Page images
PDF
EPUB

sed a rich one, as in proportion to the revenue, all provision is so amazingly cheap. I take the liberty to mention this as my reason why his lordship was able to do such munifi. cent acts in his lifetime.

* From his taking the gown he had a sincere affection for Madame de Rouvraie, who was of a very noble family, but one among the almost innumerable instances in France, of high blood, without the means to support it.

“ The Abbé Didoyard, though with no income at first but what his genius and abilities, joined to uncommon industry, could produce, ever supported her as a gentlewoman. He taught music, to sing, to paint in crayons and water. colours, beside giving lectures in the different sciences; and all to replenish the purse of Madame de Rouvraie.

“He now obtained an advancement in the church; she of course advanced with him : but he took care always to board her in such pious and regular families, that envy itself (and that quickest of all, the envy of her own sex) never could fix a stain on his or her character.

By the various great offers which she often refused, it is visible she preferred the Abbé, and his celestial qualities, to all earthly ones ; and she would give it for a reason why she did not engage in that state, that there was but one Didoyard in the world, and he was married to Christ. • Find me a second not so engaged,' said she, and I will enter into matrimony with him immediately.'

“ His merits being now promulgated, he was made a chanoine of the cathedral church of Anjers, capital of the province of Anjou; thence dean of Nantz, whence he was removed to the bishopric of Lucon. Grown now indepen. dent, and having early declared that he was an enemy to translations, he set himself down quietly on this provision; and Madame de Rouvraie appeared with that rank and lustre her merits so well deserved.

“He built an elegant seat for her within a league of his palace, and fixed it in the middle of a spacious park. No

[ocr errors]

gardens were more elegant than those of Mont-Carnel (for that was the name of the seat ;) and her grottos, her cascades, her fountains, were the topic of every conversation.

“ His visits were always in open day, attended by chaplains and other safe evidence; nor could he ever be alone with her, though in broad sunshine. By such means he quenched every spark of malice, the moment it was struck with a view to light up the flame of persecution. But their chief pleasure consisted in mutual letters, many of which were published in Paris.

“ Though these lovers were not separated like Eloisa and Abelard, yet may some part of their distresses be ima. gined the same. He could not marry ; she would not, in spite of all his solicitations ; having often declared to her in the tenderest hours, that he could equally love and provide for her children, as if they were his own; saying, that was the end she was ordained for, and hoped (when he was jocular) she would not depart without her errand.'

“ A few months before the unfortunate expedition to Rochfort, the bishop died, and many of the English officers, ihen prisoners, were witnesses of the universal grief which spread all over that country, for the loss of the most pious Christian, sincere friend, good pastor, and fine gentleman, that ever France, or any other country, has produced.

" In his cabinet was found this letter, which is offered as a sample of their uncommonly affectionate ones :

" To MADAME DE ROUVRAIE.

" " NOT TO BE OPENED TILL AFTER MY DEATH. u beg, Madame de Rouvraie, that in regard of the tender friendship which has subsisted for many years be. tween us, even in the hour of my death, that you will grant me my last desires. You will find

actions in this cabinet ; and, be they more or less, when I die, the use for which I design them, is (my debts first paid) that you, Ma.

dame Rouvraie, will accept of all the poor remainder, as a proof, though a small one, of the last affection of my heart. At the same time I request you not to grieve immoderately at the loss of the sincerest friend that ever existed ; and yet not worthy of a friend like you.

6 • No one knows of this bequest; and I beg it may ever remain concealed. 6. Yours, in the very hour of death,

« « as he was through life,

666 THE BISHOP OF LUcon.'

“ As he had built her such an elegant retreat in the neighbourhood, he showed his tender respect for her, bydesiring to be buried at a convent some hundred miles from Lucon, where he had originally been a member ; lest, being deposited under the eyes of Madame de Rouvraie, it might awaken those feelings, which, by his last letter, he seems to wish that she would feel no longer.

“ Yet such is the nature of grief, that there is an avarice in hoarding it ; for in one of her private apartments she had the effigy of her dear departed lord in wax ; dressed as he was wont to be in life; and being like the layman at a painter's, the arms and legs were made to move ; so that she could fix it in any attitude, which she daily did, and re. tired from company at set hours, still to live with the bishop of Lucon, though dead to all the world but his affectionate Madame de Rouvraie."

WOMEX CAUTIONED AGAINST FLATTERT..

Our thoughtless sex is caught by outward form
And empty noise, and loves itself in man.

DRYDEN

AMONG all those passions, to which the frailty and weakness of man subject him, there is not any that extends such a boundless and despotic empire over the whole species as that of love. The meek, the mild, and the humble, are strangers to envy, anger, and ambition ; but neither the malicious, the choleric, nor the proud can say, their hearts have been always free from the power of love. This has subdued the exalted minds of the most aspiring tyrants, and has melted the most sanguine complexion into an effeminate softness. An undaunted hero has been known to tremble, when he approached the fair; and the mighty Hercules let fall his club at a woman's feet. The scholar, the statesman, and the soldier, have all been lovers; and the most ignorant swain has neglected both his flocks and pipe to woo Daphne or Sylvia.

But though love be a passion thus common to all, yet how widely do its votaries differ in their manner of address. The pleasing enjoyment of the admired object is what they all pursue ; and yet few agree in the same methods of ob. taining their ends, or accomplishing their desires. Every lover has his particular whim, and each resolves to follow his own way.

But of all the arts which have been praetised by the men on the other sex, I have not observed any kind of address, which has been so generally successful as flattery. Whether it be, that, by making a woman in love with her. self, you thereby engage her to love the person who makes her so; (as, who would not be fond of the cause which

produces so agreeable an effect ?) or whether her partiality and self-love do the more readily induce her to believe, that all the praise given is really due to her merit; or whatever other reason may be assigned for this weakness, I shall not now inquire. This, like a subtle poison, insinuates itself almost into every female. Like a delicious cordial, it meets with an acceptance and approbation too universal ; whilst since. rity and plain-dealing are treated as nauseous and disgustful physic.

It may perhaps be said, that we love the treason, and yet hate the traitor. But she must be a woman of uncommon virtues and qualifications, who can so nicely distinguish between the gift and the giver, as to refuse the one, and yet re. ceive the other. Few of the sex think flattery a vice, and therefore they cannot be persuaded to dislike a lover for being a courtier. Though they may be conscious of some of their own imperfections, yet if their admirers be not quick sighted enough to discern them, they are willing to impute their blindness to their love; nay, though some defects be grossly visible even to the lover, yet if he will compliment his mistress with that which she really wants, I dare appeal to the whole sex, whether, in many instances, such incense, or the offerer of it, be one jot nearer the losing of their fa. vour, and whether they are not too generally delighted with both the delusion and the deceiver. But if they really believe themselves as amiable as the flatterer represents them, then in point of gratitude they conclude themselves obliged to think kindly of their benefactor. I shall conclude this pa. per with a story, which I know to be fact.

Miss Witwou'd was a young gentlewoman of good extraction, and a handsome fortune. She was exactly shaped, and very pretty: She dressed and danced genteelly, and sung sweetly. But notwithstanding these advantages, she had a predominant attachment to the reputation of a wit. She fancied that she had as much wit as she wanted, (though in. deed she wanted more than ever she will have,) and this

« PreviousContinue »