Sidor som bilder

should entirely sink under her accumulated sorrows; and this was indeed her case. After her arrival in Normandy, she lingered out a miserable existence until the period of the birth of her child, at which time she expired, after having given life to a little daughter.

A short time before this unfortunate woman heaved her last sigh, she committed her infants to the charge of her only friend, the humble Agnace du Bois; and with them she gave all that remained of her little stock of money. Her books she bequeathed to Florentin, requesting that he night be made to read them, as he had already overcome the drudgery of reading, and had acquired a taste for such little authors as had already been put into his hands. With respect to the care of the souls of her children, the dying mother gave no directions: neither did she express any concern for the fate of her own soul, but expired as she had lived, in utter disregard of these matters.

Some poor widows would have sunk under the weight of a charge so heavy as that which now devolved on Agnace du Bois ; but, from the moment in which she had heard the last groan of the unhappy mother, she had been sensible of an interest in the welfare of the children consigned to her care of a nature different from any thing she had ever before experienced (for Agnace du Bois had never been a mother).

Agreeably to this newly-awakened feeling, having closed the eyes of the poor corpse and straightened its limbs, she turned anxiously to the infant, who was lying quietly on the lap of an experienced nurse, who had been called from a neighbouring hamlet to assist on the late occasion, and, raising the shawl in which the child was wrapped, she asked, with anxiety, if the little wellbeloved one promised fair for life.

The woman who held the child, being one who from her profession was but too well practised in scenes of wo, answered with indifference to this inquiry; "I see not, neighbour, but that you will have your hands well filled for years to come, unless you are as fortunate as St. Genevieve, who committed her child to be nourished by a hind of the forest, and had every reason to be satisfied with her choice of a nurse.'

“ I do not count my trouble as any thing, provided I can rear the child," replied Agnace.

The woman lifted up her eyes with an expression of

amazement at this sentiment of Agnace; for she had been taught to believe that Madame le Visac was an unknown wanderer, who had come to the cabin as it were by accident; and as she had no feelings which would have induced her to undertake the charge of the orphan children of a stranger, she felt herself utterly unable to account for the interest which Agnace expressed in the life of the infant. Having, however, fulfilled the office she had been called to perform, she presently took her leave, promising to return the next day to the funeral.

In the mean time Agnace du Bois had formed her plans for the care and preservation of the infant. “I will buy a cow with part of this money which is left me," she said; “Florentin shall lead it out to feed, and I will nourish the baby with its milk.” This plan was, in part, immediately executed. Lubin, a gray-headed peasant in the neighbourhood, was forthwith despatched to purchase a young cow, which, being brought home the same evening, was lodged in one corner of the lower apartment.

The remains of Lucie de L-, widow of Le Visac, were committed to the burying-ground of the village, in the precincts of the ruined church, early on the following day, with as little publicity as possible ; and as the times were then prolific in strange events, the remembrance of this unhappy stranger was soon forgotten in the neighbourhood of L- and Agnace du Bois was left (unmolested by the eye of curiosity) to rear the orphans in the best manner she could.

In the mean time the little Florentin was inaugurated in his office of keeper of the cow; and the good peasant saw the children flourish under her care with a degree of delight which amply repaid her for all the additional labour she was compelled to undergo on their account; and when she saw the little orphan inhale, with all the eagerness of health, its morning draught of new milk warm from the cow, its little cheeks and coral lips not unseldom being covered with the white froth which had not yet subsided from the milk, the adopted mother would lift up her heart in gratitude to God for all his mercies, and more especially for the provision thus made for the motherless infant.

This was that unhappy period when the inhabitants. of the monasteries, and the village pastors, were either

exiled from their country, or compelled, in order to obtain an uncertain security from persecution, to renounce their king and their God, and unite their voices with infi. dels. It was therefore difficult for Agnace, under such circumstances, to obtain baptism for the child ;-a matter concerning which she was extremely anxious; believing, like many other persuasions, that in case of death the soul of her child would perish unless the ordinance of baptism had been duly administered.

Her mind, however, was after a while made easy on this subject. An old priest, whom she had known in past days, travelling in obscurity and poverty through the forest, came to her cabin to seek a night's lodging, which she gladly afforded, as well as every other comfort that her cottage could supply:

Through the means of this priest, Agnace obtained baptism for her adopted child, on whom she bestowed the name of Lucie, which was that of her mother and grandmother.

In the mean time the young Florentin fulfilled the office of keeper of the cow, on which his little sister depended for her sustenance.

As soon as Agnace du Bois had milked her in a morning, he was accustomed to take a piece of brown bread in his hand, with a small slice of cheese of Neufchâtel, or sometimes a baked apple, and go forth with her, in order to lead her to places where the best pasturage could be procured. This was his employment during all the spring, summer, and autumn months; and on these excursions he was for the most part alone, because the cottage of Agnace was particularly solitary and far removed from every neighbour.

This little mansion had originally been built by the lords of L- as a place to which the family at the château might resort when choosing to enjoy a day of pleasure in the woods; and for this purpose it had been fixed in the place the most withdrawn from the notice of the passenger, and in that part of the forest where nature had assembled her greatest variety of beauties.

The cottage was situated in a dingle, encircled by deep woods on every side, excepting in the front, where a little lawn descended to a brook, which came dashing down from rocky heights and crags at small distance.

This cottage had been (as I before remarked) a banqueting house, or maison de plaisance, for the inhabit

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ants of the château ; but when pleasure became no longer the order of the day for the nobility of this country, it was divested of its holyday ornaments; and becoming the habitation of an old servant of the castle, in course of time afforded an asylum for the descendants of her lord.

The retirement of this situation had, however, a peculiar influence on the character of Florentin, inasmuch as it was the means of keeping him separate from other children.

Had any one seen this boy in his peasant's garb, feeding his cow in the woods of L and remarked his noble mien, his intelligent eye, and graceful air, it might have led to a confirmation of that idea which some entertain, of the natural superiority of the descendants of the rich and noble over those of the poor ;-an idea contrary to religion and to the express declaration of God; of whom it is written,“ God hath made of one blood all nations of men, for to dwell on all the face of the earth; and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” Acts xvii. 24-26.

Florentin was assuredly greatly different from the peasant boys of the neighbourhood; but this difference was not the effect of birth or accident.

He was by nature handsome, and possessed a mind of great capacity: but no doubt there are many young peasants in Normandy naturally as handsome, and as highly endowed by Providence, as Florentin. Nevertheless, we should not easily find one resembling him, because there are few, if any, who have enjoyed his peculiar advantages of early cultivation. He had lived with his mother till he had entered his eighth year; hé had been her delight, her occupation, her pride ; she had bestowed upon him much tenderness, which the boy had not failed to return, being naturally of a warm and ardent tenperament; and he still retained an affectionate recollection of this parent, with a strong bias for those literary pursuits in which she had endeavoured to engage him.

Had Florentin, after the death of his parents, been thrown into the society of the little peasant boys in the neighbouring age, he would probably have lost this early bent for literature; but he had no companions of his own age in the cottage of Agnace, and the soli

tary avocation to which he was destined, was particularly suited to the culture of that taste which he had early acquired. Thus do we account for the difference that existed between the grandson of the Baron de L-, while watching his cow in the woods of Dand the common race of little shepherds and cowherds which the same country could have produced, without having recourse to the irrational and unscriptural idea of the natural superiority of one order of men to another.

And here let me take advantage of this fair occasion to speak a little of the nature of man; for what availeth it us to amuse ourselves with true histories, or wellpenned fictions, if we do not draw such morals and such lessons of experience from them as may be profitable for our future good conduct in the world ? It is certain that the evil books and vain romances which have filled our libraries in past times, have had influence to produce much that is evil in society: why then should we question the power of well directed writings to restore health in some degree to the diseased mind of the state, or at least to point out that source where health may be found ?

But we were speaking of the nature of man, to which subject we now return.

It is from Scripture only; from the book, penned through the inspiration of him, who being the Creator of man, alone knoweth what is in man, that we can expect rightly to learn his real state and situation upon earth.

By Scripture we are taught that God made man upright, and that all his faculties and affections at his creation possessed a right direction; insomuch that his thoughts were then pure, and his affections exalted, and his desires holy.

The Scriptures also give an account of his fall, through the temptation of Satan, who induced him to disobey God; by which disobedience sin and death entered into his nature.

From the Holy Scriptures we also learn the nature of sin, which consists in the opposition of the will of the creature to that of the Creator ;-an opposition which, being universal and continual, produces all the evil and confusion we see in the world ; and which, unless restrained by the bodily wants and necessities of man, by

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