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be deaf indeed—that where ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise ? The pleasure derived during a whole life from hearing what is said in our favour, would not compensate the pain of a single month, if we overheard all that is said against us. That man is no fool who can turn a deaf ear to detraction, and a deafer one to flattery. When he is thus hard of hearing let him not call in the aid of any aurist. Not only should we be much happier, but much better moral characters, less censorious, less prone to scandal and backbiting, were we all truly and literally deaf for every ill-natured insinuation. Every direct calumnious invention is invariably prefaced by the words, “they say," or, “I hear,” or, “if hearsay is to be credited." These are the masks worn by malice when it goes forth to stab. There is not a more arrant jade, scold, liar, and slanderer, than this same Hearsay, nor one that more richly deserves the ducking-stool. Hearsay is not to be believed, either in the present or the past. Common report, which is the hearsay of to-day, is a tissue of spoken falsehoods, and History, which is the Hearsay of former days, is a volume of written falsehoods.
Fielding used to maintain there was no other difference between the Chronicles and the novels of a nation than this: in the former, nothing is true, save the names and dates ; in the latter, nothing is false, save the names and dates. Had he lived to read the researches of Niebuhr and others, he would have learnt that names and dates are in many instances the most fabulous portions of history. Pity that he could not have read the following passage from Vico's “ Scienza Nuova."
“ All those magnificent ideas which have been hitherto entertained, as to the beginnings of Rome and all the other capitols of celebrated nations, disappear, like mists dispersed by the sun, before that precious passage of Varro, quoted by Saint Augustin in his · City of God.' During two centuries and a half, when Rome was under the government of kings, she subdued more than twenty people, without extending her empire more than twenty miles.” A great portion of History-nearly the whole indeed of its early stage, may be defined as an authentic account of incidents that have never occurred. We know where the fabulous ages begin, but it is difficult to say where they end.
Coming nearer to our own times gives us no greater assurance of the truth of History. Who has not been familiar from his youth upwards with the story of William Tell shooting the apple from the head of his son? How often has it been represented to us in the form of melodrama, opera, and pantomime ! How we admire the patriotic Tell, and the brave Swiss for his sake; and how we anathematize the tyrannical Herman Gesler! What circumstantiality in the details of the narrative, what picturesqueness in its accessories ! who could dream of doubting its accuracy and literal truth? Yet the whole story is in Saxo Grammaticus, who wrote two centuries before Tell was born, and who assigns the perilous exploit to 'Tocco, a Danish bowman. Some Swiss historians, having heard probably of this achievement, and wishing to exalt the hero of his own country, borrowed Tocco's plumes to decorate Tell's head and such is History!
Had we no hearing, such falsifications, slanders, and mischiefs, could never have occurred; but still the world is a gainer after all by our possession of the auditory faculty, for had we not been gifted with hearing, this paper would have had no title, and the readers of the New Monthly would not have been entitled to this paper !!
THE GOOD OLD PLAN;
JESUIT DISCIPLINE IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY.
A TRUE STORY.
On Easter Monday of the year 1711 there was held a general reception at the palace of Versailles. As the king, who had been spending part of the winter in great retirement at Marly, had expressed a wish to see all his court upon this occasion, the affluence of guests was very great. The assembly comprised all the antiquities of the reign.
old time-worn lords, formerly boon companions of Vardes and Lauzun, now dwindled down into Sulpicians and Jansenists; and ladies of the same sober caste, all seeming equally imbued with the spirit of weariness and etiquette.
In the midst of these wrinkled followers of a septuagenary monarch and favourite, might be perceived a group of young women, whose splendid complexions and frank-hearted gaiety, enhanced by the illumination which surrounded them, were like a radiant crown in the midst of dark clouds.
The centre of this group was Madame de Saint-Cerest, whose dazzling beauty attracted the homage of all eyes. At the age of twenty, she was already the widow of the last duke of the name. Her demeanour was majestic, and a rich brown complexion, set off by teeth of the greatest whiteness, justified the admiration she universally excited. She was carrying on an animated colloquy with one of her fair companions, who, as well as herself, was attached to the service of the Duchess of Burgundy:
At a movement of the Duchess de Saint-Cerest, there sprang up by the side of her another youthful countenance, which had as yet remained unobserved. It was a face of the most delicate fairness, shaded by numerous clusters of light-coloured ringlets, and but for an expression of bold malice in two dark blue eyes, might have been taken as the most exquisite type of feminine beauty. There was a certain family air, and ienderness of looks between them, which might have made them pass for sisters. If such an idea, however, had been conceived by any of the surrounding multitude, they were quickly undeceived by the arrival of a page, who, going up to the forementioned group, addressed himself to the owner of the fair countenance, as follows:
" Hasten your steps, my Lord Marquis of Boufflers; do not tarry any longer ; the king is coming this way, and the lord-marshal, your father, seeks for you in all directions, to present you to his majesty.”
At this summons the group opened to let pass a young nobleman of about fifteen years of age, dressed with elegance, and who appeared to take no small pains to conceal, under the blustering airs of a soldier, the almost feminine grace with which nature had endowed him.
Before following the steps of the page, he bowed with much gallantry, and seizing hold of the hand of the Duchess of Saint-Cerest, im
printed an audible kiss upon it, as he whispered the following adieu :
“We shall meet again soon, my lovely cousin ; you have amused yourself pretty well at my expense to-night, but in troth, I will prove, ere long, that I am no more a child, but a man."
His words were greeted with shouts of laughter, and a handsome, but disdainful looking nobleman, of about thirty-five years of age, who stood by at the time, said, in a tone sufficiently loud to be heard through the room,
“By our lady, he's a droll little masker, already to play the gallant; he should be sent back to school, with strict orders to his tutor to give him a sound flogging to cure his presumption.”
The young Marquis of Boufflers was standing upon the threshold of the door leading to the long gallery, when this cutting speech, followed by peals of laughter from the crowd, met his ear. He turned suddenly round, settled his beaver more firmly upon his head, and casting a long look of defiance at the laughers, he carried his hand to the hilt of his inoffensive dagger. At the same moment a loud voice announced the king.
This signal caused the whole assembly to become dumb, and to range themselves in rows along the four sides of the apartment, with bent backs and respectful looks. The Marquis of Boufflers alone, with his hat upon his head, continued standing in the midst of the room. Breathless with anger, he remained heedless of all the becks and nods made to him to uncover his head, and make rooin for the passage of the royal personage who was approaching.
At so unusual a sight, the king, who had now arrived, walked up to him with an angry frown, exclaiming,
“What does this mean? who and what are you, sir, to remain thus covered in our presence ?"
The poor lad finding himself, for the first time, in presence of the monarch, before whom the greatest lords of the kingdom-nay, even his own near relations—were overawed, began to tremble violently. As he hastened to follow the royal injunction, he cast his eyes around for some friendly aid in his distress, and blushing deeply, muttered some words, inarticulate from the extreme agitation of his mind.
None of the surrounding courtiers appeared at all disposed to brave the anger of Louis XIV., by avowing any connexion or acquaintance with the culprit; and if the general opinion could have been read upon their faces, it would have been, that the future prospects of the young lad were blighted, at least during that monarch's reign.
Things were in this state when the Marshal Boufflers, having vainly sought his son throughout the apartment, arrived. Forcing his way through the crowd, he approached the king, exclaiming,
“ Pardon, sire, pardon this child. He is my son, and, brought up at the Jesuit convent, has remained ignorant of the manners and customs of court. Ah, sire! I am in despair, for I had warmly hoped that your majesty would have allowed me to present him to you this very day.”
"Ah! he is your son, is he?" replied the king, whose wrath was beginning to subside. “I must tell the Father Tellier to scold the reve
rend father Jesuits in thy name, for neglecting to inspire their pupils with better notions of etiquette.
Then contemplating attentively the features of the young Boufflers, he added,
“Do you know, my lord marshal, that there is something about your son which reminds me of M. de Lauzun,—such as he was some fifty years ago, when presented to me at Madame de Soisson's.”
“Ah, sire!" cried the youth, with enthusiasm, “ I am sure that I resemble M. de Lauzun in his devotedness and attachment to your majesty's person.”
The king, whose anger was now totally dissipated, seemed pleased at this speech, and tapping the lad upon the cheek, he said, smiling,
“ What, you already know how to flatter? I perceive that the reverend fathers have taken more pains with his education than I at first supposed. But my child," added he, with benevolence, “ you have so many noble examples to follow in your own family, that you need scarcely borrow them abroad; and I only pray that the Almighty God will grant my lord marshal and myself some years more of life, to witness your outset in the career you are to follow. It is easy to see you have Grammont blood in your veins, for you are very handsome.”
Here many looks were addressed to the Duchess of Saint-Cerest, whose cheeks became suffused with blushes; for she, too, was a Grammont by birth.
“ But good looks alone will not suffice," continued the king; “ you must promise me to be both brave and faithful.”
“Sire!" replied the lad, with a firm voice, “am I not a Boufflers ?"
This reply produced a strong sensation amongst those present. The old marshal cast down his eye, suffused with tears, and it was easy for the least observant of the beholders to penetrate into the proud feelings with which he regarded his son. A pause ensued, during which the king seemed absorbed in revery; suddenly he raised
“My lords," said he,“ three years have now elapsed since the Lord Marshal Boufflers defended Lisle during four months, against the attacks of the Prince Eugene. Two years ago he saved our army at Malplaquet. In order to reward his valour, I created him Duke and Peer of France, and Governor-general of Flanders. It is now high time for him, as well as myself, to think of seeking the blessings of repose, for the toils of war are but ill-suited to our time of life. I know that there are many amongst you worthy of replacing the marshal, but I believe in the good luck attendant upon certain names, and I place great faith in that of Boufflers. Therefore I nominate to succeed his father in the Governor-generalship of Flanders, and in the government of the city of Lisle, the Lord-marquis of Boufflers, here present."
These words produced a murmur of surprise throughout the assembly. Such a favour was unexampled since the beginning of the reign, for the king had faithfully kept an engagement of never conferring any survivorships. The courtiers were stupified; and as the old marshal was bent to the ground, overcome with gratitude, the king shook him warmly by the hand, saying,
“ No thanks—no thanks, my lord. I am rendering myself the greater service of the two; for I trust that you will not forsake your government until this child is fully capable of succeeding to you.”
Having thus spoken, his majesty kissed the forehead of the younger Boufflers, and continued his walk, conversing in a low tone of voice with the aged marshal, who, since the celebrated campaign of Compiegne, when he had the honour of almost ruining himself to receive the royal family, had not been in such high favour at court.
His son, in the meanwhile, had in the course of a few minutes become the object of the civilities of the men, and of the smiles of the women. It seemed as if some seconds had sufficed to transform him from a little schoolboy under control of a pedagogue of the company of Jesus, to the height of one of Homer's heroes,-merely because he had been embraced by Louis XIV.
No sooner had the king quitted the apartment, than the young marquis, after casting a scrutinizing glance around him, walked boldly up to a tall, handsome cavalier, whose attention he arrested by pulling him by the sleeves of his doublet; for although he raised himself on tiptoes, he could scarcely reach beyond.
“My lord duke of Coigny," he exclaimed, " I have a few words to say to you."
“ In what respect can I serve you, my lord-marquis of Boufflers ?” replied the duke, coolly, with a coxcombical emphasis on each word.
“ Begin, my lord,"continued the lad, “ by accompanying me into the embrasure of yonder window, where we shall be less likely to attract observation.”
“ With great pleasure."
“My lord-duke, do you look upon the governor-general of one of the French provinces as being upon a par with a colonel of the king's guards?" “What a strange question, my lord,” replied the duke.
“ Why, the first is far above the other."
* Very well then, there exists no obstacle to your fighting with me tomorrow morning.”
“ Ah," retorted the duke, with the most provoking coolness, “I am too well informed of my duty, and of the regard I owe you, my lordmarquis ; you are my superior.” “But if I choose to forget it," interrupted the boy, hastily.
"Pardon me, but there must be some very serious motive to justify such a case ?"
“ Make yourself easy about that, I have more motives than one."
“ And what are they, in God's name?" continued the handsome Duke of Coigny, who was evidently highly amused at the increasing irritation of his youthful adversary.
“A short time back, here in this very room, you made an observation upon me which I regard as an insult."
“ What more?" said the duke. “What inore !—what more !-are you not in love with my cousin, Madame de Saint-Cerest ?"