« AnteriorContinuar »
Note 1, p. 64.-" The Blind Girl of Castèl-Cuille.”—The following description of Jasmin, the author of this beautiful poem, is taken from the graphic pages of Béarn and the Pyrenees, by Louisa Stuart Costello :
" At the entrance of the promenade Du Gravier is a row of small houses--some cafés, others shops, the indication of which is a painted cloth placed across the way, with the owner's name in bright gold letters, in the manner of the arcades in the streets, and their announcements. One of the most glaring of these was, we observed, a bright blue flag, bordered with gold; on which, in large gold letters, appeared the name of Jasmin, Coiffeur. We entered, and were wel. comed by a smiling, dark-eyed woman, who informed us that her husband was I busy at that moment dressing a customer's hair, but he was desirous to receive us, and begged we would walk into his parlour at the back of the shop.
“She exhibited to us a laurel crown of gold, of delicate workmanship, sent from the city of Clemence Isaure, Toulouse, to the poet, who will probably one day take his place in the capitoul. Next came a golden cup, with an inscription in his honour, given by the citizens of Auch; a gold watch, chain, and seals, sent by the king, Louis Philippe , an emerald ring, worn and presented by the lamented Duke of Orleans; a pearl pin, by the graceful Duchess, who, on the poet's visit to Paris accompanied by his son, received him in the words he puts into the mouth of Henri Quatre :
Brabes Gascous !
Aproucha bous ! -a fine service of linen, the offering of the town of Pau, after its citizens had given fêtes in his honour, and loaded him with caresses and praises; and nicknacks and jewels of all descriptions, offered to him by lady-ambassadresses and great lords, English ‘misses' and 'miladis, and French and foreigners of all nations who did or did not understand Gascon.
“All this, though startling, was not convincing ; Jasmin, the barber, might only be a fashion, a furore, a caprice, after all ; and it was evident that he knew how to get up a scene well. When we had become nearly tired of looking over these tributes to his genius, the door opened and the poet himself appeared. His manner was free and unembarrassed, well bred and lively; he received our compliments naturally, and like one accustomed to homage; said he was ill and unfortunately too hoarse to read anything to us, or should have been delighted to do so. He spoke with a broad Gascon accent, and very rapidly and eloquently; ran over the story of his successes ; told us that his grandfather had been a beggar, and all his family very poor ; that he was now as rich as he wished to be; his sou placed in a good position at Nantes. Then he showed us his son's picture, and spoke of his disposition: to which his brisk little wife added, that, though no fool, he had not his father's genius ; to which truth Jasmin assented as a matter of pourse. I told him of having seen mention made of him in an English review, which he said had been sent him by Lord Durham, who had paid him a visit; nnd I then spoke of Me cal mouri' as known to me. This was enough to make him forget his hoarseness and every other evil; it would never do for me to imagine that that little song was his best composition; it was merely his first; he must try to read to me a littlo of 'L'Abuglo, -- a few verses of' Françouneto;'
You will be charmed,' said he; "but if I were well, and you would give me the pleasure of your com any for some time, if you were not merely running through Agen, I would kill you with weeping,-I would make you die with distress for my poor Margarido, my pretty Françouneto!'
“ He caught up two copies of his book from a pile lying on the table, and making us sit close to him, he pointed out the French translation on one side, which he told us to follow while he read in Gascon. He began in a rich, soft voice, and as he advanced, the surprise of Hamlet on hearing the player-king recite the disasters of Hecuba was but a type of ours, to find ourselves carried away by the spell of his enthusiasm. His eyes swam in tears; he became pale and red; he trembled; he recovered himself; his face was now joyous, now exulting, gay, jocose; in fact, he was twenty actors in one; he rang the changes from Rachel to Bouffé; and he finished by delighting us, besides beguiling us of our tears, and overwhelming us with astonishment."
“He would have been a treasure on the stage; for he is still, though his first youth is past, remarkably good-looking and striking ; with black, sparkling eyes, of intense expression ; a fine, ruddy complexion; a countenance of wondrous mobility; a good figure; and action full of fire and grace; he has handsome hands, which he uses with infinite effect; and, on the whole, he is the best actor of the kind I ever saw. I could now quite understand what a troubadour or jongleur might be, and I look upon Jasmin as a revived specimen of that extinct race. Such as he is might have been Gaucelm Faidit, of Avignon, the friend of Cour de Lion, who lamented the death of the hero in such moving strains; such might have been Bernard de Ventadour, who sang the praises of Queen Elinore's beauty; such Geoffrey Rudel, of Blaye, on his own Garonne; such the wild Vidal : certain it is that none of these troubadours of old could more move, by their singing or reciting, than Jasmin, in whom all their long-smothered fire and traditional magic seems reillumined.
"We found we had stayed hours instead of minutes with the poet ; but he would not hear of any apology,-only regretted that his voice was so out of tune, in consequence of a violent cold, under which he was really labouring, and hoped to see us again. He told us our country women of Pau had laden him with kind. ness and attention, and spoke with such enthusiasm of the beauty of certain
misses, that I feared his little wife would feel somewhat piqued; but, on the contrary, ebe stood by, smiling and happy, and enjoying the stories of his triumphs. I remarked that he had restored the poetry of the troubadours : asked him if he knew their songs; and said he was worthy to stand at their head. 'I am, indeed, a troubadour,' said he, with energy; 'but I am far beyond them all; they were but beginners; they never composed a poem like my Françouneto! There are no poets in France now,-there cannot be; the language does not admit of it: where is the fire, the spirit, the expression, the tenderness, the force, of the Gascon ? French is but the ladder to reach to the first floor of Gascon,-how can you get up to a height except by a ladder?'
"I returned by Agen, after an absence in the Pyrenees of some months, and renewed my acquaintance with Jasmin and his dark-eyed wife. I did not expect that I should be recognised; but the moment I entered the little shop I was hailed as an old friend. 'Ah !' cried Jasmin, enfin la voilà encore !' I could not but be flattered by this recollection, but soon found it was less on my own account that I was thus welcomed, than because a circumstance had occurred to the poet which he thought I could perhaps explain. He produced several French news. papers, in which he pointed out to me an article headed ‘Jasmin à Londres,' being a translation of certain notices of himself, which had appeared in a leading English literary journal. He had, he said, been informed of the honour done him by numerous friends, and assured me his fame had been much spread by this means; and he was so delighted on the occasion, that he had resolved to learn English, in order that he might judge of the translations from his works, which, he had been told, were well done. I enjoyed his surprise, while I informed him that I knew who was the reviewer and translator; and explained the reason for the verses giving pleasure in an English dress to be the superior simplicity of the English language over modern French, for which he has a great contempt, as unfitted for lyrical composition. He inquired of me respecting Burns, to whom he had been likened; and begged me to tell him something of Moore. The delight of himself and his wife was amusing at having discovered a secret which had puzzled them so long.
"He had a thousand things to tell me; in particular, that he had only the day before received a letter from the Duchess of Orleans, informing him that she had ordered a medal of her late husband to be struck, the first of which would be sent to him ; she also announced to him the agreeable news of the King having granted
him a pension of a thousand francs. He smiled and wept by turns, as he told all this; and declared, much as he was elated at the possession of a sum which made him a rich man for life, the kindness of the Duchess gratified him even more.
“He then made us sit down while he read us two new poems; both charming, and full of grace and naïveté; and one very affecting, being an address to the King, alluding to the death of his son. As he read, his wife stood by, and fearing we did not quite comprehend his language, she made a remark to that effect; to which he answered, impatiently, 'Nonsense; don't you see they are in tears?' This was unanswerable, and we were allowed to hear the poem to the end ; and I certainly never listened to anything more feelingly and energetically delivered.
“We had much conversation, for he was anxious to detain us, and, in the course of it, he told me that he had been by some accused of vanity. Oh !' he rejoined,
what would you have? I am a child of nature, and cannot conceal my feelings ; the only difference between me and a man of refinement is, that he knows how to conceal his vanity and exultation at success, which I let everybody see.'"-I. 369 et seq.
Note 2, p. 72.-"A Christmas Carol.”—The following description of Christmas in Burgundy is from M. Fertiault's Coup d'eil sur les Noels en Bourgogne, prefixed to the Paris edition of Les Noels Bourguignons de Bernard de la Monnoye (Gui Barózai), 1842:
“Every year, at the approach of Advent, people refresh their memories, clear their throats, and begin preluding, in the long evenings by the fireside, those carols whose invariable and eternal theme is the coming of the Messiah. They take from old closets pamphlets, little collections begrimed with dust and smoke, to which the press, and sometimes the pen, has consigned these songs; and as soon as the first Sunday of Advent sounds, they gossip, they gad about, they sit together by the fireside, sometimes at one house, sometimes at another, taking turns in paying for the chestnuts and white wine, but singing with one common voice the grotesque praises of the Little Jesus. There are very few villages even, which, during all the evenings of Advent, do not hear some of these curious can. ticles shouted in their streets, to the nasal drone of bagpipes. In this case the minstrel comes as a reinforcement to the singers at the fireside; he brings and adds his dose of joy (spontaneous or mercenary, it matters little which) to the joy which breathes around the hearthstone; and when the voices vibrate and resound, one voice more is always welcome. There, it is not the purity of the notes which makes the concert, but the quantity,-non qualitas, sed quantitas ; then (to finish at once with the minstrel), when the Saviour has at length been born in the manger, and the beautiful Christmas Eve is passed, the rustic piper makes his round among the houses, where every one compliments and thanks him, and, moreover, gives him in small coin the price of the shrill notes with which he has enlivened the evening entertainments.
“More or less, until Christmas Eve, all goes on in this way among our devout singers, with the difference of some gallons of wine or some hundreds of chestnuts. But this famous eve once come, the scale is pitched upon a higher key; the closing evening must be a memorable one. The toilet is begun at nightfall; then comes the hour of supper, admonishing divers appetites; and groups, as numerous as possible, are formed to take together this comfortable evening repast. The supper finished, a circle gathers around the hearth, which is arranged and set in order this evening after a particular fashion, and which at a later hour of the night is to become the object of special interest to the children. On the burning brands an enormous log has been placed. This log assuredly does not change its nature, but it changes its name during this evening; it is called the Suche (the Yule-log). 'Look you,' say they to the children, 'if you are good this evening, Noel (for with children one must always personify) will rain down sugar-plums in the night. And the children sit demurely, keeping as quiet as their turbulent little natures will permit. The groups of older persons, not always as orderly as the children, seize this good opportunity to surrender themselves with merry hearts and boisterous voices to the chanted worship of the miraculous Noel. For this final solemnity, they have kept the most powerful, the most enthusiastic, the most electr carols. Noel! Noel! Noel !--this magic word resounds on all sides; it seasons every sauce, it is
served up with every course. Of the thousands of canticles which are heard on this famous eve, pinety-nine in a hundred begin and end with this word; which is, one may say, their Alpha and Omega, their crown and footstool. This last evening, the merry-making is prolonged. Instead of retiring at ten or eleven o'clock, as is generally done on all the preceding evenings, they wait for the stroke of midnight; this word sufficiently proclaims to what ceremony they are going to repair. For ten minutes or a quarter of an hour, the bells have been calling the faithful with a triple-bob-major; and each one, furnished with a little taper streaked with various colours (the Christmas Candle), goes through the crowded streets, where the lanterns are dancing like Will-o'-the-wisps at the impatient summons of the multitudinous chimes. It is the Midnight Mass. Once inside the church, they hear with more or less piety the Mass, emblematic of the coming of the Messiah. Then in tumult and great baste they return homeward, always in numerous groups; they salute the Yule-log; they pay homage to the hearth; they sit down at table, and, amid songs which reverberate louder than ever, make this meal of after-Christmas so long looked for, so cherished, so joyous, so noisy, and which it has been thought fit to call, we hardly know why, Rossignon. The supper eaten at nightfall is no impediment, as you may imagine, to the appetite's returning; above all, if the going to and from church has made the devout eaters feel some little shafts of the sharp and biting north wind. Rossignon then goes on merrily-sometimes far into the morning hours; but, pevertheless, gradually throats grow hoarse, stomachs are filled, the Yule-log burns out, and at last the hour arrives when each one, as best he may, regains his domicile and his bed, and puts with himself between the sheets the material for a good sore throat, or a good indigestion, for the morrow. Previous to this, care has been taken to place in the slippers or wooden shoes of the children the sugar-plums, which shall be for them, on their waking, the welcome fruits of the Christmas log."
In the Glossary, the Suche, or Yule-log, is thus defined :
“This is a huge log, which is placed on the fire on Christmas Eve, and which in Burgundy is called, on this account, lai Suche de Noel. Then the father of the family, particularly among the middle classes, sings solemnly Christmas carols with his wife and children, the smallest of whom he sends into the corner to pray that the Yule-log may bear him some sugar-plums. Meanwhile, little parcels of them are placed under each end of the log, and the children come and pick them up, believing, in good faith, that the great log has borne them.”
Note 3, p. 112.-"Pudre Francisco.”—This is from an Italian popular song:
V'è una bella ragazzina
Che si vuole confessar !
Italiens und seiner Inseln, p. 194.
Note 4, p. 123.--"Ay, soft, emerald eyes.”—The Spaniards, with good reason, consider this colour of the eye as beautiful, and celebrate it in song; as, for example, in the well-known Villancico :
“Ay ojuelos verdes,
ay los mis ojuelos,
Böhl de Fuber. Floresta, No. 255. Danto speaks of Beatrice's eyes as emeralds : Purgatorio, xxxi, 116. Lami says, in his Annotazioni, "Erano i suoi occhi d' un turchino verdiccio, simile a quel del mare.”
Note 5, p. 143.-" The evil eye."-"In the Gitano language, casting the evil eye is called Querelar nasula, which simply means making sick, and which, according to the common superstition, is accomplished by casting an evil look at people, especially children, who, from the tenderness of their constitution, are supposed to be more easily blighted than those of a more mature age. After receiving the evil glance, they fall aick, and die in a few hours.
“The Spaniards have very little to say respecting the evil eye, though the belief in it is very prevalent, especially in Andalusia, amongst the lower orders. A stag's horn is considered a good safeguard, and on that account a small horn, tipped with silver, is frequently attached to the children's necks by means of a cord braided from the hair of a black mare's tail. Should the evil glance be cast, it is imagined that the horn receives it, and instantly snaps asunder. Such borns may be purchased in some of the silversmiths' shops at Seville."-BORROW's Zincali, Vol. I. ch. ix.
beliefhe Spaniards have very tall sick, and die in a fa more mature age. "Á hinn
Note 6, p. 143.-" On the top of a mountain I stand.”—This and the following scraps of songs are from Borrow's Zincali ; or an Account of the Gipsies in Spain. The Gipsy words in the same scene may be thus interpreted :John-Dorados, pieces of gold.
Planets, candles. Pigeon, a simpleton.
Commandments, the fingers. In your morocco, stripped.
Saint Martin asleep, to rob a person Doves, sheets.
asleep. Moon, a shirt.
Lanterns, eyes. Chirelin, a thief.
Goblin, police officer. Murcigalleros, those who steal at Papagayo, a spy. nightfall.
Vineyards and Dancing John, to take Rastilleros, footpads.
flight. Hermit, highway-robber.
Note 7, p. 226.--" For these bells have been anointed,
And baptized with holy water !" The Consecration and Baptism of Bells is one of the most curious ceremonies of the Church in the Middle Ages. The Council of Cologne ordained as follows:
“Let the bells be blessed, as the trumpets of the Church militant, by which the people are assembled to hear the word of God; the clergy to announce his mercy by day, and his truth in their nocturnal vigils : that by their sound the faithful may be invited to prayers, and that the spirit of devotion in them may be increased. The fathers have also maintained that demons affrighted by the sound of bells calling Christians to prayers, would flee away; and when they fled, the persons of the faithful would be secure; that the destruction of lightnings and whirlwinds would be averted, and the spirits of the storm defeated." Edinburgh Encyclopædia, Art. Bells. See also Scheible's Kloster, VI. 776.
Note 8, p. 261.-" To come back to my text!”– In giving this sermon of Friar Cuthbert as a specimen of the Risus Paschales, or street-preaching of the monks at Easter, I have exaggerated nothing. This very anecdote, offensive as it is, comes from a discourse of Father Barletta, a Dominican friar of the fifteenth century, whose fame as a popular preacher was so great, that it gave rise to the proverb,
Qui nescit Barlettare. “ Among the abuses introduced in this century," says Tiraboschi, “was that of exciting from the pulpit the laughter of the bearers; as if that were the same thing as converting them. We have examples of this, not only in Italy, but also in France, where the sermons of Menot and Maillard, and of others, who would