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and held the rank of a chief of squadron in the Austrian campaign of 1809. He gave in his resignation in 1809, for his independent spirit made him obnoxious to the creatures of Napoleon. His literary reputation is chiefly built upon the political tracts which he wrote after the restoration of the Bourbons, which, in their caustic humour, are almost unequalled, and have been compared with the celebrated Lettres Provençales' of Pascal. The little piece which we translate gives no notion of his peculiar powers, but it is well adapted for an extract. The story is contained in a letter to his cousin, Madame Pigalle.]
I was once travelling in Calabria; a land of wicked people, who, I believe, hate every one, and particularly the French; the reason why, would take long to tell you, suffice it to say that they mortally hate us, and that one gets on very badly when one falls into their hands. I had for a companion a young man with a face—my faith, like the gentleman that we saw at Kincy; you remember? and better still perhaps,—I don't say so to interest you, but because it is a fact. In these mountains the roads are precipices; our horses got on with much difficulty; my companion went first; a path which appeared to him shorter and more practicable led us astray. It was my fault. Ought I to have trusted to a head only twenty years old ? Whilst daylight lasted we tried to find our way through the wood, but the more we tried, the more bewildered we became, and it was pitch dark when we arrived at a very black looking house. We entered, not without fear, but what could we do? We found a whole family of colliers at table ; they immediately invited us to join them; my young man did not wait to be pressed: there we were eating and drinking; he at least, for I was examining the place and the appearance of our hosts. Our hosts had quite the look of colliers, but the house you would have taken for an arsenal; there was nothing but guns, pistols, swords, knives and cutlasses. Everything displeased me, and I saw very well that I displeased them. My companion, on the contrary, was quite one of the family, he laughed and talked with them, and with an imprudence that I ought to have foreseen, (but to what purpose, if it was decreed,) he told at once where we came from, where we were going, and that we were Frenchmen. Just imagine! amongst our most mortal enemies, alone, out of our road, so far from all human succour! and then, to omit nothing that might ruin us, he played the rich man, promised to give the next morning, as a remuneration to these people, and to our guides, whatever they wished. Then he spoke of his portmanteau, begging them to take care of it, and to put it at the head of his bed; he did not wish, he said, for any other pillow. Oh, youth, youth! you are to be pitied! Cousin, one would have thought we carried the crown diamonds, What caused him so much solicitude about this portmanteau was his mistress's letters. Supper over, they left us. Our hosts slept below, we in the upper room, where we had supped. A loft raised some seven or eight feet, which was reached by a ladder, was the resting place that awaited us; a sort of nest, into which we were to introduce our. selves by creeping under joists loaded with provisions for the year. My companion climbed up alone, and already nearly asleep, laid himself down with his head upon the precious portmanteau. Having determined to sit up, I made a good fire, and seated myself by the side of it. The night, which had been undisturbed, was nearly over, and I began to reassure myself; when, about the time that I thought the break of day could not be very far off, I heard our host and his wife talking and disputing below; and putting my ear to the chimney which communicated with the one in the lower room, I perfectly distinguished these words spoken by the husband: “Well, let us see, must they both be killed ?” To which the wife replied, “ Yes;” and I heard no more. How shall I go on? I stood scarcely breathing, my body cold as marble; to have seen me, you could hardly have known if I were alive or dead. Good Heavens! when I think of it now!_We two almost without weapons, against twelve or fifteen who had so many! and my companion dead with sleep and fatigue! To call him, or make a noise, I dared not; to escape alone was impossible; the window was not high. but below were two large dogs howling like wolves. In what an agony I was, imagine if you can. At the end of a long quarter of an hour, I heard some one on the stairs, and, through the crack of the door, I saw the father, his lamp in one hand, and in the other one of his large knives. He came up, his wife after him, I was behind the door; he opened it, but before he came in he put down the lamp which his wife took. He then entered, barefoot, and from outside the woman said to him, in a low voice, shading the light of the lamp with her hand, “Softly, go softly.” When he got to the ladder, he mounted it, his knife between his teeth, and getting up as high as the bed—the poor young man lying with his throat bare—with one hand he took his
knife, and with the other-Oh! Cousin-he seized a ham, which hung from the ceiling, cut a slice from it, and retired as he had come. The door was closed again, the lamp disappeared, and I was left alone with my reflections.
As soon as day appeared, all the family making a great noise came to awaken us as we had requested. They brought us something to eat, and gave us a very clean, and a very good breakfast, I assure you. Two capons formed part of it, of which we must, said our hostess, take away one and eat the other. When I saw them I understood the meaning of those terrible words, “Must they both be killed,” and I think, Cousin, you have enough penetration to guess now what they signified.
Oblige me, Cousin, do not tell this story. In the first place, as you see, I do not play a good part in it; next, you would spoil it. Stay, I do not flatter you, but your face would destroy the effect of my tale. Without boasting, I have just the countenance to relate a fearful story. But as for you, if you wish to tell a story, choose a subject that suits your face-Psyche, for example.
7.-THE OPENING YEAR.
The year of the Calendar and the year of the Poets might well have different starting points. The poets would welcome a new year with spring-garlands of the tenderest green, and go forth into the fields to find the first violet giving out its perfume as an offering to the reproductive power which fills the earth with gladness. But the Calendar offers us only the slow lengthening of the days to mark the progress of change ; and we have little joy in the lengthening wben the old saw tells us
“As day lengthens,
Cold strengthens." The Poets, however, have their resources, drawn out of the compensations that belong to the condition of us all. Hope with them becomes prophetic. “ The Dirge for the Old Year” swells and dances into a Bridal-song for the New:
Orphan hours, the year is dead,
Come and sigh, come and weep!
For the year is but asleep:
In its coffin in the clay,
Rocks the dead-cold year to-day ;
The tree-swung cradle of a child,
Rocks the year :—be calm and mild,
Like a sexton by her grave;
March with grief doth bowl and rave,
Our ancestors assuredly had a more fervent love of nature than we have, when they filled their houses with evergreens while the snow blocked up their doorways, and replaced them with new emblems of the freshness which is never wholly dead, whilst the rains of February and the winds of March were doing their nursing-work. The song for Candlemas-day (February 2) was as true a herald of the spring as the cuckoo and the swallow :
Down with rosemary and bays,
Down with the mistletoe;
The greener box, for show.
The holly hitherto did sway;
Let box now domineer,
Or Easter's eve appear.
Your houses to renew,
Unto the crisped yew.
And many flowers beside,
To honour Whitsuntide.
With cooler oaken boughs,
To readorn the house.
WORDSWORTH, in one of his charming lyrics of the Spring, makes " the opening of the year” begin with “ the first mild day of March :"
It is the first mild day of March :
Each minute sweeter than before,
That stands beside our door.
Which seems a sense of joy to yield
And grass in the green field.
Now that our morning meal is done,
Come forth and feel the sun.