Abbildungen der Seite

owing to any spirit of forbearance displayed by the respective combatants, but rather thanks to the blank cartridges with which their pouches were filled.

The chief sufferers in the fray were the unfortunate oxen, who in the course of these sham fights underwent all the painful vicissitudes of actual and real warfare. They were captured and re-captured, seized, and liberated a dozen times during the day; and what with firing, shouting, whistling, and blows, the poor devils were, on the conclusion of the fight, well nigh scared out of their seven senses, driven nearly to madness, and completely so off their legs.

Captain Hogg's native levy was particularly well trained in such “cattle lifting" warfare. It consisted of about 600 Hottentots, whom this active and able officer had brought into an admirable state of efficiency, and they had during the course of the campaign rendered the most valuable services, a great portion of the roughest work (where there was so much roughing) having devolved on them and the Cape Mounted Rifles.

Whenever a hard day's fag was required, either to escort convoys, to take charge of captured cattle, or dislodge a formidable body of Kaffirs from the fastnesses of the bush, Captain Hogg's corps was sure to be called upon, and both commander and men were admirably adapted for enduring the hardships of this sort of rough guerilla warfare.

Active, enduring, and wiry,-unimpeded by aught save their musket and cartouche belt, without the encumbrances of tents or commissariat, equipped in the easy and serviceable dress of a broad brimmed “ Jem Crow" hat, a fustian jacket, leather “crackers," and shod with light “ veldt-schoon,”-these hardy, willing fellows, would at a moment's notice, at any time of the day or night, at any season or in any weather, start off whenever required ; and with their indefatigable leader somewhat similarly attired, and “footing" it along at their head (for he made a point of sharing all their fatigues and privations), frequently accomplished the most astonishing marches, both as to time and distance-marches which would have utterly crippled any European troops of the army.

Such had been, since nearly the commencement of the campaign, the life led by this active partisan leader and his tawny guerillas ; from that period they had been constantly engaged with the enemy, had captured and conveyed back to the colony great numbers of cattle, ever acted as skirmishers and pioneers to the army, in short, in every way rendering the most efficient services.

Captain Hogg has lately returned to England, to reap, it is to be hoped, -the due reward for his indefatigable exertions during the last Kaffir war.




Her Birth-Her Arrival in Paris-The Rue de la Feronnerie-The Diamond Ring

-Jean Du Barri-Lebel – The Supper-Her Conquest of the King-Her Empire over him-Her Marriage-Hatred of the Choiseuls-Court Intrigues-Her Presentation.

VAUCOULEURS, in Lorraine, has been destined on two different occasions to give birth to women who have exercised a remarkable influence over the fortunes of France—the first to exalt them when they were at the lowest ebb—the last to degrade them in their fullest splendour. At the commencement of the fifteenth century, Joan of Arc was born, and when barely twenty years of age had rescued her country from the yoke of England, and firmly established Charles VII, on the throne ; her name has come down to us bright with glory, unsullied in maiden fame, and the only regret that her memory awakens is the cruel manner of her death. In the same village, nearly four centuries and a half later, while the career of monarchy in France was yet unchecked, another Joan was born, who, in her twenty-fourth year, became absolute mistress of a king, the vilest France had ever known, whose vices powerfully aided that impulse which swept his successor from the throne of Charles VII., and desuged the country in blood; her name also has reached us, but with no halo of glory around it, with no reputation save that of personal beauty, and regretted only because the circumstances attendant on her death were equally public and nearly as cruel.

Jeanne Vaubernier--in after years the celebrated Madame du Barrifirst saw the light at Vaucouleurs, on the Meuse, in the year 1744. All that is known of her family is, that her father, Gomart Vaubernier, was an obscure official in the farmer-general's department ; a position which enabled him to induce a rich contractor named Billard Dumonceau, who happened to be passing through Vaucouleurs, to hold his infant daughter at the baptismal font. Fifteen years pass away, in the course of which Gomart appears to have died leaving his widow and daughter in such poor circumstances that they were fain to abandon their native place and seek an existence in that city which is in France the haven of every one's wishes, the arena in which the battle of life is fought with the greatest prospect of success. At the period of which we speak, Jeanne Vaubernier and her mother set out for Paris, with no money, it is true, but not without hope, for the young have it implanted in their nature, and what mother ever gazed on the beauty of her daughter without predicting a future brilliant as hope could paint it.

It never entered, however, into her wildest dream to imagine the dazzling height to which that daughter would one day be raised, nor is it on record that she ever witnessed the first lapse from the path of virtue which led to the bad eminence the fallen one eventually achieved. For the mother's sake, let us hope she died while poverty was still her daughter's only crime!

Neither could Jeanne Vaubernier, as she traversed the streets of Paris in the rude wicker-work waggon which bore her from the country, with its long team, and heavy creaking wheels, have pictured to herself that the time might come, when her own magnificence should eclipse the splendour of all the gay equipages which now bespattered her humble vehicle, of all the grand hotels at which she now gazed with so much astonishment, and of all the luxury of lace, and diamonds, and rich liveries which now met her eyes at every turn! She, who had nothing but the beauty which her mother so fondly cherished !

But beauty had, long before her time, wrought wondrous miracles. A little turned-up nose had nearly subverted an empire, and-rustic as she was-hers was not a mind to be insensible to the uses to which charms such as she possessed might be turned. It would seem by the sequel, whatever were the anticipations she formed, she did not fail to profit by her natural advantages.

Arrived in Paris, Madame Vaubernier addressed herself to the only person who could render her any assistance. This was Jeanne's rich godfather, now M. Dumonceau, who acquitted himself to a certain extent of the obligations he had assumed by sending his god-child to be educated at the convent of Sainte Aure and by affording some trifling aid to her mother. Henceforward, we hear nothing more either of her who claimed the closest affinity in blood to Jeanne, or of him who had vicariously undertaken a parent's duty. Even when a king's mistress and revelling in all the delights that power and wealth could give, her heart was never hardened towards her kind, and it may be justly assumed that she would not have neglected her mother, had she lived to witness the change in her fortunes—nor altogether have abandoned the rich contractor whose vocation must of necessity have made him a court suitor, when her word had become law. Her only grief in the midst of the dissipated life she led, may have been the loss of her mother-a prominent regret that death had prevented any demonstration of gratitude towards the man who had shown her kindness in her earliest need.

Her stay at the convent must have been a brief one, for at the age of sixteen we find her apprenticed to a Madame Labille, marchande des modes, in the Rue de la Feronnerie ; but, in adopting this new calling, which was not held in the highest esteem, perhaps from a sentiment of respect for her family, she changed her patronymic to Lançon, under which name she was for some time known.

Before we speak of her career in the Rue de la Feronnerie, and we shall do so with discreet brevity, it may be desirable to describe what nature of street it was and what its attractions for the roués of Paris who haunted it.

The Rue de la Feronnerie, in which the best king who ever reigned in France was assassinated, was one of the oldest streets of old Paris, and, in the middle of the eighteenth century wore an aspect which in spite of the changes effected by a sanguinary and destructive revolution, and the improvements of the empire and the restoration, still speaks of the past. Built against the antique church of the Innocents and covering one of its four sides, it looked in one direction on all that was most sombre, on the other on all that was most gay—on the gloom of death and on the glitter of life. On one side was the cemetery, on the other the market place.

The old church of the Holy Innocents with its octagonal tower and the black crosses of the cemetery, occupied the space which is now the

market; and the high tombs, the pillory, which stood on the site of the present Halle aux Draps, and the grated galleries which formed three sides of the cemetery and were filled with skeletons, with Jofts above them, containing countless skulls—what was called, in short, the Charnier des Innocens—all these objects cast a gloomy shadow on the neighbouring houses at whose feet thousands of market-women set out their daily produce, and where numberless public writers drove their busy trade.

The Rue de la Feronnerie consisted altogether of dressmakers' shops, which were celebrated throughout Europe, and shone resplendent with their bright wares, and gaudily painted signs, and were remarkable for their widely projecting pent-house roofs, beneath which all that could please the eye for brilliancy of colour and beauty of form, was displayed. And the crowds who thronged thither were as remarkable as the street itself. Mousquetaires, red, black, and gray, “with all their tromperie,unfledged abbés, amorous clerks, sated marquises, aged councillors, knights of industry, gallant swindlers, gulls of all descriptions, and lovers of pleasure of every kind, filled the shops, and lounged over the counters from morning till night, talking soft nonsense or whispering insidious proposals to the pretty grisettes, whose lively tongues, and mocking laughter, offered no impediment to the full employment of their busy fingers. The atmosphere of the street had also a character of its own; delicate perfumes mingled their odours with those of the vegetables set out on the pavementand musk and meréchale contended for the palm with thyme and celery.

On one hand might be seen servants with baskets on their arms, dictating love-letters and farewells to dirty half-starved public writers in ruffles ; on the other, gorgeous carriages covered with armorial bearings filed beneath the cemetery walls, while every breath of air set in motion the signs of the shops, which bore, in letters of gold on azure or vermilion ground, inscriptions such as these :- A la Poupée de la Rue SaintHonoré, au Secret de plaire, à la Toilette de Lesbie, au Miroir des Graces, or, à la Ceinture de Vénus. In short, the Rue de la Feronnerie was an epitome of Paris in the eighteenth century.

It was in one of the shops in this street that Jeanne Vaubernier, or Mademoiselle Lançon, took her first lessons in the science of coquetry, and acquired the art of dressing and decorating herself with the taste which led to many subsequent triumphs. Her enemies often disdainfully reproached her with this, her early career, which she never, however, attempted to deny, but always admitted with the utmost frankness. There is no end to the number of lovers she is said to have had while in this condition ; they are enumerated without reserve in the Gazetier Cuirassé, and the Gazette Noire, works which were got up to disparage her at the instance of the Duke de Choiseul, but which are filled with a thousand impossible lies. Still, although these statements are false, there is no doubt that the career of Mademoiselle Lançon was as little respectable as can well be imagined, for it was not long before she fell into the hands of the infamous Madame Gourdan, whose name has become inseparable, in the scandalous chronicles of the time, from that of her protegée.

Madame Gourdan, whose profession is characterised in Spanish comedies as that of the veiled lady-a term which needs no further explanationwas the mistress of a house which had two entrances--one in the Rue St. Sauveur, and the other in that of the Rue des Deux Portes-two streets which still form a right angle with each other. Those who cared nothing for public opinion, entered by the latter approach—the timid, or the hypocritical, by the former, which wore the appearance of a picture gallery, kept by an Auvergnat, named Ouradou, who ostensibly dealt in the works of the Flemish masters.

Pretending to examine the collection, the soi-disant amateur would stroll negligently to the end of the gallery, where, unobserved, he might disappear by a door which closed of itself behind him, and admitted him into a dressing-room of large dimensions. Once there, he could transform himself as he pleased ; if a citizen, he could put on the costume of a dragoon or a procureur ; or from a grave counsellor become a dashinglooking sailor ; cover one eye with a patch, mount a pair of moustaches,

president's wig. The disguise effected, he tried another door, and thus, without having been suspected, he had passed from the Rue St. Sauveur into the Rue des Deux Portes. When it suited his convenience to return, he resumed his proper dress, and sauntered again through the establishment of the apocryphal picture-dealer, who gained large sums of money in this trade without selling a single picture. He might lose his own soul, but never a single Fleming:

Into this double house, which was so extensive that none ever met on its private staircases, or in its retired cabinets and saloons, Madame Gourdan attracted the pretty and not inexorable modiste of the Rue de la Feronnerie, and to one of Mademoiselle Lançon's disposition, it needed no very great outlay of eloquent appeal to induce her to adopt a course of life which promised ease and splendour for the mere sacrifice of her good name. She was easily won by the picture set before her eyes of fine dresses and rich ornaments, with a dazzling perspective of luxury and magnificence, and made no difficulty of resigning her quasi-virtuous position as a modiste, and her undoubtedly uncomfortable quarters in the Rue de la Feronnerie; exchanging her cold, cheerless garret, for a couch of down, and her days of toil for a life of pleasure.

It was under the roof of Madame Gourdan, that Jeanne Vaubernier, or Lançon, first met the Count Jean Du Barri, the brother of the man whom she afterwards married. He was one of the greatest roués of his time, and found no place so congenial to his vices as the house of Madame Gourdan, who, besides the ordinary lures of her profession, added to them the attraction of high play, and drew together not only all the libertines but the greatest gamblers in Paris.

The sort of life that Mademoiselle Lançon led may be readily imagined without appealing to the pages of the Gazette Noire ; one adventure that befel her is, however, too characteristic of the laxity of the morals of Louis the Fifteenth's nobility to be omitted.

Amongst the most noted of the gamblers who haunted the saloons of Madame Gourdan was the Marquis de Baudron, a petit-maître of firstrate elegance, who wore the richest lace and the finest diamonds of any man in Paris. He had laid a wager with a knot of his dissolute companions that he would obtain the favours of Mademoiselle Lançon without having occasion to untie the strings of his purse. It was a hazardous adventure, for La Gourdan was not one whom it was easy to get the better of; however, M. de Baudron remained true to his purpose.

One evening he made his appearance in the saloon, wearing a magnificent diamond ring. Madame Gourdan was seated at lansquenet,

« ZurückWeiter »