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Seigneur!" he ejaculated, "yon English are made of money. Even if Désirée could inherit all my goods, her dowry would not equal that; and now this second child will share with her. She was not overjoyed at his birth; but now!" and he gave his shoulders the Frenchman's ineffable shrug.
"But I love Désirée," I answered, hotly, "and I do not care what her fortune is. My father is a rich man, and I am his only son."
"Money marries money," said M. Clauzel, sententiously. "Would monsieur and madame give their consent to your marriage with my daughter?"
I could not even assure him that I had any hope of it; but I left him under the impression that the objection was merely upon the score of dowry, comparing Désirée's with Margaret's. For how could I say to my hospitable and religious host, that my parents abominated his country and his faith. It was he, in his opinion, who was magnanimously overlooking the fact of my being a heretic; devout Catholic as he was, the shrewd Frenchman had too deep a regard for riches, and too ardent a love for cotton-spinning, to let the son of a wealthy cotton-spinner slip through his fingers because of the taint of heresy. This marriage between Désirée and myself had been a long-cherished plan, and I could not but smile to myself as I thought how completely it would have been frustrated if my father had become his guest instead of myself.
It was now, the longest term of my proposed visit having expired, that M. Lalande became more alert and vigilant, and haunted the château more constantly, keeping Désirée under his own eye. I fretted and fumed with jealousy, and sought more eagerly some opportunity for talking with Désirée alone. But for the ill-timed vigilance of the curé, it seemed likely that the rigid etiquette of French morale would have been relaxed in my favour; for a few days after my conversation with M. Clauzel, the illness of his little son engrossed 'Phrasie's cares, and before the week was ended, she took him for change of air to one of the little mill hamlets in the valley. But for M. Lalande, then, it seemed to me that I must have spent many a delicious summer hour in the sole companionship of Désirée; but the priest was on duty from morning till night, and so obedient was she to his authority, that, whenever his office demanded his time, she withdrew to her own apartments, and did not suffer me to see even the flutter of her dress at a distance, until his return, or her father's, made it convenable for her to re-appear. M. Lalande, liberal as he was,
did not extend his liberality to the point of countenancing the marriage of his young charge with an English heretic. To the opposition of my father, therefore, I was compelled to add the opposition of the priest.
In the mean time, my letters from home began to urge my return; but, once read, they had no more place in my pre-occupied mind. I began, however, to feel that it was necessary to break gently to my mother the news, which I was sure beforehand would be so utterly distasteful to her; but I relied upon her profound affection for me as her only son to ensure some little favour for my beautiful Désirée, and in my next letter I introduced her name more frequently. My mother's heart took the alarm instantly, and her answer only implored me more earnestly to return.
But at this moment a calamity befel the household of my friends, which plunged it into the depths of distress and mourning. I found it impossible to leave them, the more so, as both M. Clauzel and Désirée seemed to look to me for the only consolation they could receive. As I said before, 'Phrasie had taken the little son of M. Clauzel to the valley, through which ran the rapid stream that worked the mills. She was too frantic in her distress to give a very clear account of the disaster; but it appeared that the child, who had been playing upon the banks, had fallen into the river, and been borne away by it, before she could procure any assistance. The news was brought to the château by the mill-bailiff, at whose house 'Phrasie and the boy had been staying, and the following day the nurse herself returned, in a deplorable condition of frenzied and haggard remorse for her carelessness. Désirée seemed almost to forget her own sorrow in soothing her foster-mother and her unhappy father. M. Clauzel besought me not to leave him to the solitude of his bereaved home, and I caught almost gladly at the tragic excuse for writing to my mother, to say that it was impossible to forsake my friends before the keenness of their grief was blunted.
I never witnessed anything like the overwhelming but dumb anguish of 'Phrasie. She rambled aimlessly about the house, her black eyes, from which all the lustre had fled, wandering from object to object, as if she was in quest of something. Her lips, dry and cracked, moved ceaselessly but soundlessly, and her hands, which had always been of a strange, dead, bloodless whiteness, like the hands of a corpse, were incessantly rubbing against each other, as if they were cold. I felt no doubt whatever that she was losing her reason; but though I was alarmed for Désirée, never had she appeared so lovely
as now that she hovered about her foster-mother, caressing her, and heaping upon her fond and tender epithets. Surely, if my mother could have seen her, Désirée would have won her heart at
A few days passed away after the loss of the child; and upon a close, sultry evening, towards the end of July, when the sun had been burning hotly from the dawn, I found myself looking into the dim, cool aisles of the church, which stood in the midst of a cluster of trees in full leaf, whose branches shading the windows, deepened the welcome obscurity of the interior. I had never yet been inside the little church, but I could not now resist its dimness and coolness. There was nothing particular about its architecture or decorations, yet I strolled softly about it with a certain interest, as being the place where Désirée worshipped. In returning towards the western door, the confessional caught my eye, where, as I said to myself, smiling, she confessed her little sins. It was the ordinary confessional, consisting of three compartments, the middle one for the confessor, and the two outer ones for the penitents. I was in a mood of idle curiosity, and I tried, but in vain, to open the door of the confessor's compartment: it was locked; but the others were screened only by long curtains, which I drew aside, and found in each a low stool, upon which the penitent might kneel to whisper through a grating into the priest's ear. Both were alike. Partly wearied with the sultriness of the day, and partly with the fancy of placing myself there to imagine the girlish secrets Désirée might have murmured through the light grating, I sat down in the compartment farthest from the door, holding the curtain in my hand, so as to command a view of the long, dim aisle, with the white altar at the end. The church was utterly still. The village was nearly a mile off, and the priest's house adjoining was the only dwelling near at hand. There was no sound, and except the fluttering sun-flecks and the flicker of the wax candles burning before a small altar in the transept, there was no motion in the place. My seat was comfortable enough, and with my head resting in a corner, gazed drowsily up the aisle, and at the white image of Mary, ascending amidst white clouds, which rose above the altar, until I suppose the silence and the dimness of the sacred place weighed down my eyes with sleep.
A Virtuoso's Collection of Autographs.
BY EVERT A. DUYCKINCK.
A GOOD word is to be said of that much-abused person, the autograph collector. I speak not of that pest of modern enlightened society-in which there are beings who act or write what is worthy of note-the restless fool, who, either out of an idle vanity, or led by an interested pecuniary motive--with an eye to the future sale is continually at work, forging his insidious notes, to entrap the great man of the day into a reply of a few lines, content to be snubbed or insulted, provided only the coveted signature is forthcoming. For such the generous mind can have no sympathy. They are gross impertinences, shabby intruders upon that privacy of individual life which is the castle of a man's self-respect. Yet, since nothing in this world is made absolutely in vain, even such cattle may have their infinitesimal uses. They are purveyors to the genuine collector, and may serve the ends of literature by occasionally procuring something of value through their troublesome pertinacity. Sometimes, it must be admitted, they bag a really great man, and render a benefit to some more refined possessor of their spoils. For the procurement and preservation of a signature only may turn out, in the course of time or by the accidents of fortune, to be a matter of some interest. Noble, generous-hearted men, benefactors of their race, have existed in the world, towards whom our sympathies are drawn by such sterling impulses, that even the humble approach to their personality in the possession of but a few words of their handwriting, whatever the theme, is something to be cherished with honour. No one need be ashamed, for instance, of pointing with pride in his portfolio to the simplest autograph of Jeremy Taylor, or Sir Walter Scott, or of that heartiest of heroes, blending the manly and feminine natures, soul-enkindling, brave, loving Nelson. Coming in fit mood upon such a trace of a vanished noble existence, seems like a grasp of the hand of the writer; for a man's signature, after all, is one of the most distinctive exhibitions of his earthly life. So the frivolous chiffonier of letters may secure for some cultivated mind the treasure of a poet's, or statesmen's, or warrior's signature, to expand before the eye of the possessor in the subtle charm of association, till, in some propitious hour, it developes the noble life, and enwraps the musing student in sympathy with departed virtue. If such be the value of a simple signature, how is it
enhanced when it is appended to some characteristic heart-utterance in a letter written, in the confidence of friendship, at some crowningpoint of the writer's career.
We have been led into these remarks by looking over a collection of autographs which has been placed in our hands, mostly the gathering of a benevolent old gentleman now departed, who, in his day, was not unknown to the art-loving, literary world of London. The visitor to the Print Room of the British Museum, who lingers with pleasure, as every one capable of a pure enjoyment in art must, over the collection of the engravings of the works of the English Raphael, as he has been called, Thomas Stothard, may be gratified to learn the name of the gatherer of these treasures. It was a loving friend of the artist, Robert Balmanno, a Scotchman by birth, who, in the early part of the century, was settled in London; who subsequently came to America, and ended his days a few years ago in New York. He was a busy man in the great metropolis
"In his prime,
Ere the pruning knife of Time
A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, Secretary of the Artists' Benevolent Fund, one of the executors of the last will of Fuseli, a cherished companion of Sir Thomas Lawrence, the privileged acquaintance of Thomas Hood. He was of the genuine Virtuoso breed, with a touch of his countryman James Boswell's reverence for the personalities of genius. He flourished-no less a term than this is suitable in describing his exuberant existence-at the heyday of Bibliomania and Print Collecting, when earls patronized the literary scavenger shops of London, and a clergyman of the Church of England—the Rev. Thomas Frognall Dibdin, immortal on the shelves of antiquariesfound it no discredit to his cloth to serve at the altar of Large Paper and Black Letter. It is an odd world to look back into, that of the book-hunting days of the Roxburghes and Spencers, whose glorious enthusiasm, provoked by trifles, if it does not exactly challenge our respect, is yet entitled to our gratitude for the pleasant flavour of their occupations lingering in many a richly-decorated page in our libraries. It was a spice of this life which Balmanno, F.S.A.-he delighted to attach these letters to his name-brought with him to America: rather an uncongenial soil, one may think, into which to transplant this delicate scion of the tree of knowledge. We fear, alas! our virtuoso