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MEMOIRS OF ST. HENRY.. The postman knocked. Jean, yet poverty forbade them to expect who was sedulously employed in obtaining wealth and rank together. brushing off what nap remained on Regnault de St. Henry and Ann de my best coat, uttered the exclama- Monjoy (he an only son, and she tion, “ Diable!” and walked as de an only daughter) were thus, as liberately as possible to open the door. it were, driven into each other's arms. He returned to me with a pacquet, Nature certainly, if left to herself, and delivering it with a shrug and a would never have brought them grimace which said exactly this, there. They were both young and " A letter from a madnan !” (Jean's handsome, at the time of their illhomely name for an eccentric per- fated marriage, but there was little son),—he retired to his occupation further resemblance between them. in the wardrobe. From the seal A lion and a lamb were as like in Jean had truly conjectured the au outward form and in ward disposition. thor; and the seal was indeed more Monsieur St. Henry was a man of than enough to condemn any one profound talents rendered wholly unwho used it in the opinion of a so- available to any useful purpose by ber-minded old domestic, such as Jean the violence of his passions ; he was Roche; it was—a death's head. I formed to command others, but would recognized as quickly as Jean, but not himself obey any one but his own with a little more charity, my friend's evil Genius. He was a man honoured singular emblem, and broke it ac- and hated, for the abilities of his cordingly. What in the name of mind and the unamiableness of his temHeaven is this?
per. Thirty-three years he lived in Amédée.—Come hither and see me die. haughty obscurity, and was followI am at length where I long have wished ed, I believe, by his dog, to the grave. to be-at the door of eternity. One fare. His wife had died two years before well-moment with you, and the demon him. Madame St. Henry was as who has hunted me through this world sweet and amiable a woman as I shall persecute me no longer. Come, have ever known. She bore her huswhile I have breath to say,
band's ill-treatment as saints do their Your friend-ST. HENRY.
earthly injuries, and made him such a Five minutes saw me in the dili- wife as all men desire, but few deserve. gence, and on the road towards the She had one--fault, shall I call it? place where St. Henry was dying. No; it was a weakness: her sensibiLet me prepare the reader for his lity of disposition was the grave of introduction (such as it may be !) to her happiness. In the days of her this extraordinary young man, by a romantic maidenhood she had inshort memoir of his life and charac- dulged this passion so fatal to the ter. It may perhaps serve a still serenity of human life; so that when more useful purpose ; by studying the blast of the world came she had the conduct of others we may often no strength to resist it. She had learn how to direct or amend our formed an idea of the happiness of own.
married life, such as all women of Henry Ame de St. Henry + was refined and sensible dispositions will born about eight and twenty years form; and she was disappointed, ago, of parents, both of them descend as all such women assuredly will be. ed from noble but decayed families. So highly wrought had been her feelThis similarity was indeed that which ings that she found no fortitude withbound them together; their families in herself to sustain this cruel shock. lived contiguous, and neither would soon after having given birth to the permit their children (had the latter subject of this memoir she died, and wished it) to marry beneath them; was perhaps glad to get to her grave.
* In this little Memoir, I have chosen, for obvious reasons, to deviate somewhat from the true names of the persons mentioned in them,
+ I give the real French Christian names, merely disguising the sirname, which dis. tantly resembles the true one. Nov. 1824.
The son of these parents inherited engaged as he was in preparing himmost of their qualities. He united self by fasts and mortifications for many of his father's faults with most an interview with his Judge, when of his mother's virtues. Vehement the first question would undoubtedly in his temper, yet benevolent in his be,-what he had done to deserve disposition; haughty, yet elegant, in the approbation of his Maker? So his manners; the fierceness of his many fasts in the week, so many father's spirit was softened in him by prayers in the day, so many vigils, so something of his mother's gentle many crossings, would of course furnature. He resembled however M. nish a satisfactory answer. But the de St. Henry chiefly in his abilities, result of this his paternal kindness which were powerful and penetrat- and attention to young St. Henry ing; though there was still a refine- was, that Father Ambrose slept all inent of soul and a melancholy sweet- day (with the exception of mealness about his calmer moments, times, when he became wakeful and which frequently reminded me of his lively to a surprising degree) in an better parent. In person too, though easy arm-chair by the library fire; nearly filling the noblest mould of whilst his pupil roamed at will his proper sex, there was an elegance through his patrimonial domains ; and symmetry in his figure which neither being perhaps once conscious took something from its robustness, during the whole time that the other and he had a considerable stoop in was in existence. I mention these his shoulders to which I recollect his particulars because, although I would mother was inclined. I have seen not wholly excuse the after-errors of him when he might have sat for his my friend's life on the score of his father's picture,-the same dark and neglected education, I would, and I sombre expression of countenance, think fairly may, endeavour to exrelieved in conversation by a frequent tenuate them by alluding to it. lightening of the eye, or å tremulous That there is much of the human curl of the upper lip, according as disposition innate, that men are nahis spirit flashed into eloquence, or turally proud or meek, courageous compressed itself into repartee. Yet, or cowardly, of a buoyant or a grave in his silent moods, whilst he gazed temperament, is I believe universally as he was wont to do on the visions granted. That there is much of it which rose before the eye of his mind, factitious, or acquired by the circumI thought I could often trace the stances in which we happen to be pensive heart-broken smile of the placed, is equally incontestable. Countess, which gentleness contend- Both nature and accident concurred ing with sorrow had taught her to in forming St. Henry's character ; wear, on the features of her son. to have rendered it perfect they should
Young St. Henry had been edu- have been exactly at issue. I have cated at the chateau, an old feudal already mentioned the qualities of castle, of which a small part was mind and disposition to which his scarcely habitable, and the rest birth made him heir; it is evident wholly in ruins. His parents both that his education and manner of dying whilst he was yet a child, the early life should have been such as Count de Monjoy, his mother's fa to modify some of these, repress ther, became his guardian. The others entirely, and direct them all Court was a man of but few feelings to their proper end. Instead of this, and no affections. Besides, he had so he was left like a wild shrub to shoot abstracted himself from the world in up into whatever form he would. the exercise of his religious duties The choicest flower of the garden if that the concerns of even his own neglected becomes, like a weed of immediate family had but little inte the desert, rather a blemish than a rest for him. He took care however beauty in the soil where it flourishes. to allot the most comfortable suite of Under the tutelage of Father Amrooms in the chateau for the accom- brose, it was no wonder if the luxurimodation of a priest, to whose guid- ance of St. Henry's mind branched ance and instruction he had commit- forth into numberless irregularities. ted his grandson. In doing this he But in addition to this, there were thought he had done all that could other peculiar circumstances which be expected from a man so deeply conspired to foster and corroborate
his natural disposition. His child- haunted a forest of 'tall larch-trees hood from its very earliest period had some distance from the fall. It was been spent without a companion. pleasant to stand near this wood and There was little or no notice taken of hear the cawing of these birds minhim in the Count de Monjoy's family, gle with the distant roar of the torwho were mostly grown-up persons, rent; but I remarked that St. Henry too much occupied with their own always drew nearer to the linn whose affairs to think of a boy. From this perpetual agitation and noise seemed cause it probably was, that in my to afford him a strange satisfaction. friend St. Henry's disposition there it was possibly but the yearning of was always rather a tendency to mis a bold and magnanimous spirit for a anthropy, which, although in a great scene of action where it could display measure corrected by the natural itself. Circumstances, however, not goodness of his heart, gave his man- permitting this, the eternal contemners frequently an abruptness, and plation of such a scene fed his pashis conversation a tone of severity, sions till they became nearly as unby no
calculated to win governable as the billows themhim that degree of general favour selves, and exalted his imagination to which most men desire, but which a pitch of enthusiasm which might he very possibly despised. It will well be mistaken for madness. It not appear extraordinary that, on was impossible but that the daily a mind thus disposed both by na beholder of such a magnificent yet ture and education, the slightest co tempestuous object, as this Alpine inciding cause had a powerful effect. fall presented, must imbibe something The “ Wilderness," as his paternal of iis unruly spirit as well as of its estate had been called for many grandeur. " The remainder of his years, was one of the grandest scenes grounds corresponded with this. They of nature, but one of the gloomiest. were all rock and river, glen and preIt lay amongst the Helvetian Alps, cipice. They were also for the most where sublimity rarely melted into part covered with a thick wood of .beauty, and the heart almost sank enormous pines, larch, and other under the awful pleasure with which lofty trees ; so that when a storm the majesty of Nature is beheld. A blew roughly ove them, to a person foaming, impetuous, deep-channeled looking down from the surrounding stream rushed down from the hills, heights the valley had somewhat the and swept with a deafening roar appearance of a sea of dark-green through the valley which formed the billows raging round a few scattered chief part of St. Henry's domain. islands that heaved up their rocky This turbulent child of the clouds heads through the waste of waters. kept the whole neighbourhood in a This was another point of view which continual earthquake. I have often St. Henry frequently chose when the stood at the foot of the cataract day was blustry—the top of a pinwhere the descending flood tumbled nacle from which he could see the from the last cliff down upon the whole sheet of foliage in commotion level, and have grown almost dizzy heaving and rolling like a lake in a with the motion of the banks, the storm. When we walked at the dashing of the spray, and the tre bottom of the valley, the darkness mendous din which was unceasingly occasioned by these trees being so raised by the waves. Echo was here closely matted overhead was in some in a state of perpetual clamour. places so profound that the ground Mauy a time have I endeavoured to could scarcely be discerned till you shout above the noise of the stream, actually trod on it, and a stranger but I could scarcely hear myself might possibly conjecture that he whilst in its vicinity. This was St. was threading some vaulted passage Henry's favourite retreat.
far below the surface of the earth. shut out from the view even of his One precipitous descent seemed to own desolate mansion, and not a lead down to the Shades themselves living creature beheld his meditations which poets have feigned to exist .but the eagle that soared silently near the centre. Along the base of above him, the Alpine fox that looked this declivity, and in the lowest part out from the rocky caverns on the of the valley, the river, here only mountain sides, or the rooks that distinguishable by its noise, and con
fined by a bank equally steep at the to dominate if they are not subdued, other side, raved like a congress of this he had never an opportunity of living creatures lashed and tormented imbibing. His guardian and kinsinto madness. A little farther on, the man had sent him, to be sure, a girdleirregular arch of an enormous cavem full of theological erudition in the was just visible, into which the waves person of Father Ambrose, -what plunged headlong, mounting one over could he do more? Father Ambrose the other, and shouldering like a would joyfully discuss the question pack of wolves driven by the hunt- concerning homoousians and homoiouers, or rather a crowd of human sians, or describe with learned elobeings pursued by some implacable quence the miracles performed by St. demon to the very gates of destruc- Martin of Tours, had he been asked tion. From the noise which the bil- at any one hour out of the twentylows made whilst the cavern swal- four, save and except those between lowed them, and which not a little noon and eleven the next morning, resembled the barking or howling of during which time he was much more dogs mingled with human screams, importantly engaged in the grateful St. Henry denominated this frightful transactions of eating or sleeping. gulf-the Mouth of Hell. It well What could Father Ambrose do deserved the name. For my own more ?-Even the imperfect philosopart, I never willingly descended phy of the schools St. Henry had never there; but my fears for St. Henry studied. His reading, which from the frequently made me accompany him insatiable appetite of his mind for whilst I remained on a casual visit at action was considerable, lay chiefly the Wilderness. He seemed to be amongst those works most congenial drawn by an unaccountable species to a youthful and enthusiastic fancy. of fascination towards this place, and the wild fictions of romance, traI have seen him even stretch over the ditionary tales, fabulous travels, and brink of the whirlpool where it was extravagant productions of all kinds, sucked down into the cave, as if he- with a most undue proportion of sitating whether he should cast him- poetry,—these were the only furniself in. We are all aware of the ture of his mind. Temperaments the strange feeling which impels us, most sober would have been grawhen we look from an elevation dually inebriated by this kind of readinto a depth below, to throw our- ing; but in such a temperament as St. selves forwards; there was, how- Henry's, in itself naturally fervid, ever, I suspect, something more than restless, and prone to extravagance, this involuntary propensity in my insanity itself was the mildest result friend's mind. He never visited this to be expected from such a course of - spot but in his gloomiest moods; and study. He must have possessed, the paleness of his features and evi- along with his ardent imagination, a dent agitation when he returned in- large stock of sound reason to have dicated that many terrible thoughts withstood such an accumulation of had been passing over his mind. untoward circumstances,-any one
This leads me to speak more par- of which was almost enough to have ticularly of his character as I saw it overwhelmed the understanding of when he was about nineteen years of an ordinary person. I am only surage. The misanthropical tendency prised that fatuity itself did not suto which I have alluded, added to pervene,-something beyond mere some disappointments which I shall frenzy. Yet it was only such igspeak of hereafter, had early given norant and superficial observers as him a disgust to the world and to Jean Roche, who would ever conlife; whilst he had derived nothing found his impetuous and in some refrom his education to counteract this spects eccentric character with madunhappy disposition. The mild spi- ness. It is not easy to define exactly pit of religion, which teaches us to the boundary that separates sanity bear patiently the sorrows of our pre- from insanity ; in my opinion, he was sent state, and infuses into our minds no more mad than a citizen who so much of benevolent feeling to- takes it into his head to wear shoewards our fellow creatures, which buckles or a pig-tail after the fashion soothes the passions and tranquillizes has gone by a century. The most the emotions of our bosoms, so sure that is ever said of the latter is, that
he acts somewhat differently from This information was too credulously his neighbours, that he is an eccen admitted by the lady; she received tric or an oddity; and this is all that her lover at their next meeting with I think should in justice be said of coldness and reserve instead of her my friend St. Henry. His singu- usual smiles and affectionate confi- ; larities took a some
mewhat nobler turn, dence. With all the pride and imbut they were in no wise more irra- petuosity of his character he intional.
stantly demanded an explanation; it I alluded to certain disappoint- was given him. By the testimony of ments which he met with in early life. Mademoiselle Servigné, and by that He had formed by accident a very of her perfidious brother whom he close intimacy, when about seventeen compelled to own the fraud, he cleared years of age, with the son of a neigh- himself to the entire satisfaction of bouring gentleman. This intimacy his mistress ;-but he never would took its rise from the following circum- see her again. He had the pleasure stances. In one of his solitary ram- of hearing her with tears and sighs bles, having ascended the hills which express her regret for her innocent enclosed his estate, he was suddenly error, and with smiles of joy court roused from meditation by the cries him once more to her side ; but he of some one in distress. Looking received her confession in haughty downwards he perceived a young silence, and rejected her advances man in a hunting dress sitting on the with indignant coldness,-he never ledge of a steep cliff, midway be- would see her again. She had once tween its base and summit, from doubted his honour, and nothing on which perilous situation he appeared earth could persuade him to renew unable to extricate himself. St. Henry his addresses to one who had even immediately descended to his relief, for a moment suspected his truth, and, being better accustomed to these though she suspected it no longer. places, or possessing more strength This was a singularity in my friend's and courage, finally helped him to temper; he could not bear even an regain the top of the cliff
' from which imputation from her whom he had so it appeared he had fallen. The young ardently loved and so wholly trusted. gentleman was very grateful; and, That which to another would have being of a prepossessing demeanour been the signal of reconciliation, was and withal of an intelligent mind, to him the signal for an eternal fare. he and St. Henry became from that well. I do not attempt to defend day inseparable companions. A year this part of my friend's conduct; it or two after this my friend formed was unreasonable and unjustifiable. another and a tenderer connexion. But his high notions of honour, and There was a young lady on a visit his opinion often expressed to me, that with the Count de Monjoy's family, they who truly loved could not doubt whom in one of his chance and rare their lovers, were the source of his meetings with his relations he had present conduct and most of his fu
This lady, from all I have ture misery. He retired into his wilbeen able to collect regarding her, derness deeply impressed with the was as beautiful and amiable as the falsehood of man and the frivolity of best women are,—but no more ; she woman: he became now a confirmed was not absolutely perfect. She re- misanthrope. paid St. Henry's admiration with her About a year after this happened, love ; and in a short time had gained in travelling through the south of such an ascendancy over him that he France, I saw the lady who had once totally sacrificed his beloved solitude been loved by St. Henry. There for her society. Young Servigné (St. were no traces of beauty in her counHenry's friend) saw this mutual at- tenance; she was a mere shadow, tachment with pain, for he himself her complexion ghastly, her cheeks had been enslaved by the young sunken, her lips withered, and her lady's attractions. He wrote her an eyes fixed and lustreless; she was anonymous letter, accusing his friend evidently within a short stage of the and preserver of faithlessness to his grave. I had become intimate with mistress, being (as he asserted) en- Št. Henry a few weeks before their gaged in the prosecution of another separation; and as I now passed the suit with his own (Servigné's) sister. chair in which she sat gazing va