Imágenes de páginas
PDF

"Mt.iioii'es ile l'Academie des Inscriptions" is a dissertation by M. Morin, entitled, " Why swans, which sung so well formerly, sing so ill now."

The French naturalist further remarks, that " swans, almost mute, like ours in the domestic state, could not be those melodious birds which the ancients have celebrated and extolled. But the wild swan appears to have better preserved its prerogatives; and with the sentiment of entire liberty, it has also the tones. The bursts of its voice form a sort of modulated song." Ile then cites the observations of the abb£ Arnaud on the song of two wild swans which settled on the magnificent pools of Chantilly. "One can hardly say that the swans of Chantilly sing, they cry; but their cries are truly and constantly modulated; their voice is not sweet; on the contrary, it is shrill, piercing, and rather disagreeable; I could compare it to nothing better than the sound of a clarionet, winded by a person unacquainted with the instrument. Almost all the melodious birds answer to the song of man, and especially to the sound of instruments: I played long on the violin beside our swans, on all the tones and chords. I even struck unison to their own accents, without their seeming to pay the smallest attention: but if a goose be thrown into the basin where they swim with their young, the male, r.fter emitting some hollow sounds, rushes impetuously upon the goose, and seizing it by the neck, plunges the head repeatedly under water, striking it at the same time with his wings; it would be all over with the goose, if it were not rescued. The swan, with his wings expanded, his neck stretched, and his head erect, comes to place himself opposite to his female, and utters a cry, to which the female replies by another, which" is lower by half a tone. The voice of the male passes from A (/«) to B flat (si Utnol); that of the female, from G sharp (sol diiie) to A. The first note is short and transient, and has the effect of that which our musicians call sensible; so that it is not detached from the second, but seems to slip into it. Fortunately for the ear, they do not both sing at once; in fact, it while the male sounded B flat, the female struck A, or if the male uttered A, while the female gave G sharp, there would result the harshest and most insupportable ot discords. We may add, that this dialogue is subjected to a constant and

regular rhythm, with the measure of two times."

M. Grouvelle observes, that " there is a season when the swans assemble together, and form a sort of commonwealth; it is during severe colds. When the frost threatens to usurp their domain, they congregate and dash the water with all the extent of their wings, making a noise which is heard very far, and which, whether in the night or the day, is louder in proportion as it freezes more intensely. Their efforts nre so effectual, that there are few instances of a flock of swans having quitted the water in the longest frosts, though a single swan, which has strayed from the general body, has sometimes been arrested by the ice in the middle of the canals."

Buffon further rematks, that the shrill and scarcely diversified notes of the loud clarion sounds, differ widely from the tender melody, the sweet and brilliant variety of our chanting birds. Yet it was not enough that the swan sung admirably, the ancients ascribed to it a prophetic spirit. It alone, of animated beings, which all shudder at the prospect of destruction, chanted in the moment of its agony, and with harmonious sounds prepared to bieathe the last sigh. They said that when about to expire, and to bid a sad and tender adieu to life, the swan poured forth sweet and affecting accents, which, like a gentle and doleful murmur, with a voice low, plaintive, and melancholy, foimed its funeral song. This tearful music was heard at the dawn of day, when the winds and the waves were still: and they have been seen expiring with the notes of their dying hymn. No fiction of natural history, no fable of antiquity, was ever more celebrated, oftener repeated, or better received. It occupied the soft and lively imaginations of the Greeks : poets, orators, even philosophers adopted it as a truth too pleasing to be doubted. And well may we excuse such fables; they were amiable and affecting; they were worth many dull, insipid truths; they were sweet emblems to feeling minds. The swan, doubtless, chants not its ap

f>roaching end; but, in speaking of the ast flight, the expiring effort of a fine genius, we shall ever, with tender melancholy, recal the classical and pathetic expression, "It is the song of the swan l"

Shakspeare nobly likens our island to the eyrie of the royal bird :—

1' the world's volume

he sung,"—the prince

Our Britain seems as of it, but not in it; in a great pool, a swan's nest.

Nor can we fail to remember his beautiful allusions to the swan's death-song. Portia orders "sweet music" during Bassanio's deliberation on the caskets:—

Let music sound while he doth make his

choice: Then if he lose, he makes a swan-like end— Fading in music.

And after the Moor has slain his innocent bride, Emilia exclaims while her heart is breaking, and sings—

Hark, canst thou hear me? I will play the

swan, And die in music—Willow, willow, willow.

After "King John" is poisoned, hit son, prince Henry, is told that in his

[ocr errors]

'Tis strange that death should sing.—

1 am the cygnet to this pale faint swau.
Who chants a doleful hymn to his own death i
And from the organ-pipe of frailty, sings
His soul and body to their lasting rest.

The muse of" Paradise " remarks, that

-The swan with arched neck

Between her white wings mantling, proudly

rowes
Her state with oary feet: yet oft they quit
The dank, and rising on stiff pennons, tout
The mid aerea) sky.

[graphic]
[merged small][ocr errors]

The Cornish Falsi Aff.
For the Eoery-Day Book.

Anthony Payne, the Falstaff of the sixteenth century, was born in the manorhouse at Stratton, in Cornwall, where he died, and was buried in the north aisle of Stratton church, the 13th of July, 1691. In early life he was the humble, but favourite attendant of John, eldest son of sir Beville Granville, afterwards earl of Bath, whom he accompanied throughout many of his loyal adventures and campaigns during the revolution and usurpation of Cromwell. At the age of twenty he measured the extraordinary height of seven feet two inches, with limbs and body in proportion, and strength equal to his bulk and stature. The firmness of his mind, and his uncommon activity of person, together with a large fund of sarcastic pleasantry, were well calculated to cheer the spirits of his noble patron during the many sad reverses and trying occasions which he experienced after the restoration. His lordship introduced Payne to Charles the Second; "the merry monarch" appointed him one of the yeomen of his guard. This office he held during his majesty's life; and when his lordship was made governor of the citadel of Plymouth, Payne was placed therein as a gunner. His picture used to stand in the great hall at Stowe, in the county of Cornwall, and is now removed to Penheale, another seat of the Granville family. At his death the floor of the apartment was taken up in order to remove his enormous remains. As a Cornishman, in point of size, weight, and strength he has never been equalled.

The nearest to Anthony Payne was Charles Chillcott, of Tintagel, who measured six feet four inches high, round the breast six feet nine inches, and weighed four hundred and sixty pounds. He was almost constantly occupied in smoking— three pounds of tobacco was his weekly allowance ; his pipe ttco inches long. One of his stockings would contain six gallons of wheat. He was much pleased with the curiosity of strangers who came to see him, and his usual address to them was,

"Come under my arm, little fellow." He died 5th of April, 1815, in his sixtieth year.

Ancient Cornith name* of the Months.

January was called Mis (a corruption of the Latin word mentis, a month) Genver, (an ancient corruption of its common name, January,) or the cold, air month.

February, Hu-evral, or the whirling month.

March, Mis Merh, or the horse month; also, Meurz, or Merh, a corruption of March.

April, Mis Ebrall, or the primrose month; AbriUy, or the mackerel month also Epiell, a corruption of its Latin appellative, Aprilis.

May, Mi' Me, or the flowery month; Me, being obviously a corruption of May, or Maius, the original Latin name.

June, Miz Epham, the summer month, or head of summer.

July, Miz Gorephan, or the chief head of the summer month.

August, Miz East, or the harvest month.

September, Mis Guerda Gala, or the white straw month.

October, Miz Hedra, or the watery month.

November, Miz Dui, or the black month.

December, Miz Kevardin, or in Armoric Miz Querdu, the month following the black month, or the month also black. Sam Sam's Son.

June 21, 1826.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

* Src vol. i. col. MR

sented the three orders of the state—the nobles, the clergy, and the tiers-ital—in their relative situations before the revolution. In the middle is a peasant, with the implements of his profession about him, the scythe, the reaping-hook, the pioche, which is a sort of pick-axe used in Provence to turn up the ground in steep parts where a plough cannot be used, a spade, a vessel for wine, he. On his shoulders he supports a heavy burden, intended to represent the state itself; while on one side of him is a noble, and on the otheT an ecclesiastic, in the costume of their respective orders, who just touch the burden with one hand, while he supports it with his whole strength, and is bowed down by it. The intention of the allegory is to show, that it is on the peasantry, or tiers-e'tat, that the great burden of the state presses, while the nobles and clergy are scarcely touched by it. Above the burden, which is in the form of a heart, is the motto, nihil aliud in nobis, " There is nothing else in' our power." From the costume of the figures, which is that of the sixteenth century, it is conjectured that the picture was of that date; but no tradition is preserved of the time when, or the person by whom it was executed.

This remarkable painting hung in the guard-room, on one side of the door of the room where the consuls of Aix held their meetings for the settling the impositions of the rates and taxes ; a room which wai consequently in theory the sanctuary of equity, the place where to each member of the community was allotted the respective proportion which in justice was demanded of him for supporting the general good of the whole. "This," says Miss Plumptre, "was a very fine piece of satire, and it is only surprising that it should hive been suffered to hang there: it probably had occupied the place so long, that it had ceased from time immemorial to excite attention; but it shows that even two centuries before the revolution there were those who entertained the opinions which led finally to this tremendous explosion, and that these opinions did not then first start into existence."

national constituent assembly, and afterwards the celebrated mayor of Parts, mentions, in a posthumous work, that an association was formed at Versailles as early as in June, 1789, even before ths taking of the Bastille, of the deputies of Bre'tagne to the tiera-itat, which was known by the name of the coma*/ Breton; and he goes on to say :—" This may bj called the original of the society afterwards so celebrated as the Jacobin Club, and was disapproved by all who did not belong to it. The Bit-tons were certainly excellent patriots, but ardent, vehement, and not much given to reflection; nor have I any doubt but that the first idea of establishing a republic was engendered by the overstrained notions of liberty cherished in this club. To them, consequently, must be imputed the origin of those fatal divisions which afterwards arose between the adherents of a limited monarchy, and those who would not be satisfied with any thing short of a republic;—divisions which occasioned so many and so great misfortunes to the whole country."

This province was, in the sequel, reputed to be one of the parts of France the most attached to the Bourbon interest, because the arbitrary proceedings of the convention had afforded a handle for another set of anarchists to rise in opposition to them. In this conflict it would be difficult to determine on which side the greatest want of conduct was shown, —which party was guilty of the greatest errors.

Origin Of The Jacobin Club. The Bretons were even from the commencement of the revolution among the most eager in the popular cause, and the original republican party arose among them. Bailly, the first piesident of the

Superstitions Of Brittant. Like the people of Wales, who boast that their ancestors were never conquered by the Saxons, the Britons affirm that their country alone, of all the provinces of Gaul, was never bowed to the Frankish yoke; and that they are the true descendants of the ancient Armoricans, its first known inhabitants. They allow the Welsh to be of the same stock a? themselves, and are proud of affinity with a people who, like themselves, firmly and effectually resisted a foreign yoke; but they claim precedence in point of antiquity, and consider thomselves as the parent stock from which Britain was afterwards peopled. Indeed from the great resemblance between the Rrltons and the Welsh, a strong argument may be drawn to conclude that thrv had a

common origin. As Wales is to England the great repository of its ancient superstitions, so is Brittany to France. Here was the prime seat of the Druidical mysteries, nor were they banished till the conversion of the country to Christianity. In the southern provinces, when Woden and Thor ceded their places to Apollo and Diana, the gods of itoma Antica were installed in their seats, till they in their turn were displaced by the legions of the papal hierarchy: but the deities established in Brittany by the Celto-Scythian inhabitants maintained their ground till they were overpowered by the army of popish saints, whose numbers so far exceeded the Celtic deities, that it was impossible to resist the invasion. Yet if the ancient deities were conquered, and honoured no longer under their original names, their influence remained. The wonders attributed to them ■were not forgotten. Their remembrance was still cherished, their miracles were transferred to another set of champions, and the Thors and VV'odens were revived under the names of St. Pol, St. terrier, &c. The old religion of the Druids secured unbounded authority over the minds or the people. This engine was too powerful to be lightly relinquished; and ihe papacy instead of directing them to the sublime contemplation of one allpowerful, all-commanding governor of the universe, through whom alone all live and move and have their being, transferred to new names the ancient reveries of a supernatural agency perpetually interposing in all the petty affairs of mankind. The operators in this agency, genii, fairies, daemons, and wizards, were all comprehended under the one denomination of saints. Enchanters and dragons were exchanged for pious solitaries and wonderful ascetics, who calmed tempests with a word, walked on the waves of the ocean as on dry land, or wafted over it upon cloaks or millstones; who metamorphosed their staves into trees, and commanded fountains to rise under their feet; by whom the sick were healed; whose shadows were pretended to have raised the dead ; and whose approach might be perceived by the perfume their bodies spread throughout the air.

Morlaix; the former a little to the nortn west of the town, the latter a little to the north-east. The town of St. Pol de Leon stands on the coast. From the boldness and beauty of the workmanship of the cathedral, it was supposed that it could hardly have been executed by mortal hands; it would have been to the honour of the saint to have ascribed it to him, as a notable worker of miracles, but, by the most fervent, the architecture is attributed to the devil.

Miss Plumptre says, "The name of this episcopal see has become familiar in England, from its bishop having made a very conspicuous figure in his emigration hither, and having here at length ended his days. 1 did not find the character of this prelate more popular among his fellow-countrymen in Bretagne, than it had been among his fellow-emigrants in London: they gave him the same character,—of one of the most haughty, insolent, and over-bearing among the ecclesiastical dignitaries in France; and while the Britons had in general an almost superstitious veneration for their clergy, they regarded this bishop with very different sentiments."

Two of the most illustrious and wonderworking sains of the country, Saint Pol de Lion and Saint Jean du Doigt, were established at only a sho.t distance from

The honour of having given birth to St. Pol de Li'on is ascribed to England about the year 490. When a boy he gave an ear~est of what might in future be expected of him. The fields of the monastery in which he was a student, were ravaged by such a number of birds, that the whole crop of corn was in danger of being devoured. St. Pol summoned the sacrilegious animals to appear before the principal of the monastery, St. Hydultus, that they might receive the correction they merited. The birds, obedient to his summons, presented themselves in a body; but St. 1 lydultus, being of a humane disposition, only gave them a reproof and admonition, and then let them go, even giving them his benediction at their departure. The grateful birds never after touched the corn of the monastery. In a convent of nuns hard by, situated on the sea-shore, and extremely exposed to the tempestuous winds of the north, lived a sister of St. Pol. She represented the case of the convent to her brother; when he ordered the sea to retire four thousand paces from the convent; which it did immediately. He then directed his sister and her companions to rauge a row of flints along the shore for a consi

« AnteriorContinuar »