogether for a time, and extract- ble literary attainments. Among Gerald's ing freely from this correspondence, content- school favorites, Virgil held the highest ing ourselves with such an outline of the place; and though he had not then mastered principal events recorded by the biographer the Greek language sufficiently to be able to as may suffice to render the extracts intelli-enjoy its humor fully, he was also very much gible. captivated by Lucian's Dialogues. Unhappily, however, he did not long enjoy the advantages of this school, being again called home, and placed under the care of a rude, though not untalented, village master, named O'Donovan, a native of the classic "kingdom of Kerry," who took up his abode in the neighborhood of Fairy Lawn. For the benefit of the unlearned reader, we must record one rule laid down by this worthy abecedarian, whose seminary Griffin afterwards immortalized in his tale, "The Rivals."

Gerald Griffin was born at Limerick, in December 1803. He was the ninth son of Mr. Patrick Griffin, at that time a wealthy and extensive brewer, though he subsequently encountered a severe reverse of fortune. His father was a quiet and affectionate, though, apparently, not very intellectual man. Mrs. Griffin, on the contrary, appears to have been a woman of peculiarly strong and cultivated mind. She was profoundly religious, and tenderly devoted to her children; and to her tender and judicious management Gerald's mind owed infinitely more than to all the school culture which the circumstances of his family permitted him to enjoy.

His boyhood seems to have been like that of other boys; at least, the few unimportant facts preserved by his brother do not indicate any very peculiar idiosyncrasy One of the first exploits was an essay in chimney sweeping, which alarmed his parents a good deal; he was, like most other boys, very fond of birds; made several ingenious attempts in the manufacture of gunpowder; and narrowly escaped being shot by his brother (the au

how ought a person to pronounce the letter i in "Mr. O'Donovan,' said one of the scholars, reading Latin? If you intend to become a priest, Dick,' said the master in reply, 'you may as well call it ee, for 1 observe the clergy pronounce it in that manner; but if not, you may call it ee or i, just as you fancy." 'Dick' has become a priest since, and a most excellent one; the manner recommended in that contingenand, I have no doubt, pronounces the letter in cy."-p. 52.

From these facts, it will be seen that Griffin derived but little advantage from his school studies. But his reading at home ap

[merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »