Page images

ticism j but we cordially agree with Miss Kavanagb, who, in commencing the biography of this excellent woman, says, "The religious women of the seventeenth century bear the mark of their age—earnestness." In England, Germany, and France, we may trace in them, whether Protestant or Catholic, the same high and austere character. They are not always liberal or tolerant, but they are at least ever earnest.

Madame de Chantal loved her husband tenderly, almost passionately; for it was not in her nature to love by halves. Her example influenced him so much, that he at length spoke of retiring wholly from court, and fixing his residence at Bourbilly. Whilst cherishing that project, he fell ill. Madame de Chantal attended him devotedly; his recovery was slow, and, as she sat by his bedside, the baron and his wife discoursed together of religion and death. He wished her to enter into the agreement, that, should one happen to survive the other, that one should embrace a religious life. Devout as she was, Madame de Chantal would not hear of this; for she said that it implied a separation, of which she could not endure to think. The baron at length fully recovered, but he did not appear much more cheerful. He told his wife that in a recent dream he had seen himself clad in a crimson garment, which he took as a sign that he should be badly wounded. Madame de Chantal had a free, generous spirit, wholly removed from superstition, even in that superstitious age. She laughed at her husband's fears, and gaily said, "I might as well think that I am going to become a widow; for the other night I dreamed that a long crape veil enveloped me from head to foot."

A few days after this, the baron went out shooting with one of his friends. He wore a fawn-coloured habit. His friend, seeing him moving through the bushes, fired, and wounded him mortally. Madame de Chantal, though recently confined of her last child, was soon on the spot. She found a doctor doing for him all his art could do. "You must cure him!" she exclaimed in the passion of her woe. She offered to heaven all she had that was precious—her children and her wealth—for that one life; but the sacrifice was not accepted. The baron survived this sad accident nine days. He died like a Christian; his chief anxiety was to console his wife and the unhappy man who had caused his death. He repeatedly declared that he forgave him freely, and caused the pardon to be recorded in the register of the parish church, in order to secure him from any annoyance or trouble.

In the same noble and generous spirit Madame de Chantal afterwards became godmother to the child of the man who had made her a widow.

She was in her twenty-eighth year when this sad accident happened. She had already lost two children, but four—one son and three daughters —remained to her. Her grief, though tempered with resignation, was great, and she took a solemn vow never again to marry. Prayers, alms, and her children divided her life. Her old longing for the cloister returned to her, and but for her children, she afterwards said, that she thought she should have gone and buried herself in the Holy Land. This confession shows that her ardent temperament needed wise control. She was peacefully residing with her father at Dijon, when her father-in-law, M. de Chantal, then seventy-five years of age, wrote to her, that, if she did not come and reside with him, he would marry again and disinherit her children. Maternal affection induced her to comply, and accordingly she with her children left Dijon for the seat of M. de Chantal—Montelon, near Autun. She might have lived there happily enough had not her fatherin-law been provided with a shrewish housekeeper, who had ruled his establishment despotically for many years, and now beheld with displeasure the presence of one, whose near relationship and rank threatened to interfere with her own authority.

Madame de Chantal, who quickly saw that her father-in-law's interests were not always cared for by the woman in whom he trusted implicitly, did indeed attempt to interfere, but love of peace induced her to relinquish the attempt. She bore every annoyance with exemplary patience and forbearance, and her charity, exercised to all in her neighbourhood, involved acts of self-denial and austerity almost incredible.

In the year 1G06 Madame de Chantal went to her chateau of Bourbilly fbr the gathering in of her vintage. She managed the estate and property of her children, and the task was never neglected, . She was detained at Bourbilly in consequence of a fatal epidemic, which appeared amongst her vassals. Her assiduity in ministering to the sick and dying was most remarkable. It is computed that for seven weeks consecutively she laid out from two to five corpses daily. At length she became ill, literally from fatigue.

Francis of Sales wrote her a letter of amicable reproof, warning her not to yield too much to the promptings "of that strong heart of hers, which loved and willed mightily." Her friendship with this prelate, which commenced in 1604, proved in many respects very advantageous to her, although it resulted in her taking a step which exposed her to the severe censure of the world, and which her biographers are evidently at some trouble to explain.

Francis of Sales had long wished to establish a religious order, mild in rule, but evangelical in spirit, to which ladies of feeble health and unable to bear austerities might be admitted. He purposed calling it the Order of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary. Its members were to reside under the same roof, but neither to be cloistered nor required to take the vow of poverty. Practical charity was to be their great aim.

Madame de Chantal had often expressed to her friend her passionate desire of entering some religious community, and thus fulfilling the early aspirations of her youth. He objected to her, that she could not desert her young children, and forbade her to think of anything of the kind whilst they needed her care; but when he thought that she could conscientiously do so, he suggested that she should become one of the community he meant to found in his native town of Annecy, in Savoy. With joy she embraced the proposal; but she felt strangely perplexed to know how to inform her family of her determination. She was then in her thirty-eighth year. She had lost one of her youngest daughters, and married the eldest to M. de Thorans, the nephew of Francis of Sales. Her son was fifteen years old; and in those times, the sons of the nobility were launched into the world, far from the control of pious provincial mothers, at an age still earlier. Her strongest tie was therefore with her father and her father- in-law, both very aged. They gave their consent to her project, but with the deepest reluctance, and raised numerous objections, which Madame de Chantal overruled.

The education of her son, she said, no longer needed her presence—the guardianship of her father would suffice until he entered the world. Her married daughter would, on the contrary, be much benefited by her sojourn at Annecy, as she was still very young, and required the advice and direction of a mother. Her youngest daughter she proposed taking with her and keeping under her own care until she married her in a manner befitting her rank. In short, she prevailed.

Nothing less than the fervour of religious enthusiasm could enable it woman,- whose heart was all charity and tenderness, to go through the parting, which her early biographers have related as taking place between herself and her kindred at Dijon, where all her family had assembled to bid her a solemn adieu. She knelt at the feet of her father, and, not without tears, besought him to bless her and take care of her son. For some time both wept in silence. At length the president said, "Oh, my God! it belongs not to me to oppose thy designs. It will cost ine my life. To thee, O Lord, I offer this dear child; receive her, and be Thou my comfort." He raised and blessed her as he spoke.

. Madame de Chantal was a kind mother, full of tenderness. Her children loved her passionately, and none loved her better than the young son whom she was going to leave in order to become the help and comforter of strangers. He cast himself at her feet, he twined his arms around her neck and entreated her not to go. Seeing at length that his prayers would not avail, he laid himself down on the threshold of the door and said, "I cannot detain you ; but if go you must, pass, then, over the body of your child." She stepped over him, then returned weeping. A clergyman, tutor to her son, thought that he saw her constancy waver, and reproved her. Her answer—" I Am A Mother !"—might have softened a harder


(To be continued.)

[merged small][graphic][graphic][subsumed]


Materials :—Fine jaconet muslin, with the royal embroidery cotton, No. 30, of Messrs. Walter Evans and Co. of Derby, and either a piece of guipure net, or Evans's Mecklenburgh thread, No. 80.

As the section given of this design is of the full size, it will be easy for any of our readers to trace an entire collar from it. It may be worked either with guipure net underneath, or by working, in button-hole stitch, the bars which form the ground.

When this latter is the case, and the bars are worked in Mecklenburgh thread, they must be done before any other part of the embroidery. The branch of coral is merely edged in button-hole stitch. The flowers are overcast from the centre, which is pierced with a stiletto.



By Mrs. Makepeace.
(Continued from page 354.)

Hatdto cut out your petals, &c, in wax, we proceed to the uniting and formation of the flower, and I shall therefore select a simple one, as that which I presume you to have cut out. For example :—

The "white Jessamine.—This flower, though simple in its construction and easily imitated in wax, requires some skill and taste to give it that elegantly easy and graceful appearance the natural flower always presents. I shall infer that previously to commencing your work you have selected the necessary materials—some extra thick white, a little medium yellow, and two shades of green wax, one for lining, the other shade for the darker or face of the leaf, some fine silk wire (white), a bottle of white, a casting pin suitable to the size of the petals, and a sable brush. Now commence the tinting. Take upon your palette as much white as you consider will be necessary for the quantity of blossoms you have cut out, granulate it with your muller or paletteknife, and with the sable brush, brush it lightly over both sides of the wax, always bearing in mind you must never go near to the base of the petal with the tinting powder, or you will be unable to fix them. After having tinted them all, begin to curl them, which is accomplished by simply placing the petal in the palm of the left hand, and with the curling pin in your right with a gentle pressure cup them slightly. Having completed this part of your work cut a length of green silk wire, and with a small piece of yellow wax turned over the wire two or three times, that the wire may not slip out, form a pointed knob of the wax round this knot; fix your stamen, which is a piece of yellow wax cut very fine to resemble fringe; having attached this fix on your petals: these must be placed in the form of a star. The tube must be hollow, which, if you carefully examine the natural flowers, you will readily perceive. Holding the wire in your left hand, with your right attach the petals and fix them firmly to the base with the thumb of .the left. The more careless and easy the petals are curled the more grace your flowers will acquire. For the calyx use the darker shade of green wax—cut it from your paper pattern; for the stems prepare some slips of pale green, place the wire down the centre of the strips, and with the forefinger and thumb of the right hand twist it until it is perfectly smooth and round. Your flowers are now finished. Truss or place them on the stem with a due regard to the natural tendencies of the flower ; for, although you may have modelled your flowers perfectly correct, a disregard to the minute, however trifling it may seem, will render your flower stiff and formal. Do not be afraid of putting plenty of foliage to your flowers—the great mistake

« PreviousContinue »